Raves arrived in Australia in the late 1980s on the crest of a tidal wave of dance music coming out of the Manchester warehouse scene in Britain. In Sydney, where rave culture took root first, techno music and the warehouse party concept collided with an already established tradition of big dance parties put on by the Recreational Art Team (R.A.T.) and Mardi Gras since the early 1980s. The new thing about raves was that they took place in disused industrial spaces or out in the bush. Precise locations weren't advertised; instead, flyers cited a 0055 phone number for punters to call on the day of the party to find out where to go. Held outside of regulated or licensed environments, raves were places where new forms of play evolved around all-night dancing and consumption of ecstasy rather than alcohol. They were a radical departure from the traditional Australian pub scene. With DJs re-mixing recorded music, raves inverted the existing tropes of musical performance. Instead of watching musicians play instruments on stage, ravers themselves were part of the performance: a sea of people dancing together to a thumping beat under colourful lights. Originating on the margins as an alternative youth subculture, raves introduced DJ sets, dance music and all-night expectations to mainstream Australian parties.
From the ABC documentary Growing Up Fast, this clip takes us to an inner city rave in a disused railway yard in the mid-1990s. In the years since 'Carnival Ov Thee Mind' shook the Victorian brickwork at the Eveleigh Railyards in Sydney's Redfern, the cavernous industrial spaces have been repurposed as a permanent cultural hub, now housing theatre companies and a genteel weekly farmers' market. Those ravers knew a magical space when they saw one. Watch out for what might be the first mobile phone ever to ring at Eveleigh.