A Nostalgic Look at Late '80s & Early '90s Old Skool House Music and Raves
An illegal rave goes wrong...
I ran as fast as my legs could carry me, my heart pounding like it was going to burst out of my chest, the wind rushing in my ears.
It was pitch dark and the ground was rough, with pot holes, long grass and thorns.
I was wearing only shorts and t-shirt, with bare legs and trainers, so I was filthy and my skin scratched and red with the cold.
But I didn't care. A survival instinct took over and I just kept running through the pain barrier.
I had no idea where I was going - I just knew I had to get away.
In the distance, I could hear shouting, people screaming and the sound of fighting and scuffles. I felt very isolated and alone.
Eventually, I saw an old stone bridge across a canal looming out of the darkness. In an instant, I slid on my bottom down the embankment, which was damp and cold, scurried under the bridge and hid on a narrow ledge, which felt wet and uncomfortable.
I was curled up, my bare legs tucked in front of me so that I would not be visible from above.
The thought briefly crossed my mind that if I slipped, I’d end up falling into the icy water below in the darkness and may well drown.
So I just sat still, gripping my arms firmly round my knees and keeping quiet. I hardly dared breathe, even though I felt like gasping for air to fill my lungs after all the running I had done.
I heard footsteps approaching until they were on the bridge above me. They were running slowly, but seemed tired. More screams. The sound of someone being hit and falling to the floor with a dull thud, only to start shouting, scramble up and run on again.
It was 2am and I knew I was in for a long night.
We lived for the weekend...
Even after it had gone quiet above, I could still hear shouting in the distance and knew I would just have to sit tight until it was safe to leave my hiding place.
This was not how my evening was meant to be.
I had plenty of time to sit and reflect, as I sat there in the dark, aware of every sound, waiting until I thought the coast was clear.
All I wanted to do was get back to the warmth and safety of my car. But moving wasn't an option until I knew what was happening out there.
I will return to the conclusion of this episode later - what I need to do right here is go back to how it all started.
Todd Terry Project: Weekend (1988)
Nine hours earlier, I had been at home, excitedly getting ready to go out. It had been a typical Saturday night.
It was 1991 and I lived for the weekend. I was part of a massive army of clubbers who set off every weekend to travel around raves and illegal warehouse parties across the north west of England.
We were the ‘warehouse party generation’, a term invented much later by the media to describe the intoxicating and addictive thrill of being part of a movement in which nothing mattered but the weekend.
For me, it had started out as ‘acid house’ in 1988, when I first became aware of this new culture sweeping the club scene.
I’d never been into mainstream music (I didn’t want to be a ‘disco dolly’, as I called it). I had grown up with punk and indie music and had always travelled a lot to watch live bands and go to clubs all over the country since I was 15 years old.
I was born and brought up in the seaside resort of Blackpool, Lancashire, so trips down the M6 to Manchester Hacienda to watch punk and indie bands in the ‘80s were a regular occurrence.
While a lot of my schoolfriends were going out to local nightclubs, meeting boyfriends and living a pretty normal life, I preferred putting on my leather and studs, bleaching and back-combing my hair to within an inch of its life and going to watch live music.
On the way home, we’d always stop off at the motorway services to hang out for most of the night and I would often arrive home at about 6am, as my dad left for work.
I don’t think my long-suffering parents were thrilled about this, but they were relieved I wasn’t sleeping around or into drugs, so a few late nights were acceptable.
808 State: Pacific State (1989)
The transition from punk to rave
For me personally, the rave scene became a natural progression of this culture.
I remember the first night it hit me that times were changing. It was in the autumn of 1988.
If we weren’t going anywhere to watch live music, we normally went to the pub on a Friday and Saturday night, followed by either a local rock venue, The Tache, or a basement jazz club, The Galleon, where all the locals congregated to escape a town centre filled with tourists.
I used to enjoy it at first, but over the years, I felt like there had to be more to life than this.
I spent countless hours sitting in a corner with my Bacardi and coke, my mind sometimes wandering elsewhere.
I started to feel like life was passing me by and I didn’t want to spend the next ten years doing this, only to realise one day that I’d grown old.
I don’t recall how it came about, but one Saturday night, someone suggested we go to a club on the seafront, Sequins, for a change.
We didn’t normally go there, but they were starting to hold ‘acid house’ nights and it was something to try.
I wasn’t prepared for the amazing sight that hit me when I walked in.
The club was a total blaze of colour, with hundreds of green laser beams shooting out from the stage, brightly-coloured lights on the edge of every step, more lights of different colours flashing on and off in time to the pulsing music, all bathed in a sea of dry ice.
I don’t know if you’ve seen Trainspotting, the 1993 film based on a book by Irvine Welsh. But now, with hindsight, that moment makes me think of a scene in the film when the lead character, Renton, is in a nightclub. One minute, it’s full of punks, but the next, it all changes and it’s full of ravers.
I felt like something had changed, just like that, in the blink of an eye, as I walked into that club. It was like an awakening to me and a major change in my life.
The music just made me want to get up and dance – Inner City’s Good Life, Steve Silk Hurley’s Jack Your Body, 808 State, Theme from S’Express, D-Mob’s We Call It Acid, A Guy Called Gerald’s Voodoo Ray, Baby Ford's Oochy Koochy and too many more to even know what they were.
I even remember what I was wearing and I suddenly felt like a dinosaur in my tight, short, black dress, red stilletos and sporting my backcombed hair.
Everyone around me was in baggy t-shirts, shorts, jeans, hooded tops, trainers and hats. They were dancing like they just didn’t care.
I ventured on to the dancefloor, but my high-heeled shoes weren’t suited to dancing to rave music and I kind of teetered around feeling like I was going to slip at any point and make a fool of myself.
I was just blown away by the atmosphere and wanted to be a part of it.
Baby Ford: Oochy Coochy (1988)
We did go back to Sequins several times and I always enjoyed it.
I loved the music and the atmosphere. I was up dancing all night and met lots of people from all over the North West, who travelled up to Blackpool on a Saturday night to go clubbing.
It was so easy to meet new mates. Everyone was friendly and there was never any trouble. Every person there just wanted to have a good time.
One of the favourite places to congregate, amazingly, was the ladies' toilets, where you could bump into people and end up standing talking for about 20 minutes!
I remember standing in there once feeling really hot and I decided to fill my empty glass with tap water. But it was hot water and I felt nauseous as I took a gulp.
"Don't drink the tap water - they only have hot water to make you spend more at the bar!" someone told me afterwards.
In particular, I met a girl called Julia, from my home town. We got chatting through mutual friends.
Like me, she wanted to have a good time, a laugh and to dance and party at the weekend.
We clicked from the start and had the same scatty sense of humour. Every time I saw Julia, without exception, I had a great time and never stopped laughing all night.
Little did I know she was going to become a big part of my life and one of my best friends for many years. We were to share many adventures and travels in our pursuit of parties all over the North West and beyond.
Shaboo Nightclub, Blackpool
At this time, everyone was talking about a new rave club, Shaboo, which was on Blackpool's north promenade, located on the upper floor of what was formerly the Bier Keller, where I had seen many bands in the early '80s.
I was invited to go there one Saturday with some workmates and agreed to meet them there. At this time, I had a temporary job working at the civil service as an administration clerk.
I recall going shopping that afternoon to buy some new trainers and casual clothes more suited to the venue.
As I walked in my usual pub, the Blue Room, in a hoodie, shorts and t-shirt, I recalled, a few weeks earlier, how one of my friends had said if they ever saw me in a hooded top, they would disown me! They hated the rave culture and wanted no part in it.
So they raised their eyebrows when I arrived and announced I was going to Shaboo later instead of The Galleon.
I thought I may tempt some of them to go with me, but no-one was interested, so I walked there alone.
I was amazed when I reached the entrance, as there was a queue about 200 yards long, snaking down the promenade! I queued for an eternity, finally gaining access about an hour later.
DJ Sasha at Shaboo Blackpool
It felt a bit weird at first walking in on my own, but I'd no need to have worried - everyone was friendly and welcoming. Once I had found my workmates and hit the dancefloor, I never stopped and had the time of my life.
I went there plenty more times and learned to arrive earlier, so I didn't have to endure the huge queue later on and risk not getting in.
Some of the world's top DJs, such as Sasha, played early sets at Shaboo. Back in those days, I had no idea how they were going to become internationally renowned and highly respected DJs some years down the line. I just loved the music they played and wanted it to go on for ever.
Venturing farther afield...
As time passed, I continued to go to the local rave clubs and some of my old friends from my punk days had also started going clubbing, so we all used to hang out together and had some manic weekends.
I started going clubbing with my old mate Steve (we used to be in a band together) and his sister and her friend. Soon after this, I also became closer friends with Julia and she was always out with a crowd of her friends. So there was usually about three or four car loads of us when we went on a night out.
I went to Manchester Hacienda at some point - I can't even remember when and with whom - but I do recall I saw a big change there from the days when I used to watch punk and indie bands at the venue in the early to mid-1980s.
I think it was around 1989 when I went there - when the 'Madchester' scene was at its height - and I loved the Happy Mondays and Stone Roses at the time.
The music at that time was a mixture of local bands from the Madchester movement, plus the early rave tunes too, including some of the more obscure stuff that I hadn't heard anywhere else.
Shaun Ryder performed with the Happy Mondays at the Hacienda and was a regular there too.
DJ Sasha often played there - so did Graeme Park, another top international DJ.
We weren't going to the Hacienda regularly at this time, but certainly went on several occasions.
I recall one night, everyone was dancing as normal all over the place, not only on the dance floor but on podiums, the stage, on the steps - anywhere there was space to dance, upstairs and down, people were dancing.
Then, we saw about six big, burly guys, in smiley face t-shirts and bandanas, all standing in a row on the stage, dancing in a similar style. Although the smiley t-shirts and "acid house" label had been there at the outset, I seem to recall it had started to fade a bit by this time as the scene became known as rave.
The guys on the stage looked a bit like a throwback to two years earlier and one of my friends said drily, "Looks like the police are having a night out," which had us in stitches.
It was well known the police were going undercover at a lot of the big clubs and events at that time to try and catch drug dealers and users. But these guys just stuck out like a sore thumb and if they weren't officers working undercover, I would have been surprised!
Madchester in Manchester
- Madchester remembered: 'There was amazing creative energy in Manchester at the time' | Music | The G
Shaun Ryder, Peter Hook, Tim Burgess and other key figures in the Madchester scene share their memories of the sounds, the clothes and atmosphere with Luke Bainbridge
I remember dancing to the Happy Mondays' 24 Hour Party People - it was like an anthem to me at the time and seemed so apt, as if it summed up my lifestyle.
We went to see the Happy Mondays at Manchester GMex Arena in March 1990.
One of the main things I remember is being on the top row of some pretty flimsy seats and as the music started playing and everyone began dancing, the whole block of seats seemed to be moving wildly in time to the music.
