Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the nineties is that everything was possible. University students got tribal tattoos on their backsides and put rings through their noses. Office workers carrying whistles, pacifiers and glow sticks writhed in bunkers and warehouses during the first raves. The great range of musical styles was actually quite astonishing. Rock, which had been thought dead, celebrated a revival with bands like Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, Oasis and Skunk Anansie. Drum and bass emerged in the U.K. Germany gave rise to the Eurodance and trance project Snap! with its pounding 4/4 time.
From today’s vantage point, the nineties seem like the last decade when all was still right with the world – though that’s nonsense, of course. But: September 11, 2001, was a watershed moment in history, as the attack on the World Trade Center inaugurated a new era of fear and prohibition. Seen in this light, the nineties were remarkable for their combination of levity and gloom. That’s rather ugly and crude, but that’s exactly why the nineties were so unique