http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style ... 34682.htmlFollowing the party line: The night-club economy has built a lot of successful businesses. Alix Sharkey reports on one of the legal ones - the booming world of flyers ALIX SHARKEY Monday, 9 May 1994
You stumble in just before dawn and you're both too wired to sleep, so one of you puts the kettle on while the other rolls a joint and the gossip begins. Who got off with whom, what so-and-so was wearing, and didn't Sean look a state? You listen to something ambient and drink your tea while watching MTV with the sound down. You remember being given a plastic bag as you left the club. It's still in your jacket pocket. You open it and 25 pieces of glossy coloured card fall on to the floor, each one advertising a night-club or pay party coming up in the next fortnight. You pick through them, comparing names and graphics, and before you know it you're making plans for next weekend.
You've just been 'done' by the Flying Squad.
The Flying Squad is the principal conduit for a growth industry that emerged in the late Eighties. Until then night-club flyers - small handbills listing the time, date and address of events - were tawdry and monochrome, often done on a photocopier. But the acid house craze, coinciding with the final flourish of Thatcher's economic boom, changed all that forever. As increasing numbers of promoters tried ever more extravagant methods of luring punters to their oversized events, everything got bigger and bolder: from venues and PA systems, down to the humble flyer.
These days club flyers are a bona fide business, providing work for designers, printers, distribution companies such as the Flying Squad and, at the end of the line, dozens of casual workers who stand outside night-clubs in the small hours, handing them out. In any week there are up to 100,000 night-club flyers circulating in London, half of them printed in colour. Piles can be found in trendy record shops, boutiques and coffee bars. But the majority will pass through the Flying Squad's east London offices, where they are sorted into 'smart packs' for distribution by hand.
Russell Cleaver, 36, got to know the night-club circuit as a soul boy during the late Seventies. A former road haulage traffic controller, he reluctantly started handing out flyers after being made redundant in 1990. 'I started on the house scene,' he says, 'then did a lot of the big, outdoor, hardcore rave stuff. Over the years I got more and more of that work, and built up a reputation and trust.'
After a couple of years working 'unofficially' he formed the Flying Squad in May 1992. 'Now I do everything,' he says, 'jazz-funk, hip-hop, jungle, hardcore, house, techno, trance, swingbeat, soul, funk. The whole spectrum.' But his is no scatter-gun policy: each flyer is delivered in a relevant 'smart pack' package, and given away at an appropriate venue. 'There's no point in us giving flyers for a techno club to a funk crowd, and vice versa.'
'We started in 1990 at the height of the recession,' says Daniel Terry, his 21-year-old right-hand man. 'But this whole scene wasn't affected by it, because it's mainly young people, without mortgages. They just want to go out every weekend and get out of their head, and they've got the money to spend. So our business grew, and is still growing.' In four years, Mr Cleaver estimates, his company has distributed something like 10 million flyers.
In the here-today-gone-tomorrow world of nightlife, flyers are crucial. They put the relevant information about an event straight into the potential customer's sweaty palm. A good flyer will be taken home to be pinned up, or shown to friends, and can make the difference between moderate attendance and queues around the block.
Philip Sallon, a successful club promoter for almost 15 years, had 8,500 intricate, fold-out Victorian-style cards printed for his Ms Mud May Ball in London last weekend. He regards the pounds 1,500 cost as money well spent. 'If they're imaginative, they attract the right kind of person.'
Mr Sallon refuses to call them flyers, preferring to use the word 'invitations'. He also refuses to use a distribution service, sending most out on his mailing list, and dispensing the last few hundred personally as he flits from club to club. He likes to see people's reactions when he hands them one of his elegant cards. 'It all comes down to ideas,' he says. 'Anyone can spend a lot on a useless, tacky invite.'
Rick and Debbie, the first-names-only husband and wife team behind the legendary Pushca parties, have a reputation for producing some of the wittiest flyers in clubland. Banknotes, matches and various cut-out shapes - some decorated with coloured 'jewels' and ribbons - are just some of the ideas used to give an idea of the high production qualities associated with Pushca events. Most recently, they had thousands of yellow Marigold household gloves fringed with purple 'ostrich feathers' to advertise their Housewives' Choice party. 'It reminds people that what we do is a bit special,' says Rick.
The very best flyers become collector's items. The walls of the Flying Squad's offices form an impromptu gallery, featuring a wide selection, with noticeable stylistic differences from genre to genre. 'The house and garage clubs tend to have jokey names and pictures of TV celebrities like Harry Enfield or Vic Reeves,' says Daniel Terry. Others feature less politically correct stars such as Sid James, and names like Leave My Wife Alone.
A minority are blatantly sexist in their depiction of topless women, but the classier (some would say more pretentious) house events opt for glamorous women, particularly Sixties icons such as Jean Shrimpton or contemporary supermodels. As a rule of thumb in the graphic language of nightlife, this signifies a 'glam' or 'loved-up' night, with drag queens and illicit substances.
Techno flyers, on the other hand, tend to be futuristic and earnest; though there are examples of wit: Wandsworth's Final Frontier club recently issued a four-page 'airline ticket', giving full 'flight details' of the month's attractions.
