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Charlie Fantazia Interview 2011

Below you will find some answer to questions that were put to Charlie Fantazia during 2011 by two interviews who were doing larger pieces on the rave scene.  We reproduce these for your interest but bare in mind they are from are meant to fit in with large dissertations on the rave scene:

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In your opinion was rave culture as a youth movement, a progression from previous youth movements such as the hippies and the beatniks and the mods and rockers?
No I don't think they were related in any way certainly very few of those attending due to the age would have had first had involvement . I think raves just were a fun outlet for a generation that were used to a country living in recession. Raves were open to any body, there were no dress codes, often no entry price at the start and nothing to exclude people from attending at the start at least. Its under ground nature made them cool and from there it was soon the must attend event whether you like the music or drugs or not.

From your perspective, how did the explosion of rave culture affect the country?
I think it made the people attending more friendly. Different cultures and colours of people mixed and realised you could all get along, raves are a very special place like that, so little trouble. Sadly the moral panic created by a generation above about the dangers of ecstasy caught on and gave the scene a bad name but I am sure in the sixties it was spun to the same effect by those not involved

Can you describe the Ďmoral panicí that the media was publishing to the nation?
How did raves make their transition from illegal parties to being booked in nightclubs across the country?
In order to stop the illegal raves the government and councils came up with encouraging the holding of licensed events. These could be controlled and regulated. Once people new they could get the same entertainment with better facilities and with the guarantee of it going ahead people followed. However of course it was only a ploy. Once the illegal parties had been ended on the whole by the police Paid Party Unit and tougher sentencing under the criminal justice act the council started to erect more and more barriers to the party organisers. Increasing fees and health and safety requirements. At the same time they allowed bigger club to have licenses granted and extended the club opening hours, from their the super clubs like the Ministry of Sound and Cream were formed. This ended the big out door events and made the whole scene mainstream and completely controllable.

At what point was rave culture considered a marketable product?
I guess from the first Acid House Smiley Face t-shirt it had a certain image that could be sold. It was one that easily bought into as they wanted to be associated with its under ground cool or to show their friends that they were involved and enjoyed raving.

News reports claim that ecstasy taking at raves is on the decline in recent years. Do you believe that Ecstasy has still has a key association with rave culture or has this shifted?
I think it is very much optional these days people have fun either way. Back in 1992 the events were longer, there were no alcohol and it was perhaps a cool thing to try. Now there are a full range of drinks available at all events. There is also a wide spread belief that the pills are not as pure and good as they used to be. Where this is the case I have no idea. However it does strike me if you are taking an upper (ecstasy) and a downer (alcohol) then its likely to cancel each other out.

How did the mediaís coverage of the death of Leah Betts affect rave culture and its parties?
It certainly made them headline news. If you were in your teens or twenties you would have wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Every just say no campaign has always had the opposite effect. Leah Betts death was sad though as she was killed by misinformation from the misinformation around about Ecstasy, it was not the drug that killed her but drinking to much water which well meaning people had gone on and on about.

How is rave culture in the present day different to how it was when it first started off?
It is once again a very niche scene. It is no longer underground though so people understand what a rave is and about the drugs, music and fashion. The atmosphere is just as friendly and the music is still the same fun as back then.

Do you think the youth of today embrace what rave culture is all about when they go to nightclubs to party?
Some do and some don't, it depends on the party, the venue, the promoter and people.

Is there a particular genre of dance music that epitomises rave culture, or is there a genre which still holds the traditional values that emerged from when rave culture began?
Old Skool all the way but UK Hardcore it not far off.

Can the stadium transformation of artists such as Chase & Status, Sub focus and Pendulum be interpreted as rave still? Or has the media developed them into something completely different?
No they are not raves as we would remember them just giant size night club events were being scene is to be cool. They don't do self expression like the old rave days.

It is clear that as a nation, England is very keen of health and safety regulations, do you feel the red tape that sounds health and safety affected the true spirit of rave culture coming across at events?
Certainly it can get in the way but generally raving is within you. They can't take that away and they can't stop you dancing from within.

