In the issue #2 of Etiqueta Grada, Darren Tutt aka Tuttioi and some other Newport County lads told us about their adventures in the football terraces world in the 80s, we could read about it in a great article by our friend Álex.
I got in touch with Darren to ask him to tell us first-hand about his experience in the years when he could enjoy the rave, club and acid house scenes, and the drugs that were consumed at the time in Europe and Great Britain.
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After years of traveling up and down the country, spending thousands of pounds on gear and getting up to no good watching football, I was soon to do it all over again. This time, my venues of choice weren’t football stadiums and pubs but fields, warehouses and clubs… And this time, I was buying a different kind of “gear”.
From casual to raver
Before acid house, nightclubs in Britain were mostly depressing places where people went to get drunk, to meet someone of the opposite sex or fight someone of the same sex. Towards the end of the eighties, house music, fuelled by an explosion of recreational drugs, turned nightclubs back into what they were supposed to be all along: a place to dance.
My first personal experience of this change was at Halikarnas Nightclub in Turkey during the summer of 1989. The music was different, driving and hypnotic and I subconsciously sensed a different vibe, a different energy among the crowd. Despite being drunk, I danced all night.
I had only experienced weekends boozed up in nightclubs, stood at the dance-floors edge, mean, moody and on the pull. A month after returning from Turkey, I went to Blackpool for a stag party. On one of the nights, two of us broke away from the rest of the crowd, somehow managing to be persuaded by two stunning club touts to go to a club called Shaboo. Whilst there, a girl gave us some speed. My drug experience up until this time, had been some mushrooms as a skinhead in the early 80’s and a minor, short-lived dabble with some speed and cannabis in 86. But that was it, this time it was different, it felt right, I felt right.
I remember Graeme Park and Mike Pickering were playing. The atmosphere was electric, people danced, everyone was so friendly. This was so different. A stark contrast to the ever present threat of violence that had hung in the air of the nightclubs I was used to. All I could think of was the time I had that night and I knew, I was about to become hooked.
Back home in Newport, it soon became apparent that others were becoming part of this new scene. The hooded tops and baggy bottoms becoming more visible. I knew most of these guys. Some personally, some friends of others, some just faces. A small group of these people were soon to become close friends. People began amassing great vinyl collections and a huge array of DJ mix cassettes were soon flying around.
At this time there were only a handful of local football lads who were in the know (A few more were soon to follow). A few of the County boys had experienced what was happening with the rave scene whilst working over in Jersey and mixing with other lads from up and down the country.
I didn’t need a new wardrobe. Clothes for me were always an important aspect of following football and the transition for the terraces to raves was pretty seamless. My Chipie tee shirts, C17 flares and my Armani were all rave ready. I do remember buying two hooded tops, some baggy joggers and a pair of Joe Blogg flares to mix it up. Everything was just a little looser, a little more colourful.
In early 1990 I was buying Naf Naf, a French label that became popular with their bright and baggy designs. I bought another pair of red Kicker boots, which came with a leather Kicker tag on the right boot, I soon “acquired” ten different colour tags on the left boot too. It got so bad people ended up going to shops and trying on different Kickers just to rob the tags. The shops soon caught on and started selling them for a pound a piece.
My relationship at the time soon started to feel the effects of my new found raving. She definitely wasn’t the type to do drugs and stay out all night and I soon found myself making excuses for this and that and the cracks rapidly started to show. The gang I had begun to closely bond with, happened to include my ex-girlfriend. The attraction was instant and we soon became an item again.
Our local Nightclub, Metros, suddenly started playing acid and house. The main DJ at the time was our mates, DJ Clark-E-Boy. The crowd, became our crowd, most of us all there for the same reason. We would all be doing acid or speed, or more often than not, both.
Although the bouncers clearly knew what was going on, smoking spliffs openly was a no no. This, of course didn’t stop us having a sneaky one here and there. The club installed all UV lighting and we had many a memorable night there. This was our club, our music, our gang. When the club closed, we’d always go back to someone’s place, to chill out or carry on, depending on what state you were in.
