Festival ‘n Trav’ ‘n Party ‘n Protest Stories 2
Manchester Network 23
Can you help me out on an article that I’m working on for the manchester paper/email fanzine network 23. the article was going to focus on police interferrence with Free party lines. This is still on the adgenda as there will be people on for setting up a line in mancland this summer and if there are lessons to be learnt from other people then we must learn them.
BUT there is a real need to focus on the postive to get the people that aren’t already into free parties [and believe me compared to the Midlands the number is many]
SO plans and schemes are afoot to change this state of affairs. I’m part of the random clubbers sound system which has been doing free after parties and the occasional off the cuff party in a field [likeabout 2 due to the difficulties involved in manchester].
WHAT were doing now ie this winter is nights on a free party vibe [now there’s a commercial crap cop out if there ever was one, yes sounds shit but its true and the party people are liking it]
AND we need to keep the momentum of the free party ethic going to get people’s head round being bothered to travel a not inconsiderable distance in the Spring when the parties get going again.
Current project: Desert Storm with Technical Support and Random Clubbers Venue PSV on SAT 8th March. This is the best dance venue in manchester and the night is going to be bedlam, chill out upstairs and uplike downstairs which will be spiral techno upstairs will be of a chilled groove more akinto what you might expect of a Midlands free party [but a bit stranger]
ASIDE from mi musical generalisations which for all i know are totally inaccurate, what do you think?
CAN YOU put me intouch with people that have done free party lines// or tell me some interesting stories about that??
WOULD YOU spread the word of what we are trying to do?
HAVE YOU any other words for us???
the interlectual company of two small children
Glasto 2000 my first Glastonbury! Saturday night, we’d just been sitting in our tent drinking nice hot mushroom tea before making our way over to the green feilds to kick off the night. En Route I was suprised to bump into 2 close freinds pillin off their nuts by the dance tent with large grins on their faces. After about 10 chouruses of “AAAAAARRGGHHH…..Alright Mate!” and 15 minutes of exited high speed babble, I mananged to discern that they’d jumped the fence the night before, left their stuff at a mates tent and got so cooked that they’d forgotten where this was!
We decided the best policy was to head for the green feilds, and we danced through a sublime sunset in the Glade, aided by copious amounts of shrooms and weed and the interlectual company of two small children. The night had started!
This acheived we made our way to see leftfeild on the other stage, trippin our balls off to the phat grooves. Still hyped after their colosal performance we set off in search of more music and were delighted to find the Greenpeace drum group, my favourite musical experience of the festival. Exauhsted and extremley happy we made our way to the stone circles for the night where we met up with freinds old and new (big shout 2 the Godalming crew) in the magic cirle.
Around 5:30 Sunday morning I realised how hungry and skint I was. Deciding the answer to all my troubles was cash, I embarked upon my lonley journey to the ledgendary ‘Natwest Cash Machine’. Upon reaching the Que, I was looking at a three hour wait, but after discussion with other arrivals, we decided that we all had enough skunk to last the duration, and that each of us would go the distance, no-one wanting to be seen as a quitter. It was here on this misty morning that I experienced for the first time the Glastonbury spirit. 6:00 in the morning, everyone had been up all night doing all sorts of things, but we all came toghter in the Que, a group of strangers sharing stories and joints. Just as dry mouth sets in, a saint in front of me in a brown poncho turns around “Save my place” he tells me “and I’ll go get everyone some water”. Ten minutes later he returns with a bottle of water which was passed around the entire 3 hour que. He does this again and again, and each time he returns he encourages the que to start singing. 7:00 in the morning and the Glasto Natwest que is drinking water and singing “If You’re Happy and You Know it” (I think, my memory’s a bit hazy) and watching the sun come up. After all our patience we reached the front of the que and took our places at the cash machines, everyones smiling with joints in their mouths, salivating at the prospect of breakfast. I never saw these people again, but we all shared something that morning, and it was the nicest breakfast I’ve ever had!
Wot Free Festivals? A further rant, from Tash
Personally, I come from a free festivals and travelling background. New Age Travellers etc.
A number of sayings have helped guide my life over time. Like….
Bring what you expect to find?
If no you, who?
If not now, when?
If not here, where?
In sum, this means self-reliance. It means gigs are ALWAYS better, when people attending don’t just attend , but are a main part of the act. It is obvious to all those there, when this magic happens.
This is actually where I came in. 1972 Windsor, Stonehenge etc….. These were my motives then and remain so now.
Of course the authorities have difficulty with a system that means they are not in sole charge, hence all the law and violence since the Beanfield etc……
Over time, I have been involved I raising awareness about the law changes and their implications to us all.
· Public Order Act 1986
· Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
· Noise Act
· Barry Legg MP: Places of Entertainments (Increased Penalty) Act
· Security Services Act
And now all the Acts that have been going through parliament – with the words
“conduct by a large number of persons in pursuit of a common purpose” being a new definition of serious crime!!!
With the new definition of serious crime, that enable the use of some ‘heavier’ police departments to be applied against us. And will be the end of all the RTS and similar gigs.
Now, in ‘rave mode’, I have spent time with the Velvet Revolution and All Systems gigs, I had written ‘Sound Advice’ and the ‘Right to Party’ – to try and raise these matters in peoples minds.
Well, we have lost each of the matters I’m on about here. Whoever you vote for, the government gets in!
What I am absolutely positive about though, is that people involved in the scene,
DID NOT DO ENOUGH ABOUT ANY OF IT AS IT HAPPENED AND NOW IS STILL GOING ON.
People have to realise that self-interest and their own immediate happiness ( hedonism?), is not enough to make a festival, party rave, traveller site, gathering.
Important, but not enough.
Some folks on reading this will have been too young, to have had any objection to these changes as they have happened over recent years. But many others of you will have been.
The way parties are now organised, between those trying to conform with some pretty onerous conditions, (ie half to 2/3 of a ticket price to ‘self-police’ and pay for your own public order management and drug search.!) and those involved with the ‘free’ end of things but at continued ‘personal’ rather than ‘sheared’ risks.
This division is of course orchestrated by the other side. This old hippy / raver? Is now of the opinion that folk have now got the party they deserve. Discuss……..
NYE 1994 Smokescreen Free Party in Sheffield.
There were about 12 of us who decided to travel up to Sheffield on NYE. There were a couple of new comers in the party who were not too sure about going to a rave in a squatted school. Needless to say it was a memorable night. When we arrived at the school we could not here any music or see anyone around. We explored a found a couple of lads sitting in a small room playing some music on a small stereo. We explored further and soon found ourselves walking down this corridoor and at the end… BOOM!! I don’t know what had happened because until then no-one had heard a thing. From that point on I didn’t leave the dance floor until about 8.0am Anybody who was there will tell you what a good night it was.
Whilst I’m here.. There was another good night sometime during 1993? We were heading for a smokescreen party up in Wakefield. We left Nottingham around 10.00 (?) and drove up to Wakefield. After we left the cars in this housing estate we set about crossing what we thought would be a couple of fields to find thae party. Three hours later after dodging the old bill, climbing 15ft fences, scrambling through hedgerows we find the party. Lovely clearing in the woods with a really friendly atmosphere. Everyone who I was with was thinking the same thing: tonights going to be wicked, better get twisted.. 10 minutes later and the police have turned the tunes off. Not disheartened we decided to make our way back down to Repton in Derbyshire for another party and eventually arrive around 5am. This place is in complete contrast to the other: windy, apocolyptic dust bowl with heavy acid banging through the air. Regardless to say it was another memorable weekend.
Free Festival for the Solstice
Steart Beach on Somerset’s sweeping Bridgewater Bay was the backdrop for a fabulous free festival last weekend after the Solstice.
During the days we danced in glorious sunshine and by night we had the glow of Hinkley Point nuclear power station, all lit up like an ocean liner in the bay.
Sound Systems came from near and far including the Deep Cartel from deepest Devon and the smirking faces of Panik and Skirmish. Dub, Jungle, House or Techno whatever took your fancy it was there for your delight. All were operating under the open sky as there was not a chance that it would rain.
Field cafes and bars kept the revellers fed and watered, and even the incurable shopper could buy a T-shirt or a piece of jewellery if they desired.
A message for the police helicopter was writ large on the beach, in giant letters made from seaweed. But the hot weather chilled everyone and we were left well alone to have our free festie, just like in the old days.
It doesn’t matter now that there was no Glastonbury. What to do? Do It Yourself, that’s what.
the days before they made repetitive beats illegal
I got together with a few old friends tonight who I used to put on parties with in the days before they made repetitive beats illegal,we got to reminiscing about some of the parties we used to put on and the mad things that happened,so I thought I’d share a few of them with you.Probably cos it’s 1am and I am now bored and wide awake.I’m sure you can guess why! 😉
Like the time we tried to put on the first ever “acid house” night at a club here in Newport,the local paper found out and ran a horror story about the scene and they banned us!! I reckon it must have been one of the first nights that ever got stopped for playing that kinda music in the country!This must have been 89 i think.ACIEEEEEED!!!! LOL 8 )
And the time we decided to break into an empty house to have a party,we had no electricity so we ran a power cable from the upstairs window of my m8’s house opposite,across the street and ran everything off 1 socket.hehe very safe!The police turned up when I was djing,i had my back to the door scratching away,spliff in mouth,when a copper tapped me on the shoulder and told me to turn the music down! He didn’t even arrest me!They refused to leave til they spoke to the occupier though,which was a bit of a problem as we had broken in,but eventually Ronnie came running down the stairs declaring “It’s my house officer what’s the problem?” gave them a false name and they went away happy! LOL
Then a m8 of mine,wanna,jamaican guy in his 40’s then,bought a huge house to convert into flats.He decided to have a party before he started work on it.It was an invite only thing,unfortunately one of the invites went to a guy who got busted BIG TIME so the police knew where and when it was.On the day of the party they turned up in the afternoon and said if we went ahead they would arrest us all,so obviously we just HAD to do it then! LOL
They left 2 coppers outside all day to keep an eye on us and when the PA turned up they wouldn’t bring it in cos they were afraid it’d get confiscated! PUSSIES!!So I got in touch with a guy who does PA’s for blues in bristol and he brought us one over,carried it all past the police outside who couldn’t do a thing,and it went off.With the 2 police still stood outside til about 4am. 8 )
While i was djing I noticed bits of plaster falling off the ceiling onto the decks,looked up and saw a leg with an Adidas trainer sticking thru the ceiling! I called wanna and said “m8 you better go check the toilets upstairs cos someone just put their foot thru the ceiling”
He turned round and replied,in his best laid back jamaican accent “It’s cool mon,the floor in there was rotten anyway” LMFAO 8 )
Then the next day, an inspector turned up at his house and said he was really happy with how it went off and they didn’t get one complaint all night!BIZARRE!!!!!
After that we got our hands on a great venue,a huge basement right smack in the middle of town,we had parties there every weekend for months.I remember turning up there one night,with all the people waiting to get in,me,my missus and 2 other dj’s,3 boxes of records,decks and the mixer all in a MINI !! The people were rolling as we all piled out,they couldn’t believe we fitted it all in there.We had no men’s toilets so we put a curtain up in the yard outside,and fixed a piece of guttering to the wall and ran it off into a drain!Then one night someone tripped over and grabbed a water pipe to stop themselves falling,ripped it out of the ceiling and flooded the place.They were still dancing in 6 inches of water,we put the PA up on crates to stop it getting wet and gaffer taped all the cables to the ceiling! LOL
After the criminal justice act things got a bit dodgy,so we took on a club.After a couple of months we made enough money to buy our own PA,wicked,huge black widow (remember them?) bass bins,it rocked.First time we used it,we stacked the mid and treble cabs on top of the bass bins,never thought about strapping them down,in the middle of my set I dropped a real bass heavy tune and the mid and treble cabs vibrated off one of the bass bins and knocked out one of the fucking punters!!!! OMFG!!!! LOL
Needless to say,next day we went out and bought some of the ratchet straps they use on lorries to hold the buggers together! LOL
I also passed out there one night while i was djing,highly embarrassing! (red & blacks and poppers don’t mix!!!).
Ah well that’s enough for now,I hope you enjoyed reading that as much as we did remembering (and doing) it!
And if I bored you – TOUGH TITTY!!! 😉 LOL
Dangerous Dave 😉
Police attack J14-Survival party
On the night of Saturday 2nd/Sunday 3rd December, an outbreak of violence marred an otherwise safe and peaceful party, near Amersham in Bucks. Who was this initiated by? Thames Valley Police of course!
The usual “containment” strategy that TVP use, to be seen to be doing something about free parties, was employed. Usually this involves one or two police cars blocking the entrance to the party, until they get too bored or too cold or get called away to attend to other matters, and then just showing up to see that the party is winding down without trouble late Sunday morning. Thistime, though, TVP seemed to have conjured-up some additional resources from somewhere or other – as they’d brought up a small army with them – you would think you were in a riot zone – not near a freeparty site!
I got there slightly late, having been to the J10/Fushion/Valley Moods party in Bekshire earlier that night – so much of the action happened before I arrived – but this post uses eyewitness reports, and information from one of the victims, as well as the J14-Survival crew, as well as what I saw myself.
I’d received a tip-off of the potential trouble ahead on the journey to Amersham, but was quite surprised by the level of police presence blocking the entrance to the road that the site was down. Several mounted police, a massive “mounted police” vehicle, several riot vans, two land rovers, and loadsa panda cars. I phoned a friend on site who told me of a back way in. This road too was blocked, but by a smaller (but still intimidating) police presence – One mounted unit, one van and a couple of pandas. Parked up the car about 1 mile away – in an area that wouldn’t arouse suspicion. Got back on foot to the road leading to the alternate way in, one empty panda car. Up the road a bit more we see the site entrance, blocked by mounted police and several vehicles. Discuss with friends our chances of making our way across a muddy field to get around the pigs. Good thing we didn’t try this strategy [see later], a bit further on found a tall hedge to creep around without being seen.
Got into the party about 3am. It turned out that a police helicopter had spent about 90 minutes flying low over the party site (which probably made more noise than the rig did!). Now for the nasty bit.
Some folks *had* tried to make it in across the field, only to find that TVP had a dog unit, and the pigs unleashed their hounds on a group of 6 munters. The dogs took down several ppl, to be backed up by some thuggish ossifers, who laid into one of the blokes who was lying on the ground, still being savaged by the dog. Four ossifers joined their canine companion, booting the poor guy, whilst one pig repeatedly coshed him over the head with a torch. A small young woman tried to intervene, only for the pigs to start on her. They literally dragged her, kicking and screaming, across the field. I saw this girl later on the Sunday afternoon when she had been released. She was covered in bruises, and had some nasty cuff-burns on her wrists, where the police had twisted her arms up her back whilst she was cuffed. Apparently, she’d told them, at the point that the first ossifer had grabbed her, that she’d come quietly and peacefully – but they continued to beat her for some time. The police had removed their badges so that their numbers couldn’t be taken. In total 5 or 6 people were arrested – for criminal damage (to the crops in this muddy field) caused by them peacefully walking across the field! Also police had been picking off cars around the party site, and searching them with dogs.
At one stage TVP threatened to raid the party and strip-search everyone on site, and the system crew barricaded themselves into the main party building (a barn with a hunting lodge attached to the side), to keep the pigs (and their dogs, that they’d brought up on site, to chase munters around the site with) out.
The police then eventually left – having failed to stop the party – and there was no sign of Babylon presence after about 5am – until they showed up again later in the morning. By this time the party had acquired a new cannon in its arsenal – a photography student rumoured to be from Reading, who was making a video documentary for her finals project. She began filming, and interviewing them (successfully bluffing them that she was an ITN journo!). At this stage the pigs attitude changed, and they backed off … not to be seen again. The party finished at 4pm Sunday afternoon (it was starting to get dark …) – and there was no police presence on the way out.
Its worth mentioning that the only trouble or violence at this party was that executed by Thames Valley Police. The crowd was a safe one, with lots of happy, friendly people, who just wanted to have a good party. Despite the police intimidation and violence (or perhaps, because of it?) this was a real banging party that had the dancefloor full until they switched the music off late Sunday afternoon, with everyone determined to make the best of it – and continue in defiance.
Be warned that if travelling to a freeparty – you are potentially at risk from stop-searches and even unprovoked police violence – if they have the resources, the police will attack, unprovoked, anyone in or around a party site. So much as walking across a field can be considered “criminal damage”, which Thames Valley Police seem convinced warrants the use of extreme violence to prevent.
The Masons of Watford Gap services
we have fond memories of a very wet, muddy Big Chill festival in Norfolk. Around Sunday lunch time a certain DJ Ms. Tree, whose idea of mixing produced some excellent cocktails, played “Mr Blue Sky” by E.L.O. and the sun came out for the first time that weekend. My first festy was Glastonbury in the early eighties. I remember a mud covered man asking me if I had any skins. ” Yes, yours is rather dirty’ I answered (I don’t think I knew what a roll-up was in those far off, innocent days). This was possibly the same Glasto where Ginger Baker scored a direct hit on the back of Roy Harpers head with a beer can on the main stage. Nyge recalls Mr. Harpers set at another festival being persistently being interrupted by a stage invader shouting “Donald Weird, you’re wanted on the telephone”. I reckon he’s been cursed by The Masons of Watford Gap services.
But the best time was the Knights Of The Occasional table expedition to Womad, Reading,by barge, from Tottenham. After a pleasant cruise down the River Lea we joined The Thames near Greenwich and the gearbox packed up, leaving us drifting in the wrong direction with no power. Luckily we were able to get a police boat to rescue us and tow us into Surrey Quays. I don’t think Fraser Clarke has ever been so keen to see a policeman. They all had huge grins on their faces, I think rescuing a bunch of drifting hippies brightened up an otherwise boring day for them.
Having stopped overnight and fixed the gearbox in the morning we cruised down the Thames on a hot summers day. The roof of the barge made an ideal dancefloor for the more active members of our posse ( we had a small sound system on board, natch) while others just sunbathed. Occasionally Sunny, the youngest of the crew, fell overboard prompting his elder sister, Rainbow to jump in after him. Unfortunately she couldn’t swim either but we managed to get them both back on board. Not being anywhere near Reading by nightfall on Friday night we decided to sail on through the night. Nighttime canal boating is an experience I would recommend to anybody… especially to a soundtrack of Balinese gamalan music. After a while a thick fog brewed up, adding to the sense of tension and adventure. One wrong tributary and we could end up running aground. Luckily this didn’t happen, nor did we get stopped by the lock keepers, who probably would have not approved of our minimal lighting.
We finally arrived at Reading at six o’clock on Saturday morning. Straight to sleep only to be woken up at ten by a Rumanian accordion ensemble playing on the roof! After all this excitement the festival itself was like a return to the normal world! We all continued to have a good time and I particularly enjoyed watching Baaba Maal performing cartwheels. The journey back was very mellow, no breakdowns, noone falling overboard, more sunbathing and more good music. A damn good way to get to a festival!
a steak and kidney pie and a bottle of gin
I got a lift down to swindon from a work colleague and was heading to a free festival near swindon… can’t remember what the venue was. Either way, me and my girlfriend of the time proceeded to be picked up by a strange couple in a 2cv which the rear suspension had gone on and they were offering us coke or something like that off the dashboard.
Anyway, we got to the fetival site only to find it blocked off, but a messenger on a bike told us that the new festival was going to be right near the town. So we piled down there. I pitched my tent and proceeded to have some kid of about 10 threaten to burn my tent down, which was a nice welcome.
I don’t think that there was much in the way of entertainment that night so i made ammends by waking up in the morning, walking into town and buying myself the healthy breakfast of a steak and kidney pie and a bottle of gin. Once back at the festival site i proceeded to consume this and several hash cakes. Subsequently, shortly afterwards my head started seriously spinning and the inevitable happened, the brown mess that i had ejected from my mouth that was my steak and kidney pie, proceeded to be consumed by a hungry festy dog. He probably ended up having a better time than i did. I then collapsed, only to be woken up by my girlfriend saying… “you’re going to have to get it together, there are riot police here and they’ve been ordered to move us on”. Now having double vision dosn’t help at this point, what were probably only about 10 police seemed like 50. But you know that thing that happens with hash, you know when your mum suddenly turns up unexpectedly and your completely boxed?…. you suddenly get it together like you hadn’t taken anything.
So with what i felt was a superhuman effort i managed to pack my tent and walk straight past the police to sit by a roundabout. Unbelievably, not 5 minutes later my friends who said they might turn up, turned up!!!
We then drove around to the white horse at Uffington to have a festival there instead and a good time was had by all…. well not exactly. We then got hassled by some brew crew boys who were slagging us off and threatening to smash the car up. So off we went to wales to the forest of dean instead…. far more peaceful. Especially for my mate Mike who fell asleep on the bog at the service station for about 2 hours.
Community centre? It’s not legal is it? My first free party
Got off the train at waterloo, changed train, changed train changed train. Finally got the location but where to from here? First likely looking bloke took us on a tour of the area eventually ending up at a pub with a party but it wasn’t our party! Set of back to the station and met another group of people. “Looking for (name removed to protect the guilty) lads?” “Yeah us too”. Got the location: Such and Such Community centre in Such and Such park. “Community centre? It’s not legal is it?” Asked some mini cab drivers for directions – much tutting and shaking of heads and £20 agreed on to take us there. Decided to relive myself round the corner when what should I find not 10 meters from where we’re standing? Such and such park – dodgy mini cab drivers. Walked into the park ears first. “Is that a bass line I can hear?” “YES!” Run towards the community centre to be greeted by a thirteen-year-old girl with a baseball bat acting as security. Can of Tennants pay my way in and were there! Walking through the building I’m struck by the smell of spray paint but think nothing of it. Find the Techno rig in the corner of a sports hall and somewhat surprised to see gym equipment still in this supposedly abandoned building. Think nothing of it and find a pair of badminton rackets and a shuttlecock and proceed to play whilst the naughties take effect. Walking through the building we decide to sit down in what appears to be someone’s office. I notice a stack of paperwork and looking into it I notice that there consent forms for a school trip and there dated the day before yesterday! It now appears were having a rave with 3 separate rigs in a community/sports center, which is due to, re-open on Monday morning! Walking around the building we notice that they have electricity, running water, full shower facilities and with further investigation we are able to make cups of tea with fresh milk. The place is trashed by this point, lockers have been ripped off of the walls, spray paint is everywhere, ketemin kestrels are writhing on the floor and there is still no sign of PC plod. Anyway its getting to about 7 in the morning and we’re saying our good-byes when I decide to check out whats behind this door. Look in there and think shit! I’ve walked into someone’s office coz there’s PC’s on every desk and those swivel type chairs. Closer inspection reveals that all the memory chips have been swiped by a gang of 14 year olds. We make our excuses and leave not before picking up one of those trundle wheel things (you know, the sticks with a wheel attached which you measure distance with). Walking out of the park I’m surprised to see old dears walking their dogs while the doof doof doof of acid techno drifts across the park.
sudden discovery of the Mufflewumps
A couple of years back at Glasto, we were all sat up by the stone circle looking out over the campfires as the sun went down, munching our way through bags of shrooms and generally enjoying the sunset. The sudden discovery of the Mufflewumps, small creatures who lived in the side of the hill, heralded the start of one hell of a crazy night. Somehow the conversation came round to what our newly qualified doctor friends were doing in their respective hospitals. In between tokes, Paul told us he was delivering babies in Rotherham General, near Sheffield. We all sat still and took in the thought of delivering babies. Joe piped up with, “so, Paul, what’s it like, delivering babies?”. Paul thought for what seemed like half an hour, with us all sat in rapture around him, and finally, as he screwed up his face, said, “delivering babies is…….bonkers”. To which there were many nods of agreement and a general sense of wonderment which lasted the rest of the night, Mufflewumps and all.
