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September 10, 2009

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Poster classics instill a wave of rave nostalgia

PARTIES and clubbing often equate to hip music, thrilling lighting, gorgeous cocktails and trendy people. Few think of the creative posters and those behind the graphic design that first attracts the crowd.

"Our History," or "The Global Party," is a touring exhibition reflecting 20 years of excellence in graphic design for UK clubbing events and its relationship to Chinese electronic dance music culture.

More than 20 posters, originally used in popular rave parties in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and 1990s, arrived in Shanghai last weekend after being displayed in London and Tokyo.

Organizers consider Shanghai, famous for its nightlife culture, appropriate to display the posters, unique memorabilia of popular DJ dance culture.

"It was our mission to introduce the roots of the global dance culture trend to the Chinese public," organizers of the exhibition say in explaining their reason for supporting the exhibition.

Short for radical audio visual experience, "rave" is now considered by many an out-of-date word. Yet it started a trend emanating from the UK for dance parties with electronic music and light shows in the 1980s and 1990s.

Some memorable all-night parties of the era are said to have attracted more than 30,000 people who got totally lost in the music and the lighting. When the parties had finished, the drinks were done, the lights off and venues cleaned, all that remained of the event was the poster.

These pieces of contemporary art, now hanging on the wall around the room, tell the stories of those crazy nights. They are not just collaged pretty pictures with dates, addresses and telephone numbers. Many of them don't even look like posters for clubbing events.

They provide not only another perspective of the popular rave culture, but also a rare experience to appreciate the associated creative, humorous and often ignored graphic designs.

For example, George Georgiou designed his first poster for DJ Danny Rampling's Shoom party in 1987. It's a clean cut poster with the information printed in the center and a dozen of Smiley faces, in different angles and sizes, on the side.

Martin Brown's logo design for the famous UK club Trade, four images of the same cartoon dancers in four different background colors, is a classic. The cartoon dancer, like many simple cartoon characters, looks fun and energetic.

The organizers also aim to showcase the development of DJ culture parties in China which started much later and developed rapidly compared with the West.

The exhibition includes posters from renowned Chinese dance parties of the past 20 years, details about famous DJs, related merchandise sales and, most importantly, the dance music.

Creative Mart

Date: today, 1-9pm; (free entry)

Our History Poster Gallery

Date: through September 18, 11am-8pm (weekdays); 11am-9pm (weekends); (free entry)

Finale Party

Date: September 18 (ticket only)

Doors open: 10pm

Venue: 4/F, Chuangzhan Bldg, 928 Xikang Rd (near Anyuan Rd)


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