Maybe they weren't moving really - that was just how it felt to me at the time! Everyone in the whole place was dancing and the atmosphere was mind-blowing. It remains one of my most vivid memories of a gig to this day.
The Blackburn Rave Scene
Although I wasn't aware of it at this time, there was a massive rave scene kicking off at nearby Blackburn, a Lancashire town about 25 miles down the motorway from Blackpool.
There were already illegal rave parties in Blackburn from 1988-89.
Researching this years later, I read how new organisers took over the running of the illegal parties around Blackburn in 1989 after the original organisers were arrested. With convoys of cars arriving from other parts of the country, the parties quickly grew in size and reputation.
Almost every week empty buildings in and around the Blackburn area were decended on by thousands of ravers. Sett End, Bubble Factory, Unit 7, Pump Street and many more abandoned buildings and warehouses were used for parties over the coming months.
At this time, I was still going out in Blackpool, with the occasional trip to Manchester, so sadly, I missed all this side of the scene, although heard a lot about Sett End in particular when I eventually started going out in Blackburn.
- The Blackburn Rave Scene | Features | Clash Magazine
“It seemed to grow really quickly. It mushroomed from a few hundred people into a few thousand in no time at all.
Together: Hardcore Uproar (Blackburn warehouse party, 1989)
The police were doing their best to stamp out the illegal rave scene in Blackburn almost as soon as it started, citing it was dangerous, a noise nuisance and the use of illegal drugs.
But every time they closed down one party or illegal venue, often confiscating the DJ's equipment, another one appeared immediately. No way were thousands of people in search of a good time going to be blighted by the police.
Arrests made after "Acid Rave"
The first time I went for a night out in Blackburn was in early 1990.
As my circle of friends grew bigger, I had met a local DJ, Glen, who often had parties back at his house after going out clubbing in Blackpool. He would be on the decks and everyone would hang out there all night on a Saturday.
It was Glen who first suggested we should go to Monroes, a club with cult status in Great Harwood, a town near Blackburn.
I remember several cars set off from Blackpool the first time I went (I was driving) and we had a major task finding Monroes, since it was tucked away down many dark country roads (or at least it seemed that way to me at the time).
It seemed to take an age to get there and I recall having to wait after one of the girls in the car behind felt travel sick and we had to stop our mini-convoy for her to get out and get some air. I was really excited about going and thought we would never get there.
When I arrived, I totally loved the place from the outset and it was to become like my second home every Saturday night for about the next two years.
It wasn't a massive club - in fact, it was pretty small, as clubs go - but the people I met there were the friendliest on the planet and I am still in touch with many of them to this day.
The music was out of this world and there was the best atmosphere ever. The legendary John Jepson (John J), Greenbins and Andy Senior (Andy Edit) on the decks, everyone always had a fantastic time and came out feeling happy.
All we did was danced all night, so always wore shorts, sleeveless tops and training shoes. It was so hot in there, my hair would be soaking wet and I would look like I'd just climbed out of the shower.
At one time, I wouldn't have left the house unless everything had been perfect. But it didn't matter any more, as everyone was the same and we all just wanted to have a good time.
I can truthfully say these were some of the happiest and most carefree days of my life, with every weekend being a fresh adventure.
It was at this time that I met two other dear friends with whom I am still in touch to this day, 25 years later.
I can honestly say I have no recollection of how I first met Mandie and Carol, who were from Blackburn. They both just seem to have been in my life for ever and along with Julia from Blackpool, the four of us were totally inseparable for the four years between 1990 and 1994.
I had started work at the local newspaper as a junior reporter, so I had my car and enough money to fund a good social life, so I felt most of the time like I hadn't a care in the world.
I had a fabulous circle of friends and when we were not out together at the weekend, we were ringing each other during the week and talking for hours, looking forward to the weekend ahead.
Bearing in mind this was before the days of Facebook and Twitter (and most people didn't have a mobile phone) I even recall writing to my new friends in Blackburn during the week, as I was so looking forward to seeing them again.
I would receive letters back and we would sometimes exchange photos that we'd had developed of the previous weekend.
I recall these were the days when the last post from Blackpool's main post office was at 11pm - hard to believe now! I was so excited about some photos I'd just had developed and collected - from Boots the Chemist - that I decided I wanted Mandie and Carol to have a set of prints.
They were photos taken at Mandie's house the previous weekend and they made me laugh out loud.
So I stuck them in an envelope and drove into the town centre to catch the last post - this was at about 10.30pm! Then I received phone calls the following evening saying the photos had arrived safely and what a giggle they were!
We were always in touch and always raring to go. I lived at mum and dad's at the time and the landline never stopped ringing. I would chat to my friends for hours.
I felt so happy at this time! It felt like it would go on for ever and it was certainly in my view the most powerful movement of which I had ever been a part.
Saturday nights were legendary...
I can honestly say Saturday nights had legendary status and that's no exaggeration.
We would start getting ready earlier each week, as there was always a massive queue outside Monroes and sometimes it was a crush getting in as everyone clustered around the door, pressing up against it like they were suddenly going to burst through.
We were all just so keen to get in, I remember once being on the dance floor at 7pm - a massive change from when I was younger and often didn't make it out to a club until about 11pm due to taking so long to get ready!
After Monroes, we would always find a party somewhere - either an illegal rave at a disused warehouse somewhere, or a party at someone's house which invariably would go on all day Sunday too.
That was the brilliant thing about those days - there was always something to do, people to talk to, somewhere to go. What ever happened, we knew we would never be going home at 2am after the club, with only work to look forward to on a Monday morning.
We kept the weekend going as long as possible and always found something entertaining to do.
A Potted History of the Rave Scene (1987-1993)
We soon got into a routine for the weekend which actually started on a Thursday night and lasted till Monday morning, a pattern that continued for about two years.
On a Thursday, we would go to the house night at Park Hall, a nightclub at Charnock Richard. Many of our friends from Blackburn and Blackpool went there too - it was a case of everyone knowing where to go and when and we would all meet up without actually making any firm arrangements. We just knew everyone would be there.
That was the beauty of it all - and the music was the best. I still love those tunes to this day.
Dream Frequency: Feel So Real
I would somehow get through work on Friday - often after not getting to bed till 4am on Thursday night - and then the weekend began in earnest.
On Friday night, a club called Hacketts in Blackpool started running a house night, so my friends from Blackburn would come over and we would all go there.
When I got ready to go out at home, I would always listen to DJ Pete Tong on Radio 1, as he played the best house and rave music and always did a mix of the top tunes, which I would tape with my cassette deck so I could play it in the car on the way to the club.
I soon had a good collection of Pete Tong mix tapes, plus I used to buy records (the old vinyl) usually at Melody House in Blackpool, or Action Records in Preston, where you could buy even the most obscure 12-inch rave tunes. I would spend hours recording them on to a cassette tape to play in the car.
I also used to buy tapes (live mixes) by DJs such as Sasha, Graeme Park, Carl Cox and many more from sellers outside various clubs and I was given lots of mix tapes by amateur DJs who had mixed them in their bedroom!
I loved them all and they were all packed into a bright red case when ever I went off clubbing, so we could keep playing them all non-stop as we literally drove hundreds of miles.
After clubbing at Hacketts on a Friday night, we would either go back to someone's house in Blackpool if there was a party, or more often than not, I would pack a weekend bag and drive back over to Blackburn, with Julia coming too.
Filterheadz vs. FPI Project - Everybody
Mandie's house was always like open house in those days and I used to stay there most weekends.
We would normally arrive back in the early hours of Saturday morning and grab a few hours' sleep before starting to get ready for Monroes on Saturday night.
My memories are of me, Mandie, Carol and Julia all getting ready and then setting off as early as possible for our weekend.
There was a pub in Blackburn town centre called Minstrels and we would often go there first, as there would always be a lot of people we knew there.
But Monroes was always our main destination in those days, as far as I can recall.
Every night I spent there now blurs into one long, happy, hazy memory of dancing all night, hugging everyone in sight, some brilliant music, the friendly atmosphere, sometimes lounging in the chill-out area and then, at the end of the night, hoping to follow a convoy of other clubbers' cars down the motorway to find a rave.
We would all leave Monroes dripping wet - it was like a sauna inside - and rush to the car to set off for the motorway services (usually either Charnock Richard on the M6 or Anderton on the M61).
Once there, we would go straight into the toilets, where we would get changed out of our soaking clothes (in my case usually into jeans and t-shirt in the winter). I would dry my hair under the hand dryer in the toilets and put on some make-up, as invariably mine would have disappeared with the heat.
Then it was back to the cars to hang out on the services for however long it took to find a party.
Everyone would have tunes blasting out from their car stereos and we would catch up with mates who had been to other clubs. The services were like a meeting place for hundreds of people before setting off for a night's partying.
Most weeks, we would find a party - one minute we would be hanging around at the services, the next we'd see cars setting off and we would hurry back to my car to join the convoy.
We always presumed someone knew where the party was and we would follow. Usually, we were right in following, although I do recall a few nights when nobody knew where we were going and we would spend about three hours driving up and down various motorways before admitting defeat!
Sometimes, we would be aimlessly driving one way down the motorway when we would see a convoy heading in the opposite direction. Then it would be a crazy dash to the next turn-off so we could re-join the motorway going the other way and try to catch up.
When I first started going to raves, I had my faithful old car, a Ford Cortina estate, which dad had bought me years earlier for less than £100! We covered hundreds of miles in that trusty old car.
However, I realised it was on its last legs when we started struggling to keep up with the convoys! We were okay on the flat and going downhill, but if we had to go uphill at all, the car would slow right down and we'd be lucky if we hit 55mph! Other cars would begin overtaking us and we would fall behind.
So then it was another dash on the straight and going downhill to try and catch them up again! The car never let me down and we did always get there, however.
It was quite a useful car, being an estate, as anyone who felt tired could crash out in the back under a pile of coats till we reached our destination!
Normally, we would arrive at the party in the middle of the night - sometimes about 4am - and it would be in full swing and we would go rushing in.
I would be hard pressed to remember the individual places where I went to warehouse parties.
I remember one venue on New Year's Eve 1990 in Blackburn - a disused and quite dilapidated warehouse on two levels - which had a massive hole in the floor upstairs. The hole was about 12ft across and there was a drop of about 20ft below.
We were just dancing and walking round it and it never entered my head that I could actually fall down the hole in the dark and kill myself!
I recall another party which was raided by the police at about 7am. I was lucky in that this was one of only two occasions that I was in real danger of being arrested.
We were all partying when suddenly the riot police burst in with great force and off went the music.
I just wanted to go home then. My mood plummeted and I thought I would be carted off to the cells. We were not allowed to leave and we were lined up against the walls, rather like we were going to be shot. But instead, we were searched (for drugs, I presume) and when none were found, I was allowed to leave.
This experience did not deter me from going to illegal raves. I don't think anything would have deterred me.