Another time (one of the recent muddy ones), we went down from Sheffield in a camper van, 50 miles an hour all the way there, replete with cafetieres nicked from motorway services (well, you’ve got to get something to show for the 10 quid you just forked out on coffee) and a large amount of skunk. One of the boys’ dad was a regular on gardeners question time on radio 4 and so while it pissed it down outside, we sat under our blankets, played backgammon, got totally off our chops and listened to Tom’s dad discuss the merits of having Wisteria in a shady damp spot. Seriously classy Glasto, that was…
The sun shone, the people were there, all colourful and cheery and it was all set up to be a triffic, trafficless party last Saturday on Albion Street in Leeds. Unfortunately the Police had other ideas.
Having split up to confuse West Yorkshires finest, two crowds of people came together on Albion Street to be confronted with 20 – 30 police brandishing truncheons, batons and, more worryingly, cs gas spray. After the police confiscated tripods, the protesters attempted to set up a bouncy castle only to be beaten back by more officers with telescopic batons. Several protesters had gas sprayed in their faces and the police later denied even having the spray, even though one of their own officers had to be taken to hospital when he was sprayed by mistake! The confrontation was settled when the 500 protesters sat in the road in a demonstration of a non-violent protest and the police allowed the organisers to set up a sound system and the bouncy castle.
The party continued throughout Saturday afternoon and once the police had left, without further incident. Banners were strung up and shoppers were informed about the nature of the protest whilst protesters danced showed others just how much fun a traffic free street could be. One banner seemed to sum up the atmosphere perfectly. It simply said, “Reclaimed.”
subversive underground party vibes
My best festy story (that I can remember!)… about 4 years ago, I went to france for a festy with my flatmates and best friend. Caught a coach from waterloo with all our stuff, walking around feeling nervous and like we had 1 huge neon sign flashing over us going… whoop whoop! arrest those people now! They’re taking illegal drugs and subversive underground party vibes to the continent! (I know, not very hardcore!) To find 3 big coaches waiting to be loaded up with all our happy hippy party friends from all our parties & festies everywhere… fantastic!! Under the channel on the train, cooped up with nothing to do, we went exploring, and found a space, a fabulous space… suddenly the tap tap tapping of drums, bongos, whistles, tambourines… everyone starts clapping and smiling … beautiful colourful party people in that grey metal container, sharing smiles and laughter, dancing and spinning, an amazing moment under the sea. The guards came to see and stopped and smiled!! And laughed too! And said we’ve never had anything like this happen… wish it was always like this and we laughed and grinned some more at the riduculousness of it all.. so many years chased down, critisized and knocked down for just wanting to have a good time… a positive response… how totally cool!!! And what made me want to write this, is reading the list of bands on the CD you’re giving away, Solar quest, tribal drift… reminded me so much of that festy… they were all there it was just so amazing dancing under a huge, glowing french full moon in the biggest, inkiest, twinkliest sky, surrounded by dark, witchy trees swaying against the sky making you feel like… WOW… is this heaven? How can it be any better?… zion train on stage, the bass rumbling thru us making us smile, my friends turning into the sweet cartoon animals they turn into when I’m on mushrooms and loving it even more… laughing even more… heaven on earth, what a beautiful festy!
travellers with a huge troop carrier thingy
Few years ago my girlfriend and I decided to go to a local (well,not that local we are from South Wales) festy called the forest fair in the forest of dean.It had been a very wet week so we decided just to go up on the Saturday and come back the following day.We also decided to take our daughter,then about 13 or 14 with us,which is not a good idea knowing what our consumption of illegal substances at these events is usually like!
So off we go dressed in our finest mud monster clothes,arrive at the site,get thru the gate and immediately get stuck in 2 feet of mud.In the middle of the main track.Good start.Eventually manage to get pulled out by some travelers with a huge troop carrier thingy,nice one dudes! 🙂 And go off in search of our friends.Eventually find them camped by a path which is by now about a foot of mud,with a huge,and obviously invisible,hole in the middle of it.So we spent several very amusing hours getting stoned and watching everyone walk along the path,put their foot in the hole and fall on their arses in the mud.Highly amusing for us,but not for them,but you have to remember that we were very stoned by this time.My girlfriend now decides it would be a marvelous idea to drop some acid,so I get sent off in the mud on a mission to find some.So I bump into these totally trollied Scots guys who just happen to be like a mobile chemist shop.Bought a couple trips off em,they said they were the bolluxdon’t take too may at one! I”m like “yeah ok m8 heard it before ” innit!
Get back the the mrs and we take a look at them they are like postage stamp size with a sun on them.Thought it might be a good idea to try half first as we had the daughter with us to see how strong they were.That was the best idea of the day.As soon as I put it in my mouth I thought “shit” .It tasted like they had just been made,it was like putting a drop of liquid LSD on your tongue.So off we go,daughter in tow,making complete fools of ourselves,falling around in the mud,laughing hysterically,seeing all kinds of weird shit,you know the score.Surprisingly our daughter seemed to find nothing unusual in this!Or maybe we are always like that and we just haven’t noticed?? Scary thought! LOL
By now it is getting quite late and the dance tent,which was like a huge circus tent with no sides on,was beginning to look very inviting playing some banging techno so we bedded our daughter down with our m8’s kids in their tent and off we go to party.My girlfriend persuades me to eat the rest of the acid,I was a bit unsure as I was still pretty mashed off the first half but you know what women are like so I end up doing the rest of it.OMG what a bad move!By 1am I was unable to roll a joint,I was going around asking complete strangers to skin up for me!! LOL By 2am I was completely incapable of anything besides dancing,I couldn’t even speak,my mrs had to lead me around all night in case I got lost!!When it started to get light a few hours later she persuades me to go and get her some coffee from the van by the side of the tent,which doesn’t SOUND too major does it,but this is the first time for the last few hours I have actually had to communicate with somebody I didn’t know.After standing there looking lost for about 15 minutes the lady eventually gathers that I actually want something and I manage to order the coffee.Then of course comes the matter of paying for it,which confuses the hell out of me.She eventually gets so pissed off trying to get any sense out of me that she goes and starts serving someone else.I manage to sort out the money and try to pay but I have pissed her off so much that she totally ignores me,so in the end I just bugger off with the coffee.(if you happen to be reading this,coffee lady,very sorry but this is what drugs do to you!)
Now by about 6am we have realized how muddy wet and cold we are,and I decide I have come down enough to drive us home.Hmmmmmm. So we go to wake our daughter up and find she has actually been awake all night with our friends kids laughing at the state of us all in the dance tent!OOPS!
Off we toddle back to the car,get in,fire it up,feeling fine.drive (or slide mostly!!lol) down to the gate and get out onto the road,drive a hundred yards and decide we can’t sit in these clothes all the way home so we jump out and strip down to our kegs by the roadside,just as a police car drives past,they obviously have a sense of humor as they just drive past laughing,but this totally shits me up as I realize I am actually still tripping my tits off!But joint persuasion by 2 women eventually gets me to continue to drive home.This was pretty cool until we reached the A449 dual carriageway,which was in the middle of major roadworks with 1 lane open and cones each side all the way back to home in Newport!Well you can imagine can’t you,red and white stripes each side of me,white knuckles on the steering wheel,my mrs saying “are you all right babe?” To which I reply “NO I am not all right but I ain’t fucking stopping now !!” LOL
My god what a drive!Got home in 1 piece,climbed out the car still in our underwear just as all the neighbors are getting up to their great amusement.Took our clothes out the boot and threw them all straight in the bin,we must have been head to toe mud all night and didn’t even notice!!Then proceeded to spend the next 3 hours walking round the garden saying”Don’t the flowers look lovely” and shit like that. What a night!
So guys,and girls,if you ever come across a bunch of totally trollied scottish geezers selling acid the size of postage stamps that look like they made them themselves,buy it and get me their phone number!!
One of the weirdest festivals I went to wass in a place called Dimbly Bottom in Cornwall.
Its was freezing yet the facist local authority would not let anyone light fires. Wherever one started they would put it out. The Policeman that put ours out ended up with a Doc Martin on fire.
Amazingly enough this was a long time ago, there was a real hippys meet dance clash. In one tent the hippy hero Roy Harper was playing, in another some kid DJ`s from Cornwall. Roy Harper got so pissed with the Dj he got up off stage went to the next tent and took the needle off the record. Things went down hill from there.
To make things even weirder it was near mushroom season and soon the whole site was stumbling into unhappy security and shit police. Eventually it rained so much the gig was called off, and people were getting seriuos Hypothermia. Strager still was the main stage, that was sinking due to the whole underground being an ex tin mine.
A car load of us set off one fine night for a Pineapple Tribe party in deepest Surrey, armed only with a mobile number scrawled on a scrap of paper. After an hour of sparring with traffic on the M25, we were there, well almost. We tried the mobile, but the line was dead. Not to worry though, someone had been to the previous Pineapple party, in an abandoned quarry. So off we went to the quarry, stopping at every phone on the way to try the number again, and again.
We got to the quarry to find that it wasn’t an original idea. Amongst the half dozen or so cars there were two containing friends of ours. After everyone had finished expressing their surprise and deep joy at such a happy coincidence we got down to the serious matter of swapping infomation and thoughts about how we were going to get to this party. No one had had any joy with the mobile number. The only option left open was to keep on looking. Some decided to head for higher ground in a desperate attempt to spot some lights, or maybe catch a little bassline. Whilst others decided to put their fate in the hands of the universe and drive about randomly.
What followed next was pure Keystone Cops. I’d never been to Surrey before. I had no idea that it was such a rabbit warren of woods and country lanes, each criss-crossing the other. It seemed as though at every crossroads or junction we would see one of the cars from the quarry conference hammering along with bass pumping, smoke billowing, and the faces inside glued to the windows – all looking for this damn party. We seemed to be going round in circles. We’d end up at the same junctions, or in the same villages. But so would everyone else. You’d see them going in one direction down one lane, and then five minutes later, going the other way.
By this point we were all getting highly frustrated. As time wore on our hope of finding the party was gradually ebbing away. We’d spent over three hours in the car since leaving, and were looking at another hour to get back. I have rarely felt so low. The anticipation of going to a party is almost as good as being there. We’d all been so high, happy, and excited when we’d set out and now we, even the eternal optimists amongst us, had to admit defeat. We were going home tired and unpartied….
…at the very moment we’d given up hope…there it was…
The party was small. There was a camper van complete with decks and speaker walls in the bottom of a hollow surrounded by enormous trees – no wonder we couldn’t get through to the mobile. The music was full-on and so were the people – there was no one there who hadn’t striven to be there. The crowd kicked up a massive cloud of dust that marked out the party goers in the morning. The sloping floor meant you couldn’t help but gravite toward the speakers. It was wild…
…at some point a girl appeared from nowhere in the middle of the dance floor twirling a firestick…lookout! Psycho. She then began blasting flames just inches over everyone’s head. She followed this up with some nifty devil stick trickery before a bow, rapturous applause, and a disappearing act into the crowd. The energy just got cranked to 11.
More drums, dancing, and laughter…it was all over far to soon. It was a rollercoaster ride – heaven to hell, then back to heaven again, only higher. When the time came to go our separate ways, I shared a parting glance with one of the friends that I’d driven up with. I’ve never seen such a mixture of happiness and sorrow in someone’s face, nor shared a moment of communion quite like it. The world has been a better place since.
a party is for life,not just for christmas!!!
You never forget your first rave do you? My first one was a real eye-opener,as I was sixteen and never been out,even to a ritzy/nightclub before! My best mate had blown me out at the last minute,but I was not going to give up that easy.I realy had to find out for myself what this rave bizniz was all about.The venue was the astoria in london and I arrived about two hours early.This was not a problem as there was allready a crowd of wating outside,I did wonder what the horn things around their neck were though.Things were fairly quiet until a group of hare-krishnas came walking along the alleyway from their nearby temple. Seeing us there,they very kindly started to dance and chant enthusiasticly.The queing ravers couldn’t resist joining in,and the hare-krishnas were quite happy for them to do so.So we all ended up dancing in a large circle up and down the alleyway, much to the surprise of passing pedestrians.
Anyway,after getting some bad attitude from the serious doormen it was into the main room/arena,which was done out in u/v things and had a multicolour lazer.I was quite impressed with all this as I’d never seen stuff like this before.As I’d got in early It was still fairly empty so I sat on a dance platform for a while.Eventualy a bloke and babe came and sat next to me and started to chat,they explained all about the culture of raving.They noticed I was a bit self-concious about dancing,so they advised me to let the music take control(this was very good advice as it worked!)They also told me about the chill out room, (which proved a good idea after several hours of mad dancing)and who to get some safe E’s from.Talking of E’s,they were brilliant,I felt so connected to the music,and what had felt strange before felt like it was specially ment for me.Anyway I had the best night of my life.I danced like I’d never done before,met some mad/lovely people,and of course got totally hooked on it all.In fact 10 years after I’m still going out and having a mental time most weekends(much to the annoyance of family ect who always said it was just a phaze I’d grow out of!!) Hope you like my recollections,and remember: a party is for life,not just for christmas!!!
Glastonbury in chains
A report by environmental health and the no fun brigade on Glastonbury 2000.
With the post beanfield / stoney cross / and the general stress that travellers were under at the time in the mid ’80’s, I was quite involved with the politics of the situation. Now, because of the trouble around the stonehenge festival, and the influence that that had on gbury, it meant that to keep licence / maintain the public liability insurance, and hence be able to keep the event, they had to start to exclude the travelling population. Ie, the regulation ‘scapegoats’ , to be thrown to the lions, to appease their business eh?
Its been on ongoing situation with hundred of thousands, having a nice time, but a few thousand of us have felt / been excluded for years now.
This is what was started before the 2000 event ………… and all this now the case for the 2002 event.
Guys like me have been shouting about some of the tools and powers (licences can be just another way of saying NO, rather than the safety implied) that THEY have been taking onto themselves, to control gatherings.
Well, we’ve been here before. but it appears to be Glastonbury’s go next.
Just too many want to go, and there are no other ‘proper’ festivals left.
So, what you do is whack up the ticket price, in proportion to demand. Police it, keep out the riff-raff. Simple really. If they don’t, they haven’t got a festival.
This of course is going to put one against another on the issues that will arise.
Who is a greenfield person, an eco-warrior with truck doing a stall, new age traveller, site worker wots’ paid to be there. Tons of stress coming! The objective, of course, of those raising these objections, to attempt a cultural / ethnic cleansing of the festivals that remain …
Can’t tell you how cross I am! 30 years work with voluntary agencies and general commitment, to have such an ‘alternative’ event STOLEN and then to be excluded or, have it sold back to us.
a field near the dance tent
At Glasters 1995, we made the mistake of camping in a field near the dance tent, which was inhabited mainly by Scouse nutters who seemed to enjoy mugging people as they walked past (it also had the worst loos). After a near-incident with a Scouser that could have turned nasty, I settled down at my tent, which was located further up the field. Shotly afterwards, my friends returned with a tripping, paranoid Geordie hard man in tow. He thought Ruth was from a family who had double-crossed him and was acting in a threatening manner, telling us he had a sawn-off shotgun hidden under his clothes. The trauma was a bit too much, and I had to go for an uphill walk to the flushing toilets to calm myself down, missing half of Orbital’s performance in the process. That was also the year I saw a naked man doing a poo right near the Jazz stage ! I have since learned to stay in the Green Fields.
Eric Mattocks, squatters’ activist
born may 30 1928; died January 18, 1999
Eric Mattocks, who has died suddenly in his sleep aged 70, was one of the liveliest and best-loved characters in the London squatting movement. A rough, roguish, huge-hearted man, he was a stalwart of the Islington-based Advisory Service for Squatters (ASS) for almost 25 years.
There were few squatting campaigns in that period that did not bear the mark of his practical activism or echo with the sound of his unforgettable laugh.
Brought up in working-class Hackney before and during the second world war, Eric never departed from his roots in London’s East End. He had been a burglar before he was a squatter, and turned the skills he learned in that earlier profession to good use when his own experience of homelessness persuaded him that no one should remain homeless while houses stood empty.
On the few occasions that he could be persuaded to speak about his housebreaking past, he was quick to insist that it was strictly confined to ‘rich people’s houses Kent, Surrey and Blackheath’. He despised ‘nicking off the working class’ and the rise of that sort of mean crime on the estates of Hackney and elsewhere.
There was little that he would not do to help the many vulnerable people who turned to the squatting movement when all else had failed. For his 50th birthday Eric was presented by his squatter friends with the ‘Order of the Golden Crowbar’ (actually a gold spray-painted crowbar) in recognition of the number of squats he had opened up.
The squatting movement of the 1970s and 1980s was at the heart of the political and cultural turbulence that produced, among much else, punks and punk rock. Although described as a ‘proto-punk’ for his anarchic politics and spikey ways by one of his younger fellow activists at ASS, Eric was never a fan of that particular music scene.
At squatters’ benefits he was often to be found taking the money on the door, where, equipped with industrial ear protectors, he would question the eager punters’ sanity in ‘paying good money for that bleedin’ ‘orrible racket’.
He was also legendary in some music circles for once forcing Joe Strummer and his mates in the Clash, then on their way to stardom, to clean up the rubbish outside their squat. It was ‘giving squatters a bad name. I don’t care what bloody pop group they are.’
Mattocks had first become involved in the organised squatting movement around the time of the eviction of the Elgin Avenue squatters in the summer of 1975, when barely a day passed without news of one squat or another hitting the headlines. He became treasurer of the London Squatters Union and was one of the founders of ASS, which he also served as treasurer until his death.
When ASS hit one of its periodic financial crises, it was Eric who raised the money to keep it going; when the organisation was firebombed in 1981, it was Eric who got an emergency telephone line installed and had the centre back in action the next day. He did all this while working as a school gardener for the Inner London Education Authority, where he was an active trade unionist and shop steward.
Perhaps Eric’s greatest triumph was the Greater London Council’s squatters’ amnesty in 1977-78, when some 12,000 squatters in GLC properties were given authorised occupancies. Eric had found a kindred spirit at the GLC in John Snowcill, the senior official with responsibility for squatted properties. The two discovered they had attended the same primary school and formed a close friendship, which was to culminate in the plan for an amnesty. Eric played an essential role in its implementation chewed over with Snowcill at regular Friday sessions in a Waterloo pub.
Among those who turned up to a London Squatters Union meeting in the late 1970s was Catherine, with whom Eric was to form a relationship that lasted for the rest of his life. Their two young children have lost their father, who loved them as dearly as he was loved by others, far too soon.
North London Street Party
‘Welcome to Tottenham!’ were the ironic first words of the local police commander to his superior sent from outside the borough to take charge of a Saturday’s proceedings, Reclaim the Streets-style. ‘Steer clear of north east London this afternoon, because Reclaim the Streets have taken it,’ announced Greater London Radio during its traffic update…
But rewind for a while to a Euston station noon, where a big crowd was already gathering itself into a lovely vibe: folks millarounding, drinking and drumming, cycles massing, and even the sun out to wish us well (completely unexpectedly, as threatened thunder showers didn’t materialise all day. Earlier predictions that we bring ‘RTS weather’ to all our parties were absolutely spot on.) Flyers went round headed ‘Freedom is there for the taking – so let’s take it!’, asking everyone to ‘Follow Your Flag’ as well as a plea for a peaceful day. Tiny coloured sticky dots were handed out to a few, echoing the colours of the flags but not much more in fact than a diversionary tactic. The flags were majestic and beauteous, of red, yellow, green and blue with the fine old RTS jagged diagonal stripe sewn on at one end of many, thus making it flutter most fetchingly.
The police – and not many of them at that – remained standoffish, though cameras were of course everpresent. Their attitude even before we reached Tottenham was very laissez faire, and one of many examples right through the day of the their letting us through their fingers. Whether that was because of apathy, inadequacy, lack of funds, fear of conflict or tacit support of our aims (!), it’s still hard to say, although I suspect a combination of all but the last suggestion. (Police vans had been spotted on Camden High Street at 11.30am interestingly, so maybe that was their favoured location.)
‘D’you reckon it’s possible to run out of adrenalin?’ I asked a flag-wielder as the psyche-up drums went silent and the waiting became wearing at about 12.40. Then suddenly the now-distributed flags began to move as with a whoop and a holler we headed for the station at a frighteningly snail-like pace. A few of us drifted down to the Victoria line platform northbound, no police in sight for many minutes, but then the flow of people dried up, causing creeping panic as we let one northbound train go, with 5 minutes left before the next one. Emissaries chased up the stopped escalators for info, the flow started again as the train pulled in and bemused party people were literally shoved down the platform to make room for all those sure to follow. The train sat there for 5 minutes as we sweated, joked and waited for the doors to close us in. A long-suffering woman with her daughter took a deep breath and waited; I imagine she thought us a football or Fleadh (a big local festival) crowd and thought no more about it.
At this point, unknown to the first (and only?) trainload of funsters, Euston tube was closed, leaving the majority of the crowd to drift down to King’s Cross with it seems no idea of the location. There a spontaneous party happened, with the help of a speaker stuck out the window of a sympathetic residents’ flat. It was around this time that the police shut down Euston Road (one of London’s busiest and vilest clogged arteries) in both directions for some time. Finding King’s Cross also closed, this hard-working crew walked from there all the way to Seven Sisters (which must be four miles at least) in a spontaneous pedestrianised critical mass which passed off peacefully except for a few threats from irate motorists and some reputedly overzealous retaliation. This good old-fashioned march finally hooked up with the Tottenham posse at about 3pm, having accidentally but brilliantly multiplied many times the effect of the party itself. In retrospect, it’s clear now that stewards with some idea of the location should have stayed at Euston instead of charging down the Tube – one for future party planners to take note of.
Meanwhile, back in central London at oneish, the two-wheeled version of Critical Mass headed off in the direction of Seven Sisters’ Road, at least 500 bikes providing the third pincer in what turned out to be a fiendishly clever piece of planning. This planing combined with the instinctive genius of the crowd to provide a perfect triple whammy, and that’s even before taking into account the triumphant proceedings that went down in Brixton at the same time.
Back in the Victoria Line sardine can we moved off, at each station the partygoers having to be restrained from tumbling off the train. ‘Don’t get off at the next stop’ the word went round…’not this one.’ A little disbelief filtered through the carriages as Highbury & Islington came and went…Finsbury Park..? Then the next stop was the one, the longest ride between station of any I’ve endured. The crowd seemed strangely relaxed as we pulled in, as if they already knew that taking the street would be about as trouble-free as crossing the road. A police escort of about 3 arrived with us into the Seven Sisters’ (Tottenham) daylight, where the crowd proceeded to stand on…the pavement, not taking the road since promised blockades were yet to materialise. Phone calls were made, we walked slowly to the lights, the lights turned red, some urged for us to take the road, but other wisdom was wiser and we waited, still with said skeletal police presence. The lights went green, then red again, and at last two cars pulled up at the lights, folks jumped out and that was our cue. We swarmed onto the road, no raging motors to negotiate off the site, system 1 already on. Orange smoke from a maritime flare marked the other end of our space, which a few of us chased up to secure. The systems’ curtain sides were pulled across to reveal the rig in all its glory, also distracting and deflecting the mass of funsters from the less attractive job of taking the end of the road, so voices were raised and cajoling was heard. A tripod team chased past me covered in sweat, victims of many sorts of chaos partly triggered by inactive mobile phones. System 1 kicked in, by which time 2 others had made it into the space with their vans.
