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Perpetual Dawn: Illegal Raving In 90s Brighton

Pills, Paranoia, And Undercover Policemen Behind The Scenes Of Brighton's Illegal Raves.

by Stuart Griffiths
May 17 2012, 11:00pm

These photographs are from the years 1993 to 1994. I had just left the British Army and moved to Brighton, a town of perpetual slackers, students and house parties… There were a few friends who served in the same military unit as me and lived in Brighton who I would venture into town with, but that changed when they were put in prison for violence.

I got to know a new bunch of people in a workshop just off London Road in Brighton and there was a tiny darkroom I used to process and make prints. I took my camera along to the illegal parties in the early mornings of summer weekends. Many gathered at these parties and many people were doing ecstasy, LSD and speed.

It was about having a good time, a journey, all together, the trip. We were on the edge and having a weird and fun time out of our heads. We were an anti-establishment stain on British society because it went against everything Margaret Thatcher/John Major/The Tory Government stood for.

This was just when the Criminal Justice Act - which legislated against raves - came into place and people would get paranoid when they saw me holding a camera. They thought I was an under-cover policeman.

This changed one weekend when I was brutally mugged whilst on LSD. I was punched about 30 times by a burley bloke with a moustache. He wanted my watch and wallet. I gave him my wallet, as my watch was special to me, it belonged to my father who had just died of throat cancer.

After that the parties carried on for weeks but then they became ugly. There were suicides where people threw themself off the cliffs overlooking the beach. Also, because word got about and the gatherings became popular, drug dealers from London started moving in with their guns, bringing in heroin and crack. Some people’s habits got intense. They were dealing with speed depression I guess and they took refuge in the needle. As for the lucky ones, we moved on.

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