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20 photos that capture the formative years of UK rave culture

From protests in the city to raves in the country

  • Harrison Williams
  • 14 February 2017

The foundation of UK rave culture has been highlighted in a new book by photographer and social documenter Matthew Smith.

The new book, titled Exist to Resist, features photographs taken between 1989 and 1997, chronicling a time when the UK government was cracking down on raves, protests, free parties and festivals. This only prompted an increase in social gatherings with acid house and rave culture bringing people together to celebrate freedom of expression without judgement.

As the digital age had not yet been established, all photos found within Exist to Resist were shot using a Nikkormat 35mm manual camera and a Rolleiflex twin lens reflex, delivering a raw perspective that captures each moment.

Smith was at the center of this movement and found it crucial to document in order to ensure what was actually happening at the time was understood.

He said: “My intention was to bear witness to this culture and to provide a positive personal truth in order to counter mass media and political representation of the lowest kind. Skint and mostly on the dole I traveled the country during these times doing exactly that.”

Building off why he chose to document this time period, Smith’s ultimate goal is to have Exist to Resist be an educational resource used in photography degree courses at colleges and major universities. The book will also be sent to The British Library, Trinity College Dublin and the House of Commons Library in the Palace of Westminster.

To help fund the project, Smith has established a Kickstarter that has already amassed numerous backers to reach the goal of $15,018. Join the movement and support Exist to Resist here.

Learn more about Exist To Resist via the video below.

Harrison is Mixmag's East Coast Editor. Follow him on Twitter here

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