Maker (UK); May 28 1994
by Sarah Champion
in a field surrounded by bare, spindly white trees. The cold air,
little above freezing, is thick with campfire smoke. A green laser
cuts hazy patterns in the night sky, causing drunken farmers driving
home in their pick-ups to file UFO reports. This is hillbilly country
- lumber mills, quaint wooden houses, fishing, farms and motels
and miles and miles or freeway. Yes, rave culture has finally hit
Hicksville, or rather Hixton, a Mid-West town- population 403 -
where life, like the population stays static.
is the first event of its kind in the USA, a three-day outdoor rave.
We pick up a posse of international DJs from Chicago's airport and
drive for five hours through snow storms to arrive at a site of
beautiful chaos. It's like summer camp with Terence McKenna in charge.
The array of beat-up Pontiacs, Dodge pick-ups, old school buses
and Chevrolet van, interspersed with tents, camp fires and 2000
kids (many of whom have driven for 15 hours) or pure MDMA. there's
a minibus of born-again Christians from Nebraska with a teepee and
another encampment wearing native American head dresses and dancing
around a totem pole. Two goofy Dead heads stumble up to us and insist
we must all wear a sticker. It reads "Double Cheeseburger"...
as acid house began in Manchester and London, but gradually spread
to every town in the UK, America's rave culture, established in
LA, San Francisco, New York and Miami in the early Nineties, is
now infiltrating the very heart of the country. The house music
that was invented in Chicago's black gay clubs has finally been
sold back to white college kids. "Furthur", a collaboration between
Milwaukee techno label Drop Bass Network, Minneapolis promoters
MORE and Chicago magazine Reactor, draws ravers from across American,
aided by rave bulletin boards on the Internet.
is back to basics. The music is shit hot - Hardkiss, Frankie Bones
& Adam X, Aphex Twin, Kosmic Komando - yet we're dancing on mud
in marquees that look like they were last used for a boy scout jamboree.
The decks are on trestles, the tents are in darkness. the only lighting
is provided by neon necklaces and light sticks. yet the primitive
nature of Furthur is inspirational - flashy gimmicks are replaced
by genuine enthusiasm.
like 1988. Everywhere I turn there are grinning faces who want to
say how this event it going to change their lives. A legion of dippy,
Dead head college kids is turning to hardcore and techno. Instead
of head banging, they press their bodies against the speakers all
night in self-destructive hedonism. The Orbital/ Moby/ Aphex Twin's
"See The Light" tour also turned many heads. DJ Richard James was
flown in for Furthur and throughout his set kids push right up to
the decks like they're in the front row of a gig.
rave was a symbolic event, intended to go "Furthur" than ever before.
It does. The promoter strips naked and dances on the speakers like
Mr Bean on acid. As dawn breaks we see him (now clothed) getting
out of a sheriff's car in a state of shock. "I've just been for
a ride with my friends..." he murmurs, before pulling the plug on
the sound system. We retire to a van and a hash pipe is passed around.
Suddenly the door is wrenched open, badges flash, someone barks,
"You're under arrest!" and I find myself cuffed and heading for
Jackson County Jail. Now that's what I call a party...