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Hello friends, hope you're alright. This week, put something baggy on and get in the bus; I've no idea where we're going but it'll probably be okay.

Against the backdrop of an oppressive, right-wing government, vacuous commercialised pop culture and dim prospects for young people (sound familiar?), the late Eighties saw the rise of an alternative, hedonistic counterculture. Characterised by massive sound systems, hypnotic repetitive beats, psychedelia and a rejection of kitsch, mainstream urban clubs, rave culture took hold, perhaps, as a search for freedom.
Ravers at Littlecote House, Wiltshire. Can't see it? Click to view in your browser. Please do; it's awesome and took ages to make.
RAVE RESURGENCE: Staged largely, and often chaotically, in the bucolic British countryside, raves placed themselves in opposition to the government's distain for countercultural values. What began as a forum for acceptance with musical roots in gay culture evolved towards party as an act of defiant protest. Outlawed by Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, a shoddy piece of legislation specifically targeting people based on their lifestyles, but, 25 years on, illegal raves are once again on the rise. Perhaps the rave never ended.

More significantly, though, are echoes of rave culture emerging in the political issues of the modern era; this time with the full support and recognition of the art establishment. The look, feel and attitude are deeply reminiscent of rave heyday, as borne out by Sweet Harmony: Rave Today, an exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery until 14 September. Featured work includes installations by Vinca Petersen, a whole-wall scrapbook of the rave era, and Liam Young, presenting narrative fiction shot with laser scanners.

Better still, buried very late in the BBC Four schedule earlier this month, the Turner Prize-winning conceptual artist Jeremy Deller presented Everybody in the Place: an Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992 (watchable only until Saturday), which has become something of an iPlayer sleeper hit . In this superb film, Deller skilfully dodges music documentary clichés, presenting the story of dance music culture as socio-political history to an A-level politics class who, while at first seem a little bewildered, eventually respond enthusiastically. The Face has a good interview with Deller about the project. Yeah, The Face is back too; it's the Nineties again.
💣 A Brief Guide to the End of the World: asteroids, supervolcanoes, nuclear war, climate change, engineered viruses, artificial intelligence, and even aliens... humanity faces existential peril as never before, but whether or not we go extinct is up to us.

📲 Young women's reasons for sexting aren't clear cut: women are more likely to feel both empowered and disempowered, highlighting they have more to gain from a potentially beneficial interaction, but also have more to lose.

🗑 YouTube has become such a garbage fire it is time to dump it for good. New Scientist pulls no punches: "someone seems to have realised that the average human would spend more time on YouTube if the platform could recreate the psychological experience of seeing a horrific auto accident".

😖 We Overreacted About U2 Putting A Free Album On Our Phones: five years on, given all the crazy, maddening, saddening things going on in the world, was it really so bad? Getting cross about receiving a free album starts to feel like a bit of a luxury.

☸️ Silicon Valley’s Crisis of Conscience: Some people in Big Tech are starting to acknowledge things have gone wrong, and what their role was in that. Excellent quote from my old friend Tom: "I generally try to say some version of 'I wasn’t one of the bad guys!'... That should be printed on our nametags: name, job title, which side of history you’re on."
Rave to save: If the future appears murky, we are perhaps casually overlooking the many lessons of rave history, and what its resurgence means. It may appear superficially as if we're heading for yet another 'summer of love'. Rather, I'd argue it's a reassertion of counterculture. That it's good to think, and act, and be different from the norm. Rave culture has much to teach about the act of protest, and where supporters and unlikely allies might be found.

The force with which the Nineties government tackled counterculture left many wondering whether the response was appropriate. One of Deller's most astute insights (seriously, watch the film while you can) is drawn from a film of travellers being led into Salisbury magistrates court having been forcibly removed from Stonehenge. Deller asks how onlookers might respond. The students are surprised when some elderly onlookers are broadly supportive of the travellers, particularly those who connect their efforts in the war with contemporary freedoms. Okay so they're scruffy-looking, but if they can't have a get-together then we're all poorer.

In matters such as the environment, challenging the status quo is not just desirable but essential. Extinction Rebellion's recent shutdown of Oxford Circus and elsewhere have a distinct DIY party-as-protest feel. This is important. Parties, as this shows, make for peaceful yet highly attention-grabbing protests. The alternative is a descent into violence.
Finally: Swinging Didn't Go Away, It Just Has a New Name: Swapping certainly isn’t for everyone. But for those interested in being unbound by centuries-old traditions, the lifestyle themselves them in a situation where they have to talk openly and directly about something that remains, for many, a 21st-century taboo. 🍹

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