Photographs of the 90s Rave Scene | Tony Davis

British Culture Archive

Prior to documenting the 90s rave scene, photographer Tony Davis grew up on Nottingham’s Clifton Estate during the sixties and seventies. As a working class kid, his first taste of music and subculture came by way of the football terraces, coming of age listening to Bowie and immersing himself in the Northern Soul scene around the Midlands and North West.

Documentary Photography

Although having a great social life, Tony was left unfulfilled at work after numerous jobs throughout his twenties. He decided to do something about it and enrolled as a mature student at his local college, signing himself up to do a two year BTEC photography course. This is when he first started to develop an interest in documentary photography and everyday life. 

Girls in Lenton Limited Edition Print
Girls on bikes. Lenton, Nottingham, 1989. Photo © Tony Davis, all rights reserved.

One of his first ever shots was of two girls on their BMX bikes in the Lenton suburb of Nottingham, they just caught his eye in the street and were happy having their picture taken. Tony was later offered a place on the prestigious photojournalism course in Newport, but had to turn it down due the birth of his daughter.

90s Rave Scene

Tony’s passion for football took him to Italy and the Italia 90 World Cup. It was on his return to Nottingham that his time from the amphetamine fulled all-nighters at Wigan Casino stood him in good stead when he documented the 90s rave scene that blew up, in particular around the Midlands.

90s rave scene UK Eclipse Coventry
Ravers At The Eclipse, Coventry, 1991. Photo © Tony Davis.
“A time when you went clubbing and left your ego at home”

Tony captured the legendary rave nights held by Nottingham’s DiY free-party collective at the Marcus Garvey centre and many other venues around the city. Clubs such as The Kool Kat, Venus and also The Eclipse in Coventry.

No mobile phones

It was a magical time when people were fully immersed in the moment, no mobile phones, selfies or checking yourself in on Facebook. Just pure love and hedonism for the music.

A recent comment left on Tony’s Instagram page summed it up “It was a time when you went clubbing and left your ego at home”

Kool Kat, Nottingham, 1990.
Kool Kat, Nottingham, 1990. Photo © Tony Davis.
Sandbach Services

Another legendary club at the time was Shelley’s (Laserdome) in Stoke – devotees often travelled in convoy from all over the UK, making the pilgrimage to the Longton venue to hear sets by the likes of Sasha and Carl Cox.

Shelley's Stoke

For anyone north of Stoke a post Shelley’s stop off at one of the M6 services of Knutsford or Sandbach was an essential part of the night, almost as eventful as the club itself. A place where people would meet to talk, smoke, carry on dancing and come down into the early hours.

Sandbach Services, 1991.
Sandbach Services (Post Shelly's) 1991. Photo © Tony Davis.

Freedom

The arrival of Acid House in the late 80s and the 90s rave scene were one of the last youth and cultural movements in the UK before the rise of mobile phones and social media. There was a sense of freedom and spirit amongst that generation that wont be seen again.

Gallery

Datura Rave, Marcus Garvey Centre, Nottingham 1991.
Datura Rave, Marcus Garvey Centre, Nottingham 1990. Photo © Tony Davis.
Datura Rave, Marcus Garvey Centre, Nottingham 1991.
Datura Rave, Marcus Garvey Centre, Nottingham 1990. Photo © Tony Davis.
Datura Rave, Marcus Garvey Centre, Nottingham 1991.
Datura Rave, Marcus Garvey Centre, Nottingham 1990. Photo © Tony Davis.
Venus Nottingham British Culture Archive
Venus, Nottingham, 1991. Photo © Tony Davis.
Girl Raver. Venus, Nottingham, 1991.
Girl Raver. Venus, Nottingham, 1991. Photo © Tony Davis.
Venus, Nottingham, 1991.
Venus, Nottingham, 1991. Photo © Tony Davis
Rhythm II Rhythm Rave. Nottingham, 1991.
Rhythm Collision 2 Rave. Nottingham, 1990. Photo © Tony Davis.
Ravers at an event put on by DiY, Nottingham’s legendary free-party collective. Nottingham, 1992.
Ravers at an event put on by DiY, Nottingham’s legendary free-party collective. Nottingham, 1992. Photo © Tony Davis.
90s Rave Scene Tony Davis
Miro's, Nottingham, 1992. Photo © Tony Davis.
The Eclipse Coventry Rave 1991
The Eclipse, Coventry, 1991. Photo © Tony Davis.
The Eclipse Coventry, 1991. Photo © Tony Davis.
Early hours at The Eclipse, Coventry, 1991.
Early hours at The Eclipse, Coventry, 1991. Photo © Tony Davis.
90s Raver Print Tony Davis British Culture Archive
Take it for all the right reasons. Sandbach Services (Post Shelley's) 1991. Photo © Tony Davis.

All images © Tony Davis, all rights reserved. 

Words Paul Wright

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