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A yellow plaque on a brick wall
Photograph: DAN J BURWOOD

These new yellow plaques commemorate London’s iconic rave scene

Artist George Georgiou has designed and hung yellow plaques on the outside of former rave venues

Written by Imogen Williams

Most Londoners will be familiar with the city’s historic blue plaques, at least one of which likely celebrates the success of a long-dead poet and is bolted on to the wall of a house you can only dream of owning.

However, in recent days a new type of plaque has been popping up across the city, from Battersea to Soho to Shoreditch. And unlike their blue predecessors, these ones are bright yellow and all about celebrating the capital’s rave culture of the ’80s and ’90s. 

Man standing against a wall with three yellow plaques on it
Photograph: DAN J BURWOOD

The artist responsible for created and displaying the new yellow plaques is George Georgiou, who was also the mastermind behind the iconic yellow smiley face which graced the many flyers and memorabilia of countless raves. Originally designed for his friend Danny Rampling’s club night Shoom, the smiley face symbol became synonymous with acid house and rave culture, which Georgiou is now celebrating with his sunny new plaques.

Some of the famous venues commemorated are The Milk Bar and Velvet Underground, both set up by Nicky Holloway, one of the ‘Ibiza Four’ DJs and a pioneer of acid house in London. The venues were home to a roster of much-loved club nights and saw the likes of Danny Rampling and Pete Tong perform.

The plaques were installed ahead of the launch of the virtual George Georgiou Gallery, which offers a ‘digital open-world experience’ showcasing the artist’s eclectic flyers from the acid house music heydays. 

The gallery also has an interactive map of the legendary rave venues, including those which have been given a shiny yellow sign, meaning fans of the genre – or those fascinated by the history of music – can get out to visit the installations. 

Two men stood outside a music venue holding a yellow plaque
Photograph: DAN J BURWOOD

Speaking about his motivations for the yellow plaques, Georgiou said: ‘It was an important moment in the history of youth culture. In fact, it was quite possibly, in my opinion, the last time there was a major artistic cultural shift through the young in this country.

‘As there is nothing out there to mark what we created, I felt it was a good way to draw attention to a period in time when the stars were in alignment and we all went out and danced and, albeit unwittingly, created a new cultural movement.’

You can find a map of all the current yellow rave plaques on Georgiou’s website here

ICYMI: You can now hire out disused tube stations for parties and private events.

Plus: Billie Eilish is hosting immersive listening parties for her new album in London next week

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