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Rave diaries

Written by Tim Knight


It turned out that this week's party was only a few miles away, which made a nice change. We probably left 227 at around 11 o'clock - I must have been buzzing on speed by this time as I remember driving there with a car full of people I'd only just met; yet we were chatting away like old friends.

Pretty much all of my time spent socialising at the weekend was done on speed, which was usually followed by a selection of drugs as the night went on. I had discovered, to my delight, that even just a small amount of speed would reliably cause any possible shyness or inhibition to literally melt away. I embraced a wonderful, liberating confidence. During these nocturnal adventures I was unconsciously carving out a new identity; a false, chemical identity, but for the time being it was perfect.

Just off Oxford's ring road, on the way to Newbury, the road sliced through a thickly wooded area. The edge of the road was just as thickly covered, only with badly parked cars. As usual I had an interesting selection of drugs rather pointlessly hidden down my sock. This however gave me enough paranoia to park reasonably sensibly, and as far away from the ubiquitous police presence as possible.

After a short walk down a side road and over a gate, we found ourselves in a clearing in a wood. A large empty warehouse was the obvious spot for the party, which was as yet to happen. There was already large crowd, and word went around that there was no DJ, decks or system! yet. Circus Warp, a traveller based rave organisation similar to Spiral Tribe, were apparently the organisers and had it all in hand. So we hung around, met the rest of the 227 lot who had come in a different car, and took some more drugs. I had some very odd-looking purple pellets, which caused a great deal of interest and a certain degree of amused scorn among my companions. They did look like bits of plant food, but I had bought them from my new mate/dealer Mark I had met at a party last week, and had complete faith in them.

The music arrived and the funny looking E's kicked in, like I knew they would. Tree's, people and crashing beats were mixed up in the moonlight, and I was pleased when dawn began to break so I could see what was going on around me a bit more. The night is great for accentuating the drug/music induced mayhem, but it gets a bit annoying when you keep tripping over tree stumps and one-step-away-from-being-a-wolf traveller's dogs.

Meeting up again with Craig, Russ and Jamie, we wondered off a little into the wood. We stopped for a spliff on a grassy mound and watched people stumbling around the trees in the grey dawn light, some still dancing to the incessant beat ecstasy puts in your head. Craig produced a strip of acid blotters the travellers apparently had knocked up in the back of one of their vehicles. "Technoglyhs" we were informed, "guaranteed to produce a class A trip". Well what the hell, I thought, and swallowed one down with little concern.
A short while later someone decided we should go back to Oxford and get Diz, a mate we had left back at the house with his girlfriend, possibly because he had some more speed. As I drove us back to 227 we all began to come up like crazy on the acid. I went straight through a red light completely obliviously, and it was decided that it would probably be a good idea if Diz drove us back. I never had any problems driving no matter how out of it I was, except for when I was on LSD. It made me far too scatty, and hallucinations weren't much help either. Luckily Diz agreed, and before long we were back were we started.

From then on, things got more fun and a whole lot more colourful. As the party thinned out a little in the growing light, so the acid in my brain expanded and I experienced rushes of excitement as the environment began to warp and reform. The trees and leaf litter began to form intricate geometric designs, and passing ravers were now sporting lurid purple faces, the colour radiating out some distance from their bodies. Everyone looks really unhealthy, I noted with some amusement. I spotted a girl I had been chatting to earlier on, and felt I had to remark on her unusual skin tone. "You look a lot more out of it than when I saw you last" she replied, not unfairly.

However, it was in the warehouse/dance area where the combined effects of the night's drugs really came into their element. The long, thin building was by now pretty empty. There were some people sitting round the edge, a few still unwilling to stop dancing and face the fact that it is SUNDAY! and those extra fucked, like myself. There appeared to be no windows, so it was still quite dark inside, which let the acid visuals fly. Luminous thread appeared and seemed to be strung from floor to ceiling throughout the building. Dimensions were confused and it became difficult to work out what was real and what was a hallucination as huge painted wall hangings and people in shadows swam in and out of the giant web. Russ appeared next to me at one point and we laughed together at what looked like an impossible maze. Then he was gone, and I decided that I might as well just sit down right here in the middle of the floor and listen to the music than bother working out if that stuff was real or not.

The music at these parties always got more weird and experimental as the morning broke, or at least that's how it seemed. Big choons early on to get the crowd rocking, then feed them more unusual stuff as they get more open to suggestion, to take the trip further and deeper. I loved this stuff, so I just sat there in the middle of the shifting room, watching people dance, watching new shapes, patterns and colours, and watching people trip over me - " Oh, sorry mate, didn't see you there!" - another way of making new friends! One wonders how this would have played out in an alcohol fuelled situation - "what the fuck are you doin' sitting in the way, you dick "!..Back then we were all bonded by illegal drugs and illegal parties - we were respected members of an elite club. We dissed the normality freaks, not each other.

To my mind this was one of the most appealing aspects of rave culture in the early 1990's. If you dropped E, wore cool trainers and danced in fields 'till dawn then you were openly welcomed into the most vibrant and kick-ass cool anti-society since, oh, whenever, we don't care about history. Across England you became connected with the hippest boys and girls; introductions were not necessary. Like a secret handshake, if you raved then you were alright, no matter who you were, no questions asked. Suddenly, smiling and being friendly were cool again. While the respectable world was shocked by our hedonistic activities, we thought we had found the answer. We weren't really sure what the question was, but we were going to have a fucking good time anyway.

Of course I couldn't stay in one place for very long, so attempted to navigate my way outside. I found I could walk through the threads after all, though had to carefully feel my way along, still unable to trust the existence of what I could see.

I suppose at some point we went back. I stayed at 227 for as long as possible then called on my friend Georgia when Craig and the rest began to crash out, there was no way I could sleep with my mind still in several places at once. I stayed round at her flat on the Iffley Road until I was sure everyone back home would be asleep - for family members to see me in such a state would not have been a good idea.

Unbelievably I must have driven home later on, and got up for work the next day, though little blue sparks continued to buzz around for a few days after. Now that's value for money.

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