Raving Eye Profile on Fantazia
What a legend we have for you this issue! To try and summarise the impact of Fantazia on the young UK ravescene is a difficult task, it’s successes were nothing less than colossal and it’s legacy is still very much alive today, aided not only by the resurrection of the events but by one of the most supremely documented rave archives on the web!
Established in 1991 by James Perkins, a 22 year old from Cheltenham, the first Fantazia event was held on 19th April at The Eclipse, Coventry, with headlining acts including Carl Cox and Ellis Dee. Being among the first rave promoters to take steps into the world of legally licensed events, the next two years saw achievements unsurpassed in the ravescene today in terms of their scale and originality. 1992 alone saw six of these events take the country by storm, including the astounding One Step Beyond, the largest single arena rave held on 25th July at the Castle Donnington race track, which saw over 25,000 ravers (and a helicopter!) in attendance. The stage was dressed as a castle and a giant inflatable dragon provided the smoke during the night.
The following year saw new highlights, this time the infamous ‘Big Bang’ event in Glasgow, the largest indoor rave of it’s period brought together over 12,000 party people to witness acts such as Ratpack, Ultrasonic and Scott Browns original band Q-Tex and cost the promoters over £240k to organize! The production used two 40ft water fountains, a vast 170m long stage, six lasers, three 40ft screens, three floor dance platforms, 45 dancers and an indoor fairground!
Suffice to say that in terms of production milestones, Fantazia outstripped expectations at every event. The organization also conquered the Australian scene with phenomenal success and continued to shine in France, Spain, Ibiza and Florida to name a few. Fantazia quickly became a world renowned organization setting standards in event productions for years to come.
During 1993, as licensing laws tightened on the promoters of large scale events, the organization moved down new avenues and by the end of ‘94 the focus for the Fantazia brand had shifted to its hugely successful record label. Permeating into the public conscience in a way that few other rave organizations have succeeded in, (album posters were regularly used on the set of Eastenders!) Fantazia continued to have great successes with it’s dance/house music compilations throughout the following years with over two million sales to date. But it’s impact within the dawning 90’s is set deep within the roots of our current scene, you only have to ask those who were lucky enough to experience the phenomenon first hand in order to gain an understanding of the real status of this legend:
Breeze says: “Fantazia was the event I always looked forward to most, it was the HTID of back in the day!!!! Me and my mates (Lambert HTID and Joe HTID) always went, and even though we went to the other big events like Perception, ESP, Helter Skelter, Ravealation, Proper Stuff etc there always a special buzz about going to Fantazia, from the whole getting your tickets and travelling there and after parties etc….the memories of Robbie Dee on the high wire and the amount of people on stage, all singing to Ratpack at Castle Donnington will always hold special memories.” And Breeze is not the only one of our headliners with fond memories from the event, you only have to listen to Whizzkids’ lyrics to understand the impact it had on the then budding mc… “It started back for me back in ’92… Fantazia, Donnington it really blew my mind!!”.
This is also one of the few featured Hardcore legends continuing to bring something new to the table in today’s scene, and after a break from the music scene for several years, one of the original promoters, Charlie Fantazia, is now back on the case. We asked him what ravers can expect from Fantazia in 2008: “We will be devoting more time into expanding our websites in-depth Rave Archive section, filling in any DJ/MC and event memories we haven’t yet covered (if your readers can help we would love to hear from them). We will also be adding a load more classic clips from Fantazia parties from the past 15 years. We are hoping to have an old skool album releasing in all good retailers around Xmas/New Year so look out for that.
We will also be expanding the number of radio stations our radio player covers, revamping our forum, adding more flyers to our rave flyer library, oh the list of tasks is massive, but its a real joy and privilege as we love the reactions we get to the site.
On the parties front, we will once again be picking and choosing events to do. We will be concentrating as always on doing larger events that other promoters just aren’t doing. Something that really makes you think ‘wow that was a Fantazia’… We would love to come and replicate what we have been doing in Scotland in England but if we can't find a venue/package that suits we are in no hurry, when we do something we want it to be 100% what everyone has been waiting for.”
We witnessed a taster of the staggering production capabilities at the SV festival this summer and with the Braehead arena and Royal Highland centre events in Scotland raising the game you can guarantee we WILL be making a trip to Scotland for a forthcoming event. Watch this space.
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