Looking back on Anabolic Frolic, Happy 2b Hardcore in Canada
October 3, 2015 2:52 PM   Subscribe

The story of Anabolic Frolic, the DJ name for Chris Samojlenko, tracks closely to the history of Happy Hardcore in Canada, if not North America at large, from the very first Happy 2b Hardcore mix released in the beginning of 1997, to the final Hullabaloo to mark the anniversary of the first Hullabaloo rave.

Toucan Music has a decent write-up of the start of hardcore, happy hardcore and UK hardcore, taken from the UK and European scenes, while Core History expands the timeframe and scope to include happy hardcore's adoption in other countries and continents. For a longer look, Red Bull Music Academy went all out, both in design and with interviews of influential producers and DJs, tying the whole aesthetic to the PC Music clique. Organic Beats made the pitch that happy hardcore was due for a revival ... in 2014. But the scene is far from dead, as seen on Happy Hardcore.com, the home of all things happy and hardcore on the internet, covering the scenes around the globe.

Back to Anabolic Frolic in Toronto, who got involved in the happy hardcore scene in the late 1990s. Let's rephrase that: he championed the sound and the vibe, starting distribution for UK and European imports, starting a promotions company to bring in the types of music he loved, and his unsolicited demo to Moonshine Music (Google books preview) set the stage for his Happy 2b Hardcore series of mixes.

Unfortunately, Frolic's own Hullabaloo!, "Toronto’s most celebrated and world renowned Rave promotion company" also was the ones to host a rave where a young man overdosed from ecstasy, which brought scrutiny upon the whole rave scene. That was in 2000, and the next year, another young raver was stabbed at a Hullabaloo rave, the same night that Anabolic Frolic's mother came to her first rave, where she was welcomed by the crowd. Chris ended the Hullabaloo parties in 2005, with one last anniversary bash in 2007, which was a community event where fans could vote for the final song (archived poll options), and the last set was just music, "no DJs / No MCs, we're all ravers together," as captured in this audience video of everyone singing along to Bang! - Shooting Star.

The mixes:
Happy 2b Hardcore (Jan. 1997)
Happy 2b Hardcore - Chapter Two (Sept. 1997)
Happy 2b Hardcore - Chapter Three (April 1999)
Happy 2b Hardcore - Chapter Four (Feb. 2000)
Happy 2b Hardcore - Chapter Five (Sept. 2001)
Happy 2b Hardcore - Chapter Six - The Final Chapter (Nov. 2001)
Happy 2b Hardcore - Chapter Seven - A New Beginning (Jan. 2003)
Happy 2b Hardcore - Chapter Eight - The Lost Mix (March 2007) -- from the Discogs page:
This was apparently quite a controversial release. After Moonshine, the label which the other compilations in this series went bankrupt, Anabolic Frolic contacted artists to see if they would donate material for a promotional release (I.E. not for general sale) to see if another label would consider putting out the compilation. No-one wanted do, and so Anabolic Frolic started selling his remaining copies for profit, without informing or paying the artists any royalties.
There was also an official DVD - Scott Brown - AV:X.09 Happy 2b Hardcore: Old Skool (2003)

You can also hear live mixes from Hullabaloo's past on the Toronto Rave Mixtape Archive's collection of jungle and hardcore mixes.
posted by filthy light thief (22 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Oh man! H2bH Chapter 3 was the first album I ever acquired that felt like an authentic little bit of rebelliousness - the first music that I knew drove my folks crazy while I just listened to it on repeat forever.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:08 PM on October 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best post ever! I probably listened to chapter 3 every single day on my drive to high school. That shit was my jam.
posted by Arbac at 3:57 PM on October 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Awesome post. I always had a kinda mixed relationship with Happy Hardcore. I loved, loved, loved some tracks (Now Is The Time off Vol.1 is a personal fave) but couldn't stand how some songs sounded all the same. I remember the genre getting alot of hate in some quarters of the Toronto rave scene though, which I can only put down to it being so (as I remember it) wonderfully un-macho and innocent.
posted by Hutch at 4:13 PM on October 3, 2015

The discovery of happy hardcore was, for me, the moment that I truly understood the joy of trolling. No one in my life could stand more than ten seconds of it; not my friends, not my family, not my girlfriend. If, like me, you possess a soul that can only exult when everyone around you is glaring in your direction, happy hardcore is there for you.

Happy hardcore kids were the best kids. Unintentionally obnoxious and painfully naive, to be sure, but when the shit went down, they were the kids who gave you a hug, or shared their water with you, or hid you from the security team. If you were at a rave and you found yourself in trouble, the best thing that you could do was head for the room where the BPM was upwards of 300 and all the lyrics were about snuggling.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:19 PM on October 3, 2015 [13 favorites]

I was sold on the yellow smiling faces (and neon green case!) back in the late 1990s in a Wherehouse, and later picked up the 3rd chapter. They're mixes that trigger memories from the first track, and generally result in me singing falsetto for an hour, while driving too fast.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:19 PM on October 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have bid farewell to my girlfriend, as this post has rendered me unfit for the company of adult humans for the foreseeable future.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:33 PM on October 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Unintentionally obnoxious and painfully naive, to be sure, but when the shit went down, they were the kids who gave you a hug, or shared their water with you, or hid you from the security team.

