Before the Rave, first comes the flyer. 'Online and Old Skool since 1998', phatmedia has collected over 200,000 flyers covering a range of electronic music genres from Acid House to Hardcore. We ask Dave from phatmedia to cast his expert eye on the collection, and show us his personal faves.
Flyer for Dance Dimension (1992)Museum of Youth Culture
Labrynth / 2000AD: London, 31st December 1990
Labrynth began life as so many did by putting on illegal warehouse parties in London. When they finally decided a more stable and legal home was needed they settled on the Four Aces in Dalston which they renamed. A club befitting on the Labrynth name with its many rooms and corridors for party goers to explore. The image that became forever identifies with Joe’s Labrynth raves was originally taken from a series of photographs of The Beatles shot by Richard Avedon in 1968 that were later adorned with psychedelic effects.
Flyer for Labyrnth (1990)Museum of Youth Culture
A Classic Re-Interpetation
Labrynth took the George Harrison image and ran with it. Various colour changes and re-interpretations over the years made this image uniquely Labrynth’s own. This one from 1990 is my favourite with a simple purple tone adjustment.
Eclipse Promotion: Coventry, August 1991
The Eclipse in Coventry was one of the first clubs in the country to be granted an all-night licence.
Their flyer designs generally used images borrowed from stock libraries or lifted from fantasy and surrealist artists so this flyer for August 1991 was a change in direction in terms of design. This time they used original artwork created by Jonny Martin after a night out at the Eclipse himself. This is one of the clubs most iconic and sought flyers. The style of characters and writing perfectly summed up the rave scene at the time.
Flyer for Eclipse (1991)Museum of Youth Culture
The Birth of the Legal All-Nighter
A staple in the Coventry rave scene, Eclipse brought an energy of total madness and good vibes to a town located right in the centre of the UK. The touring nature of the rave scene meant the music was heard all across the country, from big cities to village halls.
Weekend World - Heaven On Earth: Northampton, August 1991
ESP, synonymous with the legendary Dreamscape raves, began promoting events late 1989 under Murray Beetson and soon gathered a large and loyal following. August 1991 was their first venture outdoors with this huge legal and licensed event in Brafield, Northampton for 10000 people. It was a huge success despite the efforts of the Cook Report trying to infiltrate dealers on the night. The event was voted Voted "Best Party" of 1991 by both Mix Mag & ID Magazine.
Flyer for Weekend World (1991)Museum of Youth Culture
Alpha Alchemy: Plymouth, September 1990
This flyer for Alpha Alchemy encapsulates my home town of Plymouth’s love for all things trippy with a psychedelic astrologically inspired design by Dave from Wavey Graphics using Corel Draw. The line-up for the night compliments the design with regulars Shane & Jamie and DJing alongside Eat Static performing live.
An Iconic Space Left Derelict
Also this was the first visit to Plymouth by The Prodigy and their only visit to the Plymouth Warehouse which is unusual as it was such an amazing and massive venue that holds so many memories for so many Plymouth ravers from 89 – 99. It was opened in 1931 as the Gaumont Palace Cinema but now like so many great venues around the country stands near derelict.
In-Ter-Dance, Sterns: Worthing, 1991
Sterns, another celebrated venue, held parties from 1989 but it was the In-Ter-Dance nights Mensa brought to the mansion house that ravers most fondly remember. This particular flyer from October 1991 features another live appearance by The Prodigy which has heavily influenced the creative talents of Sterns designer in chief Tony Ladd.
Flyer for Sterns (1991)Museum of Youth Culture
Taking Inspiration from UK Government Broadcasts
Using the characters from the Public Information films Charley Says which the Prodigy sampled in their No.1 hit Charly, this soon became another iconic flyer for In-Ter-Dance.
Footage from Sterns, Worthing, 1991
Nut-Nut presents Breakfast Club, Busbys, London, 1992
Kaos! What can we say about this one? One of the original air brush kings of rave art Kaos aka Lawrence Manning knocked this beauty up early in 1992 and it would soon become one of the most owned and loved rave flyers of all time. Legend has it that over 1 million copies were printed but this could possibly be because over the next year or so Nut-Nut & Orange re-used the same design changing only the reverse side when the info needed adjusting. I personally have 5 different versions and there are probably a few more out there making it a bit of a collectors nightmare but a welcome addition when you find a new version. Top Tip for collectors, always check the reverse side before assuming it’s a spare!
Universe In2Orbit: A46 near Bath, 1st May 1992
Universe had their beginnings in the westcountry free party and early rave scene with events like Brainstorm but were soon holding massive fully licensed outdoor parties like this one in May 1992.
