I grew up in a small town in Suffolk called Ipswich. The most famous person from the area before me was Nik Kershaw, since me ..... Ed Sheeran! I grew up on in a single parent family on council estates in Felixstowe and Ipswich. 

I was out dancing when I was really young. A club called Cindy's played the most amazing music and I fell in love with Soul Music. Glen Goldsmith, The Fat Back band, The SOS band and so many more. I connected to music for the first time and danced until the lights came on. I had money from a Saturday job (that I lied about my age to get) and drank water. 

A little known fact, I have known Ray Keith that long!. He was a DJ at Cindy's and I knew him 39 years ago. I worked with Ray years later at a radio station in East Anglia called Vibe FM, I worked on the commercial side and Ray had a show. I ran the Vibe weekenders and Ray and I decided we needed a room for old soul. Ray and I absolutely loved it, unfortunately, the other 2,000 people not so much, it was a one time thing but I enjoyed it.  

By 1989 I was already in love with music and dancing and really was not shy. I don't seem to have ever been shy and I don't really know why. I used to sing at school, when we moved town when I was 11, the first Friday of the first week I sang a solo in assembly in front of the whole school, and didn't get beaten up! Amazing hey!.

At 17 years of age I was working in an insurance company. They put me in the accounts department because I got an A in GCSE maths (I got an A in several subjects but apparently accounts was my calling! it has come in very useful in recent years but pretty useless at the time). I was living alone and supporting myself. 

I was going to raves around East Anglia and London. I met Jo, same age, working at the insurance company and she had grown up differently to me, not that we ever talked about it. She made me laugh a lot. She was so carefree. Jo had her own car, Cynthia Citreon and she wanted to come dancing too. We both looked ok and we danced similar, we ran on giggle power. We would leave Ipswich with enough fuel to get there and back and no money to get in, I would blag our entry, no idea how, but we didn't fail once. Thank you to the promoters of the raves. 

On the way home from each rave we had a rule that we had to go around each roundabout as many times as we could til it made us dizzy, this was highly entertaining to us until we went to our first rave in Milton Keynes. 

Jo having her own car gave us so much freedom as we were not reliant on boys to give us a lift, a strange twist on feminism :) Anywhere that had a good sound system and a vibe, we went to. From the Braintree Barn and TuTu's to Great Yarmouth in Tiffanys and everywhere inbetween.

The illegal raves, absolutely hilarious, meeting at petrol stations off the main roads, along with 400 other ravers, waiting for one person to get a call and then we would follow in convoy. All you could see ahead of you was red break lights and behind, white headlights, everyone playing their own pre party in their cars on the way. When we got to the rave, we would dump the car and follow the music, which usually led us to an outbuilding on a farm, a barn or type of warehouse. We were all so happy that we were finally there but also concious that the police would know about it by then and our time was likely limited. We danced and lived the moment, which sometimes lasted a couple of hours and often lasted through to daylight. I don't remember finding the car or much of the drive home, just the energy of the music and the rave. 

 London raving in that early era was immense. I remember so many venues but can't put specific dates on them. Some of the clubs were pretty professional, some very London. I used to go to the dungeons, but stay in the courtyard, I was young!. The Astoria brings back memories I have repeated for years. New Years Eve 1989. At midnight there was no noise and lights, the whole club fell into darkness and as the new year arrived, the lazers lit the venue and the riff of Nomad's Devotion filled the venue. Each time I tell that story I remember every bit, where I was stood, what I was wearing, it still makes my skin tingle. 

 Bagleys and Tunrmills and i remember going to the Limelight on Sunday afternoons. Weekends started on Fridays and ended on Sunday evening. 

 One weekend we went to the Slammer in Gravesend, I think about things like this now and laugh. We rocked up and danced all night and left, as you do, as we did and no-one had a problem with it. That was the scene. No trouble, no fighting, no grief, we came to dance. 

 So, here, I have a big confession and I call it that because I don't really say it much. Anyone that knows me knows but most won't believe it. I, have never taken a drug in my life. Never so much as smoked a cigarette and nothing inbetween. I lived the rave era 100% straight and it was incredible. Why didn't I? fear I think, I had so much energy and was scared of what drugs might do to me and I was definitely scared of losing control. So I didn't. The raves straight were every single bit as incredible as the stories you hear. I read so much reference to the drugs and that's cool if that's what people wanted to do but it was as magical without them.

The first big rave we went to was Raindance at Jenkins Lane near London and we had been to a couple when they asked if we wanted to dance on stage. I don't remember who asked but we didn't leave again. They paid us to dance and we could have a couple of guest list places for friends. We were having a blast, life was lush! Funny word now but it suits the era. We used to go on crowd stomps at big raves, leave the stage and just bounce between the ravers breathing in every second of the vibe.

From Raindance we were offered a chance to go and dance in a club in Austria, the club was quiet most nights and the dancing was a bit painful but they were bringing the biggest dance DJ’s out and we had an absolute riot. I really don’t remember the dancing but I do remember being taught to ski by an Australian guy who was a ski instructor. Jo had skied many times and followed Guru Josh down the black runs, went off the side of a mountain and landed in a tree, scared the hell out of herself and came skiing with me the next day, I had progressed to blue runs by then. I don’t remember the Aussie’s guys name but have always been grateful, I have skied all my life on his lessons. 

We didn’t see out our commitment dancing, we were a little bored of the same club every night, so we had the Raindance guys say they needed us back in the UK.

Raindance and the team behind it were wonderful to us. Cass, Ray, Paul, Louis, I felt like I was part of a very special family that I am thankful for to today, I wish I had known how unique it was and said it at the time. 

At Raindance a woman managing Carl Cox approached us. She asked if we wanted to be the dancers for Carl, he had a track that was going to chart and they needed dancers to be on Top of the Pops. Yeah we wanted to dance on Top of the Pops, we didn't think about why, just yeah, we wanted to be on TV. I hadn't watched anything of myself on You Tube until 18 months ago. I do not remember Jo and I putting routines together, Jo does! We used to practise in my bedsit and that's where the routines you see of Jo and I came from, just wonderful. 


We only did that one thing for Carl BUT Slipmatt was a DJ at Raindance and his brother was one of the partners that ran it. We were approached and asked if we wanted to be the dancers for SL2. Dj’s take Control was going to chart!

Next post will be the beginning of some of the SL2 stories, the most magical days of my life. But before that: The rave era changed my life. I was raised as I mentioned and the opportunities to me were all that were available to a kid on a council estate living their life within a 2 miles radius. The rave era took me all over the country, opened my eyes to more than I could have dreamed was available to me and I never looked back. The rave era changed my life and it remains changed to this day. Grateful is not a big enough word but I truly am, to everyone that was kind to me, to the scene, the venues, the promoters and my fellow ravers. It was not just a scene, it was a mindset. We shared a truly unique time and I am part of this amazing club. I am a Raver for life.