Ecstasy: The Battle of Rave

BBC Sounds and Radio 5 Live have released a new podcast series exploring rave culture in Britain in the late ’80s and early ’90s. ‘Ecstasy: The Battle of Rave’ focuses on the relationship between the emerging UK dance music movement and the drug MDMA, charting the highs and lows of acid house through the eyes of partygoers, promoters, police and drug peddlers.

The twelve-part series is split across two formats. Half the episodes follow a fictional drama written by BAFTA-winning screenwriter Danny Brocklehurst, while the other half offers a documentary-style investigation built upon eyewitness interviews. Guests for the latter episodes range from Happy Mondays’ Shaun Ryder and DJ Graeme Park — both central figures at Manchester’s Haçienda Club — to former drug kingpin John Burton and retired policeman Ray Newman.

Their stories tell of the glory days of rave, where revellers would drive in convoy to find top-secret locations and dance the night away. But they also tell of the dark times: gang warfare, illegal drug smuggling and deaths from overdose. The series is soundtracked by the songs that defined the era, with Frankie Knuckles ‘Your Love’, A Guy Called Gerald’s ‘Voodoo Ray’, Orbital’s ‘Belfast’ and The Prodigy’s ‘Charly’ among the many musical highlights.

Image: The Haçienda main dance floor, Manchester 1989, by Peter J Walsh