6 of the best documentaries exploring the highs and lows of acid house culture - Features - Mixmag

6 of the best documentaries exploring the highs and lows of acid house culture


  • Jasmine Kent-Smith
  • 11 May 2018

In case you haven't noticed, we've been celebrating the Summer of Love in recent weeks, rolling back the clock to reflect on acid house's rich and vibrant past, media perceptions and of course, the music that soundtracked the scene.

So with that in mind what better time to sit back, relax, and soak in hours of acid house history via a hearty dose of dance music documentaries.

Much loved by many, dance music films offer up alternative perspectives on subcultural movements, sounds and eras. And when it comes to acid house, broadcasts capturing the cultural shift from the rebellious underground raves up through to the mainstream masses become a choice means to understanding the scene's evolution in decades past.

Get stuck in below.

Jasmine Kent-Smith is Mixmag's Weekend Editor. Follow her on Twitter

World in Action – A Trip Round Acid House (1988)

First aired on ITV back in '88, A Trip Round Acid House is a classic film produced at the height of the second Summer of Love. The seminal broadcast unpicked the media’s perceptions of the acid house rave revolution.

The Summer of Rave (1989)

This BBC film explores the development of the acid house scene through the use of talking head interviews, candid rave footage and of course, a killer acid house soundtrack.

E is for Ecstasy (1992)

Another classic rave documentary, E is for Ecstasy was first broadcast on the BBC back in 1992. Following a group of ecstasy users, the film explores how and why individuals used the recreational drug as part of a wider rave culture. Merging personal stories from dancers and ecstasy users with fruitful thoughts from health professionals, the documentary highlights the potential long-term effects of party culture.

The Chemical Generation (2001)

Presented by British star Boy George, Channel 4 documentary The Chemical Generation looks back to the 80s to depict acid house’s journey from Manchester’s The Haçienda club to right through to the isles of Ibiza. Discussing the relationship between ravers, the newspapers and of course the police, the documentary also evaluates the effects of the Criminal Justice Bill of 1994.

The Agony & The Ecstasy (2017)

Three-part Sky Arts series The Agony & The Ecstasy sees the likes of Goldie, Paul Oakenfold and Norman Jay MBE jump on board to discuss the vivid history of dance music and dance music culture. Reminiscing, “the social, cultural and political influences over the rave scene and how it went from being something so underground to erupting across the world”, the show tells the story of a rave culture rich in energy and passion through the eyes of industry icons.

They Call It Acid (unreleased)

Over a decade in the making, definitive acid house documentary They Call It Acid is still awaiting release due to insufficient funding. However, as evidenced in the project’s trailer, the highly-anticipated film features over ten years of archive rave footage and includes interviews with the likes of a young Carl Cox, Derrick May, Noel Gallagher and Paul Oakenfold.

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