The Mission Control story + Raster-Noton at the Middlesex
The history of the New England rave community is a tremendous story. One of the largest in the US, the scene sprouted in pockets from Portland to Pennsylvania and eventually formed a huge network. Among the ways it remained strong was MISSION CONTROL, a party-info line based in Boston and run mainly by MICHAEL WILKINS, who started it in the late ’80s. “It was just an info line, giving directions to one party,” Wilkins says over the phone, having just returned from his job at WGBH. “Pretty soon other people we knew wanted their stuff on there. And one thing led to another.” Because the location of each party was kept secret until the last minute, Wilkins and some friends created a network so that rave nation could call in to find out where to go. At the height of New England raves, there were numerous info lines, but Mission Control was the largest.
VIDEO: Fox News covers a Portland rave in 1993
“It started off with a phone line and an answering machine,” the jovial Wilkins explains. “As things progressed, I purchased a telephone that had a multi-mailbox function. If you wanted upcoming parties, you’d press 1. If you wanted club nights, you’d press 2 . . . that kind of thing.” His information-relay system kept growing till they had to take the idea out of his house. “We ended up going to a phone service with as many mailboxes as we needed. And we had three, four, or five mailboxes.”
Through it all, Wilkins was based in Boston as a radio engineer for the Christian Science Monitor and ESPN Radio. But before long he was fielding secret party info from far away. “Florida, the Carolinas, Montreal was not a problem, Toronto from time to time, Pittsburgh was always a big fave, Ohio’s Underground Peace Society was another.” Despite his dedication to maintaining the info line, Mission Control was much more than Wilkins alone, and throughout our conversation he drops names like DJ Overload, Kris Clark (of K.C. and the Sunrise Gang), Tom Mello, and Dave Jury. “Our friends are still out there, the friends we started this for and with. And a lot of us are still in touch.”
Wilkins recounts how Dave Jury would choose the secret beach locations. “He would drive all around the Cape, and he would grab maps and drive down dirt roads, and he would be looking for spots to party. He found this obscure little place, with 600 feet of sand, but it was perfect because you could go down and set up on the beach and party.” One such infamous beach party was DJ’d by a young Tiga from Montreal. To get to these events, however, you needed to call Mission Control. “Sometimes people left messages. You’d get people looking for directions, shouting over the phone, ‘Hey, take a left there!’ Calls were coming from colleges and offices. You realized how far-flung the rave community was. There were some really far-out ones, too! There’s no doubt about that!”
: New England Music News
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