Where it all started
Hullabaloo, or affectionately referred to as "Hulla", was founded on June 21st 1997 by Anabolic Frolic in Toronto, Canada. After the release of Happy2bHardcore Chapter 1 he was frustrated with the lack of raves featuring his prefered music of happy hardcore, so out of that frustration he decided to do it himself and Hullabaloo was born. It wasn't the first rave, or even the biggest, but it would prove to be one of the most influential of the era.
The parties were modeled after the UK's biggest promotions of the time, Dreamscape and Helter Skelter, the types of parties he himself wanted to attend. At the time Frolic found the North American version of raves had veered into a darker more techno influenced direction rather than a pure party atmosphere. Hulla would redefine what a rave was and its influence would be felt around the continent forever after.
You can't put your finger on any one thing that made Hulla so special. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all those involved. Most considered it to be what a rave was supposed to be like, in its most utopian ideals, but yet never seen elsewhere. It was the perfect mix of technology and culture and a collective shared experience between all those in attendance.
The music brought it all together
Hullabaloo was built around Happy Hardcore, a style of music out of the UK which was a direct decendant of the original "rave" sound featuring fast beats, uplifting vocals and most of all just an overwhelming happy vibe. This music was a big contributor to what made Hullabaloo what it was, as it brought out the absolute most colourful and wildest of ravers. Since no one previously had succesfully promoted happy hardcore music in North America it quickly seperated Hullabaloo from every other rave out there at the time. Jungle, Trance and Hard House were also featured at Hulla over the years, but Frolic's criteria was that whatever the music was it had to contribute to that amazing Hulla atmosphere that they were famous for.
From nothing to juggernaut
The first party was thrown on a modest budget for 500 people, but within a year it was selling-out venues of 2000, and less than a year after that venues of 5000 were selling out in advance. Hullabaloo is one of the only rave companies to sell all their tickets in advance for a party and have no door sales. Scalpers began to learn this and would sell tickets outside the venues for as much as $125 for a $20 ticket.
The world's greatest ravers
Hullabaloo found itself getting the most dedicated of patrons, who affectionately called themselves "HullaRavers". Few promotions in history had such a dedicated following. One magazine even gave Hulla an award for "Newest Cult". To that end, 17 of its parties were thrown without a single printed flyer. An unprecedented feat likely never to be duplicated.
Each event was marked with months of anticipation. All that needed to be said was a date and that Hulla was happening and you could count on thousands of ravers climbing the walls with excitement. During the funfur candy raver fashion explosion of the '90s local shops found themselves selling out of funfur of whatever colour was featured on that particular Hullabaloo flyer. Hullabaloo symbolised the pinnacle of the "candy raver" fashion trends, especially during the late 1990's. Ravers loved to create their own unique outfits for each Hulla.
An online pioneer
Established in 1998 the HullaBoard, Hullabaloo's official message board, is one of the oldest and most successful rave message boards on the internet. A key component in creating the Hullabaloo community, it provided a safe place for every like minded HullaRaver to share what they had in common. The HullaBoard became so popular that many other Hulla inspired rave promotions were launched from within it and many social gatherings outside of Hullabaloo happened from it. One of the most notable was the 24 hour lineup for Star Wars Episode 1 movie tickets in 1999. The local news came by to interview the line and when asked where everyone was from they shouted "The HullaBoard!".
A face to the organization like no other
To date, Anabolic Frolic has sold over 400,000 copies (and untold bootlegs/mp3's) of his Happy2bHardcore series making it the best selling electronic music series of all time in North America. Frolic soon found himself the "patron saint of candy ravers". No rave promotion ever had such an identifiable front man that people could connect with whether or not they actually met or knew him, adding to its success.
To that end, Frolic's personal life was shared with his raving fans. He proposed to his wife Robin on the Hullabaloo stage, and in 2003 they announced their upcoming baby to the adoring crowd.