The flyer itself has the classic early iconography by Universe with the distinctive logo and the spaceship that would appear on many of their flyers to come. Events such as Tribal Gathering made Universe more than just a rave promoter but an early precursor to the multi-genre festivals you see now.
Flyer for Universe (1992)Museum of Youth Culture
Respect for Silence
‘Respect for silence, silence…….We’ve just had silence with 6000 people, brilliant, you’re all locked in!’ with Grooverider laying down DSKF New Science EP made this one of hardcore’s stand out moments. Listen back to the set now and the hairs stand on end to this day.
"I do remember the excitement of seeing the A46 junction sign on the M4. I still have a smile every time I head west."
Fantazia Take You Into Summertime: Bournemouth, May 1992
Fantazia were steadily growing into one of the UKs largest rave organisations with events at various clubs around the country in the lead up to this. This was their first foray into the huge outdoor raves that were happening around the country between 1991 to 1993 and have not been seen since. The flyer had everything, the classic grid lines leading you in, the planet, the clouds made for a surreal escapism that ravers were drawn too.
Flyer for Fantazia (1992)Museum of Youth Culture
Footage from Fantazia Summertime, Bournemouth, 1992
Amnesia House, The Book of Love: Northampton, 27th June 1992
A decent flyer this, an A4 that folds out to A3 and this time Amnesia House used a design that was original artwork rather than a borrowed piece of fantasy art. But there is another reason for this choice. Yet another of the outdoor raves we were lucky to have in the early 90s, The Book Of Love put on by Mickey Lynas possibly tops them all for no other reason than he got married live on stage in front of 15000 sweaty ravers.
Flyer for Amnesia (1992)Museum of Youth Culture
World's First Rave Wedding
Billed as the worlds first rave wedding, whether the priest was licenced for the day or the ceremony was recreated who knows and who cares but we do know this happened on stage half way thru a massive outdoor hardcore night.
The music stopped, the ceremony took place and then the bemused ravers near the front got a bit of champagne sprayed on them, nice. Aside from that, the night looked wicked and the VHS got played to death BITD.
Rave World Part II, Bad Influence: Folkestone, July 1992
An eye catching design by another of the rave flyer airbrush kings, Junior Tomlin. Junior had created the design that Rave World used for their 2 previous events and followed that up with this eye catching imagination for them. With a reference to the ‘World’, it’s the nod and a wink to the ‘Rave’ part of the promoters name that caused this flyer to get the event cancelled. The local councillors objected to the artwork, the hand placing the small pill shaped world into the open mouth. This was a step too far for those fussy folks in Folkestone town hall. Not so good for the promoters but makes for a good back story to the design.
Flyer for Rave World (1992)Museum of Youth Culture
Vibes Alive, The Sweet Sensation: Wiltshire, August, 1992
This single flyer size is 15cm x 42cm but it didn’t take too long to realise you need 2 of these put together to make a single A3 size flyer and to complete the design. Yep, similar to the Raindance Ghost flyer from 1991, this tropical fruit salad image is only finished when you join them together. It’s a flyer I’ve always had a fondness for as with other Vibes Alive flyers they broke with the standard formula for a rave design and went with the fruit based image.
Footage from Wiltshire Rave, Tribal Gathering in 1993.
Interview with flyer designer Pez, a renowned figure within the Rave promotion circuits of the 1990s.
The Dance Dimension, Something Different: Edmonton, 1992
What can you say about Pez. Ask an old skool raver to name a flyer designer and 8/10 will first think of Pez. Prolific to say the least and this flyer titled ‘Sunflower’ is a certified Pez classic. It’s a large flyer at 28cm x 28cm and is die cut around the petals of the smiling face. Another flyer that veered away from the usual formula for a hardcore rave, Dance Dimensions were always up for trying different flyer designs
Flyer for Dance Dimension (1992)Museum of Youth Culture
phatmedia has been online and oldskool since 1998 and we currently host 19,600 rave flyers, that number is constantly growing and is proudly incorporated within the collections of the Museum of Youth Culture. Half of these flyers have been uploaded by other users so we have a wide coverage of the UKs raving history.
My personal collection is approximately 20,000 flyers , the bulk of which covers late 88 – 98. Once these have been digitised, they are filed away A – Z into large filing cabinets in my home office. Over the last 2 years I have been working on a book all about rave flyers using my own collection and extensively researching and sourcing other rarities from across the country. Its in collaboration with One Love Books and we hope to have pre-order details out soon.