During the meal, I asked them how big the scene was. Because there was no way to know really - it seemed massive to me, in my own head, based on the energy of the pirates and the sheer number of them.
I remember Rob seeming slightly evasive or even sheepish as he offered, "Fifty thousand?".
And that did seem smaller than I'd imagined.
Many years later, in response to an enquiry from a scholar or student researcher, I had a bash trying to work out the demographic dimensions of the creative core of rave.
All based on estimates.
There was at that time a particular old skool nuttah website that seemed to have audio clips of most every rave tune from 91/92/93.
This is probably ten or more years ago, but there were2604 tunes up there, which seemed immense. and they were stretched across a 4 year period, 1991 to 1994.
I guessed that even though this chap wasa total fiend,with a completist streak (there was a fair amount of dross up there, but then again the point of the site was not to be a filter but an archive, a data bank), in all likelihood he must only have had about 50 % of the tunes actually released on his site.
For 1992 - the most populous, explosive DIY-gone-crazy year (which was also hardcore rave's peak of commercial penetration, the first half of the year anyway) - this bloke had got audio clips for 872 tunes.
I decided the real figure for hardcore releases in that year might be more like 2000 tracks.
That’s a lot of smaller than I thought.
I'd imagined that the punk-redolent DIY principle would have been more rife and rampant.
So with Playford's guess of 50 thousand - made in early 94, when the scene was still under the sway of darkness, the jungle crossover explosion some months away, still contracted to a hard core - then the ratio of active music-releasing artists to punters becomes 1 in 200.
2step would be another period in which the ratio of producers to consumers goes down again, owing to its massive pop success and across London domination of the pirate airwaves.
Going back to the creative core of H-core question, I suppose one could go to Discogs and attempt to actually count the number of producers (especially as it useful displays all the pseudonyms and alter-egos and aliases each one uses).
But I'm guessing the result won't be too far off the 250-ish sort of figure that I kinda pulled out of my arse there.
It won't be drastically off, I don't think - like 2500 producers.