Class of ’99, Vol. 4

Ravers say there’s a real unity to the scene, that there’s no small-mindedness or cliquishness, but they’re only looking from within. It’s kind of like the Trilateral Commission saying it has no closed-mindedness or cliquishness—everyone who’s on the Trilateral Commission is welcome!

— from Generation Ecch!, 1994

It’s true: ravers preached unity and openness—and practiced extreme exclusivity. Let’s say you had heard of raves, but had never gone, and you wanted to check one out. First, you had to already know where in town to even find rave flyers. Once you had a flyer, you had to know to call the number on it, the night of the party, and then you’d get directions to a checkpoint, where you would have to go to get a map to the event. Sometimes, the kid manning the checkpoint just gave you a second phone number to call, where the promoter would read the directions into the outgoing message. So then you had to find a pay phone, write those directions down or memorize them, and hope you didn’t get lost.

Almost none of my friends drove, and this was before cell phones, so unless that venue was either in or just outside the city, we would have to organize a carpool using pay phones and pagers (which every raver had, luckily). But you couldn’t get called back on a payphone if someone else was using it, and you couldn’t exactly call dibbs on a public phone.

Once you got to the venue, you could still be denied entry. Sometimes, a bouncer would pat you down, and ravers would get bounced for stupid shit like drawing up the cuffs of their UFO pants and trying to smuggle a whole 40 oz in one pant leg. Or, the venue would reach capacity, and your only option was to tailgate, sneak in anyway, or leave.

If you did get in, there was definitely this vibe that everyone is welcome at the rave party—provided that you made it though the gauntlet leading up to it. But this also meant that no one just kind of ended up there. You had to really want to be there, so the secretive nature of rave parties did select for a kind of sincerity, intentionality, and dedication.

Raving was a whole weekend ritual that included calling the number on the flyer, the day after the party, to hear the promoter wax about how great the party turned out and to thank the participants (or to apologize, if it got busted and shut down). This month’s mix opens with a day-after message from Underground Elements’ Southside Chicago, which drew almost a thousand people. I remember dancing to “South Side” at this party, as well as “Chicago Southside“, and it was, indeed, on the South Side, and, it was, as the promoter says on the recording, the BOMB party!

Class of ’99, Volume 04: The BOMB Mixtape
Download the mix (MP3, 41 Minutes, 96 MB)

About the cover

This month’s cover art comes from a flyer designed by Justin Fines, AKA Demo. This guy was the best rave flyer artist in the Midwest, hands-down.


I didn’t have Internet growing up, but we did have a PC at my mom’s house, so I would go to the public library and download web pages to a floppy disk, then load them up at home and edit the source to learn how web pages worked. This strategy helped me land a Web design internship in ’99, and then in 2000 I got my first freelance gig, developing the branding and website for the Chicago DJ Summit (which was cooler when Flash was still supported).

Anyway, I always admired Demo’s vector-heavy style, which inspired my work early on in my career.

Track List

Follow these links to read more about the selections:

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