E Generation: Summer of love

For a few thousand clubbers, summer 1988 meant non-stop partying fuelled by acid house music and a great new drug called Ecstasy. Sheryl Garratt was in the thick of it. Ten years on, she recalls the beginning of a youth revolution. Overleaf, Polly Williams finds out what happened to other survivors

MC Kinky, aka Caron Geary 30 (below, pictured in 1991), MC'd over "Everything Starts with an E", on Boy George's More Protein label. It was released in 1988 and was massive in the acid house scene, becoming a mainstream hit in 1991. She's since been singing, writing lyrics and working in London and New York on break beat, dance hall reggae and ragga tracks. She's currently DJ-ing and working on new material.

"When I MC'd over `Everything starts with an E' I hadn't taken one. The track got banned from Radio 1 and TV, but it was massive. I had no manager, agent, nothing. People used to phone up my house all the time and say, `Hi my name's so and so, can you do a gig?' Me and my mates would drive up to a massive party somewhere. I'd put my hair in curlers in the car, put on mad light-reflecting clothes in pub toilets. When the screechy guitar on `Everything ... ' began, the crowd would roar like a football stadium. Afterwards I'd get off stage and go and dance for hours with everyone else. People would come up to me saying, `I love you. I love your hair. You've changed my life.' I couldn't believe it.

And there was so much money around; literally huge piles of cash in the Portakabins. Because everyone was so out of it they'd pay me huge amounts. We were like kiddies with cash, going into restaurants and ordering every dish we hadn't tried. It was never a job, just a brilliant way to live. When Thatcher stopped it, people didn't say, `Let's take off our baggy T-shirts and get a nine-to-five.' Many of us carried on and developed creative careers from that scene in music, journalism, whatever. In comparison, today's 21-year- olds seem so safe, so `better get a bank job'. I get really sad when I go out now. Everything's so corporate. And they subject you to eight hours of the same music. Yeah, I really miss it. Cool Britannia? I'd rather be dancing in a field in '88."

Suzannah Nuttall 33. After her business and marriage disintegrated she moved into advertising, then land reclamation, before setting up her current business, a catering company. She is settled with her partner of seven years, Frank Kelly.

"In 1987 our interior design business made pounds 750,000 profit: it was all spent within a year. My marriage broke up in 1990, after two years. Our business went down the pan in 1991. Acid house had a lot to do with it. Me and my husband went on a non-stop party. We'd meet Fat Tony, go to a couple of clubs in London and then off to the outdoor ones. We were totally nocturnal. Everyone would pile back to our house during the day. We'd chill out. Crash out. And go out again the next night. We were the neighbours from hell. We'd boom out `get off me land' to farmers from a PA system in our Toyota land cruiser. We'd have wild parties, where normally uptight people would strip off naked. (It really wasn't a scene for couples: E isn't conducive to fidelity.) In 1988 I went out to Goa for the TV show Network 7. I told my husband I'd be back in two weeks but loved it so much I stayed five months. That summer it was a real trail thing. You'd bump into the same crowd in Bali, Brazil, Goa, Ibiza. And I spent at least a year in Ibiza between 1988 and '92. There was so many drugs around. One summer I took acid every day for six weeks. It took two weeks for my pupils to go back to the normal size after stopping. Ah ... it was wild. Do I regret it? Of course not."

Rebecca Johnson 27, went on the road in 1988 when she was 17, living in buses and caravans. In 1991 she moved off site to study fine art in Sheffield. After leaving college, she ran the NPA (New Producers Alliance) in London and now works as a freelance in the film industry.

"The free parties were incredible but they did hasten the end of Britain's travelling scene. Acid house crept up suddenly. One summer it was all hippy festivals and trips, the next summer it was acid house parties and E. Initially we were very sceptical about the `Cheesy Quavers' [ravers], the skinny lads in baggy clothes sucking dummies. They were just punters. But, partly because of the E, that cynicism began to disappear. And travellers started getting into it. Those early parties went on for days; thousands of people dancing; lots of drugs. They were lawless but there was never any trouble. Even the police left us alone.

Then our ranks began to swell. Ravers would come to a party, end up staying for days and think, `I could get used to this, Wendy house on wheels, a mobile view, outdoor living ... ' And the parties began to receive hysterical media attention - peaking at Castlemorton - and police hassle that led to the Criminal Justice Bill, which caused massive problems for travellers. When the police managed really to stop the parties, the corporates running commercial raves like Perception and Universe came to exploit the market. Everything began to change. At the free raves drug dealing was like a cottage industry. When the scene became commodified travellers started getting knifed. The E was cut with medicinal opiates. People started taking smack and crack. The cynicism returned. The mood totally changed. I decided enough was enough in 1991: I was in my bus on site when a woman parked up in a truck next to me. My new neighbour knocked on my window: `Got any rocks?' "

Adamski 30 (below, pictured now), got his first taste of stardom age 11 with his band Stupid Babies (they got a John Peel session and made number three in the indie charts with the single "Baby Sitters"). Adamski was one of the first to perform house music live. "NRG" was a top 20 hit in 1989; 1990 saw his collaboration with singer Seal, "Killer", reach number one. His new album, `Adamski's Thing', is released on 27 October. His daughter Bluebell sings on one of the tracks.

