To readers of a certain age, and those who know their UK rave history, the name Dreamscape will evoke memories of a transitional period between free parties and organised raves. As one of the leading ’90s promoters, Dreamscape put on events across the UK, most notably at the spiritual home of the UK rave scene - The Sanctuary in Milton Keynes.
Yet for all the incredible parties, the Dreamscape story is one mired in tragedy. The well-loved figurehead of the organisation - Murray Beetson died in a car accident shortly after bouncing back from near bankruptcy (following the Woodstock 2 event). The party Beetson was planning before his death was cancelled and the iconic Dreamscape brand dwindled away.
But while the events had died down, the memory remained firmly implanted in the hearts and minds of ravers across the country. These memories were awakened when a reformed Dreamscape organisation (headed by Jim Tang, a good friend and colleague of Beetson) announced that they would return to Milton Keynes, for Dreamscape The Big Reunion, at MK Bowl on August 16th.
We spoke to Jim Tang, about the early days of Dreamscape and his plans for The Big Reunion
Hi Jim, great to have Dreamscape back! Please can you start off by telling us about how you first got connected with Murray and the Dreamscape crew?
"I owned a graphic design company (The Adrenalin Corporation) back in the late ’80s and we use to design most the now iconic flyers for the rave organisations around the Midlands area. We worked with the biggest players at the time; Amnesia House, Pandaemonium, The Eclipse, Quest, Vibealite and many more.
Murray from Dreamscape approached me in 1991 about a weekend festival [Woodstock 2] that he was planning and he was keen for us to work with him on designing the flyer for that particular event. Sadly the actual event got cancelled but from our first meetings we become very, very close friends. We would hang out most weekends and we did all his design work for his flyers and merchandise. We would always bounce ideas together of where he wanted to take Dreamscape."
What was your favourite ever Dreamscape event from back in the day?
"It’s got to be Dreamscape 20 ‘The Big Outdoors’ at Brayfield Stadium in Northampton in 95 . Not because was the biggest event we held, just because we had a lot more freedom to achieve what we set out to do. We brought more of a festival element to the event with fire breathers, circus acts and the mad Kiss my Axe crew, riding around on their motorbikes, juggling with axes and chainsaws… it was like something out of Mad Max ‘Thunderdome’!
There were lasers in the sky which you could see for miles and miles. The whole event ran very smoothly without a hitch. I remember in the morning just as the sun was rising, it was a little foggy and steam was coming out of the tents from where everyone had been dancing all night. It also didn’t rain that day!"
What do you think made these events so special and unique?
"Murray was a raver first and foremost and enjoyed partying just like everyone else. He was very happy throwing shapes on the dance floor with the other ravers rather than living it up backstage or in the VIP rooms, I think the ravers could see that and looked at him as one of them.
He always wanted to make each event different and bigger and better than the last one. He was never afraid to experiment; be it adding a different genres of music or supporting new talent. We had the best production company in the business and would plan everything as a team, being ravers ourselves we knew what we would like to see at raves. Back then technology was quite primitive and we somehow, incredibly stretched the limits of what we could achieve on a limited budget."
Can you fill us in a little about what has happened to Dreamscape in the years since Murray’s untimely passing?
“We had a very tight team and Murray was like the glue that held us all together. After he tragically passed away we were all in shock. His girlfriend didn’t feel she could carry on with organising events and wanted to take some time out so decided to sell the brand on. I didn’t feel I could give Dreamscape the same amount of determination and commitment as I had given it in the past, so I took some time away from the rave scene and to concentrate on my other business. The new owners put some great events on but I think in the back of everyone’s mind something was missing, like the famous Dreamscape 1 flyer with the girl face; Murray was Dreamscape!”
So what is the thinking behind bringing Dreamscape back? And why now?
"About 4 years ago there was some talk on social media about bringing Dreamscape back for a reunion and I was approached by the current owner about organising this event. It was to celebrate Dreamscape’s 20th Anniversary so I agreed to help out on condition we gave all the profits to charity. It was a huge success, everyone enjoyed themselves and Help For Heroes got load of cash. It was great to see all the old faces and the love for Dreamscape that had never gone away."
You have spoken before about it being a mistake to move Dreamscape from its Sanctuary home to the larger Shepton Mallet. How important was it for you to have this event in Milton Keynes?
“We always had a massive following from the West Country with coach loads of ravers traveling to Milton Keynes for our events. As a financial business it made more sense to go to Shepton Mallet as we had full control over the venue which meant more money could be invested into putting on better events. Milton Keynes was always the right place to come back to. When I first had the idea of putting on The Big Reunion I looked at loads of different venues outside of Milton Keynes but it never felt right. It was only by chance when I bumped into our old license officer who use to work for MK council who told me that The National Bowl had some dates available and invited me for a meeting with the council. We had always had a great working relationship and they were very positive and supportive about what I wanted to do.”
Obviously the Sanctuary is no more. Are you happy you can create the same kind vibe at MK Bowl, or do you see this as a different type of event?
“The vibe for Dreamscape never went away, it was just in hibernation and we have now awoken it. When I announced the date on social media it went viral and we had nearly 6000 new members joining our fan group in that week, many of whom haven’t been raving for over 15 years but have commented they can’t wait to put on their raving shoes again. A lot of the younger crowd who weren’t even born when we held our first events have grown up with Dreamscape having heard stories of the famous Sanctuary from their parents and want to be part of of the second coming. Our club events do attract a large number of younger fans who are just as enthusiastic as we were back in the 90s. The day will be more of a relaxed atmosphere compared to the all night events. Most of the forty somethings can’t party throughout the night like we used to do due to family commitments so a day festival is perfect for them to come out and have a dance. I’m not even sure I could last the whole night, I know I need my bed by 2am! The club nights will always be there for those die hard fans who want to party all night.”
The line up is pretty diverse, but the Dreamscape Old Skool arena tops the bill. Do you see this as an event for the Old Skool heads, who went to Dreamscape back in the day, or something for the younger audience getting into the scene?
“Music is a living, breathing entity and is always evolving, with new and younger producers making music they take influences from old skool but add their twist on to cater for the latest trends. I think the new generation of ravers have had dance music bred into them. The chances are they would have listened to their older siblings or even their parents old tape packs and will recognise some old tracks that have been remixed. I think there is something for everyone on the day whether you are into your 200BPM or chilled-out Balearic beats. The idea for the multi genre music festival is we are hoping fans will go and listen to music they normally wouldn’t listen to at home.”
Thanks for your time Jim - do you have any final thoughts or comments?
“Dance music has never been stronger with so many talented producers coming onto the scene it now appeals to a far bigger audience than it has ever done, it is now part of everyday life. 25 years ago they said it was just a fad and wouldn’t last the summer but we are still here and loving it.”
Dreamscape…The Big Reunion takes place at MK Bowl on August 16th. Check out the line up and buy tickets HERE.