This article originally appeared on thump
When photographer Michael Tullberg first approached me to edit his upcoming photo book, Dancefloor Thunderstorm: Land of the Free, Home of the Rave, full of images shot during the mid-to-late-90s heyday of the Los Angeles rave scene, I wasn't sure I was the right guy for the task. My 1990s were spent fully embedded in the Detroit techno and house community, which, while obviously connected to the larger SoCal scene, had its own unique sound and style. Sure, we all loved speaker freaking, phat pants and DJ Dan, but I wasn't sure that equaled enough knowledge to help co-pilot this undertaking.
Turns out LA's influence resonated further than I remembered, and the impressions quickly came rushing back as I scrolled through Tullberg's immense archive of images. Many of these shots were surprisingly familiar, having found their way to the Midwest and filtered into my subconscious via nationally distributed magazines like URB and BPM, unimpeachable scene bibles that held sway over the broad American electronica community in a time before the internet.
That's why, despite the regional differences, Tullberg's collection captures the spirit of the American 90s rave scene in a way that transcends location. Perhaps it's because his original style of using long-exposures to capture the kinetic energy of endless hours on darkened dance floors illuminated the scene before the introduction of the epic crane shot. Or maybe it's the fact that the look of Los Angeles rave kids was, by the late-90s, the de facto dress code for party people across the country. It's the same broad cultural influence that made LA's festival scene the genesis of today's EDM explosion.
Dancefloor Thunderstorm: Land of the Free, Home of the Rave is out now; order it here.