Acid rave is an electronic music genre born in Chicago in the 1980s that spread quickly throughout London, Manchester and Ibiza. It has strong links to club culture and drugs such as ecstasy or MDMA; both popular today.
The music is distinguished by the distinctive electronic squelch produced by the 303 bass line synthesizer and 4|4 beat. This marked the birth of a new style that forever altered dance music.
What is Acid?
Acid rave is an electronic music genre that began in the 1980s and has had a profound effect on other musical styles. You can hear its influence in trance, Goa trance, psytrance, breakbeat, big beat and techno.
It was first played in clubs and warehouses across Chicago before spreading to other cities such as London and Manchester. The genre was largely defined by the sound of Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer, which gave it a distinct, squelchy machine-like tone that was unique at the time.
This instrument was intended to replace bass guitars, yet it sounded nothing like a bass player at all. This created the distinctive, squelchy, machine-like sound that became synonymous with acid house music.
Acid house was popularized in the United Kingdom by DJs Danny Rampling and Nicky Holloway during their trip to Ibiza in 1987. Inspired by Alfredo’s radio show performance of acid house music, they decided to host their own parties featuring this genre.
In 1988, raves and other similar events began appearing in clubs, abandoned warehouses and fields across the UK. A new kind of music influenced by Detroit, Chicago and Ibiza was pushing the limits of nightlife in Britain to new heights.
In the 1990s, government authorities took steps to curb acid house’s popularity due to its association with illegal activity and potential risks to public safety. They passed the ‘Criminal Justice Act’ which outlawed “unlawful assembly” and “rebellious behaviour”. As a result of negative media coverage, interest in acid house decreased drastically among ordinary people.
In the summer of 1988, Acid House music emerged in clubs, abandoned warehouses and fields across Britain – it became known as Acid House with influences from Detroit, Chicago, Germany and Ibiza. Rave as it became known redefined nightlife for generations to come with influences spanning from Detroit, Chicago, Germany to Ibiza – becoming an international movement which Britain successfully adopted.
Rave has many origin stories, but one common one is that it began in Chicago with a synthesizer called the Roland TB-303 which produced what sounded like bass guitar but rather like drum machine noises. This instrument is widely considered to be its birthplace and was programmed by DJ Pierre from Phuture during the late 1980s.
DJs used a squelching sound at parties to encourage people to dance. It was often associated with Ecstasy and raves would take place in secretive locations such as warehouses or airplane hangars.
These places were often illegally rented and located in hazardous areas. Police raided and beat people at these parties.
Though raves weren’t particularly popular and the drugs used were somewhat excessive, they did have a beneficial effect on music. It brought different styles together and created new subgenres.
This rapid development gave birth to a range of styles and subgenres such as garage, progressive house, breakbeat, hardcore, happy hardcore and gabber – just to name a few. These genres were created by DJs from diverse backgrounds.
Acid rave’s origin stories vary, but one thing is for certain – its influence over culture and lifestyle has endured for years and continues to this day.
Acid is an electronic music genre that began in Chicago and has become hugely popular within rave culture. It often has associations with club drugs and links to other dance genres like big beat, techno, and deep house.
The genre’s signature sound is the bass-heavy 303 synthesizer. Additionally, it features steady 4/4 beats and off-beat hand claps which combine to create an uptempo atmosphere perfect for dancing and creating a feeling of euphoria.
Acid house was a phenomenon in the UK during the mid-1980s that ignited an entirely new scene and changed cultural habits for generations. While this movement was the biggest youth revolution since 1960s, it also suffered due to media panic and government legislation prohibiting mass gatherings.
Ravers of this period often donned baggy dungarees, bucket hats, and tie-dye technicolour madness as part of their outfits. But fashion wasn’t just about what people wore – it also affected how people looked.
Looking back at this era, it’s evident that the outfits worn by ravers were more than just about dance music; they defined an entire generation and set the standard for what people today wear. They served as an unofficial uniform shaped by carefree attitude of music and ecstasy-fueled party scene.
The joy and euphoria that emanated from acid house dance parties inspired raver attendees to wear fashionable attire. Clubs such as Shoom in London and The Hacienda in Manchester featured an eclectic range of clothing designs, but one common thread ran through all of them: smileys! These bright yellow smileys became symbols of happiness, euphoria, and good times that accompanied acid house raves.
Acid house has had a vast array of influences, spawning subgenres such as acid techno, acid Trance, acid rock and acid jazz. It also had an immense effect on dance music with over 1200 tracks referencing it across various genres such as trance, Goa Trance, psytrance, breakbeat, big beat techno and trip-hop.
Acid house can be traced back to DJ Pierre’s 1987 EP Acid Tracks, which introduced the world to its unique sound using a 303 synthesizer. Ultimately, this single track revolutionized electronic dance music forever, ushering in an entire movement.
The acid house scene was a catalyst for change, revolutionizing how people danced and dressed. It was Britain’s most revolutionary scene since 1960s, uniting punks, football hooligans, black, white, gay and straight people in one space to celebrate life through dance.
As the movement spread, it became a challenge to authority; forcing parliament to pass new laws and the police to establish an unit to stop illegal raves. Dubbed the “Second Summer of Love”, this revolutionary nightlife movement forever altered nightlife for generations afterward.
But the scene wasn’t without its problems. Firstly, it was a drug culture with many cases of people abusing it in hazardous ways. Additionally, criminal elements frequently targeted partygoers who were often taking acid or ecstasy in large amounts.
Media hype and the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act gave police powers to remove people from parties, leading to widespread violence that ultimately ended in 1994.
Acid house musicians were instrumental in the growth of the scene. They took it to new heights, cementing an unbreakable bond between rave and dance culture. Furthermore, they introduced a distinctive sound into club culture – many have gone on to become legendary DJs themselves.
Acid rave has been associated with many types of artists. These include musicians, DJs, clubs, sound systems, record labels and fanzines.
It’s easy to overlook the monumental role these individuals have had on dance music and rave culture. We’ve documented their stories using a circuit diagram of a 303 bass synthesizer in our Acid House Love Blueprint, featuring over 900 people who helped shape its development.
Robin Ball has been at the forefront of acid house since he was a teenager. His party Memory Box has hosted notable artists like Derrick Carer, Trevino and A Guy Called Gerald among others, and now he returns with an all-new track that further solidifies his status in this vibrant scene.
On this release, he’s chosen tracks from Luke Vibert, Derrick Carer and A Guy Called Gerald to ensure the sound is as powerful as possible. Drawing influences from Chicago acid house music, there’s plenty going on here with lightning-fast synth squiggles, electro stomps and midi note kicks.
He’s got some of his own tracks here, like this 303 action track that adds Lil’ Louis samples for some added flair. It’s sure to get you up on the dance floor!