Those first hours were a couple of the happiest I can remember – wall to wall smiles impossible to wipe off so many faces. Passionate hugs for everyone who helped make it happen, walking up and down the street dazed, thrilled and inspired at the sight of the kids’s sandpit and homemade spaceship setting up, homemade pissoirs installed over handy drains, carpets and deckchairs laid down, free food stall getting in place, makeshift barricades built where there were no tripods or dead cars (of our own I hasten to add). And of course the banners, a lovely slow-burning way to see the space evolve and emerge from its pupa during the first hours: ‘Liberate Space’ (with Canary Wharf – London’s high-rise monument to corporate power over community power – strangled by vines!), ‘Reclaimed Street’ (with I think a butterfly), ‘Carnival of the Dispossessed’ (a beauty which nearly became, after a fourth ‘s’ was added, ‘Carnival of the Dyslexic’.) Also a big shout to the beautifully hieroglyphed kids’ space canopy. The paint on the tube workers’ banner had flaked off so sadly didn’t make it, though happily a tube worker (from the Rail and Maritime Transport workers’ union) did make it with a load of leaflets for upcoming strike action against tube privatisation and downward-spiralling working conditions. (Happily, and coincidentally, there was a pro-tube workers’ banner and RMT presence in Brixton as well.) Sadly invites to Kurdish groups and the striking Hillingdon women bore no fruit, and the political relevance of the day (beyond the act of reclamation itself) was that RMT link and a small brave banner citing injustice, poverty etc. The temporary building site walls provided a canvas for anyone with a spraycan to express themselves, which was democratic but ultimately garbled. Getting local hip hop-style graffiti artists in might have been a nice idea to mix with the straight agitprop we left behind us.
We’d made a nice leaflet explaining what we were up to to locals and inviting them in, which was a good idea though not distributed widely enough, and not always enough to assuage a few irate women who wanted access for their cars and Tesco open (shut down by the police ridiculously, as they did to the pub on site.) I spoke to a few shopkeepers, especially a middle-aged West Indian who ran a Rastafarian shop on the street itself, a nice bloke who sympathised with our aims but said ‘Why do you come here and shut down small black businesses – where’s that going to get you? If you want to attack multinational corporations, why don’t you have your party on all the petrol forecourts?’ (Another woman said later ‘Go and do it to Tony Blair, not here where we live!’) Valid, useful points perhaps, though those locations would most likely be straight up riots. Anyway, I popped into another legal advice type shop on site which was locked up ominously (as if they were freaked out or disgusted,) but when I persuaded the man inside to open the door he seemed absolutely fine. An Asian man in the next door clothes and bags shop was very positive too, as were many passers-by on the pavement who seemed a bit bemused by my statement/invitation that now the whole street had magically become the pavement.
Certainly we should go back and chat to the people on that street and in that area, especially since both London party locations are heartlands of the city’s black community, (and since many people in Tottenham believe the police would have stormed in if the party had been predominantly black.)
But what of the party? A couple of woman stiltwalkers helped give it a lovely surreal edge, pacing through the dancers and fascinating the kids. Since we failed to get a PA sorted in time, we lost the bands set to play. The acoustic fiddle type folks who were ‘booked’ (no contract, no cash you understand, in fact just a phone commitment) to come didn’t make it, lost perhaps to the less frenzied delights of Cambridge’s Strawberry Fayre happening on the same day. So that left just the 4 systems, random very cool drummers led by a very bewitching gent in fetching Rapunzel wig and a couple of didj’s. System 1 took centre stage (being first on and the biggest rig) and banged its techno thing for at least three hours, then the next time my regular wanderings took me past again, the crowd were getting down very nicely to a bit of a Latin set. Luckily the (cycle) system 2 gave us some rare and urgently required mixitup, including an especially nice spinning of Mr. Murvin’s dancefloor classic ‘Police and Thieves’. System 3 were less interesting, playing a solid wall of techno, lapped up by the punters but disappointing to those of us longing for the spice of life, (variety, that is.) System 4 gave us an interesting set, sending out drum’n’bass and even some ragga-style toasting over the backing towards the end, which I hope was live as it would have meant we made a small but significant link with the mainly black population of Tottenham. The crowd were certainly loving it at that late moment.
Police presence throughout was fluffy, even down to a request from a friendly underling PC asking for a system to play the Levellers, another asking that we go on till 7am, another saying ‘Don’t go until we’ve had a few hours of overtime,’ ie. after 4pm. However, their watch and wait tactics – not forming aggressive, oppressive lines at either end etc – perhaps lulled us into a false sense of security, allowing many of them to take up residence on either side of our space. And naturally their surveillance bullshit was working overtime.
And so perhaps to the end. When it came to planning our getaway, a few wanted to hold out as long as all was well, the rest thought 8.30 music shutoff and 9pm move off en masse around the systems to Tottenham Hale the best solution. This was reported to the police head honcho, who heard the plan with his gathered cronies then insisted immediately that he had absolutely no interest in the systems – they could go – but he wouldn’t allow 4000 people to march up into Tottenham or Edmonton. He wanted the systems to head south instead and for people to disperse slowly.
The crowdbeast is by now shot through with euphoric insanic unhingedness, unaware that the music is about to shut down. Which it does, simultaneously at 8.35. Then the word comes quickly that the other systems are set up to go along with the change of plan at 9pm, the time now being 8.45. Another quick chat with the police leads them to promise to remove their line and let the vans out. As the vans turn and begin to move together a few try to move happy sluggish stoned people on sofas and deckchairs from the exit route and someone else surreptitiously removes the padlocked banner crossing the High Road just as the convoy arrives. Gradually the vans inch out of our space, surrounded by huge numbers of us, the police remaining true to their word and staying out of the way, vigilantly. Some scary moments ensue as the crowd parts reluctantly to let the vans through, sending them roaring into the north London night each with a big cheer.
Then back to the still busy (with people, not cars thankfully) road, where heart cockles were warmed to see quite a few noble souls with bin bags (100 bought there and still not enough) picking up junk. My recycling hopes were ridiculously unrealistic, as others had predicted. Three partygoers escorted a local man out of the space in his smart new motor, which was untouched even though it had been on site all day. He’d he’d hung on and had a good day it seemed, oblivious to any potential threat to his wheels, even though our two blockade cars had been attacked and torn to pieces by a load of kids and adults, one even turned on its side at one point to let all its liquors leak onto the pavement and into the water supply. Luckily it was righted again pretty quickly, and even then a kid of about 8 dropped a piece of smoking bog paper onto the patch of petrol; someone chased him into a nearby garden, holding his shoulders and haranguing him mercilessly until his older sister came over and demanded that he be released. Never part of the masterplan, it was nevertheless somehow inevitable that the cars would be torched, and so they were, luckily later at about 10pm. Two huge clouds of acrid black smoke billowed into the just-dark sky, which was our cue to scarper to the pub to avoid what looked like the inevitable confrontation between people hanging around and riot vans moving in. Actually things stayed fairly quiet as far as I know, a PC’s prediction at 8.40 that it was going to blow ‘because three people told me so’ proving to be little more than scaremongering.
The following Monday the Guardian ran a positive piece only perhaps marred (or enhanced, depending on your view) by a gorgeous full colour shot of a stoned bloke dancing between two flaming motors. A local man’s quote at the end of the piece was inspiring as well as cautionary for any future attempts to politicise the street party: “It’s great. When we came out of the Tube and saw all these people we were completely entranced. I’m not quite sure what they are saying but whatever it is I think it is fantastic.”
This street party was five thousand stories, all enmeshing and intertwining over the course of eight hours on a patch of carless concrete in the heart of Tottenham. It’s the story of the crop-topped woman lost inside her techno heaven; or of the naked, thrilled two year old covered in green paint being dragged around the party on top of a 10 foot strip of banner material; or the poor sod who’s tripod collapsed under him and disappeared in an ambulance (but was released from hospital the next day); or the old smartly-dressed Jamaican man who said, on reflection, in a slow, considered voice, that young people were fundamentally good, not like the way they were shown to be…No single record of the day can hope to fit all those completely individual worldviews into one sack and present it as what really happened.
This piece is consciously light on analysis and self-criticism – let that emerge a little more gradually and consensually. It seems safe to say that this gathering of homo sapiens was as unwieldy, flawed and beautiful as any other, but the fact remains that it came together to resist the ‘dark forces’, it banished corporate culture, it partied…and it made the sun shine.
Genetically policing the news
On Monday 20th July, digital video footage sold to HTV by Bristol network ‘i-Contact’ made top news all day. Midday, 6.30 and 10.25 bulletins in the West of England led with film of, and interviews with, exasperated citizens pulling up Genetically Modified crops ¾ of the population say are unsafe.
The next day HTV’s news editor, John Alcock, got a visit from the police. They wanted to know who and where the film came from and to take a copy of the original tape back to the station as evidence. John made it clear to them that they’d have to get a court order first and handed them a copy of the previous night’s broadcast.
Two weeks later the next filming by i-Contact was even more newsworthy:
The high court had said a GM test field next to an organic farm near Totnes in Devon was illegal but was powerless to destroy it.
On Monday 3rd August a group of activists decided to enforce the High Court decision by pulling up crops again and they tipped off i-Contact. This time though, cameraman Ben Edwards was stopped in his tracks. Before he’d got any worthwhile film, before the protesters had even got to the offending field, Ben was arrested with the protesters on ‘ suspicion of conspiracy to cause criminal damage’.Ben was kept in Totnes police station for the maximum 24 hours while a team from Trinity Road police station in Bristol searched his home.
Fellow i-Contact founder and ex-BBC radio reporter Tony Gosling was there when the police arrived. He checked their warrant then watched helplessly as the police went through Ben’s room earmarking the i-Contact computer, video tapes and piles of documents.
While the police were still there Tony called The Press Gazette who were immediately anxious to cover the story and he was interviewed for about ten minutes by Andrew Johnston. When Tony put the phone down a policemen asked him who he had been talking to and Tony told him. The article was subsequently pulled. Tony was warned by the policeman that by calling the press he could be “perverting the cause of justice”. Andrew Johnston maintains that the non-running of the story was the Press Gazette’s own editorial decision.
Keeping a watchful eye on the police going through Ben’s room Tony then called HTV’s newsdesk. The news editor immediately sent a cameraman round. As he arrived outside the five policemen beat a hasty retreat with armfuls of Ben’s belongings, including the i-Contact computer and video tapes. HTV’s cameraman filmed them as they drove off. This and Ben’s overturned bedroom were on HTV news Tuesday evening.
With the loss of the computer i-Contact have been effectively put out of action. One of the services they had been providing was an environmental video e-mail list with an international list of subscribers.
Ben was released on Tuesday evening without charge on police bail and ordered to return to Totnes police station on September 24th. The police refused to return his £2000 Sony VX-1000 digital camcorder ensuring no more i-Contact coverage of the GM food issue.
When Tony contacted Inspector Patrick at Totnes, who signed the search warrant, he was told the camera would be retained for the foreseeable future as “evidence is prioritised”. When asked how the camera could be evidence, the detective in charge of the case, Peter Gartrell, replied: “we don’t have facilities to copy the tape, so we need to keep the camera”.
This episode raises serious questions about extension of police powers to journalists and the influence of the global food giants on police priorities. Monsanto and their colleagues at MAFF were clearly unhappy about the coverage HTV gave to the GM issue and seem to be involved in a conspiracy far more concerning than that alleged of the protesters.
After a big HTV story critical of GM experiments they decided not just to clamp down on the crop-pullers – but also to cover their tracks by clamping down on i-Contact, the messenger. It also looks possible that covert influence has been brought to bear to stifle critical discussion of the police raid even in the UK Journalists’ weekly “The Press Gazette”. Why is the kind of story that concerns so many journalists being kept from them?
The extent of police complicity in this successful attempt to manipulate perception of current affairs, and stifle discussion within the journalistic community must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
i-Contact video network
on mobile at Glastonbury 2000
I had never bothered with glasto before this year … but read on:
One of the nights and we were a bit tired and a bit worse for wear .. we had met up with some mates (and you know who you are) and were deciding what to do after we had spent the last couple of hours in the ambient lounge listening to liquid laugh (i think) and one of our group got a call on there mobile! (This being my first time at glasto i had no idea of what it was like and where anything was … and how big it was)
We were actually still standing outside the lounge and the person on the phone was trying to relay directions to where they were so that we could go over and meet them as one there mates was DJ-ing in “A Tent”. So after 5 minutes deliberation one of our group told us they knew where it was and off we went…. through the Jazz field (right across it) up a really really dark tree covered track to a big field with 000’s of people in it all with fire? (i later found out this was the stone circle) and on and on into more fields until the person we were following finally decided they were going the wrong way .. where we really wanted to go was to the GLADE!!!! which if you were at glasto this year you would know is across the way from the lounge about 5 minutes walk … you can see it if you stand out side!!! So about 2/3 hours after we first started out we ended up in the glade .. found the person we were looking for and then promptly left cos we was knackered and wanted a kip!
But saying that had we not got “lost” we would have missed all manner of things .. the tepee field (teepee?) .. the stone circle .. the green fields … and a whole load of other stuff that we would never had ventured out to look at especially … so all in all it was a trek but what an experience .. i will be going back … love it!!!
“Too the leaser of dis place…….
We hope that you are not too mad,
‘cos of the good time we have just had.
We haven’t caused you damage mate,
even though the dance ran late.
3000 people were here tonight,
making use of this place,
It’s not a crime to come together,
in places sometimes left forever.
We come in convoys 5 miles long,
so many thousands can’t be wrong.
So, once again, we’re sorry for the
broken lock on your front door,
but, being truthful, we can’t say,
that we regret in any way,
bringing back community
to a town that lost it,
Peace, Love, Unity & Respect.
Exodus of Luton
(This note left on warehouse door after a party in Dunstable, Bedfordshire)
What do you mean by ‘drugged up club casualties’ ?
I had a brilliant time on Saturday. For much of it I was barely able to talk.
Am I a club casualty too ?
Was that big guy on the dancefloor staring at you?
Was that girl taking the piss out of your dancing?
Was it nice just relaxing in the corner awhile?…
Until there was a torch in your eyes, someone asking you if you were ok, telling you to sit up, and you couldn’t remember where you were or what was going on.
Were you dancing, smiling, loving it “in the place where you belong”?
I probably wouldn’t be in work until Wednesday
last year was my first trip to Glastonbury and with the thanks of Guil fin i played a terribly pissed set (which all the other trashed people enjoyed 🙂 after which i went off to enjoy the other festivities. i entered the dance tent just as fat boy slim started his set and the place was ROCKING… it was awesome. thanks to going out with one of the crew i was lifted over the barriers and carried back stage, where i got a very privilidged seat in the house watching the crowd ROAR to the Chemical brothers who were doing a dj set. I have to admit that there wasn’t enough visuals for me as they weren’t bouncing around like the lunatics that I have come to love and work with. And i told them so, not that it meant much to them.. after many days and nights of seriously hard partying, sex and pleanty o rug taking it was time to leave. Sunday night was upon us and i had work the next morning. “I’ll just drop my back-stage pass back to the lads” I said to much protest from my friends but i was adament. i trecked across the mile of land and found my way to the dance tent. I had what i thought was a quick line of K and stumbled without much success in what I thought was the direction of my lift. I ended up outside the festival and asked a kindly Policeman where the frig I was. he was ummm useless.. i then got sprung upon by some guy hiding in the bushes who grabed at me, but only got away with my jumper. I continued and finally after 2.5 hrs i got back to the site to find my lift had gone! Oh NO! Trembling, alone and very unhappy i stumbled back across the fields to the dance tent once more where i forget what happened next, only the pictures in my camera told the story (Thank you whoever you were who took those shots of me in that terrible state!!!) I awoke the next day in the back of a van alone and freezing cold. it was 1.30pm and I was definately not going to make it to work. After several hours of pacing around the fields in anger I phoned work and told them what had happened and that I probably wouldn’t be in work until Wednesday, they were thankfully very understanding. I helped the dance tent pack away and very late that evening clambered into the back of the van to head for home.. Finally i reached home and there is nothing in the world quite like a hot bath.. My expedition has taught me care and caution.. but I’ll never stop having fun and to say that I hadn’t had an adventure would be a lie. I had, and one of the most exotic of my life. I’m glad that everything has a positive side and that we can learn from every experience we have. it is all in the eye of the beholder and although it may seem like I’d had a bit of a nightmare I’m bloody glad that I went, had a storming good time and lived to tell this tale to you now.. Be kind to one another for one day it might be you…. one more thing, if you are going to do k, stay at home for reality is not what it seems…
[ps, this is good advice … a strapping 6ft GuilFIN lad was mugged for his sunglasses whilst boxed on K and wearing a tutu in the Traveller’s Field at Glasto this year. So beware …]
The music of The Roots is playing. It is very loud indeed. The speaker system is so good that the sound spreads out like a transparent carpet 10 feet above my head. And above the music, multi-coloured Temple Décor banners hang pulsing to the changes in light. Dancers move all around – packed in as tight as possible. I am kneeling by the head of Tony as he lies on the ground. He, a medic, Tony’s mate, and I are in a small area among the moving feet. Tony is unconscious.
“He won’t die will he?” shouts his mate in to my ear.
“No. He’ll be fine. The ambulance is coming. They’ll sort him out.” I yellback. Tony’s mate slumps slightly forward. He gently strokes Tony’s arm. “Oh Tony, Tony, please don’t die.” He starts to sob his head lolling forward. I put my arm around him and hold him steady. I feel him move toward me. We kneel together and together watch the medic gently try to revive Tony. He does not respond. Time passes. The rich sound of The Roots, achingly beautiful, tempting and exciting passes around us and through us. A disturbing live soundtrack to the tragedy that is before us.
“Hang in there, man”. I shout. “Hang in there for Tony”. He nods positively and visibly stiffens his back. After a couple of minutes I feel he is stronger and stand up. My yellow fire steward’s jacket shines out brilliantly in the UV light. I am glowing. A girl at the edge of the crowd in front is trying to tell my reaction to the drama at my feet. I just want to cry. Now standing, the full force of the manic energy present in the dance tent is evident. Everywhere moving bodies. Everywhere a riot of colour. Everywhere excitement. I pull a bottle of water from my bag and pass it to Tony’s mate. He nods and drinks and nods again as he passes the bottle back to me. He’s doing great.
And then the ambulance crew are among us, as more stewards appear and we clear a bigger circle and the crew place Tony on a stretcher and we push back the crowd to create a passage back to the ambulance standing 50 feet away at the entrance to the dance tent. The crowd is so deeply packed in that people only 3 or 4 behind us did not even know we were kneeling there and look surprised as stewards run ahead clearing the stretcher which is speedily brought outside.
The medics get Tony’s mate in the back of the ambulance with Tony and as they are driven away I see the relief in his face. Relief at activity. Relief to be in the hands of medical staff. Relief that everything will be OK for we trust and believe in our medical people implicitly for they can perform miracles.
I exchange a glance with the medic and we part – she backstage, I to the madly dancing crowd so full of excitement and colour. The music is so lush, so powerful, so loud. It immediately lifts my spirits. I have just been involved with a highly emotive piece of successful teamwork and I am impressed. Deeply impressed. The glory that is the music of The Roots shines deep in to my heart. I think that I will never hear this music again without thinking of Tony’s mate and the love he showed for his unconscious friend. Later I discover Tony came round after 1 hour and is fine. Right there, right then, I could only feel God and know he was where he always was, for ecstasy has many forms and many sides to it. Nigel Mee
We had planned to do the party in a barn at a quiet spot about 10 miles from Stonehenge, but due to uncontrollable rumours (not started by us) the police decided we were going to try to break into Stonehenge. (it did occur to us as a possibility, but only after everyone told us we were going to do it anyway!)
We were met at the meeting point by some of Wiltshire Constabulary… we knew we wouldn’t be able to go to the site without being followed, so we decided to talk to them. They told us about a so-called hard target area around Stonehenge. This was basically an exclusion zone with another name….
After hours of attempted negotiation, we finally spoke to the superintendant (Andy Hollingshead) and he said to me “You have my personal assurance that we will allow you to take the convoy to your intended site, and any police officers or vehicles you see on the way will be merely spectating. We don’t want to stop your party, we don’t want trouble.” No-one told the police where we were going.
We led the four mile long convoy from Amesbury carpark to the site (a wikkid setup with 5 barns miles from houses, and lots of trees around to stop the noise travelling), we were followed by a chopper, military police, and vans of police. Just as we pulled up, the police cut across fields and stormed the site, arresting some of the organisers.
They seized Dionisus sound system (from Milton Keynes), two systems from Bristol, and Stinky Pink System. We managed to laugh off the arrests, as they didn’t seem very serious. (they did offer to un-arrest us, but that would have meant paperwork, so we settled for staying arrested, reasoning that they couldn’t arrest us again that way). After they had read us the riot act we were turned around and we led the convoy back to Amesbury Carpark, past Stonehenge. At this point, the convoy slowed down to 5mph and the noise was deafening as people expressed their disgust to the assembled police.
We made it back to the carpark to decide what to do, closely followed by a few police vans. We were told of a travellers site on the Wiltshire border where they already had system going and wanted us to join them. It seemed like the best idea, as police are often reluctant to venture too far into established traveller sites.
We tried to talk to the police, and explain that we needed to compromise (by this time we had gathered about 600 people) and that they wouldn’t be able to get rid of everyone peacefully, we needed somewhere to go. The inspector turned round to us and said “what makes you think people will go if you tell them? You lot couldn’t organise a piss-up….” etc.
A display of unity was needed. We called all the party people over to one end of the carpark, everyone got out of their cars, and stood silently to hear what we had to say. Cockney made a speech and told everyone what the situation was with the police… he told people we had an alternative site lined up on the border of Wiltshire, we would pass directions around the crowd discreetley and that we needed to leave in small groups. We had an hour to get out. 15 minutes later the carpark was clear and everyone was on their way to the party. Better organised that a military decamp. The Inspector looked suitably shocked. We call it organised chaos.
We now only had one system left (Junkchun 10 from Reading) and they were pulled twice and escorted out of the county. So with no rigs left we made our way to the site party to rescue some of the night.
We hear on the news about a “disturbance” at Stonehenge the next night. BBC news claimed that Mutant Dance were responsible for inciting people to riot. They claimed our website was outlining plans to charge at the stones…. bollocks.
None of the systems were impounded, but told they would be if they returned to the county. We can guarantee you will hear more about the lying bastard coppers as we intend to shout about it till everyone knows not to trust the police. Our phones are still tapped, and our emails are being scanned. (we were told by them that this was how they knew so much about our plans)
A word of warning: nothing is private anymore…. if you are into organising parties, landlines, mobiles and emails are NOT the way to do it.
We tried an experiment on Saturday which involved being honest with the police, trying to negotiate and seeking a compromise. We were fuct over. May that be a lesson to us all. Thanks to those that made the effort to come along, especially the guys with the systems. Maybe another time eh?
Have we been put off? Have we fuck. Our next party will be in a safer, quieter place, but we will be back!
My sister is a crustie
My sister is what I call a crustie. Her hair is one big dred, she wears tea-cosies, dead women’s dresses, moonboots, and lives in trees/benders/tunnels.
She smells, goes to festivals, free parties, and is generally very sound. She wouldn’t pay a fiver to get into a yuppie bar in brixton, and listen to pop dance music.
She would however spend it on helping to protest against wanton destruction of the environment and cider.
entire Reading Police possy
Quick report on Saturday’s WAC party, which had to be one of the best so far. Took a little while to get going due to the freezing cold, but ended on a warm high.
Meeting point was a little dodgey as the entire Reading Police possy, or so it seemed, desceneded and started turning people away. Despite the initial problems, by 1am it all kicked off, in yet another railway tunnel, far away from prying eyes and ears.
Matt kicked off with a cracking techno set, but maybe a little too early for the crowd. It was so bloody cold, no-one could get into bouncing that early on. Bryan Black gradually warmed up the revellers with this ambient-uplifting-funky house set, and they were just about ready to roll.
Steve took over the decks playing hard house/trance raising the temprature ready for Sam to blow us all away with her brilliant techno choons.
What I should add is that the police were very prominent all through the night. They arrived at the site around 1.30am. Had a quick look in, spoke to one of the main organisers and called in their supervisor. British Rail police were also on the scene and wanted to stop the party straight away. Thames Valley Police instructed them not to and gave the guys permission to carry on till 6am, providing there were no hassles. They even asked for invites to the next and were seen bouncing around the car park, trying to keep warm. Respect. They realised it would be more trouble to stop us, than to let us carry on, as there were no noise complaints, no safety dangers and definately no trouble.
