The 1990s rave scene in Brighton was legendary. Starting with illegal outdoor raves on the seafront and morphing into a vibrant club scene that carried on in one form or another until 2020 came along and shut the nightclubs (and restarted illegal outdoor raves ironically enough). The 90s club scene legacy is still going strong though and it inspired our nightclub themed escape room, Raver Quest. That’s why we wanted to take a closer look at this iconic time in nightclub history and see what brought it about and made it so special.
Why the 90s?
Brighton has always had nightclubs and a lively nightlife so what made the 90s so special? It’s mostly down to a youth movement in reaction to the rise of rampant individualist capitalism as espoused by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Communities had been ripped apart, manufacturing had been destroyed and people were finding themselves isolated, unemployed and disenfranchised. Young people reacted by coming together in fields and abandoned buildings away from capitalism where they could use drugs to create a feeling of connection rather than competition. These illegal raves grew in popularity due to the increased accessibility to locations in the Home Counties created by the newly opened M25 until it spawned what was called The Second Summer of Love in 1989. 1992 saw the biggest rave in history attended by over 20,000 people in Castlemorton Common in Worcestershire. The predictable outrage from The Sun and inevitable crackdown by the police made raving even more popular until it was commercialised into chart topping music and popular nightclubs.
Brighton’s history as a place where young people could go against the grain is long established from the time the Prince Regent (eventually George IV) created his pleasure palace here. This continued through the turn of the 20th century when Sir Harry Preston bought the Royal Albion Hotel and made it a destination for celebrities, sportspeople and motor enthusiasts. The 1930s saw Brighton’s first LGBT bars springing up as people sought to pursue what was then considered as an ‘alternative’ lifestyle away from prying London eyes. Brighton gained an ‘edgy’ reputation after Graham Greene’s 1938 book, Brighton Rock, and then the legendary Mods and Rockers incident in 1964. All in all, it makes Brighton an obvious location for a youth movement to reject capitalism and embrace a (albeit drug induced) more human connection.
Raving in Brighton
Young people came together on Brighton seafront and even along the Undercliff Walk that stretches from Brighton Marina to Rottingdean. People who were part of the scene said it was great for a while but started to turn dark with people coming down off acid and committing suicide by jumping off the cliffs. They said drug dealers from London started turning up bringing hard drugs and violence with them. Fortunately, a number of Brighton nightclubs started playing rave music with clubs like The Zap (now The Arch) on the seafront which went on to host bands like Prodigy, Credit to the Nation and Moby in 1994, the same year they founded the Brighton Rocks Festival in conjunction with Radio 1. Other famous Brighton clubs in the 90s were the Honey Club, Ocean Rooms and The Concorde II. The last of those is still going under the same name and was where Fatboy Slim once had his regular residency alongside the other DJs from Skint Records at the now legendary Big Beat Boutique nights. These in turn gave the name to the Big Beach Boutique events that happened throughout the noughties and in 2002 brought a staggering 250,000 revellers to a free beach party between the piers.
It’s hardly going to come as a shock to anyone reading this that the founders of Pier Pressure are children of the 90s so this era is particularly special to them. We think that it is a pretty special era regardless though so are delighted to be able to hold onto a little piece of the 90s rave scene with our Raver Quest game. To find out more about Raver Quest or any of our other games or to book, call 01273 220388 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.