Michele Kirsch goes down memory rave with warehouse party organiser Wayne Anthony
I THOUGHT we were going to get through the interview without the "Ecstasy ain't what it used to be" spiel, but Wayne Anthony, ex-rave thrower, now author and collector of acid house memorabilia, slipped it in between the bit about how important the music was, and how he's into crystals now: "Nowadays, the MDMA content in E is very small - about eight to 10 per cent." After reading Anthony's memoirs, Class of '88: The True Acid House Experience (published this week by Virgin, pounds 6.99) you could be forgiven for thinking E wasn't all it was cracked up to be even then, and that the loved-up, blissed-out scene it perpetuated was controlled by greedy drug dealers, psychotic bouncers and unscrupulous party givers out to milk as much money out of the drugged masses as possible.

Anthony was responsible for organising some of the first illegal, indoor, inner-city raves ever thrown. Punters located the Genesis "warehouse parties" by listening to instructions on pirate radio, calling temporary phone lines, and listening to the word on the street. Anthony made and lost close to a million pounds during the acid house boom of the late Eighties. The way he tells it, it seems as if he got more grief from the security firms he hired, who demanded an increasingly large cut of the profits, than from the police (or "Dibble", as he calls them). Describing his incredulity when the police and fire department had given an OK for one of his raves, he writes, "We felt like crying! Our whole mind, body and soul was in this event and the police and fire department had given us the green light to print money and change the future." Note the order. Cash first, change the world later.

When I put it to him that all the love and peace stuff co-existed with some very dodgy war and hate stuff going on behind the party scenes, he is adamant. "It was real. When I describe the scene as a love-based multicultural unit, I'm talking about the scene as a whole. But when a guy sticks a shotgun in my face because he wants the money, what am I supposed to do, just give it to him? No, I had to hit him with an iron bar."

That he remembers it at all after taking generous quantities of drugs himself is no mean feat. Which is why the disclaimer on the first page, "My intention in this book isn't to glamorise drug use," rings hollow, when the drug-fuelled adventures which leap off the following pages do just that. It smacks of an ageing Betty Ford alumnus rock star recounting his drug experiences as if he's describing the love of his life, before adding,"But don't you try it."

Anthony is scarcely an acid house muso. "The music was a very big part of it for me. OK, you had to have the class As, but if the music wasn't there, they wouldn't have worked." If that's not an indictment of acid house - that its main function was to make the drugs work - at least it's refreshingly honest. As for the legacy of the summers of love, Anthony reckons that it helped men get in touch with their feminine sides. "Ten years on, I see these guys I know and we all kiss each other on the cheek. That evolved from the rave generation."

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