Pure Organisation - Dance 91
Norwich was never really 'on the map' as far as the rave scene went. All of it's surrounding counties had something somewhere to offer. It was certainly hard to believe that Cambridge was only 60 miles up the road, where they had one of the biggest dance scenes around during the early nineties.
Norwich never really took off in a big way and always struggled to keep up with it's neighbours. This was probably due to a number of reasons, but mainly down to the authorities and public strongly opposing any kind of events that were out of the ordinary. If you wanted to stage a big car boot sale or fete not a problem. Even the travelling fun fair would get a regular spot at the city's Chapelfield Park. But hold a rave, no chance!!!
Only two major promoters have ever managed to defy the odds and put on large scale parties that were big players on the scene. One was Murray Beaton's joint venture with Weekend World known as Heaven On Earth, which was staged on 20th March 1992. This was held at The Royal Norfolk Showground on the outskirts of Norwich attracting around 5000 people. An event that left the residents of Norwich totally stunned. How could a quiet city cope with such a large scaled event!?
The other was The Pure Organisation's 'Dance' series. This was set for Saturday 21st July 1991. The chosen venue was the newly built Sports Village. A massive dome shaped gymnasium with a capacity of around 3000 party goers situated on Norwich's Asda site not far away from residential surroundings. Eyebrows were raised, even by local ravers who knew the near impossible task of such an event being allowed to go ahead, let alone at a venue so close to a populated area. Soon this became the topic of conversation throughout the city. It can't happen. They won't let it happen!! As the hype began to build, the press published an article in the local paper asking people to express their views to the local council, both for and against. Posters started to appear on lamp posts and on walls. Pre flyers were being handed out at the end of raves. It really looked like it was actually going to go ahead.
As the build up continued the press released an official statement on behalf of the council stating that after careful consideration and review, an entertainment's licence would be granted. This was a surprise as the rave scene had a bad reputation among the authorities. Soon after this announcement the official flyers were released. Everyone was excited to know which DJ's would be making history in playing at Norwich's first big all nighter. No expense had been spared by Pure with the official line up. They were Kiss FM's very own Colin Faver and Colin Dale who were doing the rounds at Raindance and all the top events at that time. London's Simon Bassline Smith and Trevor Fung from Rage, as well as the legendary Carl Cox. These masters were also joined by Dance 91 resident Craig T and local DJ Jam Master Jay. It was hard to believe that all these top names were going to be under one roof performing in humble Norwich!!
When the big day arrived a few of us decided to go up to the Sports Village to see if proceedings were under way. Inside the production crew hurried around as if short of time. Some were concentrating on erecting a huge scaffold style lighting rig. Others were hanging massive psychedelic backdrops and large video screens. Sound technicians looked busy installing the awesome 60k turbo system, and here and there were people involved doing one thing or another. It was great to see this, and the anticipation inside us grew.
When we returned that evening the place was packed. Cars were grid locked all the way down the road with the Police trying desperately to maintain some form of order. As we sat waiting to get into the car park, we watched as the queue got bigger and bigger. Eventually we managed to get parked and made our way to the impatiently waiting crowd. As I looked around and picked up on the atmosphere I knew we were going to be in for a top night.
Once we handed in our tickets and got past security we made our way into the main arena. The transformation was unbelievable. The Dance 91 team had completely changed the inside of the Sports Village that it was unrecognisable. The lighting rig I had seen earlier now flashed and flickered with an array of scans and strobes. The UV backdrops glowed and the big screens mesmerised with coloured images and shapes. We headed straight for the dance area where the floor was shaking from the beats pumping out of the incredible sound system. How the local residents could not hear this, I will never know. People continued to pour in and the temperature began to climb.
Merchandise stalls were scattered around the edge of the arena selling a selection of tapes, t shirts and videos. Cans of coke and bottles of water also towered towards the ceiling. Outside in the warm summer air the fun fair was rocking with it's own sound system. All the rides were busy, with white knuckled ravers laughing and joking as they whizzed round and round. Back in the main room roars of appreciation went up as Carl Cox touched down, spinning the best set of the night.
As the morning sun started to come up some began to filter out, while others carried on dancing trying to squeeze every last gyration from their aching limbs. The night had been a good success with minimal trouble and few arrests. Hopefully this could mean more events getting the green light as the Sports Village was a wonderful venue. We also hoped that Dance 91 would have been the start of the Norwich rave scene with more big parties to come.
After the success of Heaven On Earth staged the following March, another application for an all nighter at the Sports Village was put to the council. We felt more confident this time, not only because one had already been held there, but because Heaven On Earth had also had little trouble. Once more local opinions were put to the licensing panel, including a letter from myself, in the hope of a licence being granted. Unfortunately we were not successful and this spelt the end of any hopes of a big rave scene in Norwich. So again it was back up the A11 to Cambridge!!
D. Graham, Norwich.
Get insider tips, offers &
event news. Includes our "Top Ten Best Rave..." series of emails