Just wish this was the case at other parties. The report from United Systems Party disgusted me. I was up for going to that one, but ended up at Strawberry Sundae instead. Wise move by the sounds of things. Just shows that police bullying and brutality still exists when coppers start trying to pick fights with fluffy minded party people. In a world where my boyfriends house was burgles, the police knew who’d done it, where they lived, and where they stashed the goods, but would do nothing, it seems crazy that they waste time breaking up parties which are causing no disturbance or harm.
LABRYNTH ATTEMPTED MEET UP
Ended up at Strawberry Sundae as Labrynth have closed all their rooms for refurbishment except Happy Hardcore and Jungle room. Arranged to meet Niz, and managed to do so, even if it was at 8am, despite the fact I’d smiled at him loadsa time during the night, without knowing who he was. I’d given up asking guys if their name was Niz after about 10 rejections. Never mind, nice to meet ya Niz and hope to see you again soon. Also Hi to Vincent Cole who Niz introduced me to, another face to a name. Unc was lurking but didn’t meet up, next time maybe.
All this blind date type stuff is unbearable. Can’t anyone arrange a scanning sessions for the Web site so we at least know what each of us looks like for meet up purposes. I’m sure this has been mentioned before and the fluffy lot at UMR have a successful one. Ugly bunch they are too!!!
KLA Appeal to journalists
Kosovo Privacy Project [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sat 4/10/99 11:25 AM
KLA Appeal to journalists
Denica, 10th April (Kosovapress)
Dear Mr Alan Lodge – photographer
We are appealing to journalist and the reporters throughout the world who are interested in what is happening within the territory of Kosova to coime to the zone controlled by the Kosova Liberation Army.
We assure you safety in your work as well as the sincere and full support on the part of the KLA superiors and fighters including that of the people of Kosova in these zones.
Your contribution towards a fair and accurate information about the events will enable the world to learn of the inhuman massacres committed by the paramilitary and terrorist army of Belgradfe regime in revenge to the NATO air strikes.
Please help if you can.
I am an independent midwife in Hampshire and was at several of the festis you were….
Look forward to exploring your site more closely soon. I will also post you my web page when I finally get it together as I have a thing for photography on a very basic level.
Exodus Good Guys evolve with new project!!
A few months back I wrote up a long account of what I had managed to piece together (because of my Festographic interests) about the unfortunate in fact terrible split/implosion of the former Exodus collective following the seemingly very successfull (but apparantly tense and disputacious behind the scenes) Exodus Free the Spirit Festival in Bedfordshire which I attended in September 2000.
Glenn Jenkins and Bruce Hannah were two of the good guys who had to leave the Collective following all sort of rows over ALLEGEDLY disappearance of money and ALLEGEDLY appearance of crack dealing amongst some bad boy Collective members.
The Marsh Farm project sounds excellent and Jim Carey (Squall) is a sympathetic and diligent reporter who knows his shit inside out about Exodus going right back to their early days of not having any secure base, being hassled by the local authorities and in particular by the Bedfordshire Police, various Collective peeps being spuriously (then!) charged with drug dealing, assault, etc., a pub getting closed down because the landlady was a relative of Glenn Jenkins (his mum? it should all be in the Squall archive).
They came through all this and got more and more confident about organising free parties and free festivals (as wel as their other Marsh Farm community projects, which have been going for a while now) in the vicinity of the frankly dump-like town of Luton and in the countryside around. So successfully indeed that they ended up negotiating a LICENSED fest in 2000 with the Bedfordshire County Council and with the landowner of the derelict land used (between the M1 and a railway, by an industrial estate). The landowner was the Marquess of Tavistock, whose family (chief parasite : the Duke of Bedfordshire) own half the county!
It had looked promising that this might set a precedent for future free fests around the country until during or immediately after the festival the monster of crack ALLEGEDLY got involved with SOME, and forced Glenn Jenkins and one or two others to resign from the collective.
The farm at Haz Manor, which featured in that BBC2 documentary (“Living with the Enemy”) in which a Tory boy visits and gets well shocked by the weed toking and tried to shop them to the Police …) did indeed get bought by Exodus in 1999 as that highly defunct site which Mr Finger Right On the Pulse Trotboy Bush links to. But I am still unclear about who lives there now and whether and which faction in this dispute ended up in control of it.
Another site with lots of Exodus historical information is Alan Tash Lodge’s … nice geezer with integrity …
Tash is a very nice feller (who for a short period while Glasto 2001 was being cancelled, I had e-chats with about Glasto, the authorities and Travellers). He has shit loads of integrity and while I’ve kind of lost contact now, I still think A Spies and others might find it worthwhile to visit his site and check it out and maybe contact him. Does anyone know what happened to him? I hope he still thrives … Great pix …
Loads of stuff on the site about Police Surveillance, how inependent minded anarcho types including Travellers and party people get on or not with the Police … a lot of it on the old side but great archive …
William of Walworth
The summer party checklist
Okay, so here we are at the beginning of the summer, with parties like Liquid Connective coming up you need to know what you should take.
Here’s a recommended survival kit:
Car. (If you don’t have one, find someone who does and be their best friend forever. In the event of the party being canceled by the time you get there you can easily get back. It’s also a place to crash during the party, and a place to keep the rest of your survival kit.)
Maps. (Ultra detail – the sort that a rambler would use. A road atlas is no good. You need to know where all the tumuli and lay-lines are cos that’s where the party’s probably gonna be)
Contact number for the party. (Don’t leave this at home cos it’s your golden ticket. This is where you’ll get the directions to party from.)
Contact number for someone else involved with the party. (Vital to find out the TRUE location, because by the time you call this number you would have driven 10 miles in the wrong direction after following the directions given by the official contact number.)
An excuse. (If you come to a police roadblock, you gotta have something ready to stay when they ask what you’re doing in the area. I said I was visiting my aunt in <name of a village you’re heading towards> and it got me through! Don’t forget to turn the music in the car OFF as soon as you see the police. Perhaps you could dress fairly casual/smart (change later), otherwise if you look like a car full of tokin’ crusty hippies I think they’d be more than a bit concerned.)
Water. About 8 Litres. Mineral water, not tap water. Some parties might not supply any water. Sometimes there’s a big tank of murky water, but I’d stay clear of it.
Boiled sweets. (The best while you are at the peak of your experience)
Munchies (Biscuits. HobNobs to be precise. Watch out for the chocolate coated ones though)
Fruit juice. (As natural as you can get. Freshly squeezed, not from concentrate, or even one of those Probiotic ones to sort out your stomach. The strawberry flavour is good)
Sandwich. (For breakfast – eat around 9-10am.)
More munchies (Serious food for lunch).
Torch. (So that you don’t bump into trees. Or even worse – people).
Blanket/Groundsheet. (To plonk your arse on when you can’t stand up anymore).
Trendy shades. (This might be a party through the night, but often it’ll go on through the next day.)
Sun cream. (It’s a good opportunity to get a good tan, but also a good opportunity to get yourself roasted)
Hope you have a great summer! – Kudos
3 Brighton sound systems are unlawfully impounded
March 30 2002
Sussex police unlawfully impounded three sound systems (Warped, Technophobia and Kymera) in Brighton last weekend while they were setting up before for a party. Regretably according to reports the police weren’t very concerned about how they went about the raid…
“Whilst setting up we got about 20 minutes advance warning that the Babylon were heading in our direction. We killed all the lights in the warehouse and sat in silence for that time. We could hear more cop vehicles arriving and heard them walking round the building and shining torches through windows.
10 minutes later there is a loud bang, low and behold they’ve literally torn a steel fire door from its hinges, 10 or so pigs run in with torches shouting at us to stay where we are, followed by 2 dog handlers, and some guy (riot officer?) with ‘KB’ letters on the back of what looked like a bulletproof vest, brandishing a pretty hard-core looking camcorder (we requested the tape number to get a copy but they said no- which was also caught on camera).
All 22 of us get lined up against a wall, names and addresses taken. Then we get ‘group-read’ our rights, but not arrested then told to leave the building immediately (without any personal belongings). We were told they were seizing all vehicles and equipment because we were in the process of setting up and illegal rave and that we were conspiring to sell alcohol.
After much arguing they let us in (escorted) one by one to collect jackets, keys etc. It’s now cost us £150 extra hire fee for the van and £105 release fee to get it out the police pound. There is still no mention of getting the systems back but we have been asked to attend the station today (1 person from each ‘group’) in order to “identify property and facilitate the criminal process”.Sounds like they’re trying to fuck us over… this cannot be right.”
Was trolling through the rave stories etc part of your site and was pleased to see we (Warped sound system) got a mention under ‘3 sound systems unlawfully impounded in Brighton’ As it goes the police have now held the equipment for 90+ days without us hearing anything but the fact that they’ve sent an advice file to the Crown prosecution service. Anyway, thanks for getting back to me. talk soon, Andy
Andy tell me a little more about progress………
Back to the sound system fiasco- They have now had the equipment for 3.5 months (since 31st march) -Our solicitor was in touch yesterday telling us that the case has been thrown out by the CPS twice now and the file that she (Insp. Munro) has submit to them contains the charge section61 (waiting to attend a ‘rave’) and conspriracy to cause public nuisance. I checked on HMSO about 61- It is about the power to remove trespassers, sec63 mentions about waiting to attend 1 ‘rave’ . Definition of a ‘rave’ is in the open air (we were in a warehouse). Munro has obviously got her legislations mixed up so i dont think we need worry about that one.
Not too sure about conspiracy. Had a little look round the net yesterday about similar charges of conspiracy- Was overjoyed to learn on ‘undercurrents’ that we have the same solicitor as Desert storm used to get them off the case of the Nottingham ‘reclaim the streets’!!! She is Lydia Dagostino.
Anyway, we have been told that we will know CPS decision on friday morning.
The Free Party How To:
There are many elements to running a successful party. Certainly this document isn’t going to tell you how to run your party, nor what exactly makes a good event. We’ll leave that for you to decide. However we hope that the following guidelines (gathered from experience) prove useful…
1. Don’t over estimate the power of sound:
A good sound system and dj’s won’t necessarily make a good party. A successful party comes from a crowd of people enjoying themselves and having fun. Room to move is important, so is a good vibe, amenities (food and drinks stalls, toilets, etc), having enough light, somewhere chill out, to sit and relax, and keeping trouble makers out.
Rather than focussing all your attention on the sound system and artists, remember that details count.
2. You are not criminals:
Don’t be fooled by the authorities, you are not criminals! Respect the law, don’t give the authorities the power to stop your party by breaking it.
3. Health and safety:
Always have a first aid kit on hand together with the numbers of a hospital and other emergency services. If possible someone experienced in first aid should be present at your party.
Make a free supply of water available, also keep some fruit handy. Place fire extinguishers near electrical equipment, make sure people know where they are and how to use them.
Before a party, try to clear any broken glass and dangerous debris away to help avoid accidents. Highlight your toilets, bins and keep entrances clear of people and equipment. Wires should be trailed above head height not exposed. Gangways and fire exits must be kept clear; fireproof all backdrops and decor.
If someone looks unwell, approach them in a non threatening manner and ask how they are. If they ask for your help take the time to offer them the support they need.
Keep parked vehicles off public roads. Bad parking practice can harm a party in several ways. They can alert the authorities to the fact that something is going on. They can give them a valid reason to try to stop the proceedings and they can make it difficult for emergency services to get on to your site.
5. Vandalism and troublemakers:
Don’t tolerate vandalism or anti social behavior. Act as a group, show a determined and united front, politely ask those responsible to stop being disruptive. Let them know their behavior isn’t wanted at the party, perhaps stop the music in order to get their full attention. Suggest that they should leave if they don’t feel able to contribute to a positive vibe.
Remove any rubbish left after a party, put it into bags and dispose of it safely. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the beauty of your surroundings, remember to leave them the way you found them 🙂
7. Running a hotline:
Prefix directions to your party with the date and time of the party. That way if your crew is out one week and resting the next, you save prospective party goers a potentially long trek out to an idle site.
If you have a website, post directions online at the last minute and give out the URL. The web is a good way for party goer’s to plan their drive to your site. Good reference websites for driving directions are: the Ordinance Survey Maps website for the UK and Map Quest for Europe and the US.
Don’t let your hotline idle. Whether it’s active or not, try to at least leave a message telling people what you’re up to or how to find out what you’ll be up to in the future. If you change hotline numbers, make sure you leave a link from the old to the new.
Be as accurate and descriptive as possible with your directions. If your party is in the countryside, use landmarks as a reference (bridges, pubs, etc) and leave noticeable markers on the road (signs, cones, etc). If the party is in town, carefully spell out the name of the road and neighborhood the party is in. Also it’s useful to stress a postcode, in case there are more than one roads with the same name in that town. Of course it’s important to give out the name of the town your party is in, not everyone trying to reach you will be local or familiar with your area.
Speak clearly, mobile phones often don’t enjoy the best reception. Make it as easy as possible for the listener to understand your directions. If you move site remember to update your hotline messages. If you’ve given out a hotline number, expect people to use it. Getting to a party can be stressful, make an effort to communicate calmly with the person listening to your directions.
8. Handling the police and authorities:
Have only a small number of people deal with any police presence. Be civil, polite and communicate that your party isn’t aimed at disruption, you have gathered to have fun as a group… peacefully.
Avoid conflict, mediate with them, listen to what they have to say. It may be that simply turning the volume down a little, opening fire exits (ed: don’t miss read that statement! we’re not suggesting you should open fire on the authorities) or moving some of those cars parked around the site might appease them enough to let the party continue.
9. A note on personal freedom:
We believe that it is the responsibility of the individual to look after themselves as grown and educated adults. We choose to make our own choices. We choose the right to party and free ourselves through dance and music. Most of all we recognise that personal freedom should not interfere with the freedom of others…”
P.L.U.R. – A Definition
Bristol Ravers Directory……
“Peace, Love, Unity and Respect” is the essence of the way of life being aspired to by ‘ravers’. But what does it really mean? Peter Douglas from the uk.music.rave newsgroup dared to try to define it and succeed-ed rather well.
The reason we like the music that we do, and dance like we do, is because it helps us achieve a state of inner peace, particularly peace with ourselves. For me the music that catalyses this state has a sticky label on it that says ‘goa trance’, sometimes ‘psychedelic trance’, and includes ‘tribal trance’. Being able to dance the way we do is being able to be four years old again, to be free of ego like we were before self conscious-ness took control. When we dance free of ego, we are at peace with ourselves, and at peace with all those around us. In the peace of a good trance, when someone stands on my foot I get a real buzz out of it because it’s a chance to put some of that peace ‘out there’ as well as having it inside. With a big grin and a squeeze of their shoulder I’ve been able to say “Hey! Isn’t this great?” without being dorky about it.
It means you can turn to a complete stranger who’s sipping a bottle of water, and they’ll see your sweat dripping and ears glowing and your eyes dark and deep, and they’ll smile and offer you the bottle. It means people not only call out to you “Are you okay mate?” when they hear you heaving your dinner in the toilet cubicle, but they care about the answer.
Love is the reason the people at Return to the Source hang crystals, sprinkle essence and otherwise prepare the space for us to be in together. Love is …. (fill in your own – hey, maybe there’s a cartoon strip in there somewhere!)
I think this one shows the widest gap between the aspiration and the realisation. There still seem to be anorak wars between disciples / acolytes of various stylistic sub-genres, by people who’ve forgotten that preferring green to blue or liking cardamom more than coriander is not a sign of intellectual underendowment and spiritual inadequacy. For me the concept of unity is not us against them, but trying to give ‘them’ a glimpse of the wonderful space we experience at a good party.
Sometimes I fantasize about a club with coat pegs all round the periphery, where everyone just hangs their stuff and it’s still there when they come to wear it home. Hey, and you can even leave your money in the pockets – now that’s *respect*.
Respect is also about realising that everyone’s different. Bizarre as it may seem, not everyone thinks your whistle-blowing next to their ear enhances the total dance experience. If you really think people enjoy your trilling, and are blown away by the musical mastery evident in your one note mantra, then be fair and move around a lot. That way you leave everyone wanting more (maybe) rather than one poor bugger in front of you wanting less, much less.
Glastonbury 2002 this from: a teenager blogs!
age: 15 years
nationality: british english
location: leeds, england
Glastonbury Experience: Part 1
Friday morning, Laurence’s Dad gives us a lift into the coach station where we meet up with Julian and Steve. The coach journey from Leeds to Brummyland isn’t the most pleasant of things with the temperature hot and air stuffy. The changeover isn’t a problem though and we’re soon on another three hour coach journey to the festival. They had to see our festival tickets at the Birmingham coach station as part of the ‘no ticket – no festival’ campaign. Anyways, as we approached Glastonbury, you could see fields and fields of tents – it really was an amazing sight! We were escorted away from the muggers by stuwards at the entrance to the site and once we had collected our wristbands and festival programme were off to find a place to pitch our tent. The weather was amazing! No mud. And everything was going so smoothly as we stumbled into the second field from the coach entrance and set up camp. That took a little longer than I expected. Laurence and Steve seemed to manage okay, but I was struggling to work out which tent I was actually putting up! It didn’t help with the wind factor and Julian clueless about putting tents up. Hidey-ho, by about six o’clock we were set up and went to see our first band; ‘Queens of the Stoneage’ (or something like that). They were shit. Julian enjoyed them I think. We then headed over to see ‘Ash’ who were fantastic. We missed the start of them, but caught the majority of their amazing set in which Burn Baby Burn produced the whole Pyramid Stage crowd jumping up and down and signing along in excitment. What a fantastic atmosphere! Could life get any better! More was to come. After a brief trip back to the tent and toilet stop (oh, I had an amazing adventure keeping my shit in for the whole weekend!) we headed back off to the Pyramid Stage to see an amazing lights display to the tune of ‘Faithless’. I don’t usually like dance music, but there I was enjoying myself as the loud beats came out of the tall loud speakers to my right. I don’t think I’ve ever heard music so loud! That was a really class show. Following a brief lie-down in the grass of Glastonbury, we were near the front of the Pyramid Stage to catch the whole of ‘Coldplay’s set. I wasn’t expecting great things from Coldplay. They hadn’t done a propper gig for about a year. When Chris Martin [the lead singer] came on to the stage and said that the band had ‘been preparing for this gig all their lives’ – the performance matched it. They were absolutly fantastic! Playing all the songs of ‘Parachutes’ with the audience singing along and then a couple of new ones! What a night! I doubt my photos have come out well. It was only a little dispsable camera, but the memories are as good as pictures all the same. We made our way back to the tents and fell asleep at about three in the morning.
Glastonbury Experience: Part 2
Saturday morning duly came round. The night/early morning before, me and Julian (sharing my tent) had set our alarms (on our watches) for 10.00am. We were definatly up and about by then and were just about to set off for an explore of the festival site with Laurence and Steven. It was a long walk that took us past the Other Stage and eventually on to what can only be described as the ‘Green Fields’. At one point, we were asked to walk briskly through the crowds as a landrover was gaining up on us. Wherever we went though, it was following us! So there we were almost at running pace in front of its two wheels when it suddenly turned and drove past us. Who was in the passenger seat? None other than Michael Eavis! The festival organiser! He got out of the landrover and was interviewed on camera, just a few yards from where we were standing. How about that?! Then we walked into the next field and waded through the rows of tents promoting world peace, friendship bracelets etc etc. Me and Larry bought a carton of orange juice each from one of the hippie stalls and we saw an amazing sculpture of a snail made from willow branch. Then we headed back to the tents. But on the way back I snuck away and went on my own into the New Bands Tent to watch the last few minutes of ‘Baby Genius’. She was alright I suppose. A few minutes later I returned with Julian to the tent and we saw the former pocussionist from Kula Shaker lead singing ‘Valentine’ who were very good indeed. There was an afternoon siesta before me, Laurence and Steven headed over to the Pyramid stage to see the (excellent) Jools Holland. He played a range of pop, jazz, blues and swing to get the crowds in the party mood. We stayed around for ‘No Doubt’ afterwards who were also excellent. At one point, Gwen Stefani (the lead singer) climbed onto the top of three piled up loud speakers to address the back of the crowd more easily. She was about to go into song by muttering the words, ‘I wanna know, I wanna know’… when she got stuck and couldn’t get down! Someone behind be shouted, ‘I wanna know how you’re gonna get down from there!’. hehe. But seriously, ‘No Doubt’ really were class and when they told us we had to jump higher than the Germans did last night, the place was rocking. Of course it was ‘Don’t Speak’ that got the best reception from the Glastonbury faithful. I had been torn between seeing ‘No Doubt’ and the ‘Electronic Soft Parade’, so I thought I might catch the end of ESP on the Other Stage after ‘No Doubt’. Damn. I missed them. Me and Julian had waded our way through the crowds leaving the Pyramid arena quickly, but not quick enough. We stayed at the Other Stage and watched a bit of ‘Rival Schools’ who weren’t amazing, so we headed back to the tents to meet up with Larry and Steve. Throughout the festival, Julian seemed only to know one word: ‘Sorry?’ he muttered even when you hadn’t said anything. By the journey back I told him it was now a swear word and that I had set up a swear box for him. Ten pence per ‘sorry’. At about half-six, we went our separate ways again. Julian headed off to see ‘The Vines’ I think on the Other Stage as me, Larry and Steve went for ‘Starsailor’ on the Pyramid Stage. They were really good. Maybe they didn’t work with the crowd as much as say, Coldplay the night before, but they were still terriffic and even squeezed in their new single (a little more heavy than ‘Alcoholic’ or ‘Poor Misguided Fool’). There was also time for a duet with ‘Glastonbury ledgand Donovan’ who played the harmonica. Again, we stayed around the Pyramid Stage after Starsailor’s set and watched ‘The White Stripes’ – after having met Julian. Julian bought a ‘White Stripes’ t-shirt from the official merchandise stall earlier in the day. I opted for a ‘Glastonbury 2002’ t-shirt after considering a ‘Starsailor’ one. So, kitted out in his red ‘White Stripes’ t-shirt, Julian was dancing away to the duo. One half was very nice in deed; Meg White ;-)… the other, her brother, was funny and very good on vocals and guitar. I can see why Julian like them – all the guitar solos. They weren’t bad I suppose. Not really my thing. After that, me, Laurence and Steve (why don’t I just call us MLJ from now on yeah?) went back to the tent for a little kip in the summer rain as Julian went to see ‘Robert Plant & the strange sensation’ on the Acoustic Stage. MLS headed back down our beloved ‘Wicket Ground’ field, past the toilets, over the cinema fields and into the Pyramid Stage arena for arguably the best band of the weekend. The ‘Stereophonics’ were to be Glastonbury’s ‘secret guests’, but it had leaked out several weeks before and so appeared in the programme anyway. The ‘Phonics were fantastic. They performed their well known songs from JEEP and a few from Performance & Cocktails. As well as a couple of new tracks and a couple of covers as their encore. They got a great reception from the Glastonbury crowds. I think it was during the ‘Phonics that I saw Josie and Rachel – two girls from our year group also at Glasto – sneak off to the back of the crowds. They missed out. Following the ‘Phonics we headed off back to the tents. Julian went straight to sleep, but MLS talked and talked for hours. I think I got to sleep – outside both tents at about 4.30am. During our three hour conversation, me and Larry explored the football encyclopedia that is Steve. It was comedy as well as we remembered great football moments from the past so many years. ho ho. So there I was, in my sleeping bag, wedged between two guyropes, talking to Larry and Steve until my weary eyes could take no more and I fell to sleep.
