Meet the Queen Mary student who wrote her dissertation on acid house raves

‘I’m never ever taking club nights or gigs for granted again’


It’s been a hot minute since any of us have actually gone to a festival or a club, but that hasn’t stopped one Queen Mary student from writing her undergraduate dissertation on the power of music and raving.

History finalist Gabby decided to dedicate an entire 10,000 words to exploring how young people protested against Thatcher’s government during the 1980s by getting involved in the acid house scene.

Her tweet about the dissertation has since gone viral with over 16.5k likes.

Speaking to the Tab, Gabby explained that her inspiration for the dissertation can be traced back to her own appreciation of raves. She said: “My love for the genre started at Glastonbury 2019, when Carl Cox played a Saturday afternoon acid house set.

“I stumbled across it by accident and was mesmerised. Ever since I’ve had a real affinity for acid house music, so when it came time to think of a dissertation topic, I knew I’d have to include it somehow.”

Gabby found it particularly interesting to research how people chose to defy the government through music, dancing, and taking drugs at events. She also stressed that young Brits found collective identity in doing so. As a result, her dissertation ended up drawing a strong connection between acid house, rebellion, and identity.

“The acid house scene was inherently anti-Thatcher,” Gabby said. “Its values of collectivism and unity were at odds with the government’s push towards capitalism and individualism.

“In postwar history, no government has sought to repress a youth culture movement like they did with acid house. The rampant attempts to repress parties and criminalise the young people involved led to more creative and ‘underground’ ways of hosting events, with ‘free parties’ in fields around the M25 becoming popular as a way to dodge the laws surrounding events.”

Coincidently, Gabby wrote the majority of her dissertation during lockdown when news of illegal raves being raided up and down the country was on the rise: “It drew a lot of parallels with the free parties that were broken up during the acid house era and made me think, what would have happened if the pandemic had happened during acid house’s heyday? Would parties have continued in such large numbers under strict lockdown? It’s interesting to think about.”

Ultimately, though, Gabby’s dissertation has served to deepen her anticipation for June 21st. She explained that her research has led to “a new-found appreciation for nightlife and clubbing” and that the values of the acid house scene ended up having an impact on her own values: “I’ve got a real itch to get back to it now – I’m never ever taking club nights or gigs for granted again.”

Since going viral, Gabby has been messaged by so many people expressing interest in reading her dissertation that she’s decided to publish it online after it’s been marked. She said: “I’ve had messages from people in Australia, Asia, and America messaging me telling me how much they’d love to read it. It’s insane that my little labour of love has had such a wide reach! I really can’t wait to be able to post it online for people to read.”

Featured image via Twitter @gabbyvictoria__

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