The first online dance music community in the United Kingdom and its first music website


Twenty five years of club culture missives from the disco frontline

The Beginning

In 1992, the Internet was a very different place. Only a few people outside of universities and research labs had access and there really wasn't much of the web beyond its birthplace at CERN labs in Switzerland. Even so, electronic discussion was thriving and groups of people were coming together on e-mail lists and on Usenet, driven by the fundamental human need to connect to others.

Meanwhile in the real world, rave culture was by now well established, spreading across the globe and onto Usenet with its own newsgroup, alt.rave. As raving began to take off in the States and people started to put on their own events there, a series of regional mailing lists sprouted up: sf-raves in San Francisco, dc-raves in Washington and a few others too. These helped the culture along with news of events, reviews of the latest music but primarily acted as a place to meet like-minded souls. People from the UK on alt.rave began to think that we should have something like this too. I happened to have the ability to run a mailing list and so on 15 November 1992, UK-Rave was born.

The UK-Dance modem

The mailing list grew amazingly fast, reaching several hundred subscribers within just a few months. Running on a server in my bedroom and connected to the net every few hours via a 23K modem it also began to rack up some fairly impressive phone bills too. UK-Dance took time to find its feet in the early weeks, but as the New Year started, it began to come together and develop its own personality. One change also helped. Following a vote by its members, at the end of January 1993 UK-Rave became UK-Dance, broadening its scope to cover the whole dance music scene.

Onto the web

The next major stage in UK-Dance's life came with its first web site, launched on 16 March 1994 – the very first music web site in the UK. This carried pointers to the mailing list along with reviews of music and events taken from the list. At the time the web was so new that it was necessary to explain to subscribers just what it was and what tools they could use to access it.

The second website

Once the Internet really began to take off, it kickstarted started the biggest expansion of UK-Dance's members. Over the next year it reached over two thousand subscribers and with a greater percentage now coming from the UK, rather than the more international membership it had before.

The large growth brought with it some problems. Discussions could become very heated far more quickly and the amount of general noise crept up. It was also becoming unmanageable via a conventional phone line. Thankfully through my position doing consulting at a web agency I was able to finally get UK-Dance onto the Internet proper. This also meant the web site could at last carry messages directly from the list itself.

Offline activities

UK-Dance was not only bringing people together online, but increasingly in real life too. People had for some time been arranging meet-ups at the most popular raves, club nights and other events. With a strong showing of DJs and musicians on the list, the next stage was for members to organise events themselves.

UK-Dance Tenth Birthday Party

The first was Cybiza, put together by Andrew Freeman and held at the 414 Club in Brixton in December 1994. Next up were a series of Triology events, beginning in May 1997. Kult, Flame Kru and Raya, three groups with a presence on UK-Dance, came together in a three room venue, reflecting the increasingly diverse range of dance music tastes. To celebrate its tenth birthday a party was held in March 2003 at The Rhythm Factory in East London, with live music and DJ sets from over twenty of its members for an audience of several hundred clubbers. This was followed in December by an event in Manchester, including live performances by Together and Mobeus.

UK-Dance also served as a place for DJs to swap mixes, first on tape, then later on CD and on the net itself as digital audio technology took hold. Musicians weren't left out either. There was one early attempt at a UK-Dance CD but sadly this didn't quite make it into production. It succeeded the second time, in the summer of 2002, with a double CD of music from its members, compiled by Boomclick's Rui Teimao.

Real time

With the increasing pressures of work in the late nineties – I'd co-founded one of the earliest content management companies – UK-Dance became somewhat distanced from my life and was left running pretty much on autopilot. During that time the web had sky rocketed, while UK-Dance was still really just an e-mail mailing list. Subscriber numbers dropped off a little as users on the Internet now expected everything to have a proper web presence. With that in mind and with work finally a little less hectic, I decided it was time to get UKD onto the web properly.

