We went to an acid house rave in 1989 – thanks to the magic of virtual reality – Tech


To work out the realism in every detail of the warehouse rave, the dance stage includes around 800 model people delirious with sour sounds. The team managed to create this with one dancer and one male dancer trying out 69 different dance styles that were noticed in archival footage from the original parties. Emerson recalls that he didn’t have much space to dance but felt “the energy and the heat of the crowd”.

Once we exit the experience, you can hear mutterings of “I’ve never raved like this before” and “I feel like I should be blowing on a spliff now.” To gather our thoughts and get acquainted with reality, our group sat in a room that mimicked a misty sunrise – there is a real feeling among us that it is morning after the previous night. It takes a few hours to really understand the experience, as someone whose previous VR experience had used a £20 headset from Argos for the past few hours had been truly mind blowing.

Read this next: 6 of the best documentaries exploring the highs and lows of acid house culture

Tony Guillan from the Culture City of Coventry, involved in the project from the very beginning, told us how the VR experience brought him to tears. “Tears of joy of course,” he explains, telling us how happy he is that the project “weaves social history with the universal phenomenon that was in the late 80s. It’s a wonderful story to tell in the context of the city’s culture as it shows you the power of popular culture and DIY culture, realizing that they could come together in this way and just have a good time.

Nostalgia is the true goal of Continuation of repetitive rhythms Emerson explains: “It teaches you about the times and what was going on with those early pioneers of acid house, particularly in the West Midlands, but it’s really about those kind of defining moments of you, where you come out from school or college, the friends who are going to be like your longtime friends and you go on an adventure.And it’s hard to disagree – it feels like you’ve lived a full day leaving The Box at FarGo Village. Having spent much of the last two years without human contact during the pandemic, there is a satisfaction in undertaking an experience that feels so fundamentally cordial and collective in the world of virtual reality.” ironic because we’re using very technical media and you’re actually very cut off from the world,” Emerson comments, “but virtual reality reconnects you with a human element of life.”

In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats is open to the public at The Box in Coventry. Click here to book tickets.


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