This documentary explores how New Age travellers shaped UK rave culture

In our new short film, Dazed’s Günseli Yalcinkaya meets producer Kai Whiston to trace the lesser-known history of rave culture outside of Britain’s major cities

UK rave culture has come a long way since its beginnings in the late 80s. While today’s electronic music landscape is synonymous with corporate-sponsored festivals and big room line-ups, the roots of rave culture can be traced back to the grassroots and DIY generation. As genres like acid house swept across warehouses and abandoned factories in big cities like London and Manchester, a neo-hippy strand of rave music was simultaneously taking over the south west countryside, with groups like Bedlam and Spiral Tribe heading a new wave of sound systems and free parties.

In this exclusive documentary, Dazed’s Günseli Yalcinkaya heads down to Shaftesbury in north Dorset to meet with British producer Kai Whiston to trace the history of rave culture beyond Britain’s major cities. Whiston’s third studio album Quiet As Kept, F.O.G. builds on the artist’s own experiences growing up in the New Age Traveller community, with his mother Helene bouncing between the free parties of South England to witness the rise of Massive Attack, The Prodigy and Orbital. 

“It took years of hindsight, creating a distance from my upbringing to view it all rationally, and in that I saw the story was bigger than my experience and was about the traveller community as a whole,” he explains. “It was through the impulse to write this project, hearing the stories from my mum (told throughout the album via phone interview interludes) and doing my own research that I found the beauty in growing up in that environment and accepted how it shaped me.”

Set against the bleak landscape of Thatcher’s Britain, the short film pays homage to the UK free party rave scene, and includes first-hand accounts of historical events such as Castle Morton, largest illegal rave in British history, as well as the subsequent moral panic that resulted in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act in 1994. Also starring south west producer Iglooghost, the film touches on how these communities combined with folkloric traditions have go onto inspire a wider trend of rave mysticism across electronic music and the broader internet scene.

Quiet As Kept, F.O.G. extended edition is out now