Los Angeles isn’t a city you traditionally associate with clubbing. It doesn’t have the post-industrial significance of Detroit, or the post-wall hedonism that’s made Berlin the European capital of nightlife.
A new publication released by Colpa Press wants to change everything you thought you knew about LA. LA Rave Flyers 1991-1994 does what it says on the tin in the best way possible. The world found in the pages of LA Rave Flyers 1991-1994 is one of science fiction fantasias, lurid skulls, and dayglo washing power cartons. It is, in a delightful way, about as early-90s as it gets.
Collated from archival material contributed by LA native, and DJ, Victor Stapf, the slim little thing is stuffed with the kind of flyers that’ll have a certain kind of It’s Nice That reader longing for easy access to a time machine.
A veteran of the print media industry, since the late-80s Victor has been a graphic designer hiding behind the moniker Synthetrix. “Desktop publishing was revolutionising the printing world around the same time that the rave scene was blossoming in Los Angeles,” he tells us. “During this time, I spent a lot of my time on the weekends either dancing or DJing at raves and clubs in the area. At that time, the flyers were everywhere you looked. People would always be handing them out in front of the venues and I guess a lot of people just threw them in the trash. I would just stuff them in my bag and take them home.”
Victor kept those flyers in a manilla envelope stuffed into the dark recesses of his closet where they sat in darkness for years. Eventually he began scanning them for his website, and the world was presented with an archive of adverts for nights that would otherwise only exist in the memory.
The third in a series — with previous instalments collating material from New York and San Francisco — the Colpa Press team tells that when it comes to using found material they don’t think about “representing the whole of the scene,” in question because there are other books out there that take a more exhaustive approach.
Usually trying to pull the material from one collector’s collection, they enjoy looking at flyer design and through sequencing the content in a simple way (the flyers are always present front and back to scale) trying to identify common patterns amongst them.
Some of those patterns are the result of the technological impositions that the designers of the day worked around. As Victor mentions, this was the age of desktop publishing. The limits of the software then available compared to what today’s flyer designers are working with means, in Colpa’s words, “there’s something about the early-90s rave flyer that just can’t be replicated,” though they point out that the likes of Jonathan Castro and Golgotha have, “taken these aesthetics, especially some of the type treatments, and run wild with it.”