The hardcore rave style is best described as post-psychedelic, featuring psychotic-looking cartoon ravers, rendered in airbrush. Pez, a self-taught 24-year-old artist from Southend, is widely acknowledged as the forerunner of this style. He made his name during rave's boom years, and was instrumental in persuading promoters to spend on bigger and more colourful posters. 'I used to carry my portfolio around all night, then go and hassle them at four o'clock in the morning until they gave me the work,' he says.
It was by distributing A3 poster-flyers such as Pez's that the Flying Squad was established, but things have changed. 'That was when the big outdoor raves were booming,' says Daniel Terry, 'events with 25,000 people like Castle Donington in summer of 1992. Since then the laws have changed and people have gone back to the clubs. For the last two years the club scene has been phenomenal. That's where the money's being made.'
What of posterity? Is anyone keeping this most ephemeral of ephemera? Well, Pez is trying to have a book published, and the Flying Squad's Cleaver and Terry have considerable collections. The V&A has not been in touch, but the Squad does a lucrative sideline in selling packs of unused flyers by mail order, at pounds 1 each.
'We were making pounds 500 a week on that alone at one point,' says Daniel Terry. Most of the buyers, he says, are 15-year-old boys, too young to attend the raves but fanatical about the fashions and music. 'They use them to wallpaper their bedrooms.'
In the end, a night-club is only as good as its promoter, no matter how slick the flyer. 'Nightlife is a tough business,' says Mr Cleaver, 'and you've got to put the work in. I could lie to them, say: 'Put more flyers out, do 100 clubs. You'll be banged out.' But it doesn't work like that. You need all the right ingredients plus flyers, advertising, the whole works.'
And most important? 'Good word of mouth,' says Mr Cleaver with a smile. 'You can't beat it.'
All flyer & dance music related discussion not covered in the other forums goes in here
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An Interesting article from The Independant 1994 about 'The Flying Squad'
Rave New World - Time Sunday, May. 28, 2000
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/artic ... -2,00.htmlOne of the most creative ways in which rave culture expresses itself is its party flyers. These handouts are to raves what graffiti art is to hip-hop and psychedelic posters were to the acid rock of the '70s. They give vision to rave's sounds. Sometimes--much like rappers' sampling old songs--they appropriate corporate logos with ironic visual twists. The MasterCard logo becomes "MasterRave," or Rice Krispies becomes "Rave Krisp E's." Other flyers employ 3-D images and wild metallic hues that draw inspiration from sci-fi films, anime, even the rounded, flower-power imagery of the Summer of Love. "In a lot of ways it's one of the most modern visual art forms you can see," says Eric Paxton Stauder, a member of Dots per Minute, a network of designers that focuses on rave flyers. "Stylistically, you see things in flyers that you don't see other places--uses of line work and fontography. It's open and unrestricted, and it's a testing ground for combining visual elements together."
Rave iconography is already being co-opted by Madison Avenue, which has learned all about digging up the underground and selling the dirt. TV ads for Toyota's Echo have the trippy look and feel of rave flyers (Toyota is sponsoring a U.S. tour of British electronica acts Groove Armada and Faze Action). Every song on Moby's 18-track album Play has been licensed, popping up in ads for the last episode of Party of Five, movies like The Beach and commercials for Nissan's Altima sedan and Quest minivan. Donna Karan's DKNY label plans to use deejay John Digweed's song Heaven Scent to promote a fragrance with the same name.
Wayne Friedman, entertainment-marketing reporter for Advertising Age, says today's admakers look to tap into underground movements quickly so that they can make use of sounds and images that aren't necessarily familiar but that pique interest. Acts like Moby fit the bill. Says Friedman: "It's almost like you can't be overly commercial when you're trying to make commercials."
Many ravers are wary and weary of the media's embrace. In particular, many believe that the press is more interested in writing about drugs than about the music--and that the press coverage is partly to blame for the supposed ecstasy boom. Says Jon Reiss, director of Better Living Through Circuitry: "The media hype says if you want to do drugs, come to these parties. So all these kids come to the parties looking for drugs. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."
Indeed, some of the biggest acts associated with the rave scene say they are drug free. Van Dyk says he was introduced to electronic music in East Germany, when he secretly tuned in to West German radio as a kid. He didn't need drugs to enjoy the music then, so he figures he doesn't need them now. Moby says he tried smoking pot when he was 11 or 12 so he could hang out with the "cool kids," but that was pretty much the end of his experimentation. Says Moby: "I've never tried ecstasy, I've never tried cocaine, I've never tried heroin. I don't think there's anything ethically wrong with drug use, but the reason I stay away from it is that I value my brain too much. I don't want to trust my synapses to some stranger that I met in a nightclub. I hope to use my brain for the rest of my life."
