It's the summer of 1999, the internet barely resembles a dot-matrix teletext site and the likes of Ricky Martin, Vengaboys and S-Club 7 dominate the charts with soon to be bonafide school disco anthems. Post-rave eurodance-pop and Gatecrasher style dance music soundtracks the summer, and as we leave secondary school behind, we hunt for that summer job before university.
Words by Jamie Brett
Photos courtesy of the Museum of Youth Culture
Header image: Giles Moberly
From your first proper club night, to weekend festivals and holidays with your mates, for many summer marks a sense of freedom and anticipation for the months that follow. Allow us to transport you back to the late-90s, as we journey through the night rites of British youth.
As the balmy nights draw out longer, we wangle our first job in a seaside hometown flyering for a local nightclub. Sifting out flyers at the club entrance, we notice the importance of their design and intention to catch a bleary partygoer’s eye. Printed with heady designs of early CGI, bootleg food label parodies and even DIY photocopied notes, from within the queue we start to hear new sounds, the outer walls humming with anticipation. Despite the sweltering days spent on the beach or shopping with mates, the night-time welcomes a new energy. A sharp, crystalline sea breeze cuts through the crop tops and cargo pants and brings on a broodier, intense energy that we discover during our first club night as a punter.
Sweat dripping from the ceiling, the DJ mixes vinyl with tack-sharp skill, illuminating the small-town club with syncopated breakbeats of military precision and opening our eyes up to a new sound, a radical way of thinking and a collective community of ravers. Seeing a new side to the experience of night, one so different to that of work, the club soundsystem transcends those chilly nights handing out flyers, and welcomes in a warmth of deep, undulating bass.
It’s through this love of dance music that we find ourselves on a coach travelling with a newly found rave crew, en-route to Stonehenge in pursuit of the primordial origins of collective joy. In 1999 Stonehenge remained open to the public, and we flock the sacred grounds to celebrate the Summer Solstice amongst a varied crowd of hippies, ravers and druids. The sublime vision of the setting sun against the towering stones, of drums made from skins vs drums from synths. We dance into the night, experiencing the long-withstanding sights and smells of outdoor midnight revelry.
As June draws to an end, we continue our journey deeper west towards Glastonbury. In contrast to the solace of Stonehenge, the site is expansive and buzzing with gargantuan crowds, the biggest we’ve ever experienced. Music is around every corner - dancing to the likes of REM, Fatboy Slim, and Skunk Anansie we experience the elation of that first club night again. After a few days, we vacate behind our grotty tent dwelling and we make our way home for some R&R in time for our last hurrah.
First holidays are like dipping a toe into the pool of adult life, and although twinned with a mischievous freedom, comes with a responsibility to look after yourself and your fellow mates; all bearing varying degrees of common sense. We embark on a budget flight across the European mainland into the buzzing Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Ayia Napa sends us into a chaotic frenzy of ‘Brits abroad’ fun, with UK Garage searing through the Greek-Cypriot streets. Garage follows us around the island, breakbeats blare from restaurants and takeaways with acts such as So Solid Crew, MJ Cole and Ms Dynamite taking to the local nightclubs. In some ways Ayia Napa is synonymous with our seaside home back in Britain, and as the holiday draws to a close and the tide pulls in, we can’t help but feel a pang of nostalgia for our hometown and Napa, both miles away from an encroaching life of uni, adulthood, and new possibilities.
This summer, wear your favourite Fred Perry and tag us at #fpnighttales. We want you to be in our future archive.