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The 1st Social Network!

They may not have been the most prestigious names of the flyer, but they were the most important ones! The list of DJs and ubiquitous keyboard wizards may have been read first; a brief glance to confirm the presence of Adamski perhaps, but it was the list on the other side which was more carefully studied.

They say you’re truly famous when people know who you are just by your Christian name; Elvis, Kylie, Wyclef, Pharrell and yes…Boris. In which case the ticket sellers for the orbital raves all qualify.

So, take a bow Paul & Dave (Brixton), Giles (Colchester), Maxine (Brighton), Jo (Romford), Dave (Southend), Finbarr (Edgware), Tini (Faversham), Chris (St Albans), Joe (Grays) and Simon (Luton), and anyone else whose name appeared on a rave flyer back in the day as a ticket seller.

A reliable network of ticket sellers could make or break your event. These social butterflies provided more than a purchase point. They relayed insider info about the production, the likely venue and reinforced trust at a time when the scene was being built on shifting sands. In return for promoting and imparting knowledge, they would get the kudos of being ‘in the know’, get in for free and make a little commission on each ticket they sold. The shrewd ones even leveraged their power.

Promoter Tarquin De Meza recalls the deal with Maxine, “I’ll sell your tickets, you put Carl on the flyer – and Carl plays.”

“I agreed but reserved the right to hook him off after half an hour if he wasn’t any good”, Tarquin remembers with a smile. The hook wasn’t needed.

Simon (Luton) also played on his local pirate station Pressure FM and formed a partnership with Ellis Dee as DJ Swanee, going onto play Dreamscape, Amnesia House and Fantazia.

As the Pay Party Unit grew in effectiveness thanks to increased manpower and budget (and very probably assisted by the security services), the ticket sellers found themselves persons of interest. Phones were tapped and some were subjected to surveillance. I recall one well known seller was warned by a friendly policeman he could be arrested and charged with aiding and abetting a crime. This may seem petty and heavy-handed, but the tickets back them were more than a token of admission.

A loophole in the licensing law allowed parties to not require a licence if they were private parties…which required the promoter to hold the names and addresses of all present. So a membership form was included on the tickets and the data held by the promoter, who could use it to provide legal cover and also provide a database of customers to market to.

Looking back, the orbital rave ticket sellers were the scene’s first social network - without the trolling.

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