Mixmag magazine, Volume 2 Issue No.9, February 1992

Richard Anderson

Published June 2024


Mixmag magazine began in 1983 as a simple 16-page black-and-white monthly subscription newsletter. This pre-dates the emergence of House and other styles of electronic dance music. It is now the world's longest-running dedicated dance music culture magazine with offices in 25 countries. In 2020 Mixmag stopped its print publication due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It now delivers over 4,800 news stories online per year. Mixmag's platform also features documentaries and live streaming of DJ mixes.


A world first

The mail-order tape which came with this February 1992 issue was a world first. At that time dance music enthusiasts would trade mixtapes of their favourite DJs. This was instrumental in the widespread distribution of the sounds heard in clubs. But no one was getting paid! Neither the DJs nor the music producers, who were not even credited. The cassette Mixmag Live Volume 1 became the world’s first ever legal DJ mix compilation. Despite the transition to digital, this remains an ongoing copyright concern. DJ performances streamed on platforms such as Boiler Room cannot identify every track featured in a mix. 



Digital technology and dance music culture

Mixmag's print magazine also featured monthly listings of UK club nights. This resource was essential reading for clubbers working out which events they'd attend. Today's event advertising is all online using ticketing websites and social media promotion. Digital technologies have replaced magazine listings and paper flyers distributed after shows.

Another area where digital technologies have changed dance music culture involves photography. The listing pages in this issue of Mixmag featured professional photographs of dancers. Liverpool photographer Mark McNulty's work often appeared in the magazine. Now clubbers can take photos of themselves in clubs on their phones and share these via social media. This is an area of fierce debate within dance music scenes. Many argue that people should spend less time recording the event on their phones. Instead, they should focus on getting lost in the moment and enjoyment of the experience.


Superstar DJs Here We Go!

The magazine's assistant editor at the time of this issue was Dom Phillips who went on to become editor in 1993. Phillips was born in the village of Bebington on the Wirral. His father was a lecturer at Liverpool Polytechnic (now Liverpool John Moores University). Phillips left Mixmag in 1999 and relocated to Brazil where he wrote a book Superstar DJs Here We Go! published in 2009.  The book remains a well-trusted account of the UK club scene in the 1990s. Phillips continued to work as a freelance journalist in Brazil. He was murdered in 2022 along with Bruno Pereira while investigating problems faced by indigenous people in the Amazon. Their deaths made international headlines. Phillips was 57 years old.

Dom Philips also wrote this issue's feature on the underground. In the article, Philips asks, "where is the underground now?" This question relates directly to research I carried out in my PhD study, ‘The Persistence of the Underground’, in which I examined this term's ongoing association with dance music culture.  I found is that despite dance music's worldwide popularity, underground remains a word used a lot in clubs. But nobody can agree on what it exactly means. My project dives into what underground means by looking at how it's used and influences Liverpool's contemporary dance music scenes.


'A people thing'

The Mixmag article is generally focused on musical styles, describing commercial chart success as equal to a cultural mainstream or overground. Yet, the editorial concludes by stating that the underground is a 'people thing'. Or something discovered in small clubs. These ideas echo what I found in my research. Dancers choose clubs they consider underground for a specific reason. They say the environment affects how they dance and how much they enjoy it. The type of atmospheres and the community spirit of the people there creates positive physical and mental benefits. Underground parties have a different vibe. Underground clubs feel more intimate and immersive, almost like a sensory playground. Dancers lose themselves in the music and connect with each other.

My research suggests that the shared goals of the people who attend these events is crucial to creating an underground atmosphere. Not the musical style. The attitude to have safe, inclusive parties sets underground dancing apart from mainstream clubs. This idea is then reproduced within club culture. This is then reflected within dance music media publications. Mixmag continues to produce editorials describing underground scenes. Or asking if the underground is alive! The evidence from research in Liverpool says that it is. That it persists. And continues to shape cultural scenes in our city.


Richard Anderson is a post-graduate researcher at University of Liverpool. In 2023 he completed his PhD The Persistence of the Underground in Dance Music Scenes which explored decision-making patterns in local ‘underground’ events and cultural practices and social dancing as an activity which unites music, people, cultural spaces and social history.

Richard is a long-time producer of techno/acid dance music and occasional amateur classical guitarist. After working in software development for many years, Richard returned to a full-time focus on music.

Copyright Information

Please refer to the copyright information given on the Greatest Hits Exhibition main page. Mixmag Volume 2 Issue No.9 is reproduced here for purposes of illustration in support of exhibition for non-commercial public benefit and education. Use of images seeks to remain proportional, insubstantial and fair. Limited quotation is provided for the purposes of criticism and review, as permitted by Section 30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988). If you are a rights holder and feel copyright has been infringed, please refer to our Takedown Statement and Procedure.