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.