Evolution - Take Me Higher (Sasha Mix, 1990)
Why I was hiding under a bridge at 2am...
This takes me back nicely to how this Hub started - with me running for my life in the middle of the night across fields and hiding on a ledge under a bridge.
The night had started out like any other - we had been to Monroes and the services and afterwards set off for a party in Barnoldswick, which was about 20 miles from Blackburn.
We had driven off the M65 motorway and followed a convoy along country lanes till we reached our destination, a warehouse which, at the time, seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere.
When we arrived in the vicinity, I must have abandoned the car on the nearest road and set off walking across a field towards the warehouse. But I should have guessed something was wrong - I couldn't hear any music and there were a lot of people just wandering around, including some walking back the other way and passing me.
When we reached the venue, someone told us the police had got wind of it earlier and had already been down, secured the building and confiscated the decks and other equipment. It had all been taken to the local police station.
I have no idea why I hung around. Just waiting to see what would happen, I guess.
But then we got reports back that a large number of disgruntled ravers had been to the police station demanding the equipment back and in the ensuing fracas, apparently a police officer had suffered a heart attack.
I never did find out the truth of this - it was like Chinese whispers, as later on, the story was that a policeman had died after the police station was under siege from the ravers. So I had no idea what the truth was. Unlike today, I couldn't just get out my mobile phone to either ring someone and find out, or check on the internet on local news websites if there were any disturbances.
We were pretty isolated just out in the middle of a field somewhere, with no idea what was going on.
It must have been summer, as I do remember I was wearing shorts still. When I went clubbing in winter, I always changed into my jeans and usually a jacket too at the services. But I recall I was scantily clad on this occasion and since we had not gained access to the warehouse, I was starting to feel cold.
However, before I'd had chance to start walking back to the car, I heard a lot of shouting in the darkness and people started running past me and fleeing.
The riot police had arrived, complete with batons to hit any unsuspecting clubbers who might put up any resistance.
To be honest, I was spent. I just wanted to go back to the car and go home.
But things started to get pretty scary when I saw fellow ravers (male and female) who were trying to run off being hit across the back by a police baton and knocked to the floor.
All of a sudden, panic broke out and I just started running as fast as my legs could carry me.
And that was how I ended up hiding under a bridge in the countryside.
In the darkness, I lost my friends and ended up completely alone, although I could still hear the commotion kicking off not too far away and could hear the screams and shouts as more people were apparently hit with a police baton.
I didn't intend hanging about and I just kept running, but I lost all sense of direction in the dark, having no idea where my car was.
So, too exhausted to run any more and scared I would either run into the riot police, or fall and injure myself, the ledge under the bridge seemed the best option.
I sat there for about two hours, until it had gone quieter and dawn broke. Even then, I was wary of coming out, feeling paranoia setting in and thinking someone was going to pounce on me and knock me senseless.
Eventually, I sneaked out. It was broad daylight by this time. I realized, to my dismay, that my car and the main road were actually about 300 yards away - I could see them as I emerged. But it had all seemed so much spookier in the dark, with random screams and shouts coming at me for what seemed like hours.
My friends were back at the car, but they couldn't get in because I had the keys in my pocket. So they were pretty cold and fed up too, having no idea what had happened to me and thinking I had been arrested! So we went off back to Blackburn and went to bed, having had one of our worst nights ever.
I found it ironic that ravers were always portrayed in the media as being hooligans on the rampage, randomly attacking police and wreaking havoc where ever we went.
The last thing any of us had in mind was trouble, unlike the "lager louts" who sullied every town centre on a Friday and Saturday night, tanked up on booze and more often than not out for a fight.
We just wanted to dance and party and none of us wanted to behave violently or aggressively.
I noted too that when ever there was a report of an illegal rave being raided, it was always reported that the police had been under attack.
In reality, incidents such as the one I experienced - where police were hitting young people with batons as they tried to simply leave - were never reported.
From what I saw, there had been no attacks on police, while I did know young girls who were clubbed with a baton just for being there.
An attempt to organise a rave which went horribly wrong...
One of the regulars on the rave scene at that time was a guy called George, whom I didn't know well, but I saw him around all the time and we had mutual friends.
I have no idea how this came about, but one weekend, he was adamant he was going to organize an illegal rave himself and he had a venue lined up - a warehouse somewhere out in the sticks.
I don't know how I came to be involved, as I was never a party organizer. But I recall, on the Saturday afternoon before Monroes, I gave George a lift to the venue to check it out and I had his DJ-ing equipment in the boot of my car.
He was confident he could get it up and running after Monroes that night and I was quite excited.
As always, we had a great night in Monroes and then afterwards, George hopped in my car to go to the warehouse and told loads of other people to follow us. It was very strange leading a convoy myself.
We had quite a lot of cars behind us.
As we arrived at the venue, however, something had gone wrong. I can't remember if George couldn't gain access, or couldn't get the power supply going for the decks and lights.
But something major was wrong and there was no chance the rave was going to go ahead, so everyone was just hanging around and I felt foolish for having been involved in the organizing of the non-event, even though I was just the driver!
Then someone said the police were on their way and people started disappearing fast. The realization suddenly hit me that if the police arrived and found all the DJ's equipment in my car, I would probably be arrested and spend a night in the cells under suspicion of being an illegal party organizer.
So we drove off pretty quickly and luckily were not caught.
Looking back, we hadn't really commited any crime, since we had never actually entered the warehouse.
But at the time, I thought I might be calling my unsuspecting parents to come and bail me out.
Dana Dawson - 3 Is Family (Divas Mix)
A Chance Meeting...
During my time going to Monroes, I was forever meeting new people - every week, I would get chatting to new friends and we would be buzzing around together for the evening.
One Saturday night, Julia and I started chatting to three guys and it turned out they were from Blackpool.
I had not seen any of them before, but we were soon having a laugh together - in particular, I clicked with Jon. We seemed to share the same sense of humour and just hit it off from the start.
Towards the end of the evening, he mentioned his mum's maiden name had been Evans before she married.
Ten minutes later, after talking about out families, we realized we were cousins! How strange that we had both grown up in Blackpool and had never met, but got talking at a club in Blackburn.
My dad came from a family of 13 brothers and sisters and although his generation kept in touch and met up for the annual new year's eve party and on other occasions, the younger generations, sadly, did not keep up the tradition - hence Jon and I had never met.
For months after this, we used to hang out with Jon and his friends, Lou and Aki, at the raves.
In fact, Jon even came to my dad's 60th birthday party with me - he had never even met my dad and his twin brother, Leonard before this.
The night of dad's party turned into a strange one ... the party itself was good fun and went on till about 1am. All the family was there - we were a big clan! We both met relatives we had never seen before.
Afterwards, we didn't feel like going home (it was a Saturday night) so we decided to drive to the motorway services to try and find our mates, who had been to Monroes. We thought if we timed it just right they would be arriving at Charnock Richard services at about the same time as we did.
Oh, to have had mobile phones back in those days! How much simpler life would have been!
As it was, we just set off driving down the M55 and on to Charnock Richard. But there was no-one we knew at all, so we went on to Anderton services instead.
In fact, we spent the entire night driving round in search of friends or parties, but found neither! I think we ended up meeting everyone at Jon's friend's house in Blackpool on the Sunday morning eventually.
By that time, I was not much use to anyone and spent the day sleeping and waking up to eat chocolate and crisps.
Julia and I spent a lot of time with Jon, Aki and Lou in the early '90s.
I remember spending hours sitting in the car on the services with them, or on a carpark outside a rave, talking nonsense and having such a laugh.
Sadly, Jon and I lost touch after I moved to Spain for a while in 1994. I have not seen him since and have no idea where he is again now.
This was such a shame, as we were good mates at one time.
I've tried to find him on Facebook, but drawn a blank.
I look back at this period in my life with such fond memories, I would love to know what has happened to many of the people I met then and how life has treated them.
Joe Smooth - Promised Land (1988)
Legal All-Night Raves
As well as the illegal warehouse parties, we also went to legal all-night parties at various venues.
In the early days, we went to mainly the ones in the North West, such as the Up Front all nighters.
I cannot recall where they were held, although I do have a lot of photos from the Rochdale Up Front event in March 1991.
I know there were many more that we enjoyed, but unfortunately, the details have vanished in the mists of time.
Gradually we spread our wings further and started going to other organised raves, such as Andromeda at Telford Ice Rink, 120 miles away.
After this, we started going even further afield, including all the Amnesia House raves at places such as Castle Donington in Leicestershire and even to Coventry, where we became regulars at the legendary Eclipse nightclub, nearly 150 miles away.
More about that later in this Hub.
Looking back, it's amazing to think we sometimes drove on a round trip of more than 200 miles for a night out! But we did this on many occasions.
Not surprisingly, my poor old Cortina eventually gave up the ghost and was worn out after all this motorway driving.
Still working as a journalist, I decided to get myself a new car and bought a 5-series BMW. It wasn't a new one, but it was still a beautiful car and also an automatic, so there was no more getting left behind on the convoys. I used to floor it so it automatically changed down from fourth to third gear and took off like a rocket.
I loved that car. I had so much fun driving it - plus it also had a huge sound system, much more powerful than the stereo in the Cortina - so we had music blasting out at full volume on every journey.
I remember on one occasion some ravers from another area - I can't recall where - were convinced I had organised a warehouse party, as they had gone to the services after hearing on the grapevine that someone in a blue BMW would be there to lead a convoy to the venue.
I wished I had organised it! But sadly I was as much in the dark as everyone else on that occasion.
I recall, in between selling the Cortina and buying the BMW, we went through a phase of hiring cars from Enterprise, in Blackpool.
We were so determined we were going to go off and party that we clubbed together to cover the cost of weekend hire. I think we did this for about five or six weeks and again when my car was off the road for a while.
We hired a Rover usually, with a 1.6 engine, but on one occasion, Enterprise had accidentally double booked it, so they gave us the 2.3 engine, executive model instead, at no extra cost, as it was their fault we were without a vehicle.
I remember having a crazy time driving that car - it was the most powerful vehicle I'd ever driven and rather than losing the convoy, we were holding back to avoid getting ahead of it, as the minute my foot hit the gas, it was off like a rocket.
Looking back, I was so lucky I didn't crash. My parents would have had heart failure if they had seen my driving it.
We seemed to be going at a normal speed, with music blasting out and all talking and laughing, when I looked at the speedometer and saw I was doing 115mph. I'd had no idea. I'd just been carried away and driving pretty smoothly and not really taking much notice that I was going faster and faster.
I wouldn't dare go at that speed now! (I don't think I would have done then, had I known how fast I was actually going).
Mishap on the motorway...
On another occasion in a hire car, we were in a convoy speeding down the motorway, music playing loud, as always, when I thought the car seemed to be driving in a strange manner, pulling to one side.
We were doing about 80mph in the fast lane at the time, so I just kept a tight hold on the steering wheel and carried on.