Glastonbury Experience: Part 3
Four hours sleep on Saturday night and I woke up in my sleeping bag outside both tents with one of those silver-foil insulator cloths over me :). Someone had obviously seen me sleeping outside and lent me their cloth thing. Just shows the friendly atmosphere at the festival :). A slow start to the morning was speeded/sped? up by a tasty bacon roll and quick slurp of orange juice. Then I headed over to the Pyramid Stage – grabbing a sweet chocolate pancake on the way and watched the Glastonbury Town Band. Big mistake. They were trying hard, but were a bit embarrassed by their conductor who was cracking crappy jokes to the audience. The audience was about 40 people by the way, out of the 100,000 or so who had festival tickets. So it wasn’t hard to reach the front for this one. I didn’t stick around and made my way back to the tents. At midday MLS went down to the Pyramid Stage once again and caught the end of the Avalonian Free State Choir who’s conductor was equally as appauling as the Glastonbury Town Bands’. It wasn’t long before big Rolf Harris appeared though and the thousands gathered in the field were soon clapping along with his excentric Aussie songs. ‘Tie me kangeroo down sport’ was a favourite as we took in the midday sun. He was actually comedy – Rolf that is – and the banners that people had made for his set were equally comical. ‘Tie me down Rolf’ and ‘Rolf – I think I’m pregnant’ made me tickle. Along with the two kangeroos (obviously people dressed as kangeroos – I think) bouncing around the audience on pogo sticks. Just before Rolf, there had been a spokesman from a charity trying to stop the spread of AIDS in South Africa. There was a lot of charity work at the festival…MTF being one of them. Following the Rolf sing-along, the big screens were showing the World Cup final. Brazil 2-0 France. We watched the last fifteen minutes. Well, me and Laurence did. Steve went back to the tent determined to last until Monday night without knowing the result. We saw Ronaldo break through the German defence to score the second past Ollie Kahn, much to the delight of the crowds at Glasto who were cheering on Brazil on a count that we’re just so bitter towards the Germans. For some reason the Glastonbury organisers showed the ITV coverage of the remaining minutes of the final so every so often we got the cackaling sound of Ron Atkinson. We headed back to the tent. Laurence went off to get some food though I think. It ended up with just me and Steve at the tent before Julian came along. And then it struck. What struck? ‘Julian… don’t tell Steve the result’ says I. ‘Why?’ replies a thick Julian…’He doesn’t want to know the result until he’s watched the highlights’… ‘Okay,’ says Julian, ‘I won’t tell him that it was 2-0 to Brazil’. All he had to do was not mention the score, but he failed to do that. Tut. ‘You dickhead!’ shouted Steve at the innocent looking Julian. There was much tension between the pair for the rest of the weekend. Back to the music. I took Julian off Steve’s hands at about half-one. We had overheard the guy from the next tent saying he thought there might be a ‘secret band on the Pyramid Stage’ – so we went to have a look. It was just the band scheduled, Manu Chao, but running late because of the WC coverage. I stayed around and watched them, Julian ran off after about fifteen minutes to see some weird band I think. Manu Chao were alright I guess. It was a kind of South American (appropriete following the Brazil victory) dance music style. Although the lead singer was wearing a Galatasaray (hissss) shirt. After they’d finished their set I had about half an hour until Badly Drawn Boy. I decided to see what was on the Other Stage. Nothing decent. And it toom me yonks to find Laurence and Steve. Eventually I did and MLS watched Badly Drawn Boy who performed the About A Boy soundtrack all on his own. A brave, but a little dissapointing performance I thought. After Badly Drawn Boy on the Pyramid Stage was Issac Hayes, but I forgot all about him :(. Me and Laurence went to sit/lie in the Other Stage field to the tune of Elbow who were alright I guess. After Elbow we got some food and then just chilled at the tents for most of the evening. Me and Julian went to see Gorky’s Zygotic Monkey… which means something in Welsh – I forget what. They were really class and a big prospect for the future. Their music was a bit like The Beatles crossed with a modern day Indie or rock band. Very good. Watch out for them. They may change their name though…. ‘Gorky’s Zygotic Monkey’ kinda sounds like a punk band – not the slow tunes they were pumping out. Ten-twenty, MLS went to see the king. Not Elvis of course – he had done a duet with Ash on Friday night. Stay confused ;-). Rod Stewart was brilliant… and a great last set to go to on our last night at Glastonbury. ‘Maggie May’ was probably the ultimate hit with the fans. I think Julian went to see Air or someone weird like that. Old Rodney though: he still knows how to rock the tens-of-thousands of unclean fans watching on. So that was it. That was Glastonbury 2002. But the fun and games didn’t stop there. After making our way back to the tents after Rod Stewart, MLS went down to the cinema field to watch ‘The Lord of the Rings’ – not a Glastonbury tradition I’m told. Steve left after about fifteen minutes and slept in the tent that night. Me and Laurence, with about 200 others, were left to fall asleep in front of LOTR. Again, I spend the night not in the tent!
Norwich Party Closes After Negotiations With The Police
Total respect to the Norwich crew for what happened on Saturday night!
It’s a long story, which I don’t know all of, but basically things were all set for a multi rig bash at an establi-shed site, but that afternoon the land owner turned up with some “mates” and “asked” them not to do the party. Think large people willing to do damage. So the party was called off.
Now, just about everyone knew the party was planned – everyone I’d talked to last week knew about it. So an alternative venue was found – right in the middle of town. It was never going to be allowed by the plod, it didn’t stand a chance.
So we got there around midnight, an old car showroom with music pounding out, just as the plod arrived. We had a short chat to Nigel (one of the travelers from the first site) outside and then tried to go in, but the police by this time had started containment and were blocking the entrance. All four of them. So the four of us stand there looking at the four of them and I realise the plod I’m starting at is scared, like really frightened. As we stand there of course, others are joining the queue. One of our number wants to go to a local shop anyway, so we back down, I smile at the plod who blurts out some kind of “thanks for the co-operation” and we go to the shop as a flood of people turn up to join the queue.
A short trip to the shop and we come back, two plod vans now but no containment, music still pumping so we go in.
As the party continues, plod come in with some of the organisers, they have a poke around with a fire offi-cer and go out again. A bit later I wonder out to see what’s going down and over hear an amazing conver-sation between plod, fire officer and squatters. “Well organised event…” “responsible behaviour” “reasonable attitude” and from the squatters “these things are going to happen, better we do them…” then the plod left. The party shut down at three, or the music did anyway. We stayed for another half hour or so and people were sitting around toking and playing drums, there was no eviction, the shut down was agreed (3 is when the clubs shut). There were no plod to be seen as we left. Derek
Party Poopers – Brighton Policing, Not So Right On
New Years Eve 2000 – Hundreds of revellers had their New Year’s Eve ruined when police broke up their party at five minutes to midnight. Champagne corks were about to pop when officers raided the illegal party in Shoreham. Two other illegal raves in Hove were also shut down during the height of the celebrations. One reveller said: “It was so mean spirited of the police. “It was 11.55pm and people were standing around waiting for midnight with bottles of champagne and party poppers. “Then the police arrived and people were in tears. They had come from miles around. We understand the laws are in place for safety reasons, but our whole evening was ruined.”
Police, however, were unrepentant. Superintendent Graham Cox, commander of the Hove-Shoreham division, said: “I would rather be described as a party pooper than have to explain to relatives the next day why I allowed such a dangerous party to continue until people were burned to death. “There was a real risk of that happening.”
Mr Cox said the New Year’s Eve inferno at a disco in Holland where up to 12 people died and 130 were injured supported the police argument. More than 200 were ordered out of the Shoreham rave in an underground car park on an industrial estate off the A259. Another 200 people were ejected from an illegal party at 12.45am on New Year’s Day on the second floor of a factory unit in Ellen Street, Hove, and 400 were shown the door at 1.45am from another rave in a factory in Fonthill Road, Hove. Police took photographs of blocked fire doors and other safety hazards including old and dirty mattresses. Mr Cox said: “Each site had fire hazards and there were no safety provisions. “Each venue was a potential death trap.
“In Ellen Street fire exits were boarded up, it waspitch dark in places and mattresses were on the floor.” Mr Cox said tickets at each venue were selling for £5 and organisers were making upwards of £500 a time. Some broke licensing laws by selling alcohol and there was evidence of drug-taking at one.He said electricity was being stolen and, at one location, damage was caused and there were complaints from neighbours about noise. He said: “We shall continue to take positive action against these illegal gatherings.” At all three locations, organisers were ordered to pack up their equipment or risk having it seized. No arrests were made, but Mr Cox said police inquiries were continuing.
“I had friends who were unlucky enough to be at *two* out of 3 of these NYE parties. First they went to the Enlightenment party – only for it to get busted. They thought they were one step ahead, and went onto the FAF/Ground Zero party nearby. Shortly after they got there, so did the Babylon. They then drove all the way upto Berkshire, only to find that the warehouse party that had gone successfully there [and where I’d spent the night – bloody good it was too!] – had finished early and by 10am all that remained were folks loading equipment into vans. That party *didn’t* get busted, but the venue was *very* close to some nearby shops that were opening for business early on New Years Day.
Well done to everyone who was lucky enough to get to a party that *didn’t* get busted – it looks like Brighton got the worst of it this NYE :-(…” simon
The Exodus Free Spirit Festival
Near Luton, September 8, 9, 10 2000
This was the second Exodus festival I made it to (see the story of last years here). This year was a little different though, as the collective have been in negotiation with a local landowner and the police which eventually produced the result they wanted – Britain’s’ first legal free party festival.
Me and Sid went (Sid having been a regular at Bionic Soup parties in Norwich over the past year and who had done his first squat party a few weeks ago and was now doing his first tent party), we arrived on Friday night.
We knew it was somewhere near a junction on the M1 motorway, but we didn’t know which one it was. So I drove west and met the M1 at, as it turned out, the correct junction. We arrived just as people were beginning to turn up.
Of course, by now it was dark, so I had to fumble around and put the tent up by sense of touch and memory as Sid made himself useful in other ways. Apart from the patch of stinging nettles it happened with amazing ease. So we went to explore.
The site is divided by the M1 motorway and connected by a tunnel – something more free parties should have, tunnels are great which is just as well given how many times I walked through the thing.
There was one very big difference between this festy and any squat party I’ve been to – basically it wasn’t a squat and there was this general “feeling” that we were in someone else’s property (which we were of course) and that we had to take care of it and respect it (which we did).
Exodus were doing a good job of organising litter collection and had made it known (somehow) that certain kinds of behaviour wouldn’t be appreciated. No-one from the collective actually said anything to me, but several people mentioned what their values were and so what they didn’t want to see happen on site.
I did get the feeling from a lot of people that they really respected what “the Exodus” have done and what they want to achieve, many people spoke about them in very familiar terms. To be honest, they deserve it, they’ve done something wonderful in getting this festy accepted (with some reluctance) by the powers that be.
Looney Module / Vega were set up in the car park – or what was supposed to be the car park but actually turned into a part of the festy. I’d put my tent up next to their rig with the travelers nearby, they really are a nice bunch to be honest.
Over on the main site (through the tunnel) we spent most of our time around the HEADFUK-Stinky Pink and Pendulum systems. I’ve been following HEADFUK for around 18 months now, they do pounding hard edge gabba and other weird stuff, Stinky Pink do banging techno and they combined their rigs for this event. Wow what a nice sound. Next door were Pendulum who are more “conventional” squat techno, all of them of course are from London.
Pendulum had a really nice tent and it was strange seeing them in such a tidy and clean place, I’m more used to them being in a corner of a warehouse somewhere surrounded by dogs and traveler vehicles.
Through a death metal tent (loads of live bands as well as techno rave at this party) there was a little bridge into the camp site, crossing this thing was fun, especially in the dark when full of “rave spirit”.
Friday night was fairly busy and despite the rain on the way down (the previous week had been nasty weather and the forecast was bad), it cleared up and was actually quite warm. The morning greeted us with one of those eye-stab sunrises and blue sky. Throughout the night I meet some London party people, one of whom has lost his tent and disn’t have a clue where it was, we go look for it, but it’s a lost cause. He did eventually find it, but not till the next day.
Needless to say, as normal in this sort of thing we didn’t get a lot of sleep. I passed out for a couple of hours in the Pendulum tent, but that was all I got. I’m not sure if Sid even did that.
A little later and I run into Ian again. Ian is a regular on the London scene and he had a friend with him celebrating his birthday – some birthday party! We spend some time in the HEADFUK tent watching a live performance, quite something that was. I’ve seen techno “bands” before and usually they’re really boring. This time it was one person working an array of samplers and stuff, standing in the tent along with all of us, not perched up on some stage.
Towards the evening and people start turning up in huge numbers for the Saturday night which is mental with crowds and crowds of people, it became easy to lose people and, indeed, yourself, but we survived through till about 5.00am when, after a session in the Exodus tent (oh what a lovely sound system they have) we finally hit the floor of the tent.
Sadly, we both had to be in work on Monday so after a very enjoyable 5 or 6 hours kip, we had some munch and one last look around, then packed the tent up and hit the road back to Norwich, stopping only at Red Lodge cafe for more (much needed) food.
As I say, what Exodus have done with the Free Spirit festival 2000 is to stage the countries first ever police approved “illegal” rave, it was a real free party in every sense of the word “free” in my book, although some of the free party massive were a little put off by the degree of organisation, I see their point, but Exodus aren’t playing a game here.
They made a lot of effort to cope with the problems you always get in events of any kind – there were (just about) enough loos, there was free water and the access roads were kept clear. At least one ambulance had to ferry someone off and that happened with the minimum of fuss from what I saw.
Anyway, there were no plod to be seen (unless you’d parked your car on the M1 in which case silly you), so they kept their side of the bargain. Oh and something went really wrong with the weather, it was hot and sunny for most of the time (well at night it was just hot), most strange.
Perhaps Exodus have found a way forward for those of us who enjoy free parties, lets hope so.
Maximum respect anyway to Exodus.
Soundsystems: J14-Survival/Freestate- Engineering-J1031st December 1999
Rather than writing a number of different reports, I thought I’d gather together the information I had about the various parties which happened over the NYE celebrations. First up, I went to the Junktion 14/Survival party near Aylesbury. Although unfortunately the original location was raided early on by a police taskforce arresting several people in the process; the second location, a series of huts in the middle of nowhere was looking good as a convoy of about 60 cars arrived, but unfortunately the system hadn’t been setup…
However half an hour or so later, the police turn up in force. A riot van and 8 or so cars. Their intention: not to let this party happen! Coming in heavy handed, outside of the law, they STOLE a set of decks. No public orders were served on Junktion 14 or Survival. After hanging around for a while, it was looking like the police were not going to leave so we decided to head over to Reading, heading for a party happening near the (annual) festival site. A large warehouse was used and after finding the place around 11.30pm we entered the building via the kitchens. Junction 10 were in charge of the Drum and Bass room, Freestate had a large system setup in the next room and were playing old skool tunes, while in the main room, Engineering had another large system playing the beginnings of loud techno. A chill out room had also been setup and setup quite well – sporting comfy seats, a bar and laid back sets of acid jazz and chilled music. We had a good night here, but things might have been very different had the first J14 venue not been busted.
Other parties happening around the South of England were all over the place. Listing but a few, the main three London parties were all packed out. Shoreditch had 6 floors of systems and played host to a lot people – may’be too many. In Uxbridge, Underground Sounds/United Systems did their thing in a huge abandoned sports hall. Over in New Cross, HeadFuk Damage Control held a party in a disused Bingo Hall – combining all of their systems to fill up the main room. Exodus had a large attendance of 4000 people, using the same building they used for their Xmas Day party. Down in Bournemouth a large Squat Party was raided and even in Norwich a large party was stopped from happening in a disused factory.
About 11pm on a Saturday night. I had just wanted to be very boring, stay at home, go to sleep… but Consort of the Dark has phoned me a couple of hours previously? and nagged until I reluctantly agreed to turn out with map and wheels… so now we have found the venue and parked. Found the place by driving up the nearest country lanes and stopping every half mile or so, switching the engine off and listening for the
Sound of Party.
Venue. Uh, some woods in Hampshire, UK. Miles from anywhere, and part of a country park complex with a picnic area. Hired for a BBQ, and three people have a birthday sometime this month. Heh, any excuse for getting wasted and dancing all night. YAY! I think the site cost about eighty quid to hire, including mains power that would automatically switch off at midnight. “Yeah, and I’ll turn into a pumpkin or a glass slipper,” I thought to myself sceptically, in full foreknowledge of the generator someone would have certainly have brought against such eventualities. If I knew who had shelled out for the hire and genny-fuel, I would willingly have made a donation, but no-one seemed interested in such triviality. Anyway, we have parked in an overspill parking area, and wander along the tracks to a lit area. Oh, this is just the toilet block, spotlessly clean, with running water and a generous handbasin for washing hot faces in later. Neat. Cheerily greet a few people lingering about cars. No-one I recognise yet, but at a rave, who cares? But the sounds and lights are on the other side, uphill. A little path under dark trees. The first-quarter moon does not help here, and we step cautiously onward, until the track levels and opens out onto broad greensward. And there we are… a thumping full-on dancefloor like a fairy castle in the woods.
Hey, this is huge! Uh, a covered-in on three sides BBQ area, and with a magnificent log fire under a canopy and flue, set behind a low wall on the far side. Two people are carefully placing another half of a tree into the roaring flames: carefully so as not to raise dusty ashes to settle on the DJ’s decks in the corner. There is an iron range against that side too; looks big enough to roast a cow on, though we are probably too late for food, though I’m sure that if we were hungry, someone would have cooked something. Swathes of fabric with fluoro designs are hung around. Eh, this is a great crowd. Must be at least sixty of our night-dancer family bouncing around the smooth concrete floor. YAY! Greets and hugs from a few people we know. Some local, and some of the London crowd too. A friend offers us something a little special in the way of cyber-enhanced magic. I am very tempted, though I decline; have too much else to this weekend, and reckon on only dancing for an hour or two before going home. Consort is well up for it though. Okay, and there are plenty of friends around who would give her a lift home if she wants to stay dancing all night. Hey, but I am waking up now anyway. Maybe it is the sheer power of atmosphere that should be banned instead! [wicked grin] I’m told it’s called contact-buzz, for the fact remains that I had nothing but water at this event, yet remained dancing for something like eight hours. Fairly vigorously too, for the music was superb: feet and body could not help but go at it. Okay, I did go outside and chillout with a few little quiet groups at times, but never for long enough to stiffen-up. Ummh, I dimly remember climbing up the poles supporting the roof at one point too, waving at friends, strangers and the DJ. I bet they thought I was on something a bit stronger than water. And I truly did feel well up for it, almost as stoned as I have ever been.
Paradoxically, consort had run out of steam by about 4am, and went to have a sleep in car. Heh. I think I like this contact-buzz then; it lasts longer and is cheaper! On with the magic Dance then! Floaty-trancey sounds in the pre-dawn time: almost everyone remaining on the floor looking a little less energetic than with the thumping hardcore and acid techno of earlier hours.
Mischievous DJs dropped a few bits of disco and reggae-beat into the mix at odd points too. I wander outside to refill my water bottle, and see a shooting star flash across the heavens. A gradual lightening of the sky, and the music building up again to faster beats too. YAY! We’re all up for it, the floor goes wild with the energy renewed. So I fling myself around to share in the celebration of the night and the day, and of all the 200 or so wonderful happy smiley people there. They made it all happen, right?
Full dawnlight by now, about 6am, and we can see what a mess of bottles and rubbish have been strewn about the area. And then a wonderful thing; spontaneously, without any asking, about half of us dancing or chilling out just started collecting all the rubbish into every bag we could find, made a big pile in one place for the refuse collectors. Only took about 15 minutes, and it seemed a civilised thing to do. Then we went and danced around the tidied floor some more. YAY! Then sitting on grass quietly chattering, and perhaps I was feeling a little hungry, for some lovely person came round and gave us slices of melon.
I feel I am fairly tired by then, and think to leave, though it takes about another hour to round up consort… who has woken up and returned for some more very full-on dancing after a nice rest. Heh. So now we can bid farewell to the Party. And while doing so, I see a white rabbit hopping nonchalantly around the far side of the clearing. I rub eyes, thinking this must be hallucination. No, it really was there, and several others had seen it at odd times too. Heh. I’m glad of that. We think it must be an escaped tame rabbit, from the colour and the fact that it seemed to like hanging around near humans. Eh, well, hope it enjoyed the party as much as we all did then! YAY
The Exodus collective’s festival
August bank holiday, 1999
I arrived in London intending to meet up with Paj at 7.00pm, ready to make our way out to darkest Luton for the festy on Friday night. Well, for various “complicated social reasons”, we ended up waiting in a dark squat in North London ’till 1.00am, well we did what needed to be done, but it wasted Friday night. The remains of the night were rescued by going to Techtronic in the Pleasure rooms in Tottenham though, so at 6.00am we fell out of the club and went back to Enfield to have a chill and get the bags. So it was wide eyed but limp tailed that we arrived at the Exodus farm around midday on Saturday, noticed it was well busy, put the tent up and crashed out till about 6.00pm.
First some food and there was a lot to choose from, then on to the party. Now I’m used to parties, I’ve been to a few, but they’ve all started around midnight or later. I’m not used to starting early evening, but that’s what happened
The site was originally a part of a much larger farm which was bordered by the London – Edinburgh main rail line, then a few years back they built the M1 motorway, cutting off this triangle from the rest of the land and this is now the Exodus collective’s community farm.
The first field is quite large and drops away sharpish from the gate at the top of the hill. The view from the top was quite something, a mass of tents and fires and the distant sound of musical drums.
In the big field was the Exodus tent (the red and white one on the left) a huge structure with a lovely sound system, this was packed and manic all night. Nearby was another large tent (the blue and yellow one) which was playing dub when I checked it out. All around were cafes and smaller rigs and bars and fires, techno, D&B and live bands.
The Exodus military vehicles are worth a note – there were several lorries, APC’s and the like, even a small tank like thing. This one’s being used by the Djs.
Through another gate was the second field, a long thin triangle of land with a street lined with systems from all over the place. Now here, for me, was heaven and it has to be said, this is where I spent the vast majority of the time. Systems worth noting (in my opinion, to be fair) were Citricity, Coexistence, Junktion 14, HEADFUK, section 63 (I think) and one from France called Malfaiteurs. J14 also had a big rig playing jungle, but thats not really my cup of tea although it was crowded most of the time.
There were many other rigs as well, most of which I simply didn’t have time to check out and on the other side of the street was the railway line, every now and then Intercity 225 trains rushed past at over 100 mph – YEAH!!!! they were well good.
At the end of this street of systems, a large tent blocked the path with a nice rig whos name I didn’t get. Presumably, beyond this the M1 met the rail line in a mass of twisted steel and tarmac, or else came to some arrangement involving bridges or something.
I didn’t have time to check all the systems out, even though the party started 5 hours earlier than normal and carried on ’till I hit the floor of the tent around 2.00pm the next day and then happened again the next night. Still not enough time though.
The reason for this was mostly due to Coexistence, I spent a lot of time in there, they were playing just the right sort of techno to get me going, so why move?
What really made things pick up though was meeting up with some people I know from the squat scene in London, these guys know how to party, believe me!
As with all free party systems which depend on gennies though, we had blackouts. So it was when I turned up at the HEADFUK tent for my Sunday morning fix of gabba (I like gabba in the early morning), all was silent and dark. Things get sorted out though and everything came back to life once the “technical problem” was sorted out. Thats was the good thing of having so many systems, not everyone broke down (or run out of petrol) at the same time!
The gods smiled on us it has to be said. Not only were there no blue meanies anywhere to be seen but the sun shone all day and it was hot, even at night. This happened in England, most strange.
Me and Paj packed up the tent slowly and not at all enthusiastically around 4.00pm on what we discovered was Monday and somehow made our way back to London, then I slept all the way back to Norwich, thanks to Anglia railways. Derek
Mutant Dance Party Busted
Just thought some of you might be interested to know that the Mutant Dance party on Saturday night was busted…..
We had planned to do the party at a quiet barn about 10 miles from Stonehenge, but due to uncontrollable rumours (not started by us) the police decided we were going to try to break into Stonehenge. (it did occur to us as a possibility, but only after everyone told us we were going to do it anyway!)
We were met at the meeting point by some of Wiltshire constabulary… We knew we wouldn’t be able to go to the site without being followed, so we decided to talk to them. After hours of attempted negotiation, I finally spoke to the chief constable of Wiltshire constabulary (Andy Hollingshead) and he said to me “You have my personal assurance that we will allow you to take the convoy to your intended site, and any police officers or vehicles you see on the way will be merely spectating. We don’t want to stop your party, we don’t want trouble.” No-one told the police where we were going.
