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New exhibition explores history of rave and pirate radio in Waltham Forest

Retelling how community, architecture, and location fostered East London's underground dance scene

A new exhibition exploring the history of rave and pirate radio in Waltham Forest, London, will officially open next week. 

'Sweet Harmony: Radio, Rave & Waltham Forest, 1989-1994', will run at Vestry House Museum, Walthamstow, for six months from 25th November. Flyers, photographs, and oral histories will help tell the story of how community, modernist architecture, and location-specific elements helped foster a burgeoning dance music network in the district, contributing to the development of garage, hardcore, jungle, and drum & bass.

A number of off-site installations will also add context and depth, with audio and visual interventions located in significant spaces, from residential streets once home to illegal radio stations, to former clubs. A 24-page booklet including a fold-out map and poster has also been produced to supplement the exhibition. 

'Sweet Harmony' has been curated and created by Rendezvous Projects. The organisation was also responsible for last year's 'Crate Digging', a multi-site exhibition celebrating the role of De Underground Records, the landmark drum & bass-led institution based in Waltham Forest between 1991 and 1996.

In April, one of the key MCs in formative-era UK rave, Magika, began crowdfunding a new book looking at the history of the 1990s underground party scene. Meanwhile, in September Jawbone Press published 'Renegade Snares: The Resistance And Resilience Of Drum & Bass', written by Ben Murphy and Carl Loben – former editor and current editor-in-chief of DJ Mag respectively — which chronicles the genre's history.