2017 has had its ups and downs, in fact, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster.
In January, fabric finally re-opened its doors and at the same time Printworks staked its claim as one of the best new venues in the country. That’s pretty good isn’t it?
On the same note though, Birmingham’s iconic Rainbow Venues has just had its license revoked in a similar vein to the way fabric did and we also lost Robert Miles, the producer of one of electronic music’s most iconic tracks, ‘Children’ back in May.
It’s been as mad as ever in our little dance music bubble but the saving graces are the sentimental things that have made us smile. More so than the DJs, more so than the festivals, hell, more so than the music. 2017 has been the year that the everyday clubber became the star of the show. As The Streets so eloquently put it, 2017 was the year that the ‘Weak Become Heroes’.
Take Bradley Gunn for instance. Bradley is exactly the sort of raver you want at your party and he’s the person you want to rave beside. He’s the first one there and he’s the last one to leave. He doesn’t drink alcohol, nor does he do drugs but you can bet that he’s on that front row dancing more than the entire crowd combined.
Although he suffers from Asperger's, he doesn’t let it stop him from letting loose and taking selfies with his army of fans. He’s become a viral sensation since with videos popping up all over Facebook, showing off his serious dedication to the rave.
We recently named him our Raver Of The Year and got to know the man behind the moves. It really is beautiful to see someone bring that sort of energy and love to a dancefloor as a form of release.
Time for another Facebook sensation and this one is very close to our hearts because we were the ones to find him. To be honest, we didn’t just find him, we experienced him. During Madam X’s set this year at Glastonbury we saw something spectacular, we saw something beautiful, we saw something that sums up the true meaning of inclusivity and togetherness on the dancefloor. If you haven’t heard of the bread raver, then where the hell were you?
Ben Hawker is the man, nay, the king who danced around to the murky beats of Madam X with a giant loaf of bread, offering it to everyone around him. He held it up high, he presented it proud and it was fucking hilarious. This was a big old loaf of bread, the true variety remains unsure but he was talk of the town. A raver who took it upon himself to feed thousands, a bit like Jesus.
"We had people forming queues at one point. And at the end of it there was a hole in the bread and I stuck my hand in it, waving it in the air,” said Hawker.
We actually caught up with Benny to see how things had been going since his superb performance at Glastonbury and it turns out that our favourite baker has been getting some more attention with his almighty loaves.
"The bread raver came back for one night only in October, after digging out the legendary camo bucket hat and getting a freshly baked tiger loaf the "glasto dead raver" was born for the Halloween sesh. Who knows where it could go from here man, bread raver might even surface with a bit of tinsel and a massive mince pie for the hungry ravers this christmas," he told us.
But will he be back?
"You'll probably catch me and my mates at some festivals in summer 2018 skanking it out with a tiger loaf." Thank fuck for that.
Then there's the guy reading a book in the rave. You know the one? You must do! Well if you don't then here's a quick summary. We spotted a guy reading the book in the middle of a dancefloor and filmed it. Yeah, that's about it really but still, it posed a few questions.
What was he reading? Why was he reading? Did anyone say anything to him in the rave? It's these sorts of heroes that we need more of on our dancefloors. This don reading a book would be a much nicer sight than seeing someone who can't keep their jaw in check for four hours.
Book man, we salute you, but that happened in the states. Let's bring things back home once again, to the UK.
You know that feeling when you’re at a festival and you run out of Rizla. That “oh for fuck sake” feeling. It’s just a bit long really. You have a little scout around the area to see if anyone else is skinning up a big one, or just making a rollie for their mate who can’t see straight. It’s slim pickings but in the distance, you see Henry Senners. Some might think, “who the fuck is Henry Senners?” but to the festival-initiated, you’ll know him as the Rizla Hat guy.
Yes, the guy who wears a bucket with numerous packets of Rizla stuck to it. We’re talking blues, reds, greens, long skins, short skins. Whatever your rolling conundrum, Senners has got you covered and it’s yet another display of everyday heroism.
He didn’t have to go out and get the Rizla, he didn’t have to stick them to his hat, but he wanted to, for the good of the rave, for the good of the people, for the good of mankind. We spoke to Henry and his plans for 2018 sound pretty damn perfect.
"Maybe I can make Rizla great again. Either way, heading to a few festivals is must! Drinking cans in fields is a favoured hobby of mine, and I don't have many (hobbies, that is). Opportunities to forget all the shit you usually do are too few and far between, so I'll be taking any chance I can get. So anyone who feels the same (and I know a few), it would be lovely to see you, for a bit of a dance, and maybe a few roll ups"
We don’t deserve these heroes of the dancefloor but we’ve got them and in a year that’s had its ups and downs, by god we’re grateful for them.
Be more like Bradley, be more like Ben, be more like the book guy and be more like Henry.
Be a hero of the rave, 2018 needs you.
Funster is Mixmag's Digital Editor and he fucking loves all of these heroes, follow him on Twitter