"Acid house suited me: I loved partying, l loved taking drugs, I loved music that sounded good when I was on drugs. Some gay friends took me to Ibiza in 1988. And I popped my first E there. From then on it was wild, hedonistic. My hits provided me with a lot of disposable income and fuelled the drug-taking. I'd spend a few hundred quid every weekend. I went to Thailand, Goa, Glastonbury ... potentially spiritual places, but all I can remember was being off my nuts. I'd mix everything with E: acid, charlie, vodka. I would shag everyone in sight, male or female. My seven-year-old daughter, Bluebell, is a love child from that era. I met her mum at a boat party. We bonded over chemicals. [They split up in 1991 and Bluebell lives with Adam].

After a while everything began to backfire. I was in a black-out most of the time and still have huge chunks of my life I don't remember. And I'd have horrific comedowns with flu. I'd fall asleep every time I sat down. I remember seeing a photograph of myself in a teen mag - eyes rolled back with only the whites showing. That disturbed me. It got to the point that I felt so shit I couldn't do it any more. But I went back to Ibiza a few weeks ago - my own anniversary. Bluebell learnt to ride a bike and swim. I set up an acoustic band in Nancy Noise's bar. There were loads of candles. The windows were open. Bluebell was dancing. It was the antithesis of 10 years before. But my priorities have changed and I've discovered this great new drug. It's called not taking anything." John Bates (not his real name), 29, studied politics at a London university before going to prison for drug-dealing. He finished the last year of his degree after leaving prison. His employers don't know about his drugs record.

"I was student in London going out three times a week, a big outdoor rave, a club or warehouse in London and a smaller mid-weeker. I couldn't possibly afford all the E so I ended up buying 10 and selling nine to my mates - it was about sorting them out as well - which would pay for mine. After a while you couldn't help but think about money: I'd start working out profit margins on the pills. Then I started selling to people I didn't know - in clubs, car parks, service stations - and making a lot of cash.

In the summer of '91, I went to a huge party outside Bristol, sold hundreds of Es, left with a carload of people on the Monday night, bombed out, having not slept since Wednesday. There was a distinct lack of precautions: Es in the glove compartment; thousands of pounds in sweaty fivers and tenners underneath the car seat. But we were having a laugh and it felt isolated as if we were in a bubble. Half a mile down the road, we got pulled over by the police who found everything within a few minutes. Busted. Shit. I was in deep deep trouble. The case went to court a year later. I was convicted of possession with intent to supply and sentenced to 18 months at Bristol Prison.

It was harsh but the tabloids' anti-party, anti-E campaigns had reached a crescendo. There was moral panic. I bore the brunt of that. I served eight months in a cell with a guy who was inside for very similar reasons. When I came out nothing seemed to have changed. I stopped dealing and carried on partying. But life changes. I don't go out very often now and if I take an E, which is rare, I'll eat it straight away. I won't have one sitting in my pocket."

Dom T 34 (top, in 1988; above, now), was a DJ with the 2Bad sound system in Bristol in the late Eighties. He moved to London in 1989. Since then he's been DJ-ing and remixing artists such as Bjork, Massive Attack, and DJ Rap. "I first started playing house as a DJ in Bristol in 1986 when I was with the 2Bad sound system. I remember going to London to buy this new kind of music on small independent labels from America, like `Music Is The Key' by JM Silk and `Jack Your Body' by Steve Silk Hurley. I loved it. It was totally different from anything we'd had before - perfect for mixing because it was seamless. 2Bad was known for funk and hip-hop and when we started playing house in places like the Moon Club, people hated it so much they'd walk out. It was so alien to them. At that point I didn't realise what was going on in London, I just loved the records. But Nellee [Hooper, music producer] kept saying, `You've got to come down to London. There's something mad going on here.' I was like, `What? What's the big deal?' He took me to Love at The Wag. I remember looking at these guys in bandannas jumping around, and thinking, `Who are these psychos?' Nellee put an E in my mouth. And 20 minutes later it all made sense. Music became the most important thing in my life. (For me it was always the music first, drugs second.) I went back to Bristol like a mad, crazy thing, enthusing about it. Not long after that, acid house took off in Bristol. The connection was made. People no longer walked out the room when we played house."

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Key Account Manager, Medical

    £35000 per annum, Benefits: Excellent commission structure + Car: Charter Sele...

    Senior Technical Project Assistant - Hampshire - up to 45K

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + 23 days holiday, pension scheme: Deerfoot IT Resou...

    Senior Multimedia Developer - Southampton - up to £34.5K

    £30000 - £34500 per annum + 36 days holiday, Pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Li...

    Health & Social CareTeacher

    £100 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Health & Social Care T...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice