Although he had no journalistic experience and could only type with two fingers, his injustice-fuelled, sweat-soaked dispatches from the dancefloor reached a new generation through the clubber’s bible, Mixmag. As their ‘raving reporter’, he witnessed first-hand the explosion of rave culture, a sonic shockwave which ripped through western Europe, beyond Paris and Rimini, through war-torn Yugoslavia beyond the iron curtain to Soviet-era Moscow, heralding revolution and change…a rave new world.
Since June 1989, Kirk has been on the frontline documenting dance music and rave culture in its purest form. Having experienced some of the world’s most hedonistic parties first-hand, the first-time author decided to map his journey of rave culture during the lockdown.
Currently, on the promo trail with his new book, rave new world, we put UR 10 Questions to Kirk to find out more about life as a raving reporter.
1.You’ve just published a book called a Rave New World. For those unfamiliar with RNW, can you give us a few words on what the book is about?
It’s a seat-of-your-pants, white knuckle ride through the ‘90s, following my rave adventures as a raving reporter, rave and club promoter and (almost)pop-star!
2.Do you feel the book perfectly covers the rave era of that time or is there still much more to be said?
I decided to only write about the raves I witnessed – as I want to take the reader with me. This means the UK bits are mostly London/ S E based and describe that era from the inside. It’s the first book to be written from a raver’s perspective, rather than a DJ promoter or journalist looking in, so it’s a very personal perspective, which gives it an intimacy.
3.Former Mixmag editor and DJ Dave Seaman said that you were “right there in the eye of the storm of those early, incredible, halcyon days of rave”. Comparing the scene of today to how it was back then? Do you ever ponder how things might have gone differently or was it inevitable that dance music would end up so imbedded in mainstream culture?
Yes, it was a wild new frontier in those days! It was a movement, a revolution rather than an industry. When it was clear dance music was here to stay, the agents moved in, and the music biz were all over it like a cheap suit! This is inevitable; the underground, if it grows, often becomes mainstream culture; punk rock, fetish fashion, rave… In the book I describe the corporatisation of “Glastonbury Festival as Mad Max to Pepsi Max”, which kinda sums it up.
4.Is there one song/album or artist that best symbolises the spirit of Rave New World?
Promised Land by Joe Smooth; if Utopia had a national anthem, this would surely be it.
5.Before becoming a raving reporter, you were pursuing a career as a popstar, correct?
EVERYONE in the 80’s was in a band! There were no jobs and a rich tapestry of youth culture to inspire us; punk, ska, post punk, goth, new romantic, indie, heavy metal…My band Delicious Poison (such an ‘80’s name…) played The Marquee, supported some big bands and played over 100 shows, but it wasn’t meant to be, and we split up on tour in Austria. The book opens with me in a police cell in Munich…I was at rock bottom.
6.You said you wrote the book without any real intention of it being published. So, how does it feel now seeing the reactions from various artists and readers about the book?
I wrote the book in lockdown to remind myself of a more carefree time. I hoped my sons would read it one day after finding a USB in a sock drawer. I wanted to let them know what their Dad did before he became their Dad. After Fatboy Slim told me he loved it, I sent it to other artists and the response has been mind-blowing; when DJ’s you respect like John Digweed, Slipmatt and Fergie recommend it, its humbling…and when Robbie Williams posted a video of him with the book, I had to turn my phone off and let it sink in.
7.Do you have any words of wisdom for those looking to start their own journey writing a book?
Don’t get into it for money or celebrity. Write for expression and to tell a story (it’s the oldest artform, and one which will always be around). Write about what you know, feel or have witnessed – and be aware that publishing is hard to get into and can be a frustrating business. But if you don’t write a book to be published…you can’t fail…and everything is a bonus!
8.What are your reading recommendations for books about the dance scene?
Matthew Collins ‘Altered State’ and Peter Hook’s ‘How Not To Run A Nightclub’ are both accurate and well written. Since starting Rave New World, I’ve avoided reading other books on the scene for fear of being accused of stealing / copying. I don’t want to be influenced by other authors in my genre (especially when some of them weren’t even at the parties they talk about!)
9.Who would be a dream group of guests to join you on a one-off podcast of the Rave New World?
Tony Colsten-Hayter (aka “Mr Big of Acid House”), who ran the legendary Sunrise parties, Tony De Vit (who was a great gossip, incidentally!), Moby (who I booked for his first UK show) and Alfredo Florito – “the father of Balearic Beat” and probably the most influential DJ of the last 40 years.
10. In addition to writing, you also perform. Tell us about Acid House Storytelling…
I’ve developed a one-man show which reflects the book’s balance between history, hedonism and humour. It’s a light-hearted strobe down memory lane which celebrates rave and club culture in visuals and music. It’s been called, ‘cabaret for the chemical generation’ and will be touring festivals next summer.Thirty years on, a generation who danced through the nineties, appreciate sitting down to hear an orchestra play dance classics or a spoken word presentation; it vindicates the time they invested in the lasers, is proof that dance music culture is recognised…and probably makes them feel better about their mis-spent youth!
Rave New World: confessions of a raving reporter by Kirk Field (Nine Eight Books) is available in all formats from: https://bitly.ws/33eiC
Where can people find you?
I’ve been invited to play Strummerville stage at Glastonbury next year and hope to appear at some more festivals in addition to one-off shows around the UK. My spoken word shows are posted on www.ravenewworld.co.uk, and sent to subscribers (who also get bonus chapters not in the book 😉)
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