If you were lucky there was one locally, if not then off to Happy Hardcore Mecca’s like The Sanctuary in Milton Keynes, Hastings Pier or Bagleys in London it was then and the laughs and excitement the journey had for you and your mates where you took the train or coach to the venues.
It felt like the equivalent of the best school trip ever but without adults and you could be as naughty as you wanted to be in the cheekiest way possible.
The journey back maybe not so much.
Although some crazy and random adventures happened on the way home and it was all part of the experience and it never stopped us from doing it time and time again.
Make Some Noise
We could see our DJ idols up close, slamming out classic anthems and the freshest dub plates alongside those unknown tracks that only years later you finally find out what they were on a random YouTube nostalgia trip where you jump for joy at finally getting that tune ID you always wanted and needed to know.
You were there making noise with a whistle or horn, no one telling you to stop, in fact the opposite with the MC’s telling you to make more noise!
This was freedom, and this was our way of expressing our glorious new way of life.
Looking back, it was a great way of exhausting our abundance of adolescent energies in a way that harmed no one and fulfilled our desire for belonging and conformity amongst our peers whilst still being individual in the eyes of the masses outside the scene, of course.
Outside of the raves, we were in the record shops of worth, you know, the independent ones that sold Hardcore records and rave merchandise.
In these underground shops we were hunting down and snapping up the latest UK releases from the likes of Essential Platinum, Hect-Tech, Go Mental Records, Evolution Records, Next Generation and Blatant Beats.
This was of course alongside the imported Dutch bangers from BabyBoom, Dwarf and Master Maximum to name a few.
Happy Hardcore was international after all!
Happy Hardcore Was a Way of Life
We popped into the local music Mega Store for the latest Bonkers compilation, always on tape, for your Walkman, of course, and to be handily available for when you get in your mates Metro or Nova with the carpeted sub box in the boot amplifying the heavy kick drums.
We were there nodding our heads, feeling awesome and free as we drove about the suburban locales blasting out the happiest sounds through the 6×9’s, always loud and always proud.
At home we didn’t need wallpaper, we had flyers, some of the best-looking one’s ever made. Bright, distinctive and adorning our walls like a church has fresco’s.
Happy Hardcore was our religion after all and our bedroom walls were our personal shrines to the Lords of Hardcore and we anticipated their next 60-minute vinyl spinning sermon with a religious zeal that any devout worshipper of an actual religion would no doubt understand.
If you couldn’t make it you brought the tape pack for it and if you were there you brought it on the off chance you and your crew had a shout out which you always vaguely remembered asking the MC for and the flashback it evoked when you heard it on it.
Sure, there were drugs and without them for many it would have been hard to manage a 12-hour marathon stomp at 170+ BPM, it was all part of the scene as it is with all scenes.
For good or worse, it’s nothing new, it was rebellion and escapism for many of us.
It was the soundtrack to our lives in the 90’s and beyond
Happy Hardcore for many of us was there during the best times and helped us through the darkest times of our young lives, it helped with breakups (and provided the best soundtrack for makeups) and listening to certain tracks will awaken memories long after they happened.
The happy and often romantic lyrics about love, life and happiness, the piano breakdowns, the mental staccato crescendo’s all entwine with memories that made us who we are today.
It’s Legacy and evolution
Happy Hardcore gave us lifelong friends, gave us a positive way to vent our frustrations and angst, gave us an identity and most importantly gave us something that was solely ours.
That is until it was handed over to the next generation to meld in their own way, for their own time which, we may not quite understand, but, hey that’s progress whether we like it or not.
We were lucky to be the first to embrace it for all it quirks and awesomeness and drive its evolution and be thankful for being at the forefront of this era.
Whether you were at the raves or lapping it up at home because you were to young to go at the time and thankfully we won’t be the last because, as all ravers know…
Hardcore never dies!
What are your memories about this awesome era?
Share them below in the comments and don’t forget to share it out to your old raving mates and reminisce together.