Beats Per Minute: Photography, Music and the Post-Covid Rave Scene

Maddie is an event, portraiture, and fashion photographer from East London, focusing initially on 35mm film with a more recent shift to digital. We sat down with Maddie to discuss her ongoing project ‘Beats Per Minute’, in which she has conversations with artists, DJs and event organisers within the London rave scene about how the culture has changed since lockdown. 

Hey Maddie, thanks so much for speaking with us. Why did you decide to start this project? 

I did a project a year or so ago documenting my experience from squat raves from 2019-2021 and then thought to make a running documentation of rave culture in the city and how it finds itself in 2022 and onwards. 

Have you found that your experience of lockdown and the desire to get back to this culture you love so much was the same as those you’ve spoken to? 

People will come together for the love of music, and I think they missed the community of the dance being organised to the level it is now. 

What’s your own opinion on the shift in rave culture since Covid and lockdowns? 

People will rave no matter what, obviously whilst being careful. But many rave groups have dropped off or become more low-key since 2020 due to events constantly being shut down, attracting the wrong crowds and people not coming to appreciate music. 

Image taken by Maddie as part of the Beats Per Minute project.

Can you elaborate on that? Why do you think people come if it isn’t for the music?

In any social setting, it’s always a possibility to be in the presence of someone with bad intentions however this doesn’t seem to be the case too much anymore. The actions of one person in the scene shouldn’t reflect on the majority and how that’s perceived by the public. That’s why it’s great that current organisers have ensured ways to keep ravers safe and call out those who are ruining positive experiences for others. 

Do you find that your focus when photographing these scenes has changed since Covid? Do you find yourself wanting to focus on some things more and others less? 

My subjects in this style of photography have stayed the same, I just changed medium to digital and advanced to different equipment which changes the content slightly but the way I take them, edit, and angle them has always been consistent. 

What is your favourite thing about photographing this culture? 

I like to photograph people in the moment, dancing, enjoying themselves and primarily those that aren’t posed. and to take pictures of DJs doing their thing, spinning on the decks in concentration. Both aspects of these put together visually describe the consumer enjoying the show and the artist generating it. 

Image taken by Maddie as part of the Beats Per Minute project.

What’s the main thing you want people to learn from your work? 

That the rave scene is still as strong as it was 20 or so years ago, with a new generation of people who love to dance. to capture this and all the events that take place documents specific memories that exist for each rave, encapsulated into images which can be reminisced on in the future. The beauty and diversity in attendance always make capturing these atmospheres so worthwhile, an image of many people all shot in the moment engages the audience to take in every copositive aspect and angle. 

Thanks so much for speaking with us Maddie, can’t wait to read the conversations you’ve been having when the project is released!

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