We led the four mile long convoy from Amesbury car park to the site (a wikkid setup with 5 barns miles from houses, and lots of trees around to stop the noise traveling), we were followed by a chopper, military police, and vans of police. Just as we pulled up, the police cut across fields and stormed the site, arresting myself and the other organizers. They seized Dionisus sound system (from Milton Keynes), two systems from Bristol, and Stinky Pink System. We managed to laugh off the arrests, as they didn’t seem very serious. (They did offer to un-arrest us, but that would have meant paperwork, so we settled for staying arrested, reasoning that they couldn’t arrest us again that way). After they had read us the riot act we were turned around and we led the convoy back to Amesbury car park, past Stonehenge. At this point, the convoy slowed down to 5mph and the noise was deafening as people expressed their disgust to the assembled police.
We made it back to the car park to decide what to do, closely followed by a few police vans. I was told of a travelers site on the Wiltshire border where they already had system going and wanted us to join them. It seemed like the best idea, as police are often reluctant to venture too far into established traveler sites.
We tried to talk to the police, and explain that we needed to compromise (by this time we had gathered about 600 people) and that they wouldn’t be able to get rid of everyone peacefully, we needed somewhere to go. The inspector turned round to us and said “what makes you think people will go if you tell them? You lot couldn’t organize a piss-up….” etc.
A display of unity was needed. We called all the party people over to one end of the car park, everyone got out of their cars, and stood silently to hear what we had to say. Cockney (another Mutant Dance rep and the one with the loudest voice) made a speech and told everyone what the situation was with the police… he told people we had an alternative site lined up on the border of Wiltshire, we would pass directions around the crowd discretely and that we needed to leave in small groups. We had an hour to get out. 15 minutes later the car park was clear and everyone was on their way to the party. Better organized that a military decamp. The Inspector looked suitably shocked. We call it organized chaos.
We now only had one system left (Junkchun 10 from Reading) and they were pulled twice and escorted out of the county. So with no rigs left we made our way to the site party, hoping to rescue some of the night.
Unfortunately, the site we moved to was not very nice. It was full of brewed-up crusties trying to make people pay a fiver for parking. There was a very dark vibe, and it started to rain. The police turned up (cos our phones were tapped) After an incident involving keys locked in a car, a broken window and my boyfriend getting covered in broken glass, we decided to call it a night and left. Sorry to anyone who was there and I didn’t say hello to, I was beyond socialising.
I now hear on the news about a riot at stonehenge last night. BBC news is claiming that we were respon-sible for inciting people to riot. They claim our website was outlining plans to charge at the stones….
None of the systems were impounded, but told they would be if they returned to the county. I am still under arrest (I think) And I can guarantee you will hear more about the lying bastard coppers as I intend to shout about it till everyone knows not to trust the police. Our phones are still tapped, and my emails are being scanned. (I was told by them that this was how they knew so much about our plans) Hello PC netplod by the way, hope you enjoy the story.
A word of warning: nothing is private anymore…. if you are into organising parties, landlines, mobiles and emails are NOT the way to do it.
We tried an experiment on Saturday which involved being honest with the police, trying to negotiate and seeking a compromise. We were fuct over. May that be a lesson to us all. Thanks to those that made the effort to come along, especially the guys with the systems. Maybe another time eh? Have we been put off? Have we fuck. Our next party will be in a safer, quieter place, but we will be back!
New Years Eve 1998
Black Sheep did it again: every time I go to one of their events, I reckon it to be the very best rave I’ve ever been to. New Years Eve 98-99 was no exception. Been looking forward to it all year, since their last
NYE party. (:>) So most of the Hampshire contingent were keen to go.
Arrived early and found parking spaces close by, in a weirdy tunnel right opposite a grilled-off entrance to the main dancefloor… as we later ascertained by peering behind a drape from inside. The whole area is a sorta underground complex of carparks and warehousing. We can hear the sound of party while parking: maybe it’s just the soundcheck, but it rocks already! Now we just need to wait for it to open. (:>) A few people slope off to find a pub, but our vanload prefer to lurken darkly in our tunnel, which has good photographic opportunities. We greet lots of other lostsoul strangers that are arriving; a few of them are looking for another party that is also happening close by. The significance of this becomes apparent much later. Hehe.
Ah well, looks like starting now: people are queueing at another grille a hundred paces away. We scoot over, and by our good fortune arrive at the same time as the pub-escapees. As they still have all the tickets which they arranged, this is what I call good timing. (:>) It’s going to be a good party. Greet the gate guards cheerily, especially as I recognise most of them from previous Blacksheep events. We get checked over anyway, but lightly and politely, while sharing a bit of banter about the sort of contraband people might want to bring in.
Inside now, and it is all beautiful Victorian brickwork arched passages, with walls decked over with swathes of bright fabric. There is a lot of fabric everywhere too: not just around the dancefloor areas. Even the row of portaloos, tucked out of the main thoroughfare among more arches, is a little partyzone of its own. Someone’s been quite enthusiastic and lavish with the decor-budget then! Through to the main dancefloor, a huge area with a high ceiling arching away into the distance, PA stacks at the far end. Eh, but you can feel the sheer dB-power of it! Playing solid techno, but I’m not really ready for that yet. Only a few people in here this early, and we are a little cold. Duck through to the right, and a large chillout zone: nicely heated tho’ so we congregate around a heater for a while, chatting with others arrived before us, and the steadily growing influx of new arrivals. Soaking up the warmth and the atmosphere. It’s becoming a good party already. The tea-stand is here, and the bar for bottled water etc. Nice strong coffee. I go for a little wander on my own, get my bearings before the place gets busy. Find the second dancefloor, much smaller and more intimate, and with a heater in there. Playing some wondrous trancey-stuff, and I get distracted by this and just have to have a little dance to get going. After a while I remember the friends I arrived with, and go and fetch the few that I can still find in the chillout. They also think this dancefloor to their taste.
The main room is starting to get warm and lively, so have to go and help that along too. (:>) It gets so warm and lively that I need to go and sit down after a bit of jumping about; have another coffee, get more water before any more dancing. Watching the internal security guards cruising about, discreet but alert for any sign of trouble. Say hello to them. I always chat with the security people at raves. Part of my wicked campaign to get at least a smile and a nod from every soul at a party. (:>) Ah, but these ones are easier than most, which I take as a good sign: they know the difference between punters and trouble. Of course, there won’t be any trouble here anyway. This is a very fine party, people are polite and smiling-fluffy. See someone bump another’s drink, and it is just an apologetic gesture, with a grin in return. But one guard did tell me they have to be alert to gatecrashers and unwelcome unfluffy ones who might want to spoil things: they’d caught a few trying to force a back firedoor already. But the gentle nightdancers need not know nor care about any of this. (:>)
Most of the next few hours become a little blurry in retrospect, but there were some damned-fine choons going down on both dancefloors; to the point that whichever floor I’m on, I have to keep checking the other. Difficult to choose between them, as both so good in their own different ways that I don’t want to miss anything. Heh. A lot of serious bouncing up and down with a friendly bunch of strangers: but not really strangers, for in the dance we are all there. Occasionally I see people I vaguely know, or think I know, so a cheery wave to them, and a hug if I’m lucky too. (:>) It’s definitely a great party!
Midnight comes and goes, with a great deal of cheering on the main floor. The house is really rocking, and pretty packed everywhere, but still with enough room to dance, or make one’s way around the place without undue difficulty. More coffee, more water, go sit in the chillout area and chatter some more. I’ve been using a little Pentax point-and-shoot camera to grab a few simple pictures most of the evening, but now I reckon time to get the SLR and tripod from outside. It has got cold condensation on the glassware now, so I leave it to warm up as it will, and go and dance some more. Myself and photo-colleague Kym manage to meet up at odd times, and remember where we have stashed the cameras and bulbs. (Usually
leaving them in the care of the good peeps at the tea-stand, so our thanks to them for that as well.) Ummh, yes I did say bulbs: as in flashbulbs… it is a little known fact that these fun pyrotechnic devices punch out more lumen-seconds than the biggest studio strobe. Kym held a big long-burn bulb up high to shine over the main room…. and it completely overpowered the not insignificant kilowatts of the Spotco lighting rig: the whole floor turned round to see what the hell was lighting up the roof. Hehe, over by the time one can turn around. (:>) And I know better than to look at one close-to as it fires. Ech, these are not the fiddly little toys still in use for some on-camera applications: these are the size of domestic 100W lightbulbs, and even firing them at arms length one can feel the wash of heat and light with closed eyes.
Well, it’s about 5am by now: the dancefloors are thinning out a little, and I’m dancing a bit slower too. But that means a bit more space, and gentler dancing around with those remaining: these are the dance-dedicated, and more inclined to play “see if you can follow my moves” sorta games, which I rather enjoy. Heh, I reckon I can keep up with most. (:>) Good fun, and mutual congratulations if we meet in the chillout while queueing for water or coffee. A few more fluffy hugs. This is a great bunch. Quite a few have never been to a Blacksheep do before: came because a friend insisted or whatever. But all I spoke to said they were having an absolutely brilliant time of it. I’d agree with that sentiment.
Then I realise there is a sorta extra space leading out near the back of the chillout area. Hey! What’s this! Sure it wasn’t there before! Hraark? Someone tells me it is the way to “the other party next door.” Wow. Apparently, by mutual agreement of both sets of organisers, a dividing grille has been opened. People from both parties are wandering in both directions, looking completely bemused. What a wondrous idea! I have to see this: follow through a cavernous car-parking area, another doorway…. and suddenly I’m in that other party next door – the Pie & Mash “Reclaim the Beats” do. CAW! It’s kicking too! I don’t know where I summon the energy from, but I have to indulge in some very hectic jumping up and down again. An odd feeling of deja-vu: I sorta recognise some of the DJ’s set, and there are more familiar faces than I can account for from the party I’ve just come from. Ummh. [puzzled shake of head] Then I realise: this is mostly from the Trancentral do I went to a month or two ago! CAW! Brilliant! Wave and grin at a few faces, half-remembered from that other bunch. Okay, that’s two damned-fine parties I’m at tonight then! Greetings to anyone from the Slimelight venue I might vaguely know then. And thanks to the kind people that said they recognised me with a nod or hug. And apologies to DJ Orange, I think we just missed you. Eh, another time then.
Ah well, back to the place I was before. Being an unashamed caffeine junky, it was great to find the tea-stall open all night. I think I grabbed the last coffee of the party, while the building was being cleared at about 9am. Bleary of eye but cheerful. It was a great party. Eh, I’m up for the next NYE, please put me down for tickets!
There must be a lot of effort going on behind the scenes to make these parties happen, and to happen so well too. Considering that underground parties are all one-offs, without the benefit of a permanent venue to decorate, it is quite amazing the way these guys transform some tatty commercial premises into a wonderland partyzone. And it’s not just the look of the thing: the mains power required for the sound rigs, and the mega lighting…. require considerable technical expertise. I’m told that the main room was recorded: if so, I’m in the queue for a copy! HRARRK! Thanks to all the Blacksheep DJ’s for the stomping sets. Fritz, and Flerty, a guest I think was Rickee, and many others, I don’t know your names, but it was good stuff playing.
Wijk Aan Zee Beach Party
[6 june 1998]
Place : Wijk Aan Zee, The netherlands
Location : The beach
……which was looking a bit dodgy cuz we were having terrible lightening and thunder storms here all day friday, saturday morning, and again saturday evening. It wasn’t looking promising, but we agreed that we’d wait and see, as it was only about half an hours drive from Amsterdam anyway.
And sure enough, at 10 or 10:30pm, it was looking okay. No clear skies, but at least it wasn’t as dark and foreboding as earlier on in the day. So we phoned up X-ray and Stella and told them to come around to our place, and we’d go! Which they did, and we headed off, with 2 finnish friends of ours, Petteri and Niila, following in their van behind.
Our -ahem- ‘half an hour’ journey turned into a slightly longer one when we first made the same mistake as we did last year, and didn’t take the correct road initially off the highway, and ended up driving back. That didn’t make much of a difference, but then when we got to Wijk Aan Zee and drove towards the road to the north pier, it was completely dug up and blocked off. We couldn’t find another road heading the way we wanted, so we kinda drove around Wijk Aan Zee a few times, and finally headed towards Castricum in hope of finding a sign post to head us in the right direction.
Not a hope. =o) We arrived in Castricum having not seen anything to point us in the direction we had wanted. Out with the map!! =o) And of course that helped. 10 or 15mins later we were on familiar ground, and driving down the road to the beach. And what’s that in front of us..?? The Shakti mobile!! =o)
Hello’s and greeting passed around, we headed off down the beach. They’d set the place up nicely, tent for dj’s and a small chillout, and a very crude, not very weather worthy bit of shelter made from some plastic, but it didn’t rain all night, we were dead lucky, and only at one point did I sit in around the dj tent, cuz it was warm and toasty in there, and i was freezing. =) They’d built up a fire as well, but there were so many people already sitting around it, it wasn’t worth the effort to try and squeeze in. We’d brought ground plastic, blankets, and lots of warm clothes with us anyway.
We’d just set up our base with blankets and stuff, when I had a look at who, what, where etc. There I am, standing on the edges of our ‘camp’, when I notice that Kristina is sitting on a sleeping bag literally 1 meter in front of me. =o) That was a nice reunion!
Luna-tic was already playing when we got there, so we missed the first dj, (and didn’t actually get a report whether he was any good or not), but Dave (luna-tic) played the best set I think I’ve ever heard him play.
Following him was Zen, whom I think also played a great set. The atmosphere there was very good, nice and friendly. There were a lot of the old party heads there that I hadn’t seen in a while. Spent quite a bit of the night catching up with people I hadn’t seen in about a year or so. Quite a few local drunks as well, but that’s the good thing with outdoor parties, you’re not stuck in a confined space with people you don’t want to be stuck with, there’s plenty of room to escape and avoid.
Walter didn’t work too well, cuz there wasn’t enough blacklight, but the troll with the flashing eyes went down a blast as it was quite dark! Made a few new friends with his help. =o) Him and dom’s flashing bracelett made a great team. *hehe*
Ran into Baz on the dance floor, who was having a *wonderful* time. =o) (banana’s baz!! bunches and bunches of banana’s!!!) *hehehe* Our Finnish friends enjoyed themselves so much, they put off their drive to germany until the last possible moment. (they had to start work in dusseldorf on monday morning at 6am). They have a handy habit of dropping into amsterdam ‘just’ at the point where there’s a nice party happening. =)
Danyel was last up to dj, and horray! He finally played well! The last times I’ve seen him play I’ve been a bit disappointed, he seemed to lack the talent he had a year or so ago, boring sets, very little melody, didn’t keep the crowd going at all. But saturday he seemed to be his old self, and kept the dance area full and hopping.
The rain stayed away all night, and dave was so pleased that he thanked Shiva by burning a replica of the staff or whatever that for example the infinity project used on the back and inside cd cover of feeling wierd? Sorry, i don’t know the official title for it, can someone inform me? =o) Anyway, I do recognise the symbol, and dave made his offering.
What tickled me pink though was when a guy I know, Pete, with a very Liverpool accent, turned and asked me what they were burning the farmers pitchfork for. =o) It wasn’t the question that made me laugh, it was the description of the staff. =o)
All in all, it was a great party. I reallyS enjoyed myself, I think everyone I was talking to enjoyed themselves as well. We left somewhere around 10 or 10:30am on sunday morning, and just as we were on our way back up the beach, the first rain started to fall. perfect timing – for us anyway. =o)
So nice to be able to find the odd party in Amsterdam like this one, with friendly folks and atmosphere. May there be many more! groovy grins!
[27 – 29 september 1996]
Another review. um… where do i start? We got along to Sloterdijk around 10.30 or 11 pm I think, to find a number of people waiting for the directions to this secret location. Turned out to be Amerika Havens as I had suspected, but all that was there so far was the tent, no sound system or anything, all that was only arriving the next day. We were going to wait until saturday to go there, but finding parking for a camper in Amsterdam ain’t so easy, so Timo and I went on out there friday night anyway.
Next day, saturday, made a few trips back and forth to sloterdijk to pick up some people, but up until 11 pm or so, there wasn’t much of a turn out. The music was good, the dj’s seemed to be playing all well known tracks to get the crowd (well, the people that were there 🙂 on the dance floor. Then the cops arrived saying that people were complaining about the noise. utter and complete bullshit. There’s no houses or residencies for miles and miles out there! Just an excuse to exercise police control I think.
But! At the same time the police arrived, so did about 50 people! So the cops (*slightly outnumbered) left after making us promise to turn the music down. We did. For a while. The crowd continued to get bigger after that, and at about 3 or 4 the place was packed. The cops turned up again of course, and we had to restrict the sounds to monitors only until daylight. I really don’t know what the cops were on about, ’cause at one point we went for a walk around the site, and as soon as you were about 150 or 200 metres away from the tent, you couldn’t hear a thing! It was really windy, and that was distorting the sound, but even so.
About 5.30 or 6 a dj started to play that sent the majority of people to sleep. Literally. He was the only dj to start playing extreemly *boring* trance. He came on just after Zen, who had everyone at high energy level, and completely deflated the lot! He wiped the place clean of energy. Everyone started to flake out then, ’cause the music just wasn’t good anymore. It was *real* plod. And i’m not knocking trance, not by a long shot, it’s just that this guys track collection didn’t contain anything even *slightly* melodic. I was talking to one of the Israeli dj’s afterwards, and he said he had even gone up to the decks and turned this guy off at one point and told him to play some decent tracks. Well, i missed that, ’cause we decided that while this guy was arsing around, we’d catch some sleep.
We came back later on that morning, and zen was playing again, the majority of the crowd and headed for home, (whimps! 🙂 and of course only the die hards were left, but what a sound bunch of die hards! We had really good fun dancing around together. there were quite a lot of different nationalities, there seemed to be an oriental contingent, a crowd from England, a few Israeli’s, dutch people, (of course 🙂 and us! The Israeli dj I mentioned earlier took over from Zen, and he had really good fun behind the decks. He was well into his music and he was having a ball. Gave him a lift back to Sloterdijk afterwards as well, and he’s a really nice bloke. The whole party had to stop around 5.30 or 6 pm on sunday ’cause the wind got too much and the tent started to suffer something major. The weather was miserable, it pissed down most of sunday, and the wind was horrible all weekend, but we had a brill party anyway.
Maybe timo, Goose and Undertow can throw in some more comments. Matt & Remko, you missed a good one! Hope you’re jealous! But not as jealous as I’ll be when you go to Luna Landing in Bochum on wednesday…. why do they have such line ups mid-week! Obviously not aimed at us working class…. :o(
Wish i could fill you in more on the dj names, like, the names of those two 17 yr olds that blew the top off the tent….. maybe you know timo? They were wicked! like a junior version of Bansi and Riktam.
That’s it for now. ’till next time, sssssssssssmiles,=o)
Having just been exposed to the most wonderful free party of my life, held in an old farm in Cornwall (yes 500 mile round trip, no sleep, 12 hours dancing). I can sort of understand how good the Welsh woods thing must have been. This party went on and on and on – never ending it seemed.
We were still dancing at 12 midday. The music was the finest psychedelic trance ever to reach my ears. The hosts of this party were the legendary TIP. If you ever get a chance to get to a TIP party, GO it is an experience never to be forgotten. Plenty of free lemonade. Everything and I mean everything is laid on, even rooms to lay sleeping children in, bonfires, chill rooms, candle light grottos, superb decor and DJ’s of monumental ability (Si Posford).
Never ever in my life have I been so contented . I rocked for hours not even able to speak a single word in case I broke the spell, people were pulling my arms, hugging me, kissing me, offering me all manner of nau-ghties but all I could do was smile even further and shrug that expression of “you know where I am and you don’t really wanna disturb me do you”. Jim
Saturday I was quite monged out. I got up late, and everyone had decided to go to Exodus, after much vacillating (Ronan was having a birthday party at the Point/Hobgobblin which meant there would be Oxford fun although I was externally worn out after only 2 hours sleep having speeded last night away) I got carried along. I got a lift (along with Mark, Petra and Moje) in Chris’s car and we went up to Eddies, where a huge convoy of Oxford people were amassing to journey to the Exodus free party/festival. Among the stalwarts there were Bone, Mazzer + g/friend, Cait, Tasha + female friends, Luton (big) Mark, Kettle, Quentin, and maybe a dozen others whom I knew less well. Duncan, Charada, Emma etc. were being driven up in a Joe’s (female) van but had already departed. After much sitting about we finally set off at 11:30 which is a shame because I could have gone to Ronan’s birthday do until 11 and still caught up with the Oxford convoy.
The drive was an exciting plunge through the night (although sadly we lost Bone and Mazzer’s car which broke down I think) arriving at Dunstable at 12:30 ish. We drove to a huge industrial estate to see an amazing sight. Lining the roads were 100 upon 100 of cars, all full of people, laughing smoking and drinking and waiting for the sign.
We sat about listening to loud music in one of the many car parks, chatting to people as the excitement built. I never thought that in these days of the harsh Criminal Justice Bill I would see such freedom again!
Then it came, an army land rover with a red flashing light filled with the Exodus “peace” stewards (what it says on their jackets) passed and the roads were filled. A massive convoy of cars with all kinds of freaks set off. Surprisingly every rule of the highway code seemed to be obeyed and nobody queue jumped, instead we drove in an orderly line 5 or 6 miles long (at least). Now and then we would reach a junction and more Exodus people would point the way (they seemed to have several 100 volunteer organizers + quite a few vehicles, most ex army landrovers and lorries (good for cross country) painted with a red star). I was told usually there is no trouble with the police, who allow it to go on, tacitly acknowledging the fact that the crime rate plummets to nothing whenever one of these parties occurs. This time there was some police hassle though because we crossed a county line and went into Buckinghamshire and the beautiful Chiltern Hills.
We were near the tail end of the convoy and suddenly everything stopped. After a while of sitting in the car we saw several police riot vans whizz by followed later by some Exodux land rovers. After some sitting about listening to soothing classical music the word was passed down to park our cars and walk in. Some walking revealed that the police had set up a road block. Several Exodus stewards (now balacaved to avoid identification) and the police were having a heated argument, next thing I heard was a shout “get the bricks ready lads” (lads was presumably us a crowd of about 200 onlookers), at this the police fled straight away, and for the rest of the night that was the last we saw of them. Ironic that the Luton city dwellers would tell us to get bricks ready on an isolated rural lane.
Chris and I returned to our car and drove in, making a quid donation towards the party. We got to a car park and soon located the others. The party itself was in a large valley, a big green belly button of the countryside. The valley was very steep (I think it was artificial, maybe a quarry in its past life) and we had “fun” getting down. I scoffed my wrap of billy to wake me up and decided to explore the lip of the valley to get my bearings. This involved another huge climb and about 1 hour of walking taking me round the valley and into the dawn.
I was impressed, everyone was very very friendly and the vibe was excellent. Black and white, old and young, all partying through the night, I saw quite a few faces I had seen on the TV program about Exodus. There was no trouble and no bad attitude, they even allowed some jugglers with devil sticks onto the dance floor (perhaps they are too mellow), thankfully there were no bongo players. The sun rose to reveal a scorcher of a day, and a beautiful deep green on the hills. I decided to meet Uncle Ebeneezer with the help of a cup of tea and a bean burger (yes there was even tea there, how civilized!). The music was some of the best I have heard recently, contrary to what I had been led to believe there was no jungle, mostly really good techno with a good beat, as Eddie (the rasta man) said if you can jump you’ll love exodus. But the friendly atmosphere made it (some people had even brought their kids). We partied on through one of the sunniest days this year (good job I brought my suncream) leaping and cavorting until about 5pm next afternoon. All in all it ranks as the best rave I went to (especially as it was “free”) and perhaps one of the better events since the days of the free festivals! Phil
Beach front Party
At the last mo plans for hitting RTTS at the Fridge on Friday were shelved as words reached our ears of a free open air party to be held at a southern seafront location on the Sat night. The rumours were from 2 very reliable sources and the dj’s were to include top goa trance dj’s (amonst others)….. weather forecast brilliant………………. who could resist.
