It’s the summer of 1989. Britain’s youth is intensely gripped by an ever growing, explosive culture. Warehouse raves have reached epic proportions and people from all walks of life are united in what is perhaps to be the greatest summer of partying the world has ever seen – the Summer of Love.

1989 is sometimes referred to as the second summer of love due to its similarities with the summer of love of the Woodstock era of 1969. Drug use and the emphasis upon free love was as much a defining point for British youth culture as its counterpart in the US twenty years earlier.

Acid house had been progressing throughout the 1980’s and by the end of the decade had become embedded in club land. After the hooliganism and race wars of previous decades there was finally a scene where people wanted to be happy, to love one another, and above all to party. It was an environment which was, to a then up-and-coming DJ named Judge Jules, “totally mixed without any sort of tension”. Evidently this was inconceivable for Thatcher’s Britain, and after some entirely unrealistic and predominantly fabricated stories in publications such as the Sun and the Daily Mail, Thatcher vowed to, “stop the menace of acid house parties” – accumulating in the introduction of the Criminal Justice Bill of 1994.

The attempts of the late 1980s were futile – it drove acid house out of club land and let it explode into a series of illegal parties at warehouses, the defining element of the period. Raves such as Sunrise and Biology provided never before seen weekend-long spectaculars, which were regarded by many as life changing experiences. Acid house in 1989 revolutionised Britain in a way that Rock and the summer of 1969 revolutionised America. It branched out and expanded during the early 90’s, leading to the development of drum and bass, breakbeat, trance and techno – music that is still a fundamental part of British music culture today. Score upon score of now mainstream and prominent electronic music producers owe their roots to this rave culture, including the likes of Goldie, Carl Cox, Grooverider, Roni Size and the Prodigy. The summer of 1989 now celebrates its twentieth anniversary, but with nothing similar since, who knows what the summer of 2009 may bring?

Angus Drummond

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