I noticed cars behind were flashing me and I thought they were just telling me to get out of the way. So I pulled over into the middle lane and carried on.
Finally arriving at the services - I didn't know how long we had been on the road - we parked up and got out of the car.
Then someone walking past said to me, "Do you know you've got a flat tyre?"
I'd had no idea! This was why people had been flashing at us - we'd had a blow-out and hadn't even noticed!
I had no idea what to do. There was a spare tyre in the boot and a jack, but none of us knew how to change a tyre. We were stuck.
Then, to my surprise, a guy whom I chatted to a little, but didn't really know that well, came over and said he would change the tyre for us! So he got down on the floor, at 3am on a winter's night, jacked up the car and put on the spare tyre for us, really saving the day!
He didn't even want any thanks - he just said he'd done it because we were fellow ravers. What a brilliant guy.
Blackburn warehouse parties (1990) with news footage of police raids and convoys
I can honestly say the majority of people we met at the raves were genuine, decent and honest, as we were.
But I recall one incident when I was left quite shocked.
As always, Julia, Mandie, Carol and I had ended up at the motorway services and pulled up alongside an unfamiliar car. We couldn't see any of our mates around at that time.
The adjacent car had a couple of guys in the driver's and passenger seat and they had the windows wound down, so we ended up chatting to them, even though they were strangers, which was the norm.
I couldn't help noticing that the steering column was ripped out of their car, with bare wires hanging out everywhere.
They saw me staring at it and one of them said quickly, "Terrible, isn't it? We've just got back to the car and someone's tried to wire [steal] it!"
I was just commiserating with them - and thinking how calm they were considering their car had just been damaged - when Julia began pulling at my arm and saying, "Karen, come over here a minute."
I wondered what was wrong - usually, she was happy to stand and chat to people, as I was.
Julia got me back in our car and advised me not to speak to them any more.
I was confused, till she pointed out the fact they were calmly sitting in a stolen car on the services, not ringing the police or appearing even slightly alarmed, seemed to signify they had actually stolen the vehicle themselves and had used it to get to the services!
Sure enough, when we looked round again, they had gone, leaving the car with the wires hanging out and the windows wide open. So I guessed Julia was right.
I must be naïve.
I was pretty appalled. That wasn't the kind of thing I would have expected - everyone normally looked out for each other.
The only other time I recall any trouble was at one of the massive, organized, outdoor raves down South - either Fantazia or Amnesia, I can't remember.
A huge crowd of us had gone there from Blackburn, but got separated on arrival for long periods. There were about 5,000 people there and it was huge.
Bumping into my friend about an hour later, I was appalled to learn that while alone, he had been surrounded by a gang of about six guys, who had demanded he hand over his gold necklace!
He hadn't really had much choice - it was either hand it over, or they would take it forcibly anyway.
However, I would like to point out these weren't true ravers. They were an organized gang of petty criminals, the like of which turn up at any major public event, who were there with the sole purpose of stealing from people.
It marred our night, though, understandably.
These were, quite truthfully, the only occasions when I encountered any problems in six years of going to all the parties.
On the whole, everyone was there to simply have a good time, dance, meet people and have a laugh and there was never any bad behaviour.
A S H A - J.J. Tribute (Original 1990 Version)
Large circle of friends
Gradually, we met more and more people and ended up going to raves in a mini convoy of our own.
As well as me, Mandie, Carol and Julia, we would go out clubbing with brothers Carl (Bollie) and Lee from Blackburn; Adele from Clayton-le-Woods; Kev, Johnny, Max and Lee, also from Blackburn; Rachael from Blackburn and James (Flash) and Pete from Lower Darwen.
These were the main friends with whom I partied from 1990-1993 and we went all over the country together.
Other people often came out with us and we met new people all the time and hung out with them for weeks on end.
But for those three years, this was my close circle of friends and we practically lived at each other's houses.
I remember Johnny sometimes borrowed his dad's 7-series white BMW and when I didn't have my car on the odd occasion, I had a lift with him. I loved that car! It was stunning.
Unfortunately, I remember he had a minor accident on one occasion and scraped it. He said his dad was going to kill him and stop him from borrowing it again!
Pete drove a little red Nova and drove to the raves in that.
Pete and James both had decks at their homes and sometimes on a Sunday, we would go there and they would be mixing tunes all day, while we had the odd beer.
Normally, though, Sundays were spent at Mandie's house, which was always open house. Her mum and stepdad, John, were brilliant. They didn't mind who came round and everyone was welcomed with open arms (the same as my mum and dad, really).
I often awoke at Mandie's to the sound of John playing Four Non Blondes' What's Up at full blast. I can't hear that song to this day without memories of staying at Mandie's flooding back.
Another constant companion was Mandie's cat, Jess. He was always hanging out with us in her bedroom and enjoyed sitting and purring around everyone who came to visit and stay. He was named after the cartoon cat in Postman Pat.
We did some funny things on a Sunday - one time, we all went for a drive and ended up on a kids' playground somewhere. Goodness knows where. We were on the roundabout and climbing frame and even in a tree house.
Sometimes, we went to the pub, especially on a Sunday night, to chill out and in my case not look forward to the drive back to Blackpool and work on Monday morning.
I remember at one time meeting a car load of ravers from Settle, in the Yorkshire dales, who used to drive over for the Blackburn parties.
They would also come back to Mandie's with us and then they started inviting us over to Settle on a Sunday, a 29-mile drive. You would think we'd have had enough of driving, but I remember we went on several occasions.
I think that was what I liked about weekends. You never knew quite where you would end up.
On one occasion, the Settle crew invited us to their friend's house, as his parents were away and it was open house for the weekend.
It was a massive house in a beautiful, scenic, rural area and there was music blasting out from a premium stereo system upstairs. It was isolated and out in the middle of nowhere, so there was no danger of upsetting the neighbours, as there weren't any to be seen.
My main memory of that weekend was Bollie lying with his head in a speaker to hear the booming bass. That was too much for me - by Sunday afternoon, I was winding down!
I think some of us had more staying power than others!
Sometimes, I went back to James's house on a Sunday - his mum, like most mothers I met, was very welcoming and didn't mind people going back to the house.
What I loved a lot about those days was that I had both male and female friends and we would just hang out together all weekend and have a laugh.
I always had a choice of places to go on a Sunday and so many good friends. We were never bored, never lonely and never got into any arguments or trouble. We just used to enjoy each other's company and didn't want the weekend to end.
To this day, I've never known such camaraderie and friendships as were formed in those days.
I had so many cassette tapes which captured the music of the era and some of my favourites were those produced on a Sunday afternoon at various people's houses.
They would be taken out of their case as we drove to clubs and warehouse parties - the person in the front passenger seat was usually in charge of the music and my infamous red case containing all my cassettes was housed under their seat.
I had, literally, hundreds of tapes from all over the country and I knew every one by heart.
Sadly, when I moved house in 2007, I managed to lose all my old tapes, still in their red case that came on so many drives with us, plus my collection of flyers from all the raves I went to. I had hundreds, literally. To this day, I have no idea what happened to them.
I should have been more careful! Many were irreplaceable, as they were produced by friends and they would not be likely to turn up on YouTube ever. They were a one-off which captured the moment.
I can't begin to estimate how many hundreds, or more likely thousands, of miles we travelled over the years in pursuit of parties!
It was a total lifestyle choice - not just the music, but a way of life.
While researching this Hub, I read an interview online with Suddi Raval, co-founder of the band, Together, who produced the iconic Blackburn rave song, Hardcore Uproar. His sentiments rang true to me, too.
Discussing the Blackburn rave scene in particular, he recalled: "It seemed to grow really quickly. It mushroomed from a few hundred people into a few thousand in no time at all."
He went on to say: "There was an element of risk, because they were illegal parties, but there was a massive excitement about just waiting for that car to go past and join the convoy on to this illegal acid house party. That risk did add a bit of a buzz to them."
He also recalled meeting ravers from as far afield as London and Scotland at the Blackburn parites.
"I remember clearly going up to people and asking them, 'Why have you come up here from London?' and I loved their answer - to this day I still love it," he adds.
"They said simply, 'To dance'. I remember thinking, 'I suppose that’s why I’m here. I’m lucky I’m down the road,' but to think there’s a guy from London, there’s a guy from Edinburgh, there’s a guy from Bristol, there’s a guy from Cardiff - and they’ve come here just to dance."
He also recalled the real risks involved and how people were arrested all the time for attending the illegal parties. But he conceded that "added a real sense of excitement", which I guess it did.
The interview with Suddi Raval struck such a chord with me and put into perspective our travelling all over the country to dance and party. It was a phenomenon and we were not alone - thousands of young people were doing the same thing every single weekend in the early '90s.
The crowd samples in Hardcore Uproar were actually recorded at an illegal rave in Nelson, in February 1990, which was attended by en estimated 10,000 people.
Raval recalled afterwards, "That was the last party of it’s kind. After that, the police did really drive it underground, because they were arresting people after that."
Shades Of Rhythm - Sweet Sensation
Sometimes, we would come back to Blackpool on a Sunday. My long-suffering parents - and grandma, who lived with us - were well used to people piling back to our house from my punk days.
They were brilliant. They never batted an eyelid, no matter who came back.
Dad was always fooling about and cracking jokes, always making everyone feel welcome.
I am so lucky in having such great parents.
Although I partied a lot and travelled all over the country clubbing, they never minded as long as I was okay and they gave me enough freedom so that I didn't go off the rails in trying to rebel.
They just let me enjoy my life and it was only years later that I realised how truly lucky I really was to have such understanding parents.
My dad passed away in 1999, but my memories of him and his laid back attitude to life will remain with me for ever. How kind he was to lend me his car in the early days, before I could afford one of my own!
Mum recalled about five of us coming back to our house once and she popped her head round my bedroom door to see if we wanted a cup of tea, only to find us all fast asleep on the bed and on my bed settee!
So she just quietly shut the door and left us there for the afternoon.
I do remember that as being quite an odd day.
I had been driving many miles - I think we had been looking for parties, but without success - so I'd had no chance to relax and had a vision in my head of the dark motorway stretching out in front of me, with the cat's eyes on the road shining in my headlines.
Much of the motorway did not have lights and it was a case of driving through the darkness, with my full beam on.
Then, against my better judgement, when we got back to Blackpool, we went in the seafront amusements and I went on ... a simulated driving game. Not a good idea!
I recall as I drove back from the promenade to my house, I still had the image of the screen from the driving game in my head. I was so overtired, I was struggling to differentiate what was the actual road and what was the simulated road in my mind.
I just ploughed on - instead of doing the sensible thing and stopping - and somehow got us back to my house. Luckily, a few hours' sleep was all I needed to feel "normal" again.
Despite my hectic weekends, I managed to hold down a steady job as a journalist and always made it to work on Monday morning, except on one notable occasion, when I had stayed at my friend Vanessa's house, in Blackpool, on the Sunday night, instead of going home for an early night, as I should have done.
