Back when the WWW was mostly grey and designed to be viewed on Mosaic browsers, the rave movement on the internet was just beginning to grow. We take a look back at some of the sites that started the whole thing off and how things have changed over the last few years.
It's 1992, the Internet is still mostly made up of web sites with grey backgrounds and the odd left aligned picture, the news groups are THE place to be. It was there that I found alt.rave a news group where people from all over the world were talking about this new style of music that I'd only found out about during the summer of the previous year. Lots of things were talked about, from events that people had been to, the new releases to talk of drugs. Moby even popped in on the odd occasion. Of course not everyone agreed on what was being said. A lot of the Americans had different views on what the Rave sound was to the UK definition of the sound. Arguments would break out and some people would just post messages to annoy people. The American site hyperreal.com was in it's infancy and tended to cater for the American side of things. It was then that a guy called Dom suggested setting up a mailing list purely for the discussion of the UK based Rave sound. The Breaks List was created.
Each week I'd go in to town to spend my grant money from university on the new 12" releases then write reviews to post to the list. People would post messages about that weekends raving adventures and soon a web site was created for the discographies and profiles that had been written by members of the list. A few years past and soon it was time for me to leave university and I lost my internet access. It was now 1996 and Jungle had had it's first flirt with the media and they had already got bored with it. I decided to dig out the profiles I had done for www.breaks.com and turn them in to proper web pages rather than the text files they were currently downloadable as. I borrowed the web space that had come with one of works dial-up internet accounts and uploaded my little HTML profile site to the Internet where it stayed un-viewed for about a year!
1997 and the beginnings of the old skool revival are taking place. A couple of promoters have cottoned on to the fact that people quite like hearing the older tunes as happy hardcore seems to have gone in to a incredibly cheesey place and jungle had nearly disappeared up it's own arse. I add a couple of flyer scans to the web site and upload about 20 RealAudio tunes I'd recorded from my 12"s for a mix tape that I'd intended on doing called Rave History. I decide to scan in the covers or labels too and write a little bit about each tune. DJ Profiles no longer seems a good name for the site, so I nick the title from one of the Bassheads old tunes and change the spelling, Back To The Oldskool is born.
At the time I thought that it was a one of a kind site, but a few months later I get an email from a guy who runs another old skool site called Fat Billy. The strangely titled Hardcore Music Alley is added to the new links page. A few other people contact me to say they too have sites, Rob Learner's Old Skool Hardcore & Rave Index, Matt Browns Bassline site (now gone) and Matt Robinsons' Bassquake are added to the list. Later comes DJ Sav's Jungle Tekno and Maxx Vinyls web sites. The number of events featuring old skool rooms is now beginning to grow and someone emails me to say that there is a new e-mail list that has been started by a guy called tWiSt I quickly subscribe and soon my email box is filling up with emails from people around the UK who are all excitedly talking about the revival that is going on.
With the help of Steve at Weekend-Rush.com, the site gets it's own proper domain name www.oldskool.weekend-rush.com and a large amount of space for the Rave History archive to really, really grow. Unfortunately the host company closes and the site disappears from the net for a few months. But with help from some of the visitors, space is donated to get the Audio Archive back up and running and soon the site is back to full strength.
Back To The Old Skool has grown a great deal from the original 8 page DJ Profiles I'd written for Breaks. With the help of fellow ravers it's spawned a Web Ring, a trilogy of 4 track EPs, a one off old skool event in Bournemouth, a lively forum, a series of CD-ROM DJ mixes and even a t-shirt . Some of the original sites are no longer updated or have disappeared from the web altogether, but having spoken to some of the other webmasters, they do have plans to bring some of them back, so like the old skool music itself, they will be a rival. In the meantime, all the while old skool music is popular, hopefully this site will continue to grow.