Raindance's 20th birthday

THE EAST London rave event that helped launch the careers of bands like The Prodigy and DJs like Carl Cox, celebrates its 20th birthday next weekend with a massive party at London Bridge. Raindance began life on September 16 in 1989 as an illegal rave in

THE EAST London rave event that helped launch the careers of bands like The Prodigy and DJs like Carl Cox, celebrates its 20th birthday next weekend with a massive party at London Bridge.

Raindance began life on September 16 in 1989 as an illegal rave in Jenkins Lane, on the borders of Newham, Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge, writes MATT TROLLOPE.

These days the area is home to a huge entertainment and retail complex, but in the late '80s and early '90s provided the backdrop to a host of pioneering rave events.

As the acid house and rave movement took grip on Essex and east London, the inaugural Raindance rave was attended by 400 people, but did not have a licence.

Promoters managed to secure one for the second party, in November 1989, by raising funds for Children In Need at the same time, and more than 1,000 people attended.

By early 1990, Raindance was working closely with Newham Council and held monthly raves on the site until the end of 1992, at their peak attracting up to 15,000 ravers at one time, and including a massive funfair.

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One of the original promoters has carried on the Raindance mantle throughout the '90s and beyond.

Simply known as Richard Raindance, the 47-year-old from West Ham is rarely pictured, donning an acid house smiley face mask in the style of Daft Punk at his events.

He told me this week: "The party at the start of 1990, when we worked closely with Newham Council, was the world's first legal rave.

"As they continued during those early years we would have coaches leaving from The Astoria in the West End at 3am, bringing hundreds of people to our event because we were licensed until 6am. We were at the forefront of the pressure that led to all-night licences."

"Suddenly, to all the other councils, Newham seemed sexy. The people from Thurrock came down to our parties, spoke to the Newham people and then went on to grant licences for similar events in their area."

As modern day dance music and clubbing became more socially accepted, those all night licences were granted at nightclubs all over the capital and the craving for larger outdoor events lessened.

The Raindance team broke up, and Richard went on to promote events like Jungle Fever at various clubs in and around the capital, but in 1997 relaunched Raindance with a series of reunion events.

SeOne, Weston Street, SE1, is the biggest legal dedicated dance space in London, and has been Raindance's home for the past 10 years. On Saturday, September 19, its main Old Skool arch is headlined by original Raindance jocks Ellis Dee, Ratpack and Slipmatt, while seven other arches will cover drum and bass, hardcore, trance, acid house, breakbeat, electro and hard house.

More than 80 DJs and MCs will play, including Jack Bass, Squirrel, Brockie, Devious D and Kenny Ken.

Doors are 9pm - 7.30pm, tickets are �24.50 and there's more info at www.raindanceravefestival.com

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