I woke up at 7am with all good intentions of driving home, having a bath and going to work. But I was just so tired!
Vanessa wasn't working and was having a lazy day at home and against my better judgement, I rang work and told them I was ill and wouldn't be in. Then I rang home and told mum I was going straight to work from Vanessa's. Then I went back to sleep.
My grandma used to say, "Be sure your sins will find you out," and she was normally correct.
Bearing in mind this was before the days of mobile phones, I had no idea at all of the trouble I'd be in!
I went home at about 5pm, when normally I would have been coming in from work, only to find mum pacing up and down and not impressed.
Apparently, my boss had called my home number at lunchtime to ask if I expected to be back in work on Tuesday, as my absence had caused some problems. There was a relatively small staff at the newspaper and being one person down made a big difference.
Mum, not knowing it was my boss, said cheerily, "Oh, she's at work," when the lady on the other end of the phone had asked for me.
Her heart sank when my boss replied, "No, she isn't - this IS her work and she's not here!"
So my lie had been discovered several hours earlier and I arrived home to find I'd have to face the music the following day.
Somehow, I managed to talk my way out of it, but I was always careful to make sure I was in work on the Monday morning after that, as I couldn't afford to lose my job because I'd partied too hard at the weekend.
Control - dance with me ( I'm your ecstasy )
Bowlers at Trafford Park
Another club where we went fairly regularly was Bowlers, at Trafford Park, Manchester. I think this would be after we stopped going to Monroes and started spreading our wings farther afield.
Bowlers, normally a leisure complex, was home to Life, which began holding weekly rave nights there on a Saturday back in the early '90s. This lasted for several years.
The venue could hold up to 5,000 people - it was truly huge - and the rave nights were held from 9pm to 3am.
It began back in April 1992, after another popular venue, Pleasurdrome, had closed down.
Bowlers' "Life Goes On" event on 25 April '92 saw DJs Carl Cox and Welly, plus a PA from Toxic 2, entertain the 4,000-plus clubbers who turned up to dance the night away.
I recall when we first went to Bowlers, it was the era when quite a lot of clubbers were waving the fluorescent glow-sticks when dancing, or wearing white gloves. I can't say I was ever into that sort of thing, but plenty of people were.
I do remember that if you lost your friends at any point, there really was a chance you might not see them again for the remainder of the evening, due to there being so many thousands of people there.
On one occasion, there was some kind of special event, which included a bouncy castle in one area.
Again, normally I didn't bother with things like that either, but I was persuaded to climb inside by a guy I knew - I had actually lost my friends and had been hanging out with some people I'd just met.
It was funny at first, but I was horrified when the bouncy castle started quickly deflating and going down, trapping a few of us in the middle, under the swathes of plastic!
Perhaps all those adults jumping up and down had just been too much and it had burst!
I recall feeling panicky very quickly as I tried to scramble out before I was completely enveloped in deflated plastic! I thought I would suffocate!
I remember other occasions too when I just became so hot and dehydrated with the intense heat in the venue that I had to go and sit outside in my car with all the doors open and drink gallons of water.
I found a couple of my friends had done the same thing and we ended up not going back inside Bowlers, instead just hanging out on the car park and talking to other clubbers who'd had the same idea.
Utah Saints - Something Good (Original Version 1992)
Some of the people we met in Bowlers were a different crowd from those who went to the Blackburn parties.
I recall on one occasion we started chatting to a crowd from Liverpool and ended up being invited back to someone's house for a party afterwards.
It was July 1991 - I remember so clearly only because I have a lot of photos with the date on the back - and we went to a party hosted by a guy called Steve, who lived in Standish.
I recall one of the Liverpool crowd was a guy called Dom, another was Ken and my own mates, Dave Clough and Dave Roberts, were there, but a lot of the other party-goers had been complete strangers to me about 12 hours earlier.
Bearing in mind we had never met half these people before, we were soon chatting and laughing like we'd been friends for years. It was just like that in those days.
By the Sunday afternoon, as we sat in the back garden in lovely sunshine, I was so overtired that everything seemed hilarious.
One guy was entertaining us with a glove puppet - Rowlf the dog from the Muppets - and when someone commented our noses were getting sunburned, we all immediately donned leaves from a nearby tree and started wearing them to stop our nose going red.
The sad thing was that we never saw the Liverpool crowd again! It wasn't like we could keep in touch on Facebook. We had one brilliant weekend and then our paths never crossed.
This was a regular occurrence, however! You could meet someone and really click, but find out they were from another town - sometimes 100 miles away - and the likelihood of ever meeting up again would be slim, to say the least.
This was the case when we met a guy called Paul, who hailed from Carlisle, at a party in June 1991 in some remote area. A few cars full of party-goers had gone back there and various people had been on the decks and keeping the music going all night.
I recalled I had been speaking to Paul on the services after Monroes. I'd never seen him before then, but he and his friend had come back to the party afterwards, as had a lot of other people.
As the night wore on, Julia and I decided we had better head off, as we weren't sure where we were and it was almost Sunday morning by this time.
We had noticed Paul had fallen asleep in an arm chair almost on arrival and hadn't moved for the remainder of the night, despite people's best efforts to awaken him.
When he did eventually wake up, as Julia and I were leaving, he realised his friend had left without him and was presumably half way back to Carlisle, a distance of about 100 miles, by that time!
Paul was stranded at the house, with no money and no transport, in just the clothes he was wearing, knowing he had to get back to Carlisle somehow.
No, I didn't offer to drive him to Carlisle - but Julia and I said we'd drive him back to Blackpool with us and I offered to take him to the train station and lend him the money for a single rail ticket so he could get home safely.
So off we went at about 5am, when it was still fairly dark, although dawn was starting to break. Julia was in the front passenger seat and Paul in the back, where he immediately fell asleep again.
A Twilight Zone moment...
As we set off, we realised we were lost. We had followed a small convoy of cars to the house the night before and now setting off on our own, before the days of sat nav, we had no idea where we were.
We ended up driving down unlit country roads and suddenly, a mist enveloped us and it was very spooky! It reminded me of something from the TV science fiction show, The Twilight Zone, when you were expecting something weird to happen!
Even the usual music pounding from the cassette player did little to lift my mood.
Julia and I began chatting about more mundane, everyday things and I mentioned how I had done a car boot sale to make some extra income.
Julia replied she had seen some items in my car boot (which I'd forgotten to unpack before setting off for Blackburn that weekend) and she said innocently, "Is that vegetable basket still in the back?"
All of a sudden, a little, tired voice piped up from the back seat, "I'm NOT a vegetable basket! Thanks a lot!"
Paul had finally woken up and mistakenly thought we were referring to him!
We just burst out laughing and said, "Go back to sleep!"
Eventually, after driving round for about two hours, we managed to find the motorway and were soon back in Blackpool. I brought Paul back to my house and made him a cup of tea and some sandwiches for the train journey, as he was totally penniless.
As always, mum didn't bat an eyelid and just accepted the fact there were always various people coming and going from our house every Sunday.
I drove Paul to Blackpool North train station, bought his ticket for Carlisle and told him to just pay me back if ever I saw him again. So he went off on his way and that was that.
I didn't think I would ever hear of him again, as Carlisle was so many miles away and our paths had not crossed before.
About a month later, Julia said to me, out of the blue, "Look, it's that 'vegetable basket'!" while handing me a newspaper cutting.
Sure enough, there was Paul's photo in the newspaper. He had apparently been in some minor skirmish and had been arrested and fined for breach of the peace.
But unfortunately, he was for ever known as the "vegetable basket" after that. A shame, really, as he was a nice guy, but it was a nickname that stuck. It was said with no disrespect, but just in memory of his suddenly waking up in the back seat of my car at that precise moment and thinking we were insulting him!
Double D - Found Love
The Empire, Morecambe
Another north west club with a huge rave scene in the early '90s was the Empire, on Marine Road West, Morecambe.
Located in a seaside resort not unlike my home town of Blackpool, the Empire was about a 35-mile drive away and was housed in a former cinema on the seafront.
From memory, I went there only a handful of times, to the legendary Up Front all nighters, which were held in various clubs in the north of England during this era. (I was very much a Monroes girl at this time).
The night went on until 8am on the Sunday morning and it felt quite surreal emerging from the dark club on to a sunny promenade during the holiday season.
The DJs included residents Paul Walker, Paul Taylor, Matt Bell and Rob Tissera, plus guests such as Stu Allen and John J, while the resident MC was BMW.
Up Front promotions ran a membership card scheme and there were a few shocked faces when queuing to get in and suddenly a camera flashed in your face, taking a photo for the membership card.
This was the only way the club could remain open - by running a membership scheme - due to objections from the police which would have meant its licence being revoked.
This was a time when the police across the north west were trying their best to stamp out the rave scene, which had started with the clampdown on the Blackburn parties, as described earlier in this article.
Whether the raves were legal or illegal, the authorities were looking for any way they could to put an end to them.
While researching this article online, I came across an interview with a (nameless) clubber, who recalled a memorable first night at the Empire.
He recalled, "I remember hitting this place once with my cousin and his mates. I was only 16. I got in there and paid - then next thing I know, I'm getting asked my date of birth. I just blurted out some random date.
"Then I remember being told to stand at the side for a photo, I didn't know what was going on. Then a couple of weeks later, a membership came through the door with my twisted face on the photo! I've still got the membership card too."
As with the Blackburn rave scene, clubbers travelled from other parts of the country to the Empire all nighters.
Another regular recalled travelling from Crewe - 84 miles away down the M6 motorway - to go to the Up Front events.
"I used to go here in '93 and '94 - I travelled from Crewe every week to Carlos II in Colne, then on to Morecambe for the all nighter," he said.
There are several Morecambe Empire videos on YouTube showcasing the DJs, MCs and club-goers in the early '90s and plenty of people commenting on them to this day with their fond memories.
One former clubber recalled: "This is a time and place where you really did dance for six to 12 hours, whether you could stop or not! 'Can't stop, won't stop', wicked tune!"
There would be a sudden influx of people at about 3am, when ravers who had been to places such as Zone in Blackpool, Angels in Burnley, Wigan Pier and Bowlers in Manchester, would rush down to the Empire to carry on partying.
People were arriving as late as 6am to get that extra couple of hours' partying in.
One former clubber, Jack Gardner, recalled, "Top nights at the Empire, awesome sound system, top atmosphere, top tunes, brilliant memories. Free fruit on the way out!
"Scaring all the people attending the car boot sale opposite on a Sunday morning 'cos we looked like sweaty zombies after parties with MC BMW!
"I know it will never happen again, but I'm proud to have been around during those early house days."
The free fruit to which he referred was the fact the management handed out free oranges as people left the club in the morning!
I don't recall this happening at any other club, as far as I can recall. They even handed out towels for club-goers to dry themselves off before they left.
