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San Francisco Raves 1990's

Like the city itself, our retrospective dive into the San Francisco Raves of the 90’s has surprised us with much, much more than we originally anticipated. And this is a good thing. In this part 4 of 5, we have the pleasure of speaking with DJ Jeno Void, one of the key forces behind the Wicked Sound System.

Jeno Void San Francisco Raves 1990's

1. What’s your name, and how were you involved in the San Francisco rave scene in the 1990’s?

I’m Jeno, I am part of the now infamous Wicked Sound System. Before coming to SF, I was DJing and throwing events in the UK, including a proto-Wicked jam called Whoosh. Along with a close knit group of friends including Markie, Alan, Trish & Emma (all later of Wicked) we’d turn a dusty East London bookstore basement into a intimate all night psychedelic sweatbox, honing an acid house and trippy disco inspired sound along the way.

At the same time was the emergence of the rave scene in the UK, with it’s negative tabloid exposure and the resulting heavy-handed police crackdown, which meant underground house jams like ours also became harder to pull off.  Garth, who I’d met through my Tonka Sound System friends, had just moved to San Francisco and had invited us all to visit, so I was happy to jump on a plane with Emma & Trish and follow Alan & Markie & other Tonka heads out there for a much needed vacation. As it turned out those folks already visiting & hanging w/Garth were now jonesing to celebrate in a UK style, so the night after I arrived we hit Baker Beach, for a fun full moon inspired adventure.

That magical moon, along with old friends, new SF friends, & the Golden Gate bridge surprising us by appearing out of the fog at dawn, all helped contribute to an unforgettable welcome to SF. I fell head over heels for the city, stuck around, and along with the rest of what now was known as the Wicked Crew, played a pivotal role in the development of the early 90s scene. As anyone who was there will testify, those early full moons, along with the Wicked basement jams, the Come-Unity parties & even the larger Toontown events all helped provide a much needed spark to ignite the scene that followed. And that sound I mentioned, that we’d been honing back in the UK, now became a dominant part of the sound of San Francisco, a sound that combined with now emerging local producers & dis went on to garner worldwide attention, & lasted through the 90s, the 2000s and beyond.

2. What was the thing about San Francisco in the 90’s that made it so special to you?

A mixture of things – the people & their openness, the laid-back pace of life, the mild climate & beautiful foggy coast, SF’s history of unconventional politics, as well as the musical influences of past eras – jazz, psychedelic rock, art-punk & the gay disco scene of Patrick Cowley & Sylvester. It was also affordable back then, in those pre-Internet days, so the city had become a gathering place for artists & freaks who didn’t fit in or belong elsewhere, who wanted to work on their art instead of working for the man. It was a refuge for sensitive souls, but also an embryonic playground for cultural provocateurs out to change the world.

3. What are a few stand-out events for you at this time?

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