UK-Dance North

In May 2000 a brand new web site was launched, with messages appearing as they were submitted, rather than as a twice-daily e-mail digest. Although a considerable change to UK-Dance's culture it has helped retain interest and thankfully worked out for the better. Other features were added too as I experimented with ways that UKD could help people share information about the dance music scene and use their profiles to promote things they had created.

A slow decline

The tenth birthday perhaps marked the high point of UK-Dance. By now the students who had made up the majority of its original contributors were deeper into their careers and spending less time going out or hunting for new music. Those who were younger were increasingly finding other choices on the web, especially as dance music fractured into different genres, each with their own specialist online communities.

I'd hoped that a 2008 move to new software that I'd developed might help bring some new life to UKD, but it wasn't a good fit and instead put off users who were happy with the original interface. As Facebook, and to a lesser extent Twitter, became the de-facto choices for communicating with your friends fewer people wanted to spend time on a separate website based around a topic they'd perhaps moved on from. As the next decade progressed there were more and more months when UK-Dance went without a single message.

I couldn't, however, quite bring myself to finally pull the plug, not until it had reached the twenty five year milestone anyway. In November 2017 it hit that date and after a final flurry of farewells from the last few subscribers it finally shuttered on 5 December.

Taking stock


When I first started UK-Dance, I never expected it to still be around after so long. It's brought together a whole host of people who might never have met and allowed them to share their ideas, opinions and creative endeavours. While UKD may have gone, many of the friendships it enabled have continued on and offline – people have even married having met through UK-Dance. I'm proud to have made a positive impact on people's lives.

A special thank you has to go out to everyone who has contributed to UK-Dance over the past quarter century. It would have been nothing without you all.

Stephen Hebditch,
UK-Dance founder and administrator.

Originally written 2003, revised and expanded December 2017.


The top threads for each of the first ten years of UK-Dance's history


  • Universe's spring rave in Wiltshire: "10 Towering tents of entertainment, 5 Monumental Musical Arenas and 13 Hours of full on fun."
  • One Dove's debut album Morning Dove White and expressions of desire for Dot Allison.
  • Warp's Artificial Intelligence album — pretentious noodling or good music? Either way, the discussion got ripped off by Warp for the cover of their AI2 compilation.
  • UK-Dance T-shirts — remember them?
  • Favourite DJs to go and see, like Seduction, Slipmatt, Brian G, Mike E and Top Buzz.
  • Footage of Universe with UKD members on ITV's BPM programme.
  • The Aphex Twin EPs.
  • Woodstock 2. In Milton Keynes. "Who in their right minds wants to travel to Milton Keynes?"
  • Universe's summer Time Machine rave near Bath: "Time Travellers, Day Trippers, Night Owls, come forth, congregate and celebrate with Universe for a feast of infinite fun on a spiritual voyage of discovery to the fourth dimension."
  • Megadog Midi Circus — the techno tour with Orbital, Aphex Twin ("who was alone on stage and didn't even hit the start button on his sequencer - he just stood in the centre of the stage and moved in mysterious ways"), Spooky, Drum Club, Transglobal Underground, Eat Static, Underworld and more on one single night.


  • Future Sound of London, their Amorphous Androgynous and Lifeforms album and their groundbreaking overnight shows on Kiss-FM.
  • Richard James — is he mad?
  • Hardcore versus Intelligent Dance Music: "Sometimes a thumping bass at 180+ is what I want. Hardcore isn't dead or dying... just fighting."
  • The Sabres of Paradise — the first album, the Septic Cuts compilation and the Sabresonic nights.
  • Why are The Orb mentioned in every article about ambient music?
  • Richard James — he's still mad isn't he?
  • Warp Records — the full discography. In mind-numbing detail.
  • Richard James — oh yes, definitely mad.
  • The legal situation with raves: "The Criminal Justice Bill is still going through Parliament at the moment. It's a pretty horrible bill altogether: a small-minded, Daily Mail reading, stay at home, never have any fun, go to bed at 7pm, Conservative voters charter basically." says, erm, oh it's me.
  • Police attitudes towards raves and comedown chilling in service stations.
  • Promoting a rave on the net? Watch out for the police reading your messages.


