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1989: Can You Feel It!

In 1988 Promoters like Sunrise and Genesis had been holding events around the London area. In 1989, with the growing popularity the promoters started looking for new types of venues around the outskirts of London including fields, Disused Barns, Warehouses and Aircraft Hangars.

Events where still being held in the Towns and Cities but now Promoters stared holding events in the English Countryside, most famously around the M25 Circular. Now revellers would travel to meeting points and then be directed to secret parties. This resulted in huge convoys travelling around the M25 until someone could lead them to the party.

The early Genesis flyers were usually produced to almost look like a page from the Bible! The flyers were usually Black & White copies with a small illustration and some text with information about the event. Some of the Genesis flyers made the events look like a Religious Gathering!

Due to budget restrictions many of the flyers from 1987 to 1990 where Photocopied bits of paper or thin card, usually with 2 or maybe 3 colours. Promoters looking to keep expenditures low would have to find alternatives to employing a Designer from a Graphic Design Agency, who could in fact even alert the authorities!

George Georgiou: "The best ideas come about due to tight or nonexistent budgets."(HighFlyers, Booth-Clibborn Editions, 1995, p.23) "That's the lesson of the dance floor," he says, "you don't need fancy stuff." (Cynthia Rose, Design After Dark, Thames and Hudson, 1991, p.98)

"Some of the best clubs had the cheapest bits of photocopied tat." (Richard Norris (member of The Grid), HighFlyers, Booth-Clibborn Editions, 1995, p.20)

‘Who needed expensive marketing when a young, freelance designer, often waiting for a break in graphic design, could do the job cheaper and the end result would be much more in tune with the audience and therefore would bring in a bigger, more suitable crowd of clubbers.’ (Simon Parkin Visual Energy Dissertation).

"It's a great opportunity," says Georgiou, "for designers and artists to rise to the challenge and get their work seen."(HighFlyers, Booth-Clibborn Editions, 1995, p.23) (Quotes taken from Simon Parkin’s Visual Energy Dissertation).

Some of the early flyers with the lowest budgets had been created with the ‘DIY’ ethos associated with Punk. Flyers often had text added in various cheaper methods. Methods included typewriter, Letraset Transfers, Stamps and handwritten text. Sometimes the illustrations were hand drawn or applied using ‘Cut and Paste.’

The Sunrise Flyers were usually one-sided Black & White photocopies. The Flyers were hand drawn with a sunrise illustration that was reproduced on other flyers. The flyer’s usually has d a small amount of text. The information provided consisted of a list of ticket outlets, date, DJ’s and a few details about other attractions.

The Sunrise flyers were very similar but the flyer for Sunrise - A Midsummer Night's Dream - 24th June 1989 
[White Waltham Airfield, Maidenhead, Berks] was slightly different. The flyer is an early example of computer aided design methods that would later be commonly used on most flyers for big Rave events.

Weed, a flyer collector had mentioned to me that this was his favourite flyers for a number of reasons.

‘This is one of the first full colour definitive rave flyers. I like the fact that there's no hype and clutter to get in the way of the subversive unwritten message, "Is it possible to enjoy taking drugs without dancing?". The picture is mysteriously entrancing, and those big round inviting eyes promise an adventure into the realms of the unknown that is hard to resist.’ (Weed:

I had a discussion on a forum with Weed about the general changes in flyer design which took place in 1989 as people increasingly used photocopiers and computers to make up their own flyers, rather than relying on professional printers. He continued to write;

‘The spread of office computers towards the end of the 80s meant that desktop publishing was becoming popular, and this together with decent software such as Ventura, Quark Express and Adobe Illustrator with their numerous fonts, effects, and filters, and the ability to reproduce any part of the content, gave a generation of designers the chance to be creative in a new media.’

‘At the same time programmes were being written to draw fractals and other mathematical patterns previously unexplored, because the calculations were too time-consuming to be done by hand.’ 

‘Flatbed scanners and colour photocopiers became available to consumers in the 90s, and now photos, magazine images, newspaper cuttings, postcards etc could be effortlessly manipulated using Photoshop and integrated with text and backgrounds.’

‘What in 1985 had been but a dream was by 1995 standard practice.’

Whilst looking at the evolution of flyer design from 1988 onwards, it is also possible to monitor the advancements and trends in Computer Software. With the ever-changing software upgrades flyer design became more complex.

‘UK rave flyers started in late 1987 or early 1988, about the time when computer software such as Photoshop became available on PCs and Macs for use with scanners - this allowed great eclecticism, with images from a wide variety of historical cultural commercial geographical & artistic sources.’
(Weed Quoted From Information On UK Rave Flyer:

However, using up to date software to design your flyers does not always guarantee the best flyer design or the best parties! Some of the more sort-after, important and iconic flyers from this era were hand drawn or the images and text were ‘cut and paste’ together!

In 1989 the Rave scene had kicked off big time. Thousands of Ravers were attending all night parties in the English Countryside. Some of the promoters included Infinity, In Search of Space, Energy, Destiny and many more.

With the Huge Rave Events of 1989 the government was forced to crack down on the illegal parties. As 1990 approached promoters would look to seek out Legal all night venues. Clubs like Labyrinth in London and ESP: Bounce in Northampton had been running providing weekly licensed events.