Annie Nightingale

Reeling and spinning

After four young Brits discovered Ibiza’s club scene in the 1980s, the rave culture became a multi-billion-dollar business

It was approximately 4.50 a.m. in Ibiza: peak time on the dance floor. I was on the decks in one of the many sumptuous rooms of the superclub Pacha, spinning breakbeat on vinyl (early Noughties) and warming up for a live broadcast back to the UK.

Without warning, a Pacha henchman burst into the DJ booth, grabbed the record I was playing and pulled it off the deck. Then he yanked the headphones off my head.

‘Hey, what are you doing?’ was my astonished response. ‘We are going live on radio in ten minutes!’

This did not cut any ice. Pandemonium ensued. There was a fight on the dance floor between differing factions of the club’s management. I was bustled ‘for my own safety’, live mic in hand, to the basement kitchens for the rest of the night. In Ibiza’s money-spinning mecca I had committed the crime of playing tunes that were ‘off-message’, i.e. not commercial house music. This is not allowed to happen on Ibiza.

Looking in detail at contemporary dance music culture, now worldwide in its reach, Matthew Collin’s Rave On shows how we reached this state of affairs. When he wrote Altered State 20 years ago, several publishers believed that his subject matter was a passing fad, about to be eclipsed by grunge. Not worth a book. They were wrong — and now Rave On is as relevant, if not more so. Dance music has become a £7 billion a year business. One DJ, Calvin Harris from Dumfries, has been known to clock up $53 million in a year.

Late 1980s rave culture started, as is well known, with four young Brits on holiday in Ibiza discovering the club scene there. Inspired by the Balearic sound, they brought it home, made holiday clothes into youth fashion and initiated clubs such as Shoom.

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