Did you know Milton Keynes IKEA site housed one of Britain's largest rave venues in 1990s?

Crowds of up to 9,000 flocked there to dance all night

By Sally Murrer
Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 3:26 pm

A new exhibition celebrating The Sanctuary, MK's iconic lost rave venue, is to open next month.

The Project Space at MK Gallery will explore how a warehouse on a Bletchley industrial estate become one of the UK’s largest and most beloved rave venue, accommodating audiences of up to 9,000 at a time.

The warehouse was demolished in 2004 and IKEA now stands in its place.

A scene from The Sanctuary in the 1990s in Milton Keynes

'Sanctuary: The Unlikely Home of British Rave' will tell the story of the infamous all-night club that operated in the city from 1991-2004, drawing an estimated three quarters of a million ravers from across the country.

The exhibition seeks to shine new light on the pioneering nightlife history of the city – including the MK locals behind Sunrise, the acid house promoters known for a string of underground raves in the late 1980s.

Opening on the 4 December, it will also mark 30 years to the week since the building in Denbigh North was first chosen by the late Murray Beetson as the venue of the historic Dreamscape 1 rave.

The following year it opened officially as a club, hosting iconic nights including Helter Skelter, Fantazia, Jungle Fever, Hardcore Heaven, and Slammin Vinyl, as well as artists like The Prodigy.

IKEA now stands on the old Sanctuary site

The exhibition organisers say the Sanctuary symbolises a critical moment in the pivot from illegal to licensed raves, as well as the development of genres such as Happy Hardcore and Drum & Bass.

On display at the gallery will be original ephemera, flyers, merchandise, artefacts and footage.

It is curated by Emma Hope Allwood, a writer and former Dazed editor who grew up around Milton Keynes.

Allwood said: ‘It wasn’t until I became a journalist and came across the flyer for Dreamscape 1 that I learned of The Sanctuary. This project is about doing justice to the youth culture history of MK – a place which is too often unfairly maligned as a cultural void.’

Former ravers with any objects to be considered for the exhibition are invited to either email details to [email protected]

Or people can bring their ephemera to MK Gallery on Saturday 13 November, from 2pm to 5pm, where it will be scanned and preserved within the virtual archives of the Museum of Youth Culture.

From photographs to flyers, VHS tapes to t-shirts, Milton Keynes 90s rave and nightlife keepsakes, nothing will be insignificant, say the organisers.