Just in case the whole thing blew out TRIP web pages were scanned for a back up party but the nearest psychedelic one was the Spacehopper in Brum which was too far to go from where we were going. So it was shit or bust.
90 miles down the m25 and other motorways flashed by in no time and we soon found the location as other potential revellers were all about town at pub kicking out time wandering down to the beach front. T’was a fine but cool night. We still had the feeling that it may or may not happen and this added to the excitement.
We parked up down a deserted beach path and stumbled down to the front, ears straining to hear any repe-titive beats.
Other guys were all around us some clearly pissed up and just along to see what was going on down their town. We followed some distant sounds and soon found ourselves at a party right on the seafront under tall white cliffs a long way away from anywhere. Generators were powering sound rigs, lights and visual projec-tions. Perhaps 150 people were dancing about to the hard trance sounds.
The psychedelic sound people 500 yards up the front were having trouble with their supplied generator (the organisers had supplied 110v instead of 240 v) and it wasnt till the early morning that they worked miracles and managed to get some sort of sound out of their equipment. So we went back to the hard trancey sounds and tried to get into it (with considerable success – similar music to EFS) and whilst it did not trans-port us to those special places that only psychedelic trance can the sheer energy had us freaking hard on the floor.
More people added till I guess there were 400 or so total revellers there some sitting around fires some sit-ting in perches in the cliffs or just walking along the beach. Pissheads as usual fucked off about 2am to leave it to the enthusiasts and the vibe whipped up. Plod appeared along the front and visited for 10 mins and viewed proceedings from their car, and to their credit did sod all and just turned around and went away.
Although free we gave 10 quid between us as a donation to the cause. The best bit was freaking whilst slowly becoming aware that light was creeping up on us and dawn broke at 4am to bring a different atmos-phere to the party…..it was a further full 2 hours before the sun burst brilliantly over the cliffs and the dancers caught each others eyes grinned and yelled as the dj put on a massive number which brought the party to a pinnacle. I will remember that moment for ever.
We wandered down to the psychedelic end of the beach as word reached us that they had pulled of the impossible and got their equipment to work. Here we freaked some more and was reminded just how much difference there is between good psy trance and the stuff we had enjoyed earlier. There was amongst the revellers some of the biggest names on the psy trance scene revelling in the ultimate a free party on the beach with perfect weather.
Some early dog walkers must have wondered what the bloody hell had hit their quiet little backwater.
Suddenly limbs got tired as the now very hot sun beat down on us and we decided to leave. GOD KNOWS how many people I shook hands with, grinned and struck up brief conversation with, all guys reciprocated and I must say it was a very very special party and the long drive back was done with a cheshire cat grin and the thoughts of ‘can this experience ever be topped? There were people who had travelled a long way for the experience and were not dissapointed. It was fair to say that the organiser was blown away by the number of people attending his bash………… he was on one from the success. Mark june ’96
What is a Free Party?
A Free party (also known as a rave or maybe a technival) is an all night or longer event, where people go to dance, socialise and have fun in an uninhibited way. Consider them temporary autonomous zones.
The venue can be anything from an unused warehouse, a tent in a field somewhere to outside on a beach. Expect dark dance areas lit only by coloured beams of light and strobes although you might get stage smoke and sometimes even lasers.
The crowd is mostly young ranging from 18 to 25, although there’s no age limit and there’s plenty of older ravers and a few younger ones too.
Something I like about free parties is the way a conversation about living in an old van on a traveler site can be followed by a conversation about Windows NT, despite what you might have been told, there is no stereotypical free party person.
There are some common features though: a friendly and outgoing personality, an ‘up-for-it’ attitude, and a love of music and the communal atmosphere.
Drugs are a feature of raves and free parties of course, particularly cannabis but also ecstasy, acid, speed, mushrooms and beer. Drug use is usually limited to the more social and recreational drugs.
A big requirement of a good free party is that it should be free entry, or at most only a small charge to cover the expenses of the organisers. The term “free party” means “free” in the sense that it’s a “free space” – a gathering of people with no limitations on expression imposed by the organisers
A true free party will also run until it ends, some of the bigger events spanning several days or longer.
Who runs Raves and Free parties?
Real free parties are organised by enthusiasts and not people trying to make money. Enthusiasts working together form sound systems with members responsible for technical things like getting power maintaining sound equipment, or maybe Dj’ing (sometimes even doing live sets), painting backdrops, etc…
Sound systems are the driving force behind organising free parties. Often systems collaborate with other crews to stage multi-rig parties offering a choice of rooms as each system has it’s particular style, ideology and following.
Should I pay to go to a free party?
Free parties usually ask for a small donation, but will sometimes let you in for less if you look poor enough or ask nicely. Some parties are entirely free, sometimes it’s possible for the organisers to cover costs by running a small bar. Overall though, organising a party is an expensive business requiring a lot of time, energy and effort so If organisers ask for a donation, be generous!
Once you’re there consider helping out as well, like tidying away rubbish at the end of the party or if you see people going around with the plastic bin bags.
Where can I find one?
Free parties, teknivals and squat parties aren’t hard to find, it’s just a matter of finding people who are in that scene. Parties kick off every weekend in London and all over the world, so keep your ear to the ground…
M41 Motorway Closed Off!
The meet-up point was Liverpool Street station, and when we got there at midday there was already a good humoured crowd gathered in the sunshine, buzzing with anticipation, as a handful of baffled policemen did their best to look like they were in control of the situation. A local newsagent did a roaring trade in ice creams and drinks in the blazing heat as we awaited instructions. A few moments later, a diminutive girl in a pixie dress came up to us and pushed a flyer in our hands containing the cryptic message telling us to ‘follow the people with the pink ribbons’.
Seconds later a huge roar went up as the first of the ribbon holders was spotted heading into Liverpool St tube station, quickly followed by the surging crowd. The sound and spectacle of a multitude of drummers echoing down the tiled corridors and a kaleidoscopic range of hair and face colours proved a little too much for a party of Japanese tourists who stood by the escalators, jaws wide open in stunned amazement. This wasn’t in the tourist book!
We caught the train to Shepherd’s Bush and came out to see the entire roundabout completely gridlocked and the exit surrounded by police vans. Some guy felt inspired to jump up and down on a traffic box stark naked, gesticulating wildly at the unamused massed ranks of officers. Unfortunately, further down the road some potential road ragers were frothing madly at the hold-up. I argued with some guy who was effin’ and blindin’ loudly from his huge shiny car. After some debate he came up with the conclusion that he didn’t mind if he was held up because of traffic, but being held up by *people* was an absolute outrage! Tosser.The crowds continued to build to a soundtrack of drums and car horns (not all sympathetic) until we embarked on what could only be described as a military-esque pincer movement.
The mass split into two, one heading directly to the roundabout, the other slipping round the backstreets to meet up at the opposite entrance to the roundabout behind the police blockade. Minutes earlier two cars had sealed off the slip road on to the M41 and the occupants had leapt out to build tripods on the road. Thus the road was cut off from the North at the same time as the two crowds rejoined to seal off the South exit. Success! Instantly, the motorway was a car free zone, and workers set about transforming the landscape. There was some considerable argy bargy as the police stopped a sound system being brought in over a ramp onto the motorway, but minutes later another sound system burst into life as huge banners were unfurled from lamp posts. Within ten minutes the whole road was completely jammed with a ‘large number of persons pursuing a common purpose’, enjoying the space and freedom to dance to some of those darn ‘repetitive beats’ and take in the glorious sunshine.
Musicians, stalls, bands, street performers and sound systems were adding to the festival spirit, while kids played contentedly in the ton of sand that had been deposited in the road. By the entrance some people had recreated a front room in the fast lane, relaxing on a selection of sofas, playing guitars and reading newspapers, while their dog slumbered contentedly on the rug.The turnout of 7,000 plus was amazing – as far as the eye could see there were people dancing on the road and crash barriers with DJs and sound systems doing it for love not lucre. This was rave music as it should be heard – defiant, proud, full-on and communal – without a bomber jacketed doorman in sight!Further down the road two twenty-five feet Marie Antoinettes were pushing up tight against the police lines whilst underneath their billowing skirts – unbeknown to officers standing inches away – power drills were busily breaking up the tarmac and devious types were getting ready to plant trees on the motorway. Wonderful.
Despite the vibe being very friendly and totally peaceful, a few of the police (as ever) did their best to get themselves a ‘situation’ or two, using the old tactics of intimidation and confrontation. I went up with a small posse of 15 to help out the guys sat on the tripods, and we found ourselves in the ludicrous situation of being surrounded by over 90 (yes ninety!) officers – including several officers from an armed response unit with a helicopter hovering above! Surely, they must have something better to do?!
Still, once again the Reclaim The Streets posse had outwitted and outfoxed the police and the huge turn out reflected the fast-growing concern for the city environment. The politicians may still be busy kow-towing to the motor industry and churning out excuses, but there’s a lot of people out there who know something must be done – now! Respect to all those that came out. See ya’ at the next one.
After expecting the worst on entering the Police Station on Monday 28th October, ( ie Criminal damage to the M41, to the tune of £46,000 and possibly being kept on remand) Paul M. was instead charged with Criminal Damage to the tune of £2,000 – big difference ( possibly two years difference). There followed a day and night of celebrations. He has a plea hearing in January. Great news also concerning the other RTS activist that was wanted for ‘questioning’ as he is no longer wanted.
We also have our computers back, though of course the police now have copies of our hard disks as a souvenir.
Thanks to everyone for all the messages of support and concern over the past three months – apparently the police were surprised at the waves caused after Paul’s arrest, we of course were not.
Love and thanks from all at London RTS
Police Attack Nottingham RTS ’98
Nottingham’s Reclaim The Streets party was held on September 19th, in part to compensate for the city council having banned the annual carnival. The party went ahead, but was marred by extreme violence from the local constabulary.
They had been promised ‘zero tolerance policing’ and that was exactly what they got. Around 1000 people were met by police lines as they left the meeting point. Some tried to break through the lines and one was thrown by police through a plate glass window. At this point the crowd retreated and another street was occupied until people were charged by mounted police. One woman holding a baby was dragged screaming across the street by three police officers.
The crowd eventually managed to meet up with a sound system and occupy Mansfield Road. The van containing the second sound system had its windows smashed and its driver and passenger dragged through them by police. After this the party started and the atmosphere lightened as people danced and children played. Sadly, by this time the police harassment had driven many away. At 6:00 the party ended and the crowd moved off to the Forest Recreation Ground at which point the police arrested 54 people, some allegedly involved in confrontation earlier in the day, some just random party goer.
One witness commented: ‘People deserve a carnival as a break from the monotony of daily life. The people of Nottingham wanted their carnival and when they tried to organise one the police decided to crush it.’ They might have tried to crush it but they couldn’t stop it
Apparently about 30 people were arrested at the party and another 20 on Forest Fields (the Goose Fair land) afterwards. We’re waiting for reports and pictures. Meanwhile:
From a first-time partygoer:
The Nottingham RTS on Mansfield Road was a first for me. I write to you now as a convert. I do not share all of RTS’s political views, but for me the point of the street party is to question the established hierarchy, encourage better policies on public tranport, and have a fucking good time. Where else can you dance ecstatically surrounded by police in broad daylight? When else do you see thirty-somethings, children, Big Issue Vendors and up-and-coming young executives discard their differences and share in a truly solid community event?
The car will never be destroyed (not before we have really fucked the place up), and capitalist ideas of economic progress are here to stay. And there are positive things to be said for both. But I am an idealist, and hope that the continued RTS carnival will have some effect, might reduce the traffic, might encourage subsidised public transport, might see more city centres wholly pedestrianised. The important thing for me however has been to make me stop and see that it doesn’t have to be this way, that if I WANT to stop the traffic and dance all afternoon in the street I can. And in a street empty of bustle, noise and dirt, no-one can deny the atmosphere is more congenial than usual.
Islington, North London Reclaim The Streets
Police Violence At Reclaim The Streets Demo On Sunday 23rd July 1995 from 2pm approximately 2000 people occupied Upper Street in Islington, North London, demonstrating against society’s dependence on the motor car and the fact that it causes pollution and death. The demo, which closed Upper Street and part of Liverpool road to traffic for the whole afternoon and early evening, was more of a party with both live and recorded music, food, stalls and a great kids area.
At 8pm a number of uniformed police officers backed up by 10 riot v started moving the demonstrators down Upper Street towards Angel tube station. At this stage the demonstrators numbers had reduced to around 150. The officers were spread across the road. Demonstrators were moving down towards the tube station. The mood of the demonstrators (and the police) was still friendly.
At approximately 8:15pm, for reasons known only to the police, a number of officers from the Territorial Support Group (TSG or riot police) in full riot gear started assisting the uniformed police. They were supported by at least 10 other vehicles, police in helicopters and video crews positioned on buildings. The mood of the demonstrators was still peaceful. At least 18 police vans full of TSG had been spotted some 50 minutes earlier in a back street near Upper Street. It must be asked why so many officers in full riot gear were on standby so early when the mood of the day had been so peaceful.
The deployment of police in riot gear made the atmosphere a great d more aggressive. A small bottle (ONLY ONE) was lobbed towards these riot police. It was NOT aimed at the uniformed police who were some way in front of the riot police at this stage. Within seconds of this happening, the TSG drew their batons, pushed past the uniformed officers and started assaulting demonstrators with shield and batons. Over approximately the next 90 minutes the TSG violently pushed and beat demonstrators towards and past Angel tube station and down Pentonville Road. At this stage there were some 200 officers in full riot gear backed up by at least a further 100 officers in uniform. There were under 100 demonstrators.
The riot police pushed demonstrators down Pentonville Road. the wer asked on numerous occasions by the LDMG where they were directing people and to ‘calm down’. Needless to say their answers were less than helpful. Eventually (at approximately 9pm) demonstrators, whose numbers were now less than 50, were moved into Northdown Street where all exits were blocked by police and riot vans. Many people trying to leave this area were searched. The reason the police gave when pressed was that there had been a public order incident, missiles had been thrown and offensive weapons had been seen – so they were checking if people had missiles or offensive weapons.
From the moment the riot police took over from the uniformed police they were indiscriminately and very heavy handedly arresting protesters. In total they arrested 17 people. At least one demonstrator needed hospital attention (head split open by a police truncheon) and two more were knocked unconscious by the police. Every time a legal observer tried to get details of an arrested person we were either threatened with arrest, were physically moved from the scene of the arrest, or were assaulted.
Although the actions of the riot police were totally out of control throughout the whole episode, we feel a number of incidents deserve special attention: * One particular officer in full riot gear was seen on at least three occasions using his clenched fist to punch demonstrator in the head and face – one of whom was knocked unconscious. * An articulated lorry was moving through the crowd and the police were violently pushing people past it causing a number of them to lose balance. It was only luck that somebody did not fall under the wheels of this vehicle. Police were asked to stop pushing for a while by legal observers and told to “move or be nicked”. * When one demonstrator was knocked unconscious, legal observers protesters tried to see if he was alright, but were viciously pushed and beaten by the police. Although being advised by a person with medical knowledge that this person should not be moved, the police continually tried to move him.
As soon as arrests were made, the LDMG tried, with difficulty, to get solicitors to all of those arrested and to find out some information about them. We staffed our office throughout the night and next day, receiving numerous calls asking the whereabouts of missing protesters. By 5am, we had details of all protesters arrested.
Charing Cross police station would only release 1 (who accepted a caution) of the 10 arrestees. The rest were held overnight and appeared in Bow Street Magistrates Court the following day, which we monitored. Two of those held were refused bail and are presently on remand at Brixton Prison until 31st July. We feel the decision to hold them overnight at the police station and in prison was vindictive and excessive. Three of those arrested were for possession of drugs and all three pleaded guilty.
We have set up a defence campaign for the 13 still facing charges. Another indication of the states attempt to brutalise and criminalise us is the severity of these charges. Most are being charged with section 2,3 or 4 of the Public Order Act 1986. Our aim now is to; get the two out of Brixton Prison; prove all 13 innocent; look into actions against the officer who punched demonstrators and; assist people to sue the police for false arrest.
WE NEED LOADS OF HELP
* We have set up a ‘bust fund’ to pay for expenses etc (we have already visited and got cash to the two on remand). We need money so please send cheques/Postal Orders to us as soon as possible – made payable to LDMG and sent to the above address.
* We need you to publicise what happened as widely as possible (articles, posters, word of mouth, internet etc) especially asking for witnesses to arrests to contact us ASAP.
* We need people to help out in loads of other ways as we are only small group with limited resources both in terms of money and people.
The Legal Defence And Monitoring Group is a UK voluntary organisation who provide legal monitors for demonstrations, actions and other events where civil rights abuses may occur. Their job is to watch the police activity at such events and try to gather information, witnesses and evidence to use in defence of those arrested unnessecarily. This is their report of events at Reclaim The Streets, a peaceful demo based in North London.
Legal Defence & Monitoring Group c/o B.M. Box Haven, London, WC1N 3XX.
Brighton RTS ‘ 96
A report on the policing of the `Reclaim the Streets’ demonstration in Brighton on 24 August 1996
On 24th August 1996 Sussex Police mounted a major police operation to stop a `Reclaim the Streets’ demonstration in Brighton. Eighty people were arrested, and the operation is said to have cost £100,000. So far about 46 people have been charged with offences arising from the event. Brighton Legal Defence and Monitoring Group (BLDMG) has published this report to highlight a widely felt concern at the policing of this event. We believe that on the day the police often acted in an aggressive, unreasonable, violent, and illegal manner. We list a number of issues of concern that we feel arise from the policing of this event. We also include a chronology of events in which we document some of the incidents on the day as recorded by our Legal Observers and other eye witnesses. We have omitted the names of those being arrested and the numbers of the police officers involved, although we have these details in most cases.
BLDMG was formed in April 1995 to monitor policing of protests in Brighton and to offer legal information and defence to those attending. Our Legal Observers, some of whom work in the legal profession, are given a legal briefing before events and wear bright orange tabards identifying them as Legal Observers. We have monitored a number of events in Brighton since we were founded, and have, until the arrest of some of our Legal Observers at this event, had a good relationship with the police who have recognised our independent role. Legal Observers do not take part in demonstrations and are independent both of the police and demonstrators.
We hope this report will be useful in initiating a real debate over the policing of this event, and over the policy decisions of Sussex Police that led them to act in the way they did. We do not believe the people of Brighton want their police force to act in the way they did on that day and that the Chief Constable of Sussex Police, and the officers involved, should be held accountable for the actions they have either sanctioned or carried out.
Brighton Legal Defence and Monitoring Group
ISSUES OF CONCERN
1. The arrest of Legal Observers
We are extremely concerned by the decision to arrest two Legal Observers, clearly identified by orange tabards with LEGAL OBSERVER written on the front and back, at the beginning of the demonstration. Nine hundred legal information leaflets detailing the rights of an individual on arrest were seized. At the police station, one of the Legal Observers was told he would be held until the demonstration was over. There appears to be remarkable inconsistency in the police approach here, as Sergeant Delacourt informed Legal Observers after the two arrests that the police would not arrest Legal Observers as long as they did not take an active part in the demonstration. Why, then, were the two arrested Legal Observers not released at this time? Why, instead, were both Legal Observers held until late that night, refused access to solicitors, and eventually bailed on the extremely serious charge of conspiracy, a charge much more serious than the one they were arrested on?
Both Legal Observers who were arrested have subsequently been told they will not be charged. They intend to sue Sussex Police in connection with their arrests.
2. Unprovoked police violence against protesters and the public
Early in the day police officers in riot gear with police dogs arrived on the streets. This deployment, we believe, was provocative and inappropriate, given that the mood of the demonstrators which was good humoured and peaceful until the police themselves became violent.
Police movements in West Street between 2pm and 3pm appear to have been co-ordinated to block all exits to the area and then to squeeze the crowd into a smaller and smaller space. One Legal Observer, crushed between police lines and demonstrators, repeatedly and clearly asked for permission to leave the area peacefully. The Legal Observer received no reply. He was then hit in the chest by a police baton and was physically unable to leave the area for 25 minutes. It is difficult to find a possible justification for this decision by police officers to refuse to let people leave the protest.
We have received written and verbal reports, photographs, and video footage of police acting in what appears to be a completely unjustified manner. This includes:
batoning a reporter for standing on a wall
use of neck-locks and other physical restraint against people offering no resistance
attacks on disabled people
the use of batons in an aggressive and illegal manner.
The widespread nature of these incidents suggest that they were part of a planned operation during which the police seriously overreacted to a peaceful demonstration.
3. Unjustified arrests of protesters and members of the public
Many of the arrests on the day seem to have been motivated by an attempt to intimidate the crowd rather than being related to the actions of the individuals arrested. We observed, or received reports, of people being arrested for:
reading out poetry
carrying a papier-mâché sea horse
reading aloud an article about pollution
tripping over a kerb
handing out legal information leaflets
standing on the pavement
We are extremely concerned that the police decided to make widespread, spurious arrests of this nature and that they seem to believe that they were justified in doing so.
. The attempt to stop a public meeting to discuss the demonstration
The police attempted to prevent a public meeting called by the group called Justice? on 2nd September to discuss the policing of the demonstration by threatening the landlord of the pub where the meeting was planned to take place. We can think of no possible justification for this political use of police officers, which was clearly aimed at stifling public debate about the actions of their colleagues.
5. The lack of accountability of the police for their actions
According to our observers on the day, the police acted violently towards peaceful members of the public, including Legal Observers and journalists. They also arrested many people, including Legal Observers, for no apparent reason. We believe that such police actions raise legitimate grounds for public concern. We are concerned that there seems to be no effective mechanism for making the police publicly accountable for such actions.
Individuals can, if they feel they have been unfairly or illegally treated by the police, take individual action against the police. This can be in the form of a complaint to the Police Complaints Authority or civil action against the police. We believe, however, that in a democratic society the police should be accountable to elected representatives for their operations. This does not seem to be the case.
Sussex Police are nominally accountable to Sussex Police Authority. It seems, however, that the Police Authority are not allowed to question `operational’ decisions by the police. We understand that Sussex Police Authority have not even asked for a report on the events of 24 August from the police. The police have said the matter is sub judice – something that has not stopped them writing to the local press to seek to justify their policing of the event.
We believe that Sussex Police Authority have a duty to the people of Brighton to make Brighton’s police accountable for their actions at this event. If they fail to do so adequately we do not think politicians should be surprised if increasing numbers of people come to see the police as, quite literally, out of control.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
This chronology is largely based on the contemporaneous notes of independent Legal Observers at the event. Police numbers and the names of those arrested or assaulted by the police have been omitted, although we have these details in most cases.
12.45 Our Legal Observers arrive in Churchill Square. A small crowd has begun to gather. The first Legal Observer is arrested at this time. Another Legal Observer is unable to obtain a reason for this arrest.
12.50 A second Legal Observer is arrested as he begins to hand out legal information leaflets. Three officers grab him from behind without warning or explanation and frog-march him to a police van where he is arrested “to prevent a breach of the peace”.
12.55 One of the remaining Legal Observers tries to find out the basis for the arrest of the two Legal Observers but is givens no explanation by several officers. Sergeant Delacourt says he does not know why they have been arrested.
Pete West, a local Green Party councillor, introduces himself to Chief Inspector Streeter as the Reclaim the Streets police liaison officer. C.I. Streeter says he is too busy and asks another officer to tell Councillor West that he should communicate with John Street Police Station. Councillor West comments:
“I told the officer I had no way of communicating with the police station, but the police were very unsympathetic and I had to find a pay phone. The march started moving off while I was waiting for the police station to phone me back and I had to abandon the phone box to keep up with the crowd. I eventually got hold of a mobile phone and repeatedly rang the police station to report unnecessary arrests; violent arrests; a woman being separated from her child; officers hiding their numbers; various other concerns about the police’s actions provoking a worsening of the situation. All this was noted but not acted upon.