Unique traditions to welcome all
Since the beginning new ravers were always welcomed with open arms (literally) and that "HullaNewbie" tradition held strong right to the end. Everyone remembered how special and welcoming their first Hulla was, and they were only too happy to welcome those next waves of HullaRavers. To that end, Frolic was inspired by a popular tradition at "Rocky Horror Picture Show" midnight screenings where "virgins" who had never been to the movie before were singled out. His version was a more welcoming Hulla take on that, where HullaNewbies were stamped with an "H" on their cheek (never against their will), so that everyone in the party would know to welcome them. Just another thing in a long list that made Hullabaloo unique.
Developing the brand
Anabolic Frolic wasn't the only attraction at Hullabaloo of course, a roster of very dedicated and much loved Hulla resident DJs and MCs covered most of the night. Frolic realised early on that his group of residents were responsible for 80% of the night's music and from that point onwards he made every name on the flyer the exact same size. This served to educate the ravers that the Hullabaloo residents were second to no one and weren't there simply to warm up the party, they were full on attractions by themselves. The Hullabaloo crew of residents are probably the best known group of resident djs and mcs in the world. Hullabaloo would also feature the world's top hardcore DJs, having brought over every major UK hardcore DJ that exists, most for their North American debuts.
From the highest highs to lows
Hulla's popularity rose like a rocket as the North American rave scene hit its peak in 1999/2000. Hulla however had its share of difficult times when Anabolic Frolic found himself to be the lightening rod for the rave hysteria period of 2000 and front page news. He was the subject of a government inquest into raves and received tremendous political and police pressure, even being threatened with arrest forcing him to cancel one of the events in 2000.
Can't keep us down
Through it all they persevered, eventually turning political and public opinion and continued promoting events for another 5 years. The damage had been done though and the scene never recovered. The rave era as most knew it had ended and along with it most of the big promoters. Hulla survived, the last of the dinasours, due to its fanatical support and abandoning the difficult task of finding a new venue for each party and settling permanently into Toronto's Opera House, one of the top concert venues in the city. With its 100 year old architecture, high ceilings and balcony overlooking the main dance floor it proved to be an amazing venue for Hulla. Most of all, its friendly and cooperative management was a welcomed breath of fresh air after years of dealing with difficult venue owners. Having such a safe and supporting venue to back him up gave Hulla a new lease on life and they continued there for many years.
All good things must come to an end
At the end of 2004 Frolic decided that he had taken Hullabaloo as far as it could go. Inspired by how a long running TV show will celebrate its last season and eventual finale, he made an unprecedented move and did the same announcing Hulla would wrap up after 4 more events building to a climactic finale of its own.
Tickets for the final event, All Good Things, sold out in an unbelievable 8 days, 5 months in advance. For those that attended it, All Good Things will be remebered as the greatest party thrown by one of the greatest rave promotions in history.
All Good Things, held on July 9th 2005, was an absolutely perfect night featuring its roster of resident DJs, lots of emotion and a closing set by Anabolic Frolic. The party finished with a 10 minute speech followed by a closing song. Frolic then left the stage and for 5 minutes the crowd chanted for an encore. Frolic returned for one more, while the word "Goodbye" was printed on the overhead projection screen. A fitting farewell for an organization that had meant so much to so many.
The family comes back together
Frolic was certain that the last Hulla had happened, but 2 years later as the 10 year anniversary date loomed he was inspired to plan a reunion event. Titled as nod to a seminal party Hulla had several years earlier called Group Hug, the reunion would be called "One More Group Hug" (OMGH). The original Hulla resident DJ lineup reassembled for this one more time, many of whom had retired at the final Hulla.
Two years of pent up demand sent ticket sales even further into the record books, with the entire event selling out in only 2 hours. One More Group Hug was a triumphant return to form for the rave legend. Rather than the bittersweet atmosphere of All Good Things, it was a pure electric vibe as everyone was so thrilled to be a part of it one more time.