At this time, during my acid trips, there was always an ever present ‘black hole’ of thought, one that I could never shake off, one that I’d always descend deeper into whilst on it. Spliffs were always floating about as standard, that familiar sweet scent was all around. Our first organised rave in December 1989 was organised by some outsiders in a large local venue. It was a bit of a flop but I knew nearly everyone in there and made my own night of it. My drug of choice then was acid, occasionally accompanied by speed but for whatever reason that night I ended up doing fifteen Pro Plus tablets and ended up rattling with shakes, great for dancing.
Midweek binging on a quarter or half a tab of acid with a spliff became standard, going to normal clubs with my mate just for a buzz. The ‘black hole’, which I sometimes forgot about, would occasionally surface, but more about that later.
By January 1990, we soon started venturing off to the bright lights of London, less than a three hour drive from Newport. I would hire a transit van and our close knit gang would head off in search of the music, the lights and the buzz. I remember one time, we parked up, dropped our fun for the night and headed to the club, The Astoria. This was another level, the bouncers here were clued up, they knew the score and why we were there. The punters eyes told them that. I remember coming up just as we got in. There was strobe lighting, smoke and fluorescent backdrops glowing under the ever present UV lighting. We could feel the sound system vibrating deep in our bones, the thud of the beat and the rumble of the bass. We had entered heaven.
Later that night, I stood about three meters from the DJ booth while Paul Oakenfold played, in front of a speaker being ripped apart by the bass and tripping my nut off. It was another incredible night.
The three hour drive home from London to Wales was often an experience in itself. The hire van was driven by whoever felt fit enough to do so. Hurtling along the M4 our van, full of smoke, would look like something from a Cheech & Chong movie.
After doing so much LSD and speed, my next drug of choice was to become my favourite. Our next organised rave in 1990 was a big one and I dropped my first E, a brown disco biscuit and 8 hours of pure energy… Euphoria.
That night was absolutely unbelievable, that was it, my raving had reached up to a whole new level. Local, low key nights and weekends were acid but for the real big nights, it was always ecstasy. There was a surge of excitement every week that would build into a crescendo… Where were we going next? Travelling everywhere… E’s E’s E’s. Friday nights became weekenders, with the endless energy that ecstasy brought, one night wasn’t long enough anymore.
One such event springs to mind, Kaos 2. After downing E’s on the Friday night, I decided to drop two Smiley Face acid tabs on the Saturday night. I was that off it, I thought I was dancing the whole night to one record, Snap’s The Power. It turns out, that nearly every DJ that night played that song. So for me, my trip was dancing all night long to it.
The very best Pukka ecstasy tablets were selling for a score (£20), this represented a lot of money in the early 1990’s and at this price, the increasing demand was to make a few hardcore dealers very wealthy, very quickly. We started to buy a load of them in one go, getting a better deal, just for our lot, for personal. The amount of different E’s that were coming onto the market was mind boggling. All with different names, different strengths, yet all resulting in one frame of mind… E’d up, smacked up and rushing, being sick… Total Euphoria.
At one stage, I became dependent on three different substances and I needed all three to fulfil my night. Ecstasy, cannabis and poppers (amyl nitrate). This was all well and good at free parties, but the poppers was the hardest thing to smuggle into the organised raves and clubs. Nevertheless, I would always succeed. The crazy thing was, poppers was legal back then. The trouble with poppers was, as soon as you opened it, a mile radius of noses would smell it and you’d be surrounded by ravers. I could never relax and get on with my night until I had it back in my hand. I soon found a solution and started to take two bottles, one for me and one for them to fight over.
In May 1990 though, the raving was about to pause. This takes us back to ‘The Black Hole’. During these early days, the discovery stage of rave, there were still my usual Saturday nights out with the football crowd. During the Autumn of 1989 there was a serious football related incident that I thought would change my life forever. A load of us were arrested, charged and bailed until the following year. Because of the seriousness of the offence, I knew there was only one possible outcome.
I had just found this new way of life. I was so happy with it. I was changing, but it was all too late, the wheels were already set in motion and my subconscious knew that. That is why during some of those nights, when slipping into deep thought, I referred to it as my ‘black hole’. In May 1990 I was sentenced to three years in prison. My life, I thought, would fall apart. It didn’t! I won’t dwell on this twelve months inside (paroled for good behaviour) other to say that there were more drugs inside than there sometimes were out on the streets. I often wondered later on, if the twelve month controlled intake maybe did me a favour back then.