  • Tribal Gathering in Oxfordshire: "the first legal rave for two years with over 60 DJs and 20 live acts."
  • Is there anything as annoying as Whigfield?
  • Ian Smith on Boy George: "a loud-mouthed talentless 'DJ', trading on former 'pop star' glories who can't be bothered to learn even the basics of mixing."
  • Goa trance — something new, do we like it? Actually I don't think we do...
  • What's that "giving them drugs taking their lives away" tune?
  • Prodigy — have they got a web site?
  • What's that "let your mind be your sun" tune?
  • Glastonbury — is there going to be any dance this year, where can I get tickets, and shouldn't there be a UK-Dance sound system there?
  • David Anderson: "Not wanting to start an analogue vs. digital argument, but I couldn't let this one go..." That debate. For the very first time.
  • What are The Shamen up to?


  • Underworld — Darren Emerson drops into UKD, we all love the live shows and Tom Churchill tells us "I'm not going to preach about what an important band Underworld are." But then people take exception to their music being used in an advert for the Telegraph and Darren is off.
  • Trance is shit (first sighting).
  • Trainspotting — the book, the play and the forthcoming movie. Not the hobby.
  • Megadog get the props for their tour and all-nighters, but nobody seems to like MC Teabag. Tim Cunnell tells us "It was brought to my attention that MC Teabag was standing not 6 feet away on my left. He was clutching his radio mike and was in mid rant. All I had to do was saunter over to him, punch him on the nose and snatch the mike and that would have been it."
  • All-boy techno clubs are intimidating. And Lost isn't as good as it used to be.
  • Niz, Bat, Stuart and a heated debate on clubbing elitism. Borth: "New Romanticism, said to the majority of people 'you're not good looking enough to join our elite, go away you plebs'. The baggy scene of the late eighties came along and said 'hey you, put on your mother's curtains for trousers and come along and dance, I don't care who you are, what you look like. 'I jumped on board dance culture due to its inclusive nature, rather than its elitism."
  • Carl Orff and his influence on modern electronic music.
  • Racism in dance music and clubs — and is racism an appropriate subject for UK-Dance?
  • HMV — now they've got decks!
  • What's that track on that Judge Jules mixtape that goes "You are my shining star, yes you are".


  • What's the name of that funky house track from around 1991/92 with a guy saying "baa baa, baa baa, dee dee, dee dee" in it.
  • Triology — the first event, combining three vibes under one roof: "Kult being the looooooose yer body house / techno ting; Flame being the tear it up junglistical mayhem ting; Raya being the no-rules no-boundaries pure-music pure-being ting."
  • Paranoia, comedowns and charlie habits.
  • Dub gets slagged for his tips on where to by clothes: "Top Man on Oxford Street. Cheap and good variety. People who think they know Top Man and haven't been for a while will be surprised at what you can get there."
  • Glastonbury — who's on the bill, is it going to be good, has anyone got a spare ticket, it was wicked, Daft Punk rocked.
  • What TV programmes have you been on?
  • Garage ("you know, that slow stuff with pianos and girls singing about chucking their bloke cos he's a no good two timing piece of shit").
  • Religion Is Arse.
  • Danny C — is he really Lancaster's finest DJ? Oh, and colonialism, the role of religion and racism.
  • Gripper — playing in front of 10,000 people at Manumission. Yeah, right.