Regardless of what the media reports say about the Rave culture been decadence, we only have to go to ancient Greece, or the 50ís Teddy boy Mod scene, to see that this so called new dance phenomena was never really new. (letís not forget the swinging 60ís). Itís only natural for youth to want to seek self expression and independence. Rites of passage in many cultures involves distancing oneself from all family and village for periods up to a year. One thing for sure the Rave movement and events like Fantazia brought people together from all walks of life, allowing experiences and friendships, that in some cases would never have been possible. Substance use has always been associated with music and dance. Do you think the government and police used underhanded tactics and in a way exaggerated in their reports using the media forces to their advantage in order to control this Rave culture or were things really getting out of hand?
It is clear now 20 years on the use of ecstasy posed now threat to the mass health of the youth of the 90's nor that those people taking it posed any threat to others. In fact the evidence now is very much that Ecstasy is much safer that other recreational drugs including the legal alcohol and tobacco. The head of the governments drug advisory committee even admitted that is safer that horse riding. So why did they persecute a generation who just wanted to dance? Its clear the older generation always feel threatened by things they don't understand, cant tax and are not involved in. It is a good vote winner to crack down on a minority even if there is not evidence of harm. A lot of the problem i also think were caused by the noise that all night raves made and the disturbance it caused to the masses of the odd sleepless night. The drugs gave an excuse to crack down on the parties.

I find it interesting to see that large events like the obvious Glastonbury and many, many others are able to escape all the negative press. Did you at times feel targeted due to your independence and radicalism?
We never felt what we did was radical nor subversive. We just tried to hold great parties that people enjoyed. I do think a lot of the problem were due to the noise however Glastonbury inconveniences the whole area with traffic etc as does the likes of the Nottinghill Carnival, Football matches etc, do why raves were targeted does not make sense except that politically the under 25's have little political power or influences. It would be good to think that those who went to raves in the early twenties and teens that are now in their late 30's and 40's who are the voters, councillors and politician of today will not react in the same way towards the new generation. Here is hoping any way

Have you ever felt on some level you were an ambassador of a kind, tapping into a need for people in society to connect and interact or was it merely a financial venture?
We were never just about the money, though you need to make that in order to keep putting on the parties viable and the rave scene is litter with companies that have gone bust and failed to deliver. We aimed to put on parties that we would be proud of and I am happy to be able to say that looking back we feel we achieved that and that they were great parties.

Fantazia One Step Beyond 25 July 1992 came after The awesome Book of Love 27 June 1992 and Perception 11 July 1992, (I was at all three) you guys must have been sweating on the ticket sales. But no, Fantazia was equally awesome, there was a wildness in the air which Iíve never felt, The photographs that day were so different, I could actually feel the end was nigh. The Ravers were the craziest, if you look at the videos it's
totally mad. Today the blogs and web pages comment how lives were permanently changed by these Raves and how important these events were. Adults in their late 40ís, late 30ís, still besotted by that one day. Were you aware how important these events would become?

No I don't think so but we were aiming to put on the very biggest raves ever. We certainly did not think they would be remembered to much and talk about as frequently until this day. But then back then there was not time to think about much as we were so busy. All our parties in 1992 sold so quickly that we did not think there would be difficulty in selling Summertime and One Step Beyond out, the buzz had gone into orbit and word of mouth worked for us.

What happened? 92/93 seemed to be the end of The "Summer of Love" where did it go, what happened?
Like any scene it had to have it height. Things can't keep getting better and once that go the other way the do always seem to keep sliding back down to the niche attraction that they start as. It did not help with the fact that the councils were determined to stamp them out by making the big out door licenses increasingly costly and impossible to obtain.

Did the Criminal Justice Bill effect the way you could promote Raves?
No not really that was aimed at the illegal raves scene not the legal organisation like Fantazia

Could you write a short piece on your first Raves I know Simon Raine goes back to 87. Where and how did you start?
We started going to the M25 parties and illegal things near to home.  From there we thought we could do bigger and better events and these and I guess we succeed. We love the parties and still love meeting all the Fantazia ravers new and old to this day. We hope your readers will come and join us at one of our gigs soon. They are still the friendly fun places to be like they were back in 1992.


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