Matthew Smith’s book Exist to Resist captures the moment in the 90s when ravers, new age travellers, drugs and protest collided in a joyous movement – until the government got involved
In the wake of the second summer of love in 1988, acid house seemed to alter pop culture as a whole; its influence changed everything from the sound of indie bands to the productions of Stock Aitken Waterman. But few groups embraced it with quite the enthusiasm of new age travellers. Dance music played by travelling sound systems, the equipment easily packed into trucks and transported, quickly supplemented or even supplanted the long-standing soundtrack of Hawkwind-ish acid rock on the circuit of free festivals they had frequented since the 70s. Increasingly, the free events began to resemble raves, the crowds swelled by an influx of those disillusioned with the commercialisation of the post-acid house dance scene.