Frolic gets his wish
At the close of OMGH Anabolic Frolic addressed the crowd once again. The party was to end with 3 tracks voted by the ravers on the website. There would be no more DJs or MCs, but everyone would be a raver dancing together. But Frolic had one more surprise. He told the crowd that in 10 years of Hullabaloo there was one thing he had never done - rave with everyone on the dance floor. Frolic joined the dancefloor and danced with everyone as the party ended, singing alone and throwing his hands in the air with everyone. After the closing chords of the final song, the crowd piled in together for a huge group hug with Frolic at the center. With the lights on and music off the crowd refused to leave, instead chanting their appreciation. Hulla was once again like no other rave in the world.
A legacy like no other
By the end of its run Hullabaloo had thrown 45 events attended by over 100,000 people in 8 years. Hulla had one of the most dedicated, most travelled audiences in rave history. Each event was attended by people from all over Canada and the US, as well as the UK, Europe, and even Australia. People travelled here because they knew it was unlike anything anywhere else. From being greeted at the door by smiling welcoming faces to going home with dozens of new friends and being part of something truly special, never to be recreated.
The legacy of Hulla will be that it is the standard all raves aspire to be. Just as Studio54 will be remembered as the defining disco club of its generation, Hulla will be remembered as the defining rave promotion. Most all defunct rave promotions are long forgotten, not even a footnote in history having thrown one too many money losing events and then disappeared without a trace. Hullabaloo will be remembered for decades to come.
Want to learn more?
View the Official Hullabaloo Scrapbook PDF.
Visit the Past Party Archives with flyers.
Hulla Questionaire Responses.
Message Board Archives.
10 Greatest Moments in Hullabaloo History.
Video: Hulla Video Scrapbook (Captured live at All Good Things)
Video: All Good Things Recap video.
8 years of live recordings at the HullaStore.
It is a party that truly celebrates what the rave scene is about, one of the only parties that makes each and every person at the party leave with an experience they won't ever forget.
New Jersey, PA
At my first hulla I received two stuffed animals, one from a kid with a cow hat thing...He made my night.
Hulla to me is where I can hear the music I love in an environment I love with the people I love. I can't put into words what hulla means to me, because to me it is more than a party, more than a rave, more than a vacation for me....it was almost my whole life
every time I've walked into a Hulla, I've had this feeling come over me that hasn't been matched at any other event, and I just think to myself "I'm home."
I'd never knew I could feel so loved by so many strangers all at once.
Hulla will forever be a legacy
In history there has never been a promotion that i have encontered that is as well known as hulla... and for the right reasons...
Its what the world should be like. There is no real way of describing a hulla to a non-hulla'er. (Trust me I've tried for years) Its one of the very few places were people can drop all the crap (drama, differences, etc) and be themselves. Hulla is the best party around.
when i would listen to other live recordings that i had bought... listened to the music and the crowd reacting gave me goose bumps all the time. I would imagine myself there with all of you. And no matter what mood i was in i would feel better after listening.
It is what I had always pictured a rave to be, a giant crowd of boucing bodies, and smiling faces, hugs and smiley faces. And nothing but good feelings all the way through. I think hulla carries the true rave vibe for a lot of people. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to describe it to people, and I've always been just lost for words, the conversation usually just ends with me saying, "The vibe was crazy, the energy was the most wicked, man you just had to be there..."
After going on the web site and looking at people's pictures, I knew that Hulla was one of a kind, and that it was going to be a great time. But when I actually went, it wasn't just great, it was beyond words. It felt magical to be there and see all the faces. Everyone was so happy, people were smiling at me and saying hello that didn't even know me when I'd walk through the crowd. I thought to myself, I wish I could do this every day. This is where I belong. I've never had that much fun in my life, and it saddens me that I only got to experience Hulla once, but I'm glad I got to be apart of it.
To me, Hulla's sort of like the real-world extension of happy hardcore music, and all the things I've seen happy hardcore be able to do for people, Hulla does many times over. I was definitely pretty shy my first year of partying and now if I describe myself as shy, people laugh at me - that's definitely Hulla's doing.