In May 1991, I found myself, young, free and you guessed it, single. I had a lot of catching up to do. By now, half of Newport was raving and a couple of my old gang had been sectioned under the mental health act but only for treatment. More football boys had caught on and had fallen under ravings spell, raving and dealing. Everyone was at it.
Our own Rave Nightclub Metro’s had stopped doing the nights and another local nightclub, Rudi’s had taken over and was catering for the growing number of Newport ravers. Rudi’s was an excellent club with the top DJ’s from around the country headlining at weekends. On one big night Carl Cox, arguably the biggest DJ in the world, played Rudi’s and even mentioned the club in a later Mixmag interview.
If we weren’t at Rudi’s, we’d all venture further afield. On my first Friday after being released, I hired a car with a friend and we drove up to Coventry to the then infamous Eclipse club. I dropped 2 E’s and never left the laser beams all night. Transfixed and off it. The music and sound system was always spot on at this venue and there was always a top line up of DJ’s on the bill. We always went back to The Eclipse.
This was it, phase two of my life. Again, it was, “where are we going next?” As well as the E’s, I again started doing a lot of acid, sometimes mixing it up with E’s and popper’s and travelling to different dimensions. I would lose on average, one night a week of sleep for the next twelve months or so. In 1991, I only ever bought one dud E and I thought never again. It totally spoiled my night. At a free party one night in Oxford we met up with some great guys and scored some top tablets off them. There were a lot of free raves around the Oxford area going on and you would always see the same faces at each one. We soon became friends with the dealers and I would often drive with a friend there to buy our own E’s for personal and our mates. I’d buy a few more to sell to get my money back. These journeys would always attract paranoia whilst sat in their living room and during the long drive home.
It was even worse if I made the journey on my own. I’d catch a train to London and go to the Soho sex shops just to buy thirty six bottles of amyl nitrate, the large brown bottles. You couldn’t go to London and not buy an item of clothing too. On the train back I would stop off at Didcot. I’d get picked up, go and pick up the pills and get dropped back at the station, there was never any reason to test the merchandise. Because of how I looked, I thought everyone knew what I was up to, so I’d hide the stash until the train came in. I’d retrieve and then hide it on the train. Covert military actions, always wondering if I was gonna get lifted when I got off the train. I could never relax until I got home and closed my front door. Home, safe, spliff time, relax.
As before, I’d hire cars or vans to go anywhere and everywhere. Up North, down South, East and West. Sometimes filling spaces in the hire van with people I didn’t even know, just to get there and I rarely let someone else drive home. There were also times I’d thumb a lift and go with others. I would often stay there when they wanted to all leave and end up having to make my own way home, that was a journey itself as you can imagine.
By 1992 a couple of my close mates, friends who are still close to this day, were getting a bit concerned on how much I was doing because I was constantly at it. Off every weekend with anyone. I guess my subconscious felt I was a year behind on my rave ladder and need to catch up. Throughout all this, there were only two times where I thought I’d genuinely lost it. I used to think of it as going through a door and closing behind me. On one of those nights, I mixed strong microdots with ecstasy. “That’s it, your here now, on the other side, this is what it’s like, this is you for the rest of your life, no come down”. I had gone through the door and closed it.
These were scary moments, all very off putting… Until the next big rave of course. In 1992 I met a new girlfriend. We did some raves together and started going to all the house nights that were being held in all the big clubs. The big raves had moved inside to smaller, more exclusive clubs. By then, I had a shop, selling all the sought after dance music. I was now making a comfortable living, doing something I was passionate about, that I loved. Another bonus of this new career was getting onto the guest lists of the raves and clubs. We were still doing ecstasy, the occasional acid trip. The buzz was the same but the venues were warmer. I started to calm right down during 1994 and became just an occasional user. Doing hardly anything during 1995.
Well… That relationship lasted four and half years.
It was a crazy, wild, colourful and truly unforgettable journey with a thousand more stories. A story deserved in each of my buddies alone. Maybe one day I’ll write a book…
As for me, well, I wouldn’t change a thing.