Class of ’99, Vol. 6

It's Disco!
Evan Dorkin, From Generation Ecch (1994)

Evan Dorkin was right that the rave scene was basically a revival of disco. Dorkin was, at the height of his cartooning, an unofficial spokesman for Generation X, drawing Milk & Cheese, the Bill & Ted comic, and designing cans for OK Cola. But his kind of ironic, misanthropic, self-referential narrative was specific to Gen-X, which had nothing to do with ravers, who were wedged right between Gen-X and Millennials.

I remember rave culture getting panned (but mostly ignored) by cultural critics at the time, and I think there were punk rock, Gen-X assumptions to this critique that were incorrect—specifically, that every youth subculture is meant to be totally novel, to rebel against the previous generation, and that disco epitomized conformist, mainstream artificiality. By the end of the 80s, I barely knew what disco even was, and couldn’t define it for you if you asked me. Disco had almost completely disappeared from commercial radio, and was too recent to count as ‘oldies’. So to me, at least, disco was fairly novel.

Rave was also not about teen rebellion. If anything, the ravers I knew tended to be latchkey kids without a lot of parental supervision, who therefore lacked much structure to rebel against in the first place. Nor did rave consciously reject mainstream culture. Typically, there are fashion cues that differentiate a counter-culture from the general zeitgeist. Brand name sporting gear tends to place one squarely among the latter—especially branded team jerseys. And yet, I often saw ravers rocking Adidas shell-toes with extra wide laces, a baseball cap, and a Sox jersey so over-sized that it looked like a judge’s robe.

A friend of mine had this Adidas visor that he would wear upside-down and backward, which not only looked really stupid, but also got his visor ‘confiscated’ on the street by some guy who claimed to be in the Gangster Disciples. For whatever reason, the GDs’ main symbol was a star of David with pitchforks shooting out the top, and they apparently saw an upside-down, three-pointed Adidas logo as a sign of disrespect to their gang.

This became a problem when ravers started sporting these T-shirts sold by Massive Magazine, one of the Midwest’s biggest rave publications. Their brand was literally just an inverted Adidas logo, and I knew at least one kid whose Massive tee got him jumped for ‘flipping the forks’.

Anyway, the world of raves had nothing to do with the world of Evan Dorkin, and it’s not surprising that his outside perspective missed the point completely.

Class of ’99, Volume 06: The Night
Download the mix (MP3, 43 minutes, 97 MB)

This month’s mix comes out as a double release, after a two-month hiatus. Side B has been released simultaneously.

Track List

One Response
  1. I am really loving this reflection on rave culture and y2k era Chicago. Thank you!! Please keep it going ✨💜✨

    —Nia

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