We hope he does too. Every few years somebody says electronic music is going to break out, that electronic acts are going to storm the charts. A couple of years ago, Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers were supposed to lead the charge. They sold well, but few like-minded acts shared their success. This year it's Moby, and perhaps acts like Alice Deejay and others will follow. Maybe this time rave culture is here to stay...or maybe it'll slip safely back into the underground with alternative rock. With horrifyingly generic teen-pop acts blaring out from MTV's Total Request Live day in and day out, it's a wonder more kids haven't turned to drugs to escape the awful racket. Sure, a fair amount of electronica is wordless wallpaper, but slip on Moby's soulful, cerebral Play, and you won't need any substances to get high. The music will take you there all by itself.
Another article from the Independent.
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-enter ... 55778.htmlRaving
With TV ads for Tango, the Guardian and the Royal Mail stealing their underground ideas, the flyers originally designed to advertise rave events have now winged their way from one-room studios in Soho to Barbican retrospectives. John Windsor celebrates a pounds 2billion business
Saturday, 5 October 1996
1. Nick Gundill - ar:5e Design; Back to Basics - Keeping up the Habit @ [The Pleasure Rooms], Leeds; June 1995. 2. Chris Ashworth - Orange Typography; Pacha @ [Club Pacha], Rotherham; May 1995. 3. Leo Elstob - Bushfire Design; Shake Your Booty @ [The Broadway], Chesham; May 1994. 4. Ric and Deborah Ramswell. Illustration Jason Brooks; Pushca presents: @ [The Atrium], London; Saturdays 1994. 5. Tom McCallion; Rulin @ the [Ministry of Sound], London; Nov 1994. 6. Philip Sallon; Mud Club [Bagley's], London; Oct 1994. 7. Philip Sallon; Bagladies Queerhouse, London Jul 1995. 8. Craig Richards; Georgie @ a secret location, London April 1996. 9. Philip Sallon; Ms Mud May Queen @ the Mud Club, [Bagley's], London; April 1995. 10. Georgie @, London May 1996. 11. ME Company; [Riki-Tiks], London; April 1994. 12. Philip Sallon, the Mud Club, [Bagley's], Dec 1994.
1. HubTV - Paddy Malone; Hub TV @ the [Hub], Bath; Feb 1996. 2. P Hyper go go - Wink Associates; [Angels], Burnley; April 1994. 3. Vague - Paul Fryer @ Mongrel Graphics; Supermixed Bague @ [The Warehouse], Leeds; 1994. 4. The Street - Philip Sallon; Coronation Street @ Mud Club [Bagley's Film Studios], London; Oct 1994. 5. Cream - Rob Petrie @ Dolphin, Liverpool, summer 1994. 6. Rava - a reinvention of the Rizla logo. 7. Fruitopia - the Coca-Cola corporation uses rave buzzwords, colours and graphics
Rave culture began with House music in 1986 before expanding to warehouses, muddy fields and back to clubs. According to the Henley Centre for Forecasting, it now generates a total of pounds 2 billion a year in gate money and merchandising. Promoters of soft drinks, alcopops, snack-foods, beer, cigarettes and trainers have got street-wise. They are intensively farming youth culture by adopting the punchy, irreverent graphics of rave.
The evidence of rave's immersion in mainstream culture is there in today's fast-cutting television commercials, which bombard with computer-generated images - those for Tango, or the Royal Mail, Scottish Radio and the Guardian, for example. Meanwhile, the glossy club flyers that started it all have become collectable style icons, a part of history. The V&A first exhibited them two years ago, and has a growing collection. An anthology of flyers has just been published - its contents are to tour the country - and an exhibition of rave art, called JAM, opened at the Barbican Art Gallery in September.
The commercial instincts of the big corporations were aroused when club fliers, having milked hippie and punk imagery and the iconography of film, television and comics, began to parody corporate logos such as those for Crunchie, Rizla and Smarties. Before long, bleary-eyed ravers began to find flyers advertising Camel cigarettes, Stella Artois lager, films and records stuffed in their Get Smart packs, all with company logo and simulated rave graphics.
At their height of inventiveness, rave club flyers came in the form of sticks of rock (Icon club, Liverpool), scratch cards offering a prize trip to Amsterdam (Velvet Underground, London), and voodoo jelly babies stuck through pins (Pollen, London). Now some clubs have reverted to crudely photocopied, punkish flyers as a badge of integrity.
But the music goes on, and not only because the organisers of the Barbican exhibition happen to be intent on reclaiming music as the source of urban style, but because music blends readily with real-time graphic sequences generated by Apple Mac - the great engine of rave art. Hence the "process" art of Tomato, the high-earning but resolutely amateur group of audio- visual wizards which evolved from the chart-topping Underworld. They now have the Royal Mail and other corporations knocking at the door of their one-room studio in Soho. Even hard-edged, static typography is made fluid in their characteristically experimental mixes of music, voice-over and moving image.
Half of Tomato's video and CD-Rom takes are done just for fun. But this is the stuff that advertising agents, with not a word to their art departments, slope off to Soho to see. Fun and money. Both are to be found in the gap between music and graphics and typography. The hippies never got a sniff of this, nor did punks. And nor, come to think of it, have the ravers. At least, not the punters. They will carry on being Tango'd by post-rave creatives for some time to come.