  • Simon Green's family holiday in Barcelona. Repeated forty times due to mail problems.
  • What's that track that goes "she sells seashells on the sea shore, he sells e's on the dancefloor".
  • Dictation & Bambatta — the remix versus the original.
  • Can Stardust live up to its hype as the most fantastic disco-style house track for years?
  • Baxter on Derrick May: "Twig out to the tight programming, marvel at the quirkiness of May's sounds, and sob without shame when the legendary strings [of life] come to be".
  • I've been conned. The Shining isn't as frightening as I'd been led to believe, says Iain.
  • This year's new scary drug: flatliners.
  • The death of the dance scene: "Health and Safety regs have not killed it off, we have, every single person who pays to go to a superclub has killed it off, everyone who told their mates about the next rave or the next Wiggle has contributed to blowing the scene out of the water. Unfortunately it was inevitable, deal with it!" says Nick G.
  • We all hate Mixmag for their role in the decline of dance music. Mixmag answer back: "We're owned by the Government. We're part of an enormous conspiracy to have every club in the country closed down within the next six months. Once we've done that, we'll all be out of work, so then we can sit on our idle arses all day writing unbelievable shite on the Internet".
  • The curse of the HTML e-mails.


  • Is there any good trance music? Does it have a credible underground? Isn't it just a name invented by a Mixmag journo?
  • Rising High — they got better once they started releasing trance but they never paid any royalties.
  • Danny C on why trance and techno are the same thing (though, rather out of character, he failed to give any reasoning to back up this claim).
  • Underworld's new album: "It's not that Beaucoup Fish is bad record - far from it — but it doesn't move on, much, from what's go on before" says Tobias Peggs.
  • Everyone's first club, first dance record, first DJ experience - and no doubt a collective rewriting of history...
  • MP3s go big and everyone ponders what's going to happen to the music industry as a result.
  • Roo: "Why does Horlicks taste like Shreddies?"
  • "Would anyone out there be knowledgeable (and brave) enough to define the term 'funk' or 'funky' in the context of modern dance electronic dance music?" says The Urban Fox. A flame war ensues.
  • Is fishing a blood-sport?
  • Kosovo — Dr Eric explains the background to the war in two pages of A4.


  • Two-step: "Just like Luke Vibert jungle without the unnecessary clatter, and with some funk, rhythm and sultriness thrown in for good measure." says Catweasel.
  • Why doesn't UK-Dance ever talk about music? What's the industrial revolution got to do with anything.
  • Jaguar — techno, trance or just plain rubbish?
  • Bat: "I'd call the 'kind-of-semiotic' psychological experience [on ecstasy] the 'real' level rather than the biochemical MDMA reaction level. Reason being that we experience the former directly, whereas the latter is merely one of many contextual factors that trigger the former."
  • Novelty rap records.
  • Cars in London — bad driving is blamed on listening to two-step.
  • Triology: "Is everyone gonna kiss and make up at T7 then?" asks Aiden Harris.
  • Aly Us — another garage track ruined with a UK garage remix?
  • What's wrong with DJs playing 'I Feel Love'? Well, except when they follow it with Boogie Wonderland.


  • Roo: "Jeff Mills is boring, minimal Techno is a load of poncy intellectual guff with no soul, I mean who the hell would want to listen to the same beat for 8 hours?"
  • The sad death of UK-Dance member Neall Campbell.
  • Festive tunes... Like Outkast and Moodyman.
  • How does deep house differ from prog or tech-house, or are they the same?
  • Niz: "What human being would turn down the occasion of the all-night dance ritual? It is US who have been the savages all along. Us: with our suits and computers and office developments. Us: with our lager and mass-processed food. Us: with our narrow streets and tube-trains and dogshit in parks — US!"
  • The Hardcore Way versus the Balearic Way.
  • The rebirth of electronica: Boards of Canada, Bola, Pub, CiM and more.
  • The Provincial Ghetto Myth: gangsta rap versus consciousness, Baxter versus Green.
  • "Sid Vicious died for me? He needn't have bothered..." — the importance of punk to dance music.
  • Is Triology dead or just sleeping? Was lack of interest from UKD a factor in events drying up?