Sadly, like many of the rave clubs that were around in the early '90s, the Empire eventually closed down its rave nights after allegations of illegal drugs and subsequent problems with the local licensing committee.
In an attempt to remain open, the organisers of Up Front issued a letter to members, reminding them it was an "anti-drugs dance club operation" and asking them to "refrain from bringing controlled and illegal substances on to the premises".
However, the police put in an application to magistrates to have the club's licence revoked, describing the all nighters as "a keg of dynamite waiting to explode".
Even though the club management had adhered to the legal requirements and put a membership scheme in place, at the licensing committee hearing, the police claimed "it was obvious that non-members were gaining entry".
Prior to the hearing, the police carried out a high-profile raid, codenamed "Operation Dustpan", as part of their relentless pursuit of closing down rave nights.
Thirty-five officers stormed the Empire in the hope of finding illegal drugs - or indeed, anything which could signify the club had broken the terms of its licence.
As a result of the raid, one person was later charged and fined on a drugs offence.
Considering the thousands of people who went to the Empire, this did not seem like a club that threatened the fabric of society.
However, Supt Ivan Howarth, of Morecambe Police, spearheaded the bid to revoke the Empire's licence, telling the licensing hearing, "I was not happy at all with what I found and as time went on, the problems that manifested meant it was like a keg of dynamite waiting to explode."
This was something the police would never understand - all everyone wanted to do was dance. No-one was looking for a fight, or looking to go out and vandalise the town as they left.
The army of ravers in those days wanted to meet their friends, party and have a good time and then go on their way without any trouble.
I have no idea to this day why the police felt it was about to explode into an orgy of violence and bloodshed.
Nobody wanted to get into a brawl, beat people up or go on a wrecking spree in the surrounding area when they left the club.
The only violence I ever saw in six years of going to raves, as mentioned earlier, was that perpetrated by the riot police and their batons as they attempted to try and disperse a peaceful event.
But to the police and local residents - as with many of the rave clubs at that time - it was, unfortunately, something which must be stamped out because they feared it might erupt into violence and depravity!
Eventually, the powers-that-be had their way, of course and the Empire was shut down as a rave venue.
I remember the lyrics of a song in those days: "Can't beat the system, go with the flow."
You really can't beat the system.
For every peace-loving raver who just wanted to have a good time, without hurting anyone, there was a police officer, a magistrate, a television news presenter, a local councillor, a newspaper reporter, an upstanding local resident or some other pillar of society who saw young people having fun as a menace who must be stopped.
Even now, many years later, my views on this subject have never changed and I still fail to understand the obsession of the powers-that-be in labeling rave as a threat to society.
Invariably, they won, in that they shut down many excellent clubs in the '90s.
But on the other hand, they couldn't break our spirit and the "high on hope" philosophy which sent us searching for new places to go when the system crushed an old one.
Photos from Morecambe Empire in its heyday
The Empire, Morecambe, all nighter (early 1990s)
Angels, in Burnley, Lancashire, was first running house nights from the very early days in around 1987-88.
You could say it was one of the pioneers of house in the region, since the scene was pretty new then.
DJ Marcus Kaye hosted the Tuesday night sessions in those days, playing acid, techno and house music.
Angels also hosted guest DJs including a young Carl Cox before the club rose to fame in the dance scene.
I never went to Angels myself, unfortunately. I have no idea why, since it was well within our driving range. But sadly, I never made it.
However, I've been asked to include it in this article by a friend, a regular there who has some great photos. So many people I knew went there, it was fitting that I wrote a section in tribute to one of the great clubs of the rave era.
It was in 1990/91 that it really took off as a dance club, hosting some of the top DJs of the day, including resident DJ at Manchester Hacienda, Welly and Stu Allen.
Resident DJ Paul Taylor raised the roof every week, while Anne Savage had her first UK residency at Angels.
Drawing visitors from across the United Kingdom, it occupied part of a multi-storey car park on Curzon Street, later to become the site of another car park and Wilkinson store following Angels' demise.
Angels lives on through YouTube videos and former clubbers' memories.
Tony Wood, commenting on the Fantazia Rave Archive site, said, "Paul Taylor just took the roof off week in and week out ... loved it when that cannon used to fire one big bang and Paul Taylor just dropped 'Back by Dope Demand' straight after ... quality!
"Met some very fine friends from Burnley, proper memories that will never be forgotten."
One (anonymous) raver recalled, "One of my best nights was DJ Sneak - and Paul Bleasdale rocked it too. The all nighters were mental. Back then, they went on till 4am."
Another former Angels regular recalled, "We Are Family was the start of Paul Taylor's grand finale, when he turned all the lights off, then turned every light in the club on full beam.
"What memories! I feel sorry for anyone who didn't experience it."
Other memories included the chill out room upstairs selling chip butties, while one former clubber commented, "You knew you were nearly in when you got to the bus shelter in the queue. The sound and smells will never leave me, as the memories won't."
So popular was Angels that the first episode of BPM, a long-running late night dance show broadcast on ITV, was filmed there in late 1992.
Sadly, even at the height of its fame, Angels' days were numbered.
The landowners, Great Portland Estates and Burnley Council, decided that demolition and redevelopment of the area was the most economically viable solution after the building was found to have developed serious structural defects.
The last night at Angels was 27 April 1996. It was later demolished - another end of an era.
Angels, Burnley (1992)
Wigan Pier was another rave venue which drew party-goers from across the North West and beyond in the early '90s.
Thousands of party-goers will have fond memories of the club, on Pottery Road.
DJ Welly (Paul Welding) started out at Wigan Pier in 1987/88.
Later, on his online "Discogs" page, Welly recalled, "It was here that I was taught an invaluable DJ lesson by Malcolm Thorpe (Malc T) and that was the art of 'warming up', a trait sadly lacking in a lot of today’s club nights."
Welly remained there as the house music explosion gripped the UK in '89 and when the warehouse parties in Blackburn took off every weekend.
DJ Nipper was also a regular there and the most popular music included the piano tunes (which I loved myself from Monroes in the early days).
In its heyday, which lasted throughout the early '90s, Wigan Pier attracted hundreds of party people, including Stu Fleck, who commented on YouTube, "It was a top club. My memories of '92 are buzzin' from glowing in front of the mirrors and the lasers bouncing off my 'high vis' - and who can forget sitting in the speakers?"
Also commenting on YouTube, Lisa Bridge said, "I met my hubby there ... we have been together since 1991 and married for 14 years.
"We made some great friends ... some fantastic nights and memories - Phil and big Dave on the door, Terry the owner, Malcolm, Nipper, the bar staff and too many to mention. The best days of our lives were spent there! The best memories, 1990-1994."
Another (anonymous) clubber recalled, "I had amazing nights back in the early and mid' 90s. I'm now in my late 40s and would give anything for one more mad night at the Pier."
Also commenting on YouTube, another former Wigan Pier party-goer recalled, "I spent most of my youth in that place every Friday or Saturday night. The atmosphere was electric.
"There used to be 800 people in there easily, queuing way back over the bridge. So many memories ... met so many friends in there who are still friends to this day."
Unfortunately, like so many of the great rave clubs of the early '90s, Wigan Pier came to a sad end.
Often criticized by local residents for its loud music and the crowds it attracted, the Pier pulled in up to 800 ravers every Friday and Saturday night in its heyday.
But gradually, over the years, the numbers dwindled.
In 2009, residents of the new Trencherfield apartments complained about the noise, forcing its owners to turn down the sound, which they believed contributed to its demise. By 2011, only about 100 people were attending the club and it closed down in the December of that year.
In January 2014, it was decided to demolish the former nightclub as part of a redevelopment plan for the area.
Its status was indeed legendary - at the council meeting when the redevelopment was discussed, a local councillor, David Molyneux, deputy leader of Wigan Council, admitted thousands of party-goers would have fond memories of the club.
He told other councillors, "The building is about 40 years old and I’m sure there are a lot of people who have happy - and slightly hazy - memories of good times at the old club. But the building is now in a rotten state."
A year later, on 13 January 2015, the Manchester Evening News reported how it was the "end of an era" for Wigan Pier as bulldozers were set to move in to demolish the final section of the legendary nightclub.
The area was being renamed the Wigan Pier Quarter and was to be redeveloped over the next 10 years into a 1,200-seat performance venue, new homes and shops.
Wigan Pier, 1991 - DJ Nipper
The Eclipse, Coventry
It was in the summer of 1991 - June, to be precise - when we first went to the famous Eclipse club, in Coventry.
At the time, we regularly went in Minstrels pub in Blackburn before going clubbing and one weekend, we were asked if we'd be interested in going on a coach trip to Eclipse the following Saturday.
It was a legal all-night rave venue that went on till 8am Sunday morning. Andy and Jackie, who owned Minstrels at the time, were planning on organizing a coach and wanted to gauge numbers.
Of course, we said yes, we'd love to go.
It was around 130 miles from Blackburn to Coventry, but all we had to do was sit back in the coach and enjoy the ride. We knew it would be worthwhile going.
So the following Saturday found us setting off from Blackburn at about 9pm to begin the journey to Coventry down the M6.
The journey seemed to pass in no time and nothing could have prepared me for the sight that greeted me when we reached the Eclipse club.
There were literally hundreds of people queuing up outside to get in and it was massive, spread across several levels, with music blasting out. I found out later it was the UK's first legal all night rave and people went there from all over the country.
We got in somehow and from that first night, I was hooked.
There were different levels, different rooms playing varied music, a massive chill-out area, some top international DJs and live sets and thousands of people all just wanting to have a good time.
And all being legal, there was no chance the riot squad were going to burst in at any moment and start randomly hitting people with their batons.
Emerging that first time, at 8am Sunday morning into brilliant sunlight, we found plenty of people hanging round their cars, music blasting out from their stereo system and dancing on a car park nearby. I just didn't want to go home.
Driving back to Blackburn, we were all still on a high on the coach (although worn out) and we stopped briefly at the services - Corley on the M6 - to stretch our legs.
However, unlike when we drove anywhere, we couldn't stay there most of Sunday, of course, as the coach driver had to get us back home.
After going to Eclipse on the coach several times, a few car loads of us decided to keep going there some Saturday nights even after the coach trips were discontinued.
I would drive down and Pete would take his car and normally about ten of us would drive over, a 260-mile round trip. Sometimes, more mates drove there if there were enough people with cars who wanted to go.
We met a lot of fantastic people - those I remember were Stuart and Justin, from Coventry and Nottingham respectively, who started coming out with us after we met them at Eclipse.
There was also a crowd who drove there from Barnsley and we hung out with them on the motorway services some Sundays and then there was a guy called Paul, who actually lived about two minutes from the Eclipse and was a regular whom I chatted to every week.
I'm not in touch with any of these people - and now and again, I often wonder what happened to them, as we continued to go to Eclipse fairly regularly for about a year or so and met some brilliant mates there.
When we continued to go to Eclipse under our own steam, there were a few eventful weekends - both good and bad.
