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Sunrise Profile / Interview

Sunrise was formed in 1988 by two ardent club goers, Tony Colston-Hayter and David Roberts.  They had taken the underground movement to the large scale dance events, which eventually led to a massive campaigning party in Trafalgar Square called Freedom To Party.

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Sunrise CDs

That campaign ultimately led to Parliament changing the outdated UK licensing laws, and for the first time clubs and entertainment organisations were allowed to stay open all night.

The Sun "Ecstacy Airport" (Sunrise @ White Waltham):

‘Beheaded pigeons littered the floor after Sundays party. Youngsters were so high on Ecstacy and cannabis they ripped the birds’ heads off. Their bodies lay among thousands of empty soft-drink cans and pieces of foil which had contained the drugs. Also littering the huge building were leaflets advertising other acid house parties at future dates and venues’ 

Dave Roberts (Back to the Future) talking about Sunrise/BTTF Dance Music Festival

After the publicity, no-one wanted to give Sunrise a site. By luck we found this farm, did the deal and got our crew off there really early in the morning. By this time the police were following our crew round. They followed our scaffolding people who built the stage and discovered the venue. The farmer doesn’t know what to do; were saying to him "You don’t have to stop it we aren’t breaking any laws, we’re a private members’ club". They’re saying to him "Stop It, otherwise were going to prosecute you!".


Paul Staines

Staines was PR officer for the Sunrise collective, an organiser of raves and acid house parties in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Sunrise avoided legal issues by positioning its large-scale dance parties as private-member clubs, outside of police control.

Faced with opposition from the Conservative government, and a Private Members Bill to clamp down on unlicensed parties, Staines, along with Tony Colston-Hayter, established the Freedom to Party Campaign at the Conservative Party conference in October 1989. Although the campaign had little impact, with a first rally in Trafalgar Square attracting 4,000, and a second 10,000,[9] Staines was still occasionally active in his role as director of the campaign, arguing in 1995 that individuals should have the right to have occasional noisy parties at home.

Staines later described, in a Libertarian Alliance publication, the actions of police, using surveillance to clamp down on acid parties, as "truly a regime of which Stalin or Hitler himself would be proud, implementing socialist policies to protect the citizens from their own moral weakness", an action that "happened, not under a Communist regime, but under an increasingly authoritarian Conservative government". He described those opposed to rave parties as "the Lifestyle Police ... the conservative, intolerant bigots who demand uniformity ... supported by comfortable suburbia and the reactionary readers of the Daily Express. For them different means dangerous. They truly believe that they represent decent values when in fact they have narrow intolerant values."

Staines says an explanation he related at the 1989 Conservative conference that Acid House was not named after the drug, but for a Chicago term referring to theft of music, was believed by numerous gullible journalists and MPs, to give a false impression that the music was not drug-related.

Staines offered an enthusiastic endorsement of rave drugs relating how "I have fond memories of taking LSD and pure MDMA, trance-dancing and thinking that I had turned into a psychedelic, orgiastic wisp of smoke – it was the most staggeringly enjoyable, mind-warping experience I have ever had. The sense of self liberation was awesome and is to be recommended.", adding "A lot of my Thatcherite/Libertarian friends get very suspicious when I tell them about the love and peace aspects of taking Ecstasy. To them love and peace equals hippies equals leftist. The feeling of unity and shared enjoyment to them smacks of collectivism, not the rugged individualism that they favour. But the drug actually removes inhibitions, liberating your mind." "You feel a sense of solidarity, but it is totally voluntary, there is no coercion. Libertarians are opposed to coercive collectivism, but if I as an individual choose to enjoy a collective experience because I want to, then that is up to me.

I suspect that a lot of rightwingers, Conservative, Thatcherite or Libertarian, cling to their inhibitions and are actually afraid of letting go." He concluded "uptight Conservatives are probably the people who would benefit most from taking drugs, particularly Thatcherites, with their machine-like obsession with efficiency and abstract attachment to the freedom to make money. I'm as much of a believer in Capitalism as the most earnest of Young Conservatives, but couldn't we put acid in the punch at the YC ball and then really have a party?"

Whatever happened to Tony Colston - Hayter?

I never went to a Sunrise rave ( ) but after reading up on what limited stuff I could find on the web, he seems to be somewhat of a pioneer, i.e. before he came along the warehouse/rave scene was pretty dark, dirty and dire - even read some quotes that many felt it was 'rubbish' before the first big Sunrise raves came along and the summers of 88/89.

Tony seems to have upped the ante considerably by ploughing loads of cash into it (and making loads of it too by the sound of it). He basically set out to stage the biggest and best parties he could. He did it and thus influenced Energy, Helter Skelter, Genesis etc. to go and do the same.

I read that he was the first to use the BT voicebank system to give last minute location news and that he set up a very sophisticated network to make sure the parties went ahead. The Sun seem to have branded him an 'Evil Acid King' but I also read he was a "technocrat" (whatever that means??) and an ex-yuppie who was also an ex-gambler and he had a bit of a reputation for being an outspoken grumpy tw*t.

Has anyone got any stories on him at all? Where is he now? What was he like? Last info I've seen on him was he made number 68 in the 100 Greatest TV moments from Hell for pouring water over Jonathon Ross on live telly...pmsl


Sunrise Events:

Sunrise - III Burn It Up (5 Nov 88)
Sunrise - Early Summer Madness (20 May 89)
Sunrise - Midsummer Night's Dream (24 Jun 89)
Sunrise - Back To The Future (12 Aug 89)
Sunrise - 2nd Guy Fawkes Edition (4 Nov 89)
Sunrise - Superseries (4 May 90)
Sunrise - Peace (24 Jul 93)
Sunrise - Love Energy 93 (28 Aug 93)


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