The passion project that has established a more progressive raver scene, Big Fat Rave has cemented themselves as a front runner in the underground music scene
Whether your searching for Drum and Bass, Garage, Trance, Hardcore or Donk tunes, the company offers it all and then some!
How are they ensuring that DJ’ing becomes a crucial part of Newcastle’s notorious nightlife scene and a beacon of musical freedom more broadly?
Choices in venue, marketing infrastructures and the talent they give platforms to each play a role in the success of the ‘Big Fat Rave’.
Their website states that the business was established as they:
“Wanted to recreate the ethos of the early 90s Free Party Scene” – pulled from bigfatrave.com
The nineties subcultural movement was defined in the way it operated; by defiance and counterculture to a clubbing scene which was bordering on elitist
We will be exploring how these components have been paramount in BFR’s journey to reinvigorate Free Party today, How Newcastle is a perfect place for it and the steps they have made to promote inclusivity within the DJ industry of the North
Who is ‘Big Fat Rave’?
The company, on the surface, does exactly what it says on the tin!
They organise and host many live music events across Newcastle and Leeds, bringing in talent from across the toon and beyond.
Since their first event In the summer of 2021, they have proven to be a force to be reckoned with, as they have garnered an impressive following online – even recently bringing out a full-blown clothing line
If that doesn’t speak to the brand that they have carved for themselves within the DJ scene in Newcastle, I don’t know what does!
Instagram – 5441 followers
Facebook – 1500 followers
Event organisers now have more tools at their disposal to assure that the live music scene is kept alive, what with the rise of social platforms.
Based on Big Fat Rave’s presence online, can it seriously be argued that they have successfully recreated the ethos of the Free Party, where marketing was found in word-of-mouth alone?
Visual Marketing seems to play a significant role in getting audiences to events nowadays, especially at more underground venues like ‘World Headquarters’ and ‘Cobalt Studios’
Furthermore, some of the recent live rave events of Newcastle have made frivolous efforts to stand out with crazy conceptual posters
Foundations of ‘The Big Fat Rave’ Style
To fully understand how ‘Big Fat Rave’ has recontextualised the Free Party scene contemporarily, we must explore the musical genre that was recognised as a quintessential component of the culture in the first place.
Circa 1987, people were craving escapism and what better way to do this than through drugs and music, usually synonymously too
In comes the birth and rise of the ‘Acid’ sound, which built upon the fundamentals of house music. Basslines which were distant and almost sluggish became the foreboding element which defined this subgenre
A great marker for the start of the ‘acid house’ scene in the UK was the success of Mancunian electronic group ‘808 State’ who have been accredited as pioneers of the scenes surge in Britain upon their debut release, ‘Newbuild’, in 1988.
Listening to this album for the first time was a psychedelic trip with no need for uppers or downers – though my daily caffeine fill turned out to be an oversight in retrospect
Now what’s more monumental than the record itself, is the mechanisms that were set in motion subsequently
The genres that are now most associated with rave events in Newcastle were arguably born from Acid House – Drum and Bass, Hardstyle and liquid Trance music
A report conducted by NTIA (Night Time Industries Association) in February highlighted that there were 103 million night outs centred around electronic music in 2022 in the UK, with the Nightclub scenes accounting for a hefty 96.2 million of those
Clearly, electronic music styles has impacted the cultural economy of DJ’ing and vice versa
Upon highlighting this, we can take a step further to investigate how Club promoters are fostering inclusivity and how this can be improved in the North
I spoke with Kurtis, who is one of the main promoters at BFR, on their perspective when choosing a line-up for an event, the importance of representing local talent, and the next steps for the brand to help increase inclusivity within the DJ/Club scenes in Newcastle:
This shows me that, unlike a lot of other club promoters in Newcastle, iconography is not a core component in the way that their ‘DJ machine’ operates
Instead, it is solely guided by the passion for music, freedom and underlining the incredible talent on offer across Newcastle regardless
Now, The DJ scene at large has been a male dominated industry for a while, so It was a pleasant surprise to hear from Kurtis that they will book headliners based on talent and drive for creating a good sound rather than being complacent with how the DJ industry is tainted by patriarchal ideals
It is no secret that every facet of The live music scene, specifically in dance music, gives more opportunities to male artists
A report conducted by the Jaguar Foundation, which explored the magnitude of this gender disparity found that 63 percent of senior roles in live music industries are occupied by males in comparison to 37 percent for women
This is something that needs to be reversed, no matter what must be done!
Becky Woodcock was one of the First Female DJ’s to burst out onto the northern scene after learning to mix over the pandemic, We had a lengthy conversation on how she is working to create safer environments for women to build, and fully bloom regardless of the disparities projected against women, and Non-binary artists
‘Its definitely a lot harder for women’, she stated in response to breaking through in the DJ scene, going on to say that she felt a sense of embarrassment being one of the first female DJ’s on the northern scene
‘Every person you’re going to meet as a female DJ is a man’
All this to say, there are still many steps that need to be taken to ensure full inclusivity and diversity can be honoured as part of the nightlife scene in Newcastle
Woodcock has been taking those steps with her own event planning company ‘Music Sphere’ to make sure that the same treatment is given to other groups as is provided to men in the space. You can follow them here
Big Fat Rave, in conclusion are driven by musical passion in the North rather than placing your typical Headliners with the biggest following – it is for this reason they can be deemed as a placeholder of Newcastle’s DJ’ing scene
A company which follows with the music, is a company that has true love for the artform over the need to get a bigger name for themselves.