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Revisiting the raves of Johannesburg in 1996


Denis Beckett is a name many of us in the UK will not be familiar with. A prolific print journalist, the writer has been widely heralded as the man to ask the important people the big questions.

Beckett has had many notable roles, a South African favourite was his TV show ‘Beckett’s Trek’ a long-running actuality show, he was also the editor for the prestigious Frontline magazine – but we’ve just grown to love him for his video on the rave scene of Johannesburg, South Africa from 1996.

The video comes as a ‘Beckett’s Trek’ show with Denis acting as a concerned parent keeping a close eye on the drugs, dancing, and decadence at one of Johannesburg’s prominent clubs at the time: Rave Cave. The time is 1996 and the rave culture of the UK was beginning to succumb to ‘Lad culture’ (which roundly replaced water and ecstasy with beer and football) – but in South Africa, the party was still very much ongoing.

The scene isn’t too dissimilar to a lot of raves today, but every minute detail feels grossly exaggerated by the fashion, music, drugs, and dancing of the time. Beckett interviews party-goers and organisers, some sober, some out of their fucking mind, hangs out in a ‘chill room’ filled with polystyrene peanuts and even gets up on stage to attempt to dance.

It’s all quite painful but all golden viewing. So take 30 minutes out of your day and watch this epic footage of South African rave culture from 1996.