One week, after the club shut at 8am, everyone was going to some woodland area (I can't remember where) to laze about on the grass, as it was a lovely, warm, sunny morning and it was a good place to chill out till it was time to drive home.
I recall going for a walk through the woods, which were deserted. One of the guys who had come along - whom I didn't know very well, but he was from Coventry - decided to do something rather bizarre. He began taking off his clothes! I guess he was feeling at one with nature.
I should have guessed it would end badly.
Simultaneously, a party of Boy Scouts appeared through the foliage, out on an organized Sunday walk with their troupe!
I recall this guy leaping into the bushes and trying frantically to put his clothes back on while crouching down before the Scouts arrived. I think he succeeded and saved his blushes, but I was in hysterics.
An emergency one weekend
Although most of the times we had were happy ones, there were occasionally some bad times. One of these occurred when we were going to one of the Fantazia raves in 1992.
We had picked up Justin, from Nottingham, in my car and headed off to the party, as always in high spirits. However, on the journey, Justin said he was starting to feel unwell.
He said his chest felt tight and hurt when he breathed. He tried to brush it off and forget about it, but gradually, the pain worsened and he started to feel extremely ill.
We all started to feel scared for him, as he felt so bad, so instead of heading off to Fantazia, we instead made a detour to the nearest hospital, where we spent the night in Accident & Emergency.
It was a good job we had gone - it turned out Justin had pleurisy, an inflammation of the lungs, which was restricting his breathing.
Happily, he recovered well, but we ended up taking him home on the Sunday morning, where he had to spend a few days recovering.
On another occasion, I recall starting to feel really ill - as if I was going to feint - at one of the parties. I had to go and sit down and I started panicking, thinking I was going to pass out.
Luckily, Julia was on hand to calm me down and after about an hour, I started feeling okay again.
We were always there to look out for each other, having fun together during the good times and supporting each other through the bad.
That's one thing I will always remember about those days - you were never alone and always had a great group of mates who would make sure you were okay.
Jill Sanders - I Can't Feel It (1990) - with photos of early '90s raves
Fantazia at Castle Donnington Race Track
The biggest rave I ever went to was Fantazia, at Castle Donnington, in July 1992.
The event brought together more than 25,000 people to stage the world's largest rave at that time.
The mighty stage was dressed up as a castle, with a giant, inflatable dragon which appeared to breathe smoke.
We had travelled from Blackburn to the venue by coach - the same crowd who went to Eclipse - and I recall I had little money that weekend (waiting for my monthly pay day) and was wondering how I could possibly afford to go.
I managed to scrape together the money for the coach fare, but didn't have the admission fee. I think it was about £20, although I can't remember exactly.
However, I had a cunning plan. Being a reporter, I had an official, laminated press card, with my photo on. Instead of it saying on the card that I worked for a rather lowly local newspaper, I had deliberately stated that I worked for Reed Northern Newspapers, our parent company.
As a result, that little card came in very useful over the years for talking my way into many events free of charge by pretending I worked for a particular publication and was writing a magazine feature!
It seemed a bit sneaky, I guess. But I was so intent on going to every event and club imaginable, it was just a means to an end and came in useful when money was tight.
I'd decided to try the same tack at Fantazia, as it was the only way I was going to gain entrance.
My friends didn't fancy my chances, but I said I might as well try, as I'd nothing to lose.
If it went wrong, however, I would have to hang about the coach all night while everyone else partied. So it was a bit of a gamble.
I felt strangely unexcited all the way to Fantazia, as I genuinely thought I'd have no chance of getting in. I recall sitting on my own on the coach and feeling a little fed up.
On arriving, everyone was queuing to get in, so I just walked over to the security guys and struck up a conversation. I had my press pass pinned to my top and in those days, I took my camera everywhere. It was a decent, professional-looking, 35mm one, so I had it round my neck on a cord.
I introduced myself as a reporter from MixMag, a magazine which covered a lot of rave events and music in those days. I said I should be on the guest list, as I was writing a feature for publication.
No, of course, I wasn't on the guest list. But after consulting with someone in an office, the security guy returned and told me I could go in, no problem.
I could hardly believe I'd succeeded and I went in quickly, before he changed his mind, to disappear in the crowd!
However, suddenly, I was stopped by a female security staff member as I made my way through the second lot of gates. I had been singled out for a spot check to make sure I wasn't carrying any drugs!
I had no idea why I'd been chosen, unless it was because I was on my own and just rushing through - probably I looked suspicious, although not for the reason they imagined!
So I went through the indignity of having to go into a private booth and stripping down to bra and pants while my clothes and pockets were checked for drugs by this female.
It was pretty degrading. I think it had happened to me only once before and I'd not had to take off my clothes the first time.
Of course, no drugs were found, so ten minutes later, I was allowed to go on my way and join the party.
I have mixed feelings about Fantazia, to be honest. On the one hand, it was a one-off experience and one that I was glad I'd been a part of. Never before had I attended such a huge rave, where thousands of people had come together to dance and party all night at an open-air, spectacular venue such as this.
But on the other hand, I missed the friendliness and intimacy of clubs such as Monroes and Hacketts, where I knew everyone and felt genuinely a part of something.
I recall after being stopped by the female security and being subject to a body search, I found my friends, amazingly. But I seemed to spend much of the night walking round and round the enormous venue, not seeing one friendly face and generally getting lost and disorientated!
I recall seeing people going on the gyroscope fairground ride and spinning round and round and upside-down rapidly! I wouldn't have dared go on there! Some of those who braved the ride regretted it after they came off and were violently sick!
I also spent a long time wandering round looking for the toilets, unsurprisingly! They were "porta-loos", those temporary little cubicles with chemical toilets that are provided at festivals. Needless to say, with the number of people at the rave, it wasn't the most pleasant experience when I finally located them!
I remember one thing that picked me up when I was flagging occurred at about 4.30am, as dawn was breaking. I had sat down in one of the open areas when Sabrina Johnson's "Peace" suddenly blasted out through the PA. I hadn't heard it before and it uplifted me in a moment and had me up dancing again.
It seemed to have that effect on a lot of people and that was one of my most vivid memories of Fantazia - everyone suddenly up and dancing as dawn was breaking, with the magnificent stage in front of us and patches of blue sky and early morning sunlight above.
Sabrina Johnson's Peace
A Wedding and a Christening
As well as going to clubs and parties, we also enjoyed some more "normal" activities on occasion at the weekend.
I recall, in 1991, the couple who organized the Saturday night trips to Eclipse, Andy and Jackie, were married. Many of us were invited to their wedding.
It was formal wear and it was good to see all the guys in morning suits and top hats and the girls in dresses - so far removed from our normal club wear!
On another occasion, Mandie invited Julia, Carol and me to the christening of her baby twin brothers, Sam and Ben, in June 1993.
This was on a Sunday and we had a pleasant afternoon at the christening and then going to the pub, where we sat outside and relaxed in the sun.
We had become like part of the extended family and had made friends for life from that simple meeting at a rave club.
A few mishaps...
I have to confess my memories of the Blackburn raves (mainly from 1990-92) and then our trips further afield and to Eclipse all blur into one long party.
I would be hard pressed to pick out one specific night or event, other than those already related.
I remember on one occasion, Mandie, Carol, Julia and I had gone to a party at someone's house after clubbing.
It wasn't in Blackburn, but I recall it was in a market town. (The relevance of this will become apparent shortly).
For some reason, Julia, Carol and I decided to drive off somewhere in my car half way through the night. Mandie decided to stay with other friends at the party and we said we'd pick her up later. I presume the three of us had decided to drive to the services to see if anyone else was about.
However, on returning to the general area of the party some time later, we realized we had forgotten where the house was.
After driving round the empty streets for some hours, we were still none the wiser. Bearing in mind this was before the days of mobile phones and Facebook, it was a pretty huge problem.
Eventually, we had to concede we were hopelessly lost and parked up on a deserted market place, now in broad daylight, wondering what on earth to do. Luckily, with it being Sunday, the market was closed, so there were no stall-holders to contend with.
Exhausted by now and giddy with tiredness, we sat in the car for hours, having no idea what to do.
Then, miraculously, Mandie suddenly appeared round the corner, as if by magic. It was about 11am Sunday morning by this time and she was walking along, arms folded, her coat wrapped tightly round her.
I couldn't believe we had bumped into her - I had no idea what we would have done if not! It turned out the party had been only about five minutes from where we had parked up. But it might as well have been five miles, as we would still have had no idea where we were!
Another time, we set off for a legal Up Front all nighter at Stalybridge in Greater Manchester. We didn't have tickets, but presumed we'd get in okay, as we always did.
On arriving, later than intended, we found hundreds of people trying to get in and after queuing for about two hours, we realized there was no chance.
So we ended the night sitting in the back of my car eating chips out of the paper wrappers, bought from a nearby fish and chip shop, instead of partying all night. I think this was probably one of only a handful of occasions when we failed in our mission to find a party!
These minor mishaps pale into insignificance, however, when compared with the biggest disaster we ever had on our way to a club.
By mid-1992, Mandie, Carol, Julia and I had started going regularly to Manchester Hacienda on a Saturday night, getting ready at Mandie's, as always, then driving over in my car. Some weeks, Pete and James (Flash) drove over too, in Pete's trusty red Nova.
But on the night in question, I recall mine was the lone car as we set off via the "scenic route" to Manchester. This meant not using the motorways, but instead going on the unlit A-roads, which were narrow and rural in places, but had a 60mph speed limit.
It was in March 1993 when we set off one fateful Saturday night, driving along the A-roads in high spirits and looking forward to our night out.
The Hacienda was a club for which we dressed up, rather than dressing down. We had spent ages getting ready and were quite late setting off from Blackburn. It was pitch dark as we drove through the villages, navigating miles of pitch black roads, interspersed with some areas lit by the street lights.
I have no idea, now, why I would go on the A-roads, I hate them! Give me the motorway any day.
As we approached the brow of a hill, doing about 60mph, I saw a car pull out of a side road on the left, about 200 yards ahead. I was not impressed, as I felt the driver hadn't checked properly that the main road was clear as my car approached.
However, I was shocked when he suddenly decided he was going to pull right across in front of me, without even indicating, to navigate a right turn on to a country pub car park!
Literally, there was nowhere for me to go - he pulled at an angle across the road straight in front of me, presumably not having checked his rear view mirror nor wing mirror and having no idea I was behind him.
As I swerved to avoid hitting him, my car went into a skid and veered across the wrong side of the road. I couldn't control it and it went at full pelt into a ditch, hitting a tree, which landed on top of a parked car on the pub car park. Later, I found out the parked car belonged to an off duty police officer.
It all happened so quickly, I had no idea how none of us were injured. I remember screaming.
I vaguely recollect trying to get out of the car, but discovering my driver's door wouldn't open because my car (a black Rover by this time) was embedded in the ditch and the door got stuck in the mud.
We all scrambled out and amazingly, none of us was hurt.
