Depending on your age, you might remember a time before most of your event invitations came through push notifications on your phone. Back in the day, paper in its different forms was primarily used to spread the word about a given event, whether it was a birthday party, a concert, a bar mitzvah, or a rave.
In the latest episode of Hidden Heat, Highsnobiety’s Jeff Carvalho meets some impressive OGs from the American rave scene. Raves started to hit their stride in the the early ’90s, taking inspiration from parties happening overseas, especially in the UK.
We start out in New York City, where Jeff meets Frankie Bones, a DJ responsible for pushing the early US rave scene. He designed his own flyers for his “Storm” raves that kicked off in 1991 in Brooklyn’s Flatbush district. Graphic designer Gregory Homs, the brains behind hundreds of iconic rave flyers rolls through with a grip of some of his most iconic designs. Later, Scotto of NASA makes an appearance to talk about his legendary raves and the insane flyers that went along with them, which would eventually inspire merch worn by the likes of Future, Frank Ocean, and Kylie Jenner.
The West Coast was an equally significant part of American rave culture, and Jeff catches up with three major figures in California. First up is DJ Garth of San Francisco’s Wicked, a legendary rave collective and recently-relaunched record label with a documentary film project about its early days in the works. Jeno, another Wicked founder, also provided a bunch of incredible rare archive footage of actual ‘90s raves he helped organize.
Next is Los Angeles, where Guadalupe Rosales discusses her Map Pointz project, an online archive that shares images and footage of ‘90s party crews, raves, and warehouse parties. Now also a book titled Map Pointz – A Collective Memory, her project offers a crucial Latino perspective to LA’s party scene. Finally, FreshJive founder and designer Rick Klotz waxes poetic about his days designing rave flyers on an Apple Macintosh.
Party flyers, easily one of the most potent symbols of youth culture in the 1990s, were one of many symbols of unity in the burgeoning dance music scene sweeping the world. From tiny hand-drawn black & white xeroxed flyers to posters with sophisticated 3D computer graphics, the evolution of the party flyer mirrored that of the raves themselves.
The flyer started out in the street, made its way into art galleries around the world, and even ended up in commercial advertising. Almost as pleasantly disorienting as the raves themselves, Take a look at some rave flyers we were able to get our hands on, thanks in part to Matthew Johnson who runs Rave Preservation Project.