  • Fox hunting. I think you remember this one.
  • Celebrity Survivor — absolutely appalling, the decline of culture in this country, but I wish it wasn't so horribly addictive.
  • Wasn't handbag great! Fluffy bikinis, cheesy tunes, it just can't be beaten.
  • "There are too many boys on UK-Dance": a female techno lover writes in to condemn electroclash.
  • The eighties revival must die.
  • Nic: "The rise in irony-based DJing, which amounts to chucking on any old shit randomly and claiming to be 'eclectic' and 'fun', is the most disturbing trend in Dance Music in years. I'm glad someone has finally spoken out."
  • The UK-Dance elite — a lurker is finally moved to write.
  • The rebirth of Drum 'n' Bass after seven years in the wilderness, house versus techno, black versus white, oh and Jaguar: techno or trance?
  • Pianos and trumpets — get them out of dance music NOW!
  • Hoxton, Nathans, web designers, fashion victims and a general dislike of same.
  • We All Hate Adobe Flash. Except Dub.


Some nice things people have said about their time on UK-Dance

I found UKD searching on Altavista because I loved clubs, underground house music and I liked the idea of being a DJ. Getting an email digest twice a day via dial-up modem was something I really looked forward to, and not because of the novelty value (this was still the early years of the Internet) but because the chat, music education and raging political debates amongst this seemingly random group of people was so engaging. It brought together a hundred or so (?) writers, activists, nerds, stoners, at least one fireman, academics and relentless trolls who between them created a unique and welcoming community.

Looking back, it had a big impact on me. The people taught me a lot, made me think. I got to play my first DJ gigs, pushed "dad house" mixtapes and threw shapes at top-notch UKD-related events like Triology, WhistleBump and Kult. I made friends, which made it easier to move to London, which changed my life. So thanks for all that, Stephen H.

Olly H

The site changed lives - for the better. Friendships are still going strong and it's because of you.


I came across UK-D back when it was a digest-only email list in 1995. A friend of mine told me about it – he wasn't even particularly into dance music but read the digests anyway because he found the constant raging arguments so enthralling.

I soon found it eating up a great deal of my time. Looking back I pretty much learned how to write on it (okay I was working as a journalist at the time, but there is writing and *writing* iyswim).

And one thing that hasn't actually changed that much in 25 years is the nature of Internet sociality. The new codes and ways of interacting we were experimenting with back then have become normalised with social media, but they aren't essentially different. I've lost count of the number of times I've seen some thinkpiece about How Social Media Is [insert hyperbolic claim] Our Lives and thought "yeah actually we went through all of this on UK-D back in 199X".

Thanks once again to Stephen, and to all of you for the memories (or half memories (or ex memories)).


Another thank you Stephen and to all the contributors over the years. I've met some great people and had some wonderful nights out from London and Cambridge to Paris, New York and even here in Melbourne with uk-dancers, thanks and have a good one!

Andy Tuna

Just to say UKD changed my life. I came here as a fire fighter and never networked with so many middle class people gathered in one place.

We did some amazing collective things including setting up Trilogy and of course Raya.

Just know that a lot of the community from back in the day are still friends and engaging with each other both face to face and on online across social networks.

UKD was a fantastic project Stephen, you were a fantastic owner and mod as you wouldn't interfere with stupid control freak "rules" and allowed the community to develop and grow organically with unlimited digital freedom.

I for one, owe you the last 25 years of my life!!!!! I'm sure many other people have a similar story to tell around development and growth.

Simon Green

Inimitable, irreplaceable. Learned about trance, UKG/WLS, the Technosphere, Peterborough, Northern Pies, socialism, Analogue vs Digital, Phonica, Fatcat, Smallfish, Triology, the £10 GNER "Weekend First", 1st DJ gig, 1st record signed, and 1st French monastery stayed at. Epic.

Also, I'd just like to place on the record that Analogue is indisputably better than Digital.

Dave Anderson

Thank you Stephen and hello to everyone.

UK-D inspired me to change my life for the better. I arrived as a gangster and left as a hippy. Met some wonderful people; Clara and her Duck and had two amazing children. (Armand was named after UKD/Raya's very own.)

I have kinda lost touch with many of you (still having a bromance with Disco Dave though - I love you fella). I don't do social media, no Twitter, no Facebook, no iPhone. I have a long beard, a VW camper and I spend most of my time in the outdoors. Life is great.

Trance is still shite.

Tone Def