*waves frantically and trips over her shoelaces to give a hug*

Good lord I loved those days. Such great times.
posted by winna at 5:38 PM on October 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

A scene that set standards for human connection, positivity, optimism, joy and warmth that the intervening decades have profoundly failed to live up to. Unique.
posted by ead at 5:47 PM on October 3, 2015

I may be a Jaded ex-raver, but I'm Hardcore 'til I die. PLURRRRRR!
posted by evilmonk at 7:45 PM on October 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

"Every Time I Close My Eyes" by Scott Brown off H2BH 4 is just pure, infectious happiness.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:05 PM on October 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Happy 2b Hardcore - Chapter Three


I didn't go to many Hullas when they were still a thing, but I went to a couple and wow... always the happiest crowd.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:53 AM on October 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

So many sweaty, jumbled, jiggly memories.

When I was raving in and around T.O., I would go to the Hulla parties as well as the nerdy serious "dark" minimal techno raves like Ritual, Transcendance, and that crazy party Bev May put on where Speedy J premiered his noisy stuff (i.e., Public Energy Number One). I was really into a wide range of genres, and these raves attracted a hilariously odd mix of party crews. I missed that cross-pollination and eclecticism after the rave scene finally collapsed and everyone scattered into subgenre-specific club events.
posted by LMGM at 2:36 AM on October 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

There was a recent survey - which I cannot find, annoyingly - of what happened to the kids from the UK rave scene, and how they now saw those times. In particular, it was looking for the long-term implications of wide-scale MDMA usage. Which had most certainly happened.

It found that, yep, the happy day-glo children had grown up to normal adulthood and were getting on with their lives practically indistinguishably from if they'd spent that time stamp-collecting. The one difference was that they saw the rave scene as having been rich and rewarding, with many respondents talking about the incredible empathy, freedom and fearless exultation. Regrets were almost entirely absent. (As was any evidence remotely supporting the dire predictions of the moral panic of the time.)

I was a bit too old to fully partake of those times, and I was more into IDM than the stuff which was to turn into happy hardcore, but I certainly got my share. Let nobody tell you otherwise, they were wonderful, unique times that showed there are many ways to be human and happy, even if it scares the straights.

More of this sort of thing, please.
posted by Devonian at 7:14 AM on October 4, 2015 [5 favorites]

LMGM: oh God, Bev May should have the keys to the city. Or like be appointed Queen of Canada or something. I've no words.
posted by ead at 8:57 AM on October 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

I was watching the documentary of the final Hullabaloo and there's a raver who says he listens to happy hardcore all the time, and I thought "it must be hard to hang out with that guy, unless you love h-hardcore has much as he does."

I generally can't stand an hour or two of happy hardcore because it never slows down, even if there is enough difference between the songs themselves. It's great to change your mood, or to keep you going, but at some point you want to take a break and breathe.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:32 PM on October 4, 2015

Yah that was always my problem with happycore parties... they're just relentless, and it's not like heading to the jungle room (I always found that a weird pairing) is going to enhance your happy-go-lucky partying.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:40 PM on October 4, 2015

The pairing with jungle has to do with shared ancestry. They're both offshoots from oldskool (UK) breakbeat / hardcore. Listen to stuff from the early 90s and the relationship is pretty obvious.
posted by ead at 9:19 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh I know the history, I just mean in terms of both sound and attitude (jungle kids here in Toronto were always trying to be edgy/aggro; their drug of choice was crystal not E) it's a weird combination.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:13 AM on October 5, 2015

Oh yeah, I know the attitude schism you mean. It was kinda weird at the time, but in retrospect I think it's present in most musical genres if you look around. The hardcore scene just has everything dialed up to 10,000. The drugs really put a magnifying glass on everything.

Teenagers have a lot of strong emotions! Some days you're all this, and other days you're all that, y'know?
posted by ead at 10:37 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm way more on the junglist side than anything-core but the pairing makes sense to me - two sides of the same sped-up coin. Either one should have a downtempo room somewhere though.
posted by atoxyl at 12:38 PM on October 5, 2015

Great post. I recently pulled out H2BH 1+2 after running in to him online.

Dude has one heckuva pinball collection. :)
posted by Theta States at 8:40 AM on October 6, 2015

This post is missing the Hullabaloo! video scrapbook! Oh, so many memories... and lots of pictures I took in the 1999-2001 period, when I was part of the Hulla "photocrew".

PS: hi LMGM, we knew each other back then!
posted by eendje at 1:06 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

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