The other driver, however, accepted no blame whatsoever and claimed I was at fault because my vehicle had been behind his, despite the fact he had attempted to suddenly go right, with no warning whatsoever, directly in front of me.
Someone called the police and they arrived pretty quickly. I was breathalysed - so was the other driver - but both were negative. I had to give a brief statement to the police.
Luckily, I was in the Green Flag breakdown and was covered for accidents, so a recovery vehicle with specialist lifting equipment arrived and somehow lifted my poor car out of the ditch. It then transported us - and the car - to Blackpool.
You would think, after a shock like that, we would have had enough. But after leaving the car at mum and dad's - and reassuring them we were ok - off we went to a club in Blackpool. I can't remember which club, but it was one where we hadn't been before.
Even more unbelievable was the fact I used my "I work for MixMag" ruse to get us in for free.
We actually had a pretty poor night, to be honest. The club wasn't a patch on the Hacienda and I was upset over wrecking my car and also, I think, starting to suffer from delayed shock.
The following day, I was quite ill with shock and was shaking and tearful all day.
Nothing could have prepared me for what was to follow, however.
A few days later, after submitting accident reports to my insurance company, I was notified by the police that I was to be summonsed for driving without due care and attention.
I was astounded. I went to a solicitor and asked how I could be prosecuted when it was the other driver who had cut across an unlit country lane and turned right into a pub car park without warning.
The solicitor said unfortunately, because I was the car behind, in law I was at fault, as the other driver was claiming that I had been speeding and that I ploughed into him when he had been sitting near the centre of the road, indicating right.
He hadn't, of course. He had just darted across the road like a fool.
But to my eternal amazement, when the case went to court, I was the one found guilty of driving without due care and attention, while he escaped scot free.
I did wonder at the time whether the "old boy network" was prevalent, since the accident had happened in a small, one pub village, where everyone knew everyone else. He was a prominent, elderly local businessman. Meanwhile, I was a young driver from another town who was on her way to a rave club with a car full of other young people.
So I think, with hindsight, it was a lost cause from the start to plead not guilty, as I did.
So I received several penalty points on my driving licence, my insurance rocketed and my car was a write off.
However, dad and his friend, a mechanic, Malcolm, repaired it over the next few weeks and you would never have known it had been in an accident.
But that rates as one of my all time lows during the years I used to go to raves.
A Hacienda Tune: Sub Sub ft Melanie Williams - Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)
Crashing the car was the end of our going to the Hacienda
Writing off my car was a big loss in many ways.
Even though it was being rebuilt, it was a massive job, taking many weeks.
Prior to that, we had been going to Manchester Hacienda every Saturday night, where we had danced to the likes of Sasha, Graeme Park and Mike Pickering. This was in late 1992 through to 1993.
It was a totally different feel to the Blackburn raves. The music and people were different. If I'm honest, it wasn't half as friendly, although I loved the music. But many of the people who went there were more interested in how they looked and "posing", as I called it at the time.
Although we got talking to a few people - and even got invited back to a few parties - I didn't make any lasting friendships there.
I recall going to one party and everyone was just sitting round talking - a bit "cliquey" - and I was sitting in a chair with my own friends round me. There wasn't a general party atmosphere where everyone spoke to everyone else. I remember we were driving home by 5am.
In the days of the Blackburn parties and going back to people's houses, we were usually there at least all night and often most of Sunday too!
But we enjoyed it a lot for the simple reason the music was brilliant and we danced all night. It was as I remembered it from 1989/90, when the Madchester scene was at its height - people all over the club just dancing solidly all night long - on the stage, on podiums, on the dance floor, the steps, the bar area, upstairs and down. Just a sea of people dancing.
We would dress up to go to the Hacienda. I can't remember if they had a dress code, but I recall wearing high heels, a black all-in-one shorts jumpsuit with pearls on the bodice, smart black trousers and chiffon tops.
I even made myself a sheer chiffon outfit - trousers and top. I hadn't sewn anything for years (I used to make myself a lot of clothes when I was about 17) but I wanted something a bit different and more "dressy".
The DJs were brilliant and knew how to work the club into a frenzy. It was a good atmosphere when you were dancing, but afterwards, it kind of fizzled out pretty quickly and I don't remember joining any convoys at that time. We just used to hang out on the services for a while and then return to Blackburn, for our usual chilling out at Mandie's every Sunday.
The loss of my car meant a very big change to my social life. We simply couldn't get to the Hacienda any more.
At about this time, my friends James and Pete had moved to Salford, as James had a new job as a croupier. Although I went to see them a couple of times and stayed over at the weekend, I pretty much lost touch with them at this time, especially when James went to work on a cruise liner and left the UK.
My days of hiring cars were gone - I was working as chief reporter at a Lancaster newspaper by this time and it was a one-hour drive, so my dad kindly lent me his car to get to work, as he was able to organize a lift to work from one of his friends.
But it was costing me a fortune in petrol and my working day was so much longer that I had to cut down considerably on my clubbing. For instance, Thursday nights were now out of the question.
So reluctantly, I had to say goodbye to the Hacienda, as it was no longer feasible to go there without my car.
I recall going out in Blackpool, to Sequins, for weeks and enjoyed it there. Julia, of course, was a Blackpool girl, like me, while Mandie and Carol still came over and our friendship was as strong as ever.
But I do recall feeling this was a period when I was "winding down" a little, if I'm honest.
Once the car was back on the road, completely rebuilt by my dad and his friend Malcolm, I began going over to Blackburn again at the weekend.
We had stopped going to Monroes by this time. I can't really remember why. I think most of our old friends had moved on from there too and it had changed, to be taken over by a new crowd.
In February 2004, Monroes came to a sad end when it was closed down by the police, after years of trying, under new, antisocial behaviour laws.
The closure notice, the first in the country for commercial premises, was taken out against Monroes following a high-profile raid involving 200 officers one weekend.
Monroes is closed down by police in 2004
- Club closed after police raid - Accrington Observer
A DRAMATIC raid on a troubled nightspot has led to it being closed down under new anti-social behaviour laws.
One year later, Monroes was burned to the ground in a suspected arson attack after a Peugeot 405 was driven through the front doors of the club before a huge fire started.
All that was left of the club where we had enjoyed so many excellent nights was a gutted shell - a sad ending indeed.
The demise of the Eclipse had come much earlier, as it closed down in 1993.
It had developed an increasingly unsavoury reputation for being a haven of drug use and continuing battles for a drinks licence were turned down. Applications were made to open the club on other days of the week for non-rave events. These applications were also met with objections.
A name change to The Edge failed to bring back the glory days and in September 1993, the club was closed.
Monroes is burned to the ground
- Gutted - Accrington Observer
A CLUB boss's dream of re-opening his controversial nightspot has been shattered after it was gutted in an arson attack.
The end of an era
By mid-1993, I was beginning to get the feeling it was the end of an era for me.
When my car was back on the road, I had started going to Blackburn again at the weekend, but we no longer went to Monroes and the convoys and illegal raves we had loved so much in the early days were but a memory for me.
I recall we went to a more mainstream club, Peppermint Place, a couple of times, but it wasn't really for me. Nothing could capture the excitement of the warehouse raves and all-nighters we went to in 1991-92.
I recall we went to a few outdoor parties at Ainsdale Beach in Southport. These were pretty good and we saw a lot of old faces there.
Our attempt to go to a legal weekender in Southport was thwarted, however, when a few of us drove there, only to find it was sold out and we had no chance whatsoever of getting in, so we drove back to Blackburn again disappointed.
I continued going out in Blackpool on a Saturday night, to Sequins, where I hung out mainly with Julia and some of her old mates from the local area.
But I was starting to feel a bit jaded with it all if I'm honest. It didn't feel the same any more.
I used to have such a buzz on a Saturday night that I never wanted it to end. By late '93, I never felt the same way and normally ended up feeling quite depressed all day Sunday at the thought of going back to work on the Monday.
The last big weekend I recall was August Bank Holiday 1993, when Julia, Mandie, Carol and I were hoping to recapture the old days by partying all weekend.
Having been out on the Friday and Saturday nights, then spent Sunday chilling out as normal, I recall everyone coming to my house on Bank Holiday Monday, when we were supposed to be going to an all-dayer (I think at Park Hall, Charnock Richard).
However, I recall starting to feel really ill. I couldn't deal with the lack of sleep and all the driving any more. I just think that five years of going to raves had taken their toll and I was totally burnt out, although I didn't realize it at the time.
As I started to get ready for the all-dayer, I felt really tired and frazzled, somehow, just wanting to go back to bed.
I ended up not going - the first time in my life I had ever passed up the chance to go to a rave! I felt generally drained and jaded. I can't recall if my friends went without me or not, but I do remember I was off work the whole week and spent much of it in my room, watching television, not interested in doing anything much.
I don't really know what happened. It did genuinely feel like the end of an era and I realized I wasn't particularly enjoying the scene any more.
Although I carried on going to clubs locally throughout 1993, I never really recaptured the buzz of going to raves for the remainder of the year.
By this time, my dear friend, Julia, had met her husband-to-be and was very happy with him. We still hung out together, but I became increasingly introverted and felt pretty directionless - certainly not part of a great movement any more.
Finally, in February 1994, after feeling in this directionless and somewhat melancholy state for ages - not helped by the fact my dear grandma had recently passed away - I did something very reckless.
While out clubbing in Blackpool, I had struck up a conversation with a local guy who was also feeling a bit disillusioned with life and one Saturday night, we devised an ambitious plan that we were going to run away to Spain and live there - just totally get away from it all.
I still worked as chief reporter at a Lancaster newspaper, but hated my job, which was very stressful.
I know a lot of people probably talk about making a fresh start and running away, but most don't actually do it.
But we did. One Friday afternoon, in the spring of 1994, I left my job at 5pm as usual, never to return.
We drove on the Saturday to Dover in my Rover, armed with what money we could muster and our suitcases, having not much idea where we were going, other than we planned on driving across Europe to Spain (probably Benidorm) and finding work and accommodation when we arrived.
The last thing I did was wrote a letter of resignation to my employer from our hotel at Dover on the Saturday - the day before we sailed - and I posted it so they would receive it on the Monday morning.
My long-suffering parents were not best pleased and were quite shocked that I was throwing away a good career. But they have always supported me in all the crazy things I have done and this was no exception. I will always remain grateful to them for their brilliant attitude and their understanding.
So we were on the ferry to Calais on the Sunday and set off for my next big adventure.
I will write a Hub sometime on my life in Spain, where I lived for almost a year.
But that was definitely the end of my days going to raves, never to return and never to be repeated.
Even now, more than 20 years later, I have the happiest memories of those days and thanks to Facebook, I have caught up with just about everyone from my past, including Mandie, Carol and Julia, who are all enjoying life.
Going out together for all those years created a special bond between us that will never be broken and I often think how thankful I am for those brilliant days, which will for ever hold a special place in my heart.