“While I was witnessing one arrest C.I. Streeter threatened me with arrest. I immediately stepped back onto the pavement as requested. C.I. Streeter then pointed me out to six officers and told them that if I stepped off the pavement again I should be arrested immediately. C.I. Streeter was aware I was a councillor and liaison officer for the demonstrators but, despite earlier police complaints that the organisers of the demonstration would not communicate with the police, he refused to liaise with me.”
13.00 A female inspector on duty tells a Legal Observer that the two arrested Legal Observers are to be charged with incitement.
13.05 Two other Legal Observers are approached by Sergeant Delacourt and two colleagues. They tell the Legal Observers that this is an illegal demonstration, and ask them for their names and addresses, whether they are part of any organisation and what they are doing there. Sergeant Delacourt is told that Legal Observers are there only to observe. Seargeant Delacourt gives an assurance that Legal Observers will not be arrested if they do not take an active part in the demonstration.
Meanwhile a man is seen being arrested for handing out leaflets in Churchill Square.
13.15 By now a large crowd has gathered in Churchill Square. There is a heavy police presence forming lines around the edges of the Square with police vans along the Western Road side. Police are dressed in ordinary uniforms with the addition of bright yellow vests. The media is present and proceedings are being recorded by an elevated CCTV camera set up next to the taxi rank across the road near the Clocktower. A police Evidence Gathering Team with video and still cameras is present. The general atmosphere is calm.
Police are addressing the crowd with a megaphone but are drowned out by shouting from the crowd. There is no visible presence of a team of demonstration organisers, so police appear to be targeting anyone who stands out from the crowd and arresting them.
13.22 A man is arrested in Churchill Square for reading out an article about pollution from the SchNEWS newsletter. One witness says at the time, “He was reading aloud from the SchNEWS. He was not causing any trouble and he went without resistance.”
Legal Observers are by now finding it difficult to monitor arrests as they are themselves being threatened with arrest for `obstruction’ if they get too close to an arrest.
13.30 The crowd is still in Churchill Square and arrests are still being made of anyone standing out from the crowd in any way. A Times journalist sees a man being arrested for “walking around and singing” in Churchill Square. The number of police in Churchill Square is increasing and the police are becoming more intimidating. A Legal Observer sees a police officer push a woman and jab a passer-by in the ribs with his truncheon.
13.38 A man is arrested in Western Road for assault. He says at the time, “But I didn’t touch anybody!”
13.40 A man is arrested in Churchill Square for reading poetry. Two men are arrested for `obstruction of the highway’, while walking along the pavement towards Churchill Square with a papier-mâché seahorse. The seahorse is confiscated by police as an item that might “cause a breach of the peace”.
13.43 A man is arrested by two officers.
13.46 A man in Churchill Square is arrested for addressing the public.
13.50 The atmosphere in Churchill Square is tense, but fairly good-natured and quiet. There is no trouble from the crowd. At this time people start moving from Churchill Square towards the Clocktower. The police do not try to stop them. People are dancing.
14.00 By now most of the crowd have moved away from Churchill Square towards the Clocktower. West Street has been cordoned off and police lines begin to hem people in on all sides of the Clocktower except North Street. The police have effectively stopped the demonstration around the Clocktower. There is a heavy police presence at the bottom of West Street and police in Cranbourne Street are putting on riot gear. Amongst the protesters, drumming starts and a shower of beachballs are thrown in the air and start bouncing around the crowd.
14.06 Police begin pushing protesters from Queens Road into West Street. Police advance up West Street towards the Clocktower. North Street is now being cordoned off and demonstrators begin to move into West Street. There is a party atmosphere amongst the crowd. Police dogs are seen arriving at this time around the Clocktower.
14.10 Police move across the Clocktower end of West Street and begin to push people down West Street towards the seafront. The crowd is now being packed into West Street between police at the top of the street and more police and police vehicles at the bottom. The police are now pushing the protesters into the section of West Street between the Clocktower and Duke Street. Three officers are seen, without provocation, to be pushing demonstrators particularly aggressively at this point. Demonstrators near the Clocktower are not happy with the treatment they are receiving, but the atmosphere remains fairly calm. Riot vans are now present behind police lines.
14.15 Police start deflating any beachballs that drift their way. A police helicopter arrives.
14.25 The police make an announcement but there is so much noise in the crowd that no one can hear it. The atmosphere is still peaceful among the demonstrators. Police dogs have now arrived. The police lines start moving down from the Clocktower and up from the sea, squeezing the crowd in West Street. Police with dogs clear Duke Street.
14.30 Duke Street is cordoned off. Police charge north up West Street towards the Clocktower and there are several arrests. Those arrested are forcibly photographed and put in vans. A young woman is seen being arrested by two officers in West Street. A witness to the arrest says the woman was doing nothing at the time. The woman is very distressed about her young baby which needs feeding. One of the arresting officers is seen to bundle the young woman away from her baby.
14.40 Police near the Clocktower start putting on riot gear. Police dogs appear in the middle of the road. Riot police arrive and are overheard receiving orders to “Charge gently up West Street”.
14.50 The police line is pushing up Cranbourne Street as police vans move down West Street. Police are hemming the crowd into an increasingly confined space. A Legal Observer tells a police officer that he wants to leave but the officer just stares at him. Another officer jabs the Legal Observer hard in the chest with his baton. At the same time a pedestrian walking down West Street is violently arrested on the pavement outside the TSB bank.
15.00 Most of the crowd leave West Street into Cranbourne Street. They cross Churchill Square and move down to the seafront.
15.10 The demonstration is now moving east along the seafront towards the Palace Pier. The atmosphere is generally good. A man with a child on his shoulders walking along the pavement is threatened with being charged for `breach of the peace’. Traffic has stopped and drivers are being offered leaflets by protesters.
15.15 West Street has now been cleared and the police are pushing people up Cranbourne Street.
15.25 Some of the protesters start heading north from the seafront towards the Old Steine. Meanwhile in Cranbourne Street the police are pushing people between a van and a large plate glass window, squashing people against the glass. A man appears to be knocked unconscious against a wall by the police.
15.30 A black man with dreadlocks cycling down West Street is told by a police officer, “You swear one more time and I’ll arrest you”. The officer grabs the man off his bike by his waist and he is rammed head-first into the back of a police van. The man collapses into the van. A qualified first-aider, seeing that the man is unconscious, offers to help but is refused access by police. The police refuse to confirm if an ambulance has been called. The unconscious man is handcuffed in the van.
Meanwhile the protesters in the Old Steine start moving towards North Street. North Street is blocked by police and protesters start chanting, “We want a party!”.
Around this time a young man is assaulted on the seafront by a police officer. He asks for the officer’s number and when asked if he intends to make a statement about the assault replies “Yes” and is arrested. Shortly afterwards another police officer approaches the arrested man’s friend and tells him he will be prepared to be a witness to the assault by his colleague and gives his details. The arrested man is charged with `obstructing the highway’ and `causing intentional alarm, harassment and distress’.
15.45 An ambulance arrives and the black cyclist is carried into it on a stretcher accompanied by a police officer.
15.55 People start chanting “Scum, scum, scum!” as police make further arrests.
16.00 Some protesters are now moving along grand Parade towards St Peter’s Church. Police in riot gear carrying batons are walking behind the protesters treading on peoples’ heels and telling people to move faster. The atmosphere is now very tense.
16.10 The demonstration reaches Preston Circus. An arrest is made for obstruction. An ambulance with its siren on appears and the crowd clears to allow it to pass. The protesters start to move up New England Road.
16.20 A Rolls Royce drives at speed through the demonstration in New England Road, hitting two people.
16.25 By now people are moving across Trafalgar Street and into Sydney Street. The protesters are then herded into North Road and left towards Grand Parade and the Old Steine.
16.35 The protesters arrive in the Old Steine again. The police clear the road and protesters start heading to the roundabout by the Palace Pier.
16.48 A man is violently arrested, apparently for drumming. He is grabbed around the neck and forced to the ground by a police officer who headbutts him with a crash helmet giving him a bloody nose. Outrage starts to spread amongst the protesters.
17.00 Protesters are now on the seafront west of the Palace Pier. The atmosphere is good-natured until there are a mass of arrests.
17.02 Police are hitting people inside a police van.
17.20 A man is deliberately hit in the face with a baton by a police officer at the seafront. The event is captured on video.
Bristol Reclaim The Streets 10/7/99.
This is being written on Monday 12/7/99 to pass on a subjective point of view of Bristol R.T.S.. Firstly I Have to confess that I haven t seen any of the TV news footage or any newspaper coverage other than our local rag. However our local paper, the Evening Post, have written an extensive smear article stretching across five pages, and I imagine that anybody else planning to attend or organize a street party this summer can expect as heavy a response from both police and media as we received on Saturday. I ll start by making some initial comments on the day s events and then address our local paper s coverage .
Firstly I would like to stress the success of the day s action. I always take the primary objective of a street party, to be a party in a street, and this definitely occurred. The M32 into Bristol Central was blocked by activists and police (helpful as ever) for at least three or four hours. This, it must be said, is quite an achievement for a city like Bristol, which requires a London sized action to be effective, but just does not have the population size to deliver sufficient numbers of activists to cope with the vast quantity of tooled up coppers who get bussed in from around the region. So thanks to everyone who travelled to Bristol to attend.
Other successful autonomous actions included a pirate radio station, on air without any interference for 15 hours, broadcasting an array of subverts, propaganda, comedy sketches, articles, activist musicians, and heavyweight DUB and punk, as well as advertising the street party. This was a miracle of lo-fi lo-tech solutions and bodged sound engineering, and I have no doubt will make a reappearance in the future. Reclaim the airwaves !
The sound system got busted (I didn t witness this) and demolished. This is becoming a familiar occurrence in Bristol. It happened at both the spring and summer 98 events, and so it was down to the acoustic musicians and drummers to keep a vibe going, which they did successfully. People danced, the sun shone, it was a party. It seems clear that a sound system can be an unnecessary and perhaps all too exclusive accessory to a street party. Lots of people couldn’t give a toss about techno. I might go so far as to suggest that acoustic music is genuinely inclusive. You will also not be liable under any interpretation of CJA sections relating to raves, public entertainment licenses or the like. Get a samba band going – as loud as any sound system and loads easier to get in and out.
It was always to be expected that the first Street Party after J18 was going to attract a lot of police and media attention. To be honest, an overwhelming police presence at a party in Bristol is nothing surprising, and I can barely be arsed to devote any attention to them. Usual incompetence on their behalf, as well as a lack of any coherent strategy for dealing with protesters, fairly low key on the arrest front (compared to last summer s 63 arrests). Big on bad attitudes and intolerance, as well as a general lack of human feeling. Passers by were being allowed in through the police cordon, being told that they would be allowed out the other side, and then finding that they were trapped in by police who would not let them out again. People suffering in the heat were forced to remain inside the cordon without water. It was definitely entertaining to watch coppers in riot gear sweating some pork off, and I think that on such a hot day keeping yer pigs running around for as long as possible could be a very interesting tactic. I d like to see some collapsing from exhaustion in future,
Our local rag, the Evening Pist, pulled out all the stops to create one of their more entertaining smears to date. We got the front page, page 2, a double page spread pp8-9 and their editorial. Cool. There was some weird shit in this article….apparently the whole event was organized in a squat in Stoke Newington (watch your backs folks) and a pub in Euston, both in London as I recall. The scale of this smear suggests to me that we might actually be worrying a few people. Check this quote,
“In previous marches the women and children have been lined up in front while the militant fringe have come up behind armed with poles and sticks. The women and children who frequently get hurt are known as cannon fodder to some extremists”
This is another case of dangerous drug addled journalists letting what passes for their minds to go on the rampage. Scum like this need locking up forever. Its the only way we can guarantee public safety. Strange that they should be so hostile; if it wasn t for us nobody would buy their paper. No surprise that their article has no byline, who d want to admit to writing such drivel ? The content of the article was intended to make out that Bristol had seen a riot to equal J18 in London, but this was far from the truth. I m not interested in pushing some fluffy manifesto, there just wasn t an opportunity for anything like J18 to occur on this occasion.
That s about all I can think of to write at this moment. Bristol says J18 clearly shook them up a great deal, and your local police farce will quite possibly react as if a people s army has arrived in town if you put a party on. Enjoy…..
Leicester’s Second Reclaim the Streets
Our Reclaim the Streets on June 8 went really well. It took place on a major road in the residential inner city of Highfields. Locally-based activists and other residents made up at least 3/4 of the 500-strong crowd which blocked Evington Road for the street party. The event had a really strong community feel to it.
Despite a police helicopter scouring the area initially, and van-fulls of party saboteurs loitering with intent to be miserable, we successfully set up three tripods at the location and were joined by a critical mass and the march. Four hours of asphalt partying was followed by a celebratory march to Victoria Park where activists danced on the grass and in the trees until midnight.
The local Leicester Mercury newspaper, which has a huge circulation, had a mixed news article on the following Monday June 9, with the headline “Car-culture protest ‘irresponsible’ – police” concerning the ‘risk’ to public safety and potential problems with emergency access. But the photos clearly showed the street party atmosphere: sofas, carpets, a paddling pool, and dancing in the street with crowds thronging Evington Road.
The Leicester Mercury of course has a regular ‘Driving Force’ motoring section, but as there is also public sympathy with anti-car protest they allowed us to write a 500 word piece about Reclaiming the Streets and cities for people which was published last Friday June 13, virtually unedited. They pointed out that the protest was illegal as we didn’t notify the police beforehand, and initiated a phone-vote on the issue: ‘Were the Reclaim the Streets protesters right?’ – Yes or No – and are encouraging letters. Spot interviews in the street showed full support for what we did except for one woman who said there was too much traffic but that blocking the street is the wrong way to make a point. And the result of the phone vote was: Yes 66% and No 34%. We won! And the debate is still going on in the letters page.
Nick – Leicester RTS
“Leicester’s Second Reclaim the Streets was an empowering experience for all who took part. For an afternoon we stopped the car culture in its tracks and reclaimed the streets from the traffic for the community.
“It was such a good atmosphere,” said one resident, “I looked around and everyone was smiling!” The children were having the time of their lives and were safe. Local shops did a roaring trade. It was a taste of the city as we want it to be.
The police condemnation of the event afterwards was uncalled for. We had legal observers and police liaison, dealt respectfully with the officers and even played football with them. The emergency services were notified by us as we began, and during the party a speeding fire engine was let through the crowd immediately.
Residents were not ‘irresponsible’ or a ‘threat to public safety’, and both sides respected our call for a peaceful event. We created ‘public safety’ in a major Leicester street: no muggings, no road deaths, no-one wheezing from asthma. We admit responsibility for caring about our community and the environment.
What is irresponsible are planners and politicians who encourage car-based development when almost everyone else is calling for an end to the car-culture.
We clearly have a lack of genuine democracy, and from the suffragettes to the tree protesters, people have taken direct action to bring about change for the better.
In Leicester, the East-West Link Road was stopped by co-ordinated lobbying and the threat of direct action. Residents also saved St Mary’s Allotments – the last remaining fragment of Leicestershire’s historic Southfields – and direct action saved the cherry trees in Town Hall Square too. Countless local residents’ groups have blocked roads to demand crossings where children have been injured or killed.
And the situation is serious: cars are dangerous, pollution is a real threat, and we are losing our last remaining green spaces. Local shops are being shut down faster than you can say ‘superstores did this to our community’.
We imagine a future where cities are designed and run by local people for local people. Where an integrated public transport system meets our travel needs. We want car-free streets lined with fruit trees and humming with conversation, roundabouts alive with the sound of fountains and the shouts of local traders. In short, we want a thriving local economy in a real environmental city.
It is realistic vision. In Groningen, Holland, no new road proposals are accepted and existing roads have been replaced by footstreets and cycleways.
Now more than 50% of journeys made are by bike and businesses are moving in because the city is so pleasant.
In York, pedestrians and cyclists are prioritised in planning decisions. So far 20% of all residential streets have been traffic calmed, and there is an extensive central footstreet area.
Leicester City Council deserves praise for the new cycleways and the Town Hall Bike Park, built to encourage green commuting. It is a start, but a slow, timid one, and is in stark contrast to the vast amount spent on roads.
Furthermore, any positive initiative will be neutralised by the Hamilton and Cattle Market developments. The latter has been deliberately drawn up to encourage and accommodate 1400 more cars in the city centre. This constitutes more than a lack of vision: it shows a disregard for our environment, our health and quality of life.
It’s no wonder that we need to Reclaim the Streets!”
Brighton Reclaim Your Feet!
Brighton was the scene for over one thousand empowered pedestrians, the vast majority of whom were not only local but were not from the ghetto of the alternative scene, who experienced an afternoon of mirth and mayhem by the sea on 24th August. They had a heavy police presence on the morning of the party and were frantically trying to stop it early and they even broke up a Rotary Club picnic on the beach thinking that that was the party! The original plan to have a street party on one street, transformed into a mobile Reclaim The Streets once the cops confiscated certain items. One up to the Blue Meanies you may think, but the action succeeded in disrupting more traffic and reclaiming more space than a party in a single street ever could have done.
The party began with the sight of many beach-balls being thrown amongst the crowd and finished with all main avenues in town having been walked, and many sore feet were spoken of after it had all finished. Crap arrests by the dozen helped to swell the total number arrested to eighty, but strangely a Rolls-Royce driver who swerved at speed through the crowd was not one of them (metallic bronze Rolls Royce, registration number 67 PHW).
The police effort to stop the action, code named ‘Operation Oscar’, cost over -100,000, and they can be proud of their contribution to obstructing the traffic in defence of Mother Earth. They can be less proud of their excessive use of batons and deficient use of brains.
By seven o’ clock that evening everyone was in need of a cuppa (or a chiropodist), and the arrestees (including legal observers charged with conspiracy to commit a public nuisance) were in need of a good lawyer in order to sue the police at a later date. Despite a few hiccups, the action was a great success, and this huge Critical Masses without bikes may set the trend in future anti-auto antics.
Birmingham Street Party
Around five hundred people turned up for the Birmingham Street Party on Saturday 17th August. Party goers carrying banners, drums and other musical instruments assembled in a park near the venue.
A Critical Mass bike ride set off and the eighty or so cyclists headed for a major road junction that that they had been led to believe that the police thought was the venue for the party. The people on foot left the park by another gate and met up with the van that was carrying the sound system, surrounding it to prevent it being impounded. At first the police tried to clear a path through the crowd for it, telling the driver ‘not to worry, we’ll get you through.’ Once the police realised what was in the vehicle they tried to stop it going any further by letting it’s tyres down and driving police vans in front of it.
By this time the cyclists had returned from their diversionary ride and had occupied the venue. Eventually, after much pushing and shoving and negotiation, the sound system was set up and the party got going.
It appears the police had information that the ‘London Anarchists’ had infiltrated the party and were planning to dig up the road! Everything that came near the road was checked and one arrest was made for conspiracy to cause criminal damage, then, having stopped the threat to the road the police relaxed a little. As there was never any intention of digging up the road the police found it difficult to find any evidence and the charge was dropped.
At the end most of the party people moved off but about ten people were arrested. The police searched the house of the person arrested for conspiracy to cause criminal damage and having completed their search returned to the bottom floor by lift. It appears that some seven or eight police officers squashed in the lift, overloading it, and thus trapped themselves inside. To escape they had to force the doors open from the inside. The engineers who came to repair it said that this was not the first time that they had had to repair lifts damaged by the police in this way. The local residents group, backed by a letter from a solicitor, are pressing the council to send the bill to West Midlands Police.
Bath Reclaim The Streets
On the 17th August around one hundred people closed a major route through Bath at the city’s third Reclaim The Streets.
The police intelligence effort was a bit sad with it only seeming to comprise of them ringing Avon Gorge Earth First! and stopping an activist in the street a week before the event to ask them what was going on. Nobody told them and they didn’t notice the fly-posters, so they only caught up with the action half an hour into the march through town! It stopped on Walcot Street where cones, diversion signs, chairs, a play-tent and a see-saw appeared from nowhere as people began to enjoy a party in gorgeous hot weather. The usual cake eating, sofa-sitting, juggling, music-making and relaxing began and lasted for nearly five hours whilst traffic wardens diverted cars and a couple of cops looked on helplessly.
Passers-by were supportive and as one said: “Why can’t it be like this all the time?” Even motorists didn’t complain too much and some traders joined in, although one shop-keeper threw stink bombs and rotten eggs. Traffic chaos was reported all over the city, even though this was probably due more to it being an average Saturday in Bath rather than the Street Party itself.
No arrests, no pretend ambulance emergencies, less noise and less fumes…. more Street Parties are planned so don’t miss the next one.
The Occupation Of Seaforth Docks
On the morning of Monday 30th the tug boat operators went on strike, and at around 6am the docks were attacked. Under the very noses of the police who had been watching all night, two trucks full of dodgy looking people drove straight up to a side gate which a security guard kindly opened. Thirty activists had got through by the time he realised his mistake. After cutting two fences, one group ran to the gantries to be greeted by a security guard who demanded the password! This was considered unnecessary by the twelve activists who proceeded to occupy two of the gantries.
Simultaneously the other activists who had entered, occupied machinery, and one group approached the office, or ‘rathouse’ as it’s known by the dockers, from behind. Outwitting the police they scaled two fences, ran up the fire escape, made a human pyramid and managed to climb onto the roof to fly two red, green and black flags as well as hanging a banner saying ‘Sack the Bosses not the Workers’. Sadly the banner enjoyed under an hour of glory before being lost in a tug of war with the police. Out on the main gate around 800 protesters and dockers had gathered and spent most of the afternoon confronting the police as well as the scab workers.
Meanwhile, in the city centre a group of 20 activists occupied the offices of ACL (the major container company using Seaforth docks) and spent about half an hour talking to one of the directors discussing their shortsighted involvement with the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company!
Quietly, back on the picket line, in a tent backing onto the fence, a hacksaw got to work and around sixty people disappeared through the hole into the docks before police noticed anything amiss. A dash was made for the Rathouse with two people being pulled up onto the roof with only the aid of a rope. There was delight on discovering that one of the two was a determined docker who then spent the rest of the afternoon waving one of the flags and making new friends. After about nine hours of occupation and several picket line arrests, a deal was brokered between port police and the occupiers whereby the people on the gantries and offices didn’t get arrested and the police got – nothing.
The celebrations soon turned sour on the walk back to the squat. Angry that they had just had the complete piss taken out of them, police proceeded to use snatch squads randomly on the crowd. Many people found themselves on the end of bitter violence as police waded in with unprovoked attacks, hospitalising at least one person.
On arrival at the squat many had to immediately board coaches home. The remainder, realising it was probably not a good idea to stay at the squat, were escorted by the dockers to a pub wherethey could stay the night. The rest of the evening was spent getting totally pissed with the aid of STLG 200 put behind the bar by the dockers and a bloody good party was had by all!
The whole event has proved the genuine support that exists between groups. It is no exaggeration to say that the amount of support between us and the dockers was unsurpassable. Any prejudices either group had previously held were certainly overcome that day. To the surprise of the dockers, women occupied the gantries and roof , while men wearing dresses and nail varnish were lifted over the gates! We were impressed by their militancy, tolerance and sincerity.
We should all be able to decide what happens to our lives and environment, and must continue to recognise the importance of participating in each other’s struggles against human and ecological exploitation.
As well as this, on the Monday, ACL, the major container line using Seaforth docks, stopped using the docks and the Merseyside Docks and Harbour Company shares dropped dramatically. Elsewhere in the world there were solidarity protests with international blockading of ports. Bill Morris, the dockers union leader, has since ordered the dockers to disassociate themselves from our movement but the dockers have refused, stating that they stand by us in total solidarity. As they said: “next time you lot need a hand digging up any roads, give us a call!”
Cambridge Reclaim The Streets
In spite of a massive police operation, aided by the Essex Police helicopter, several dog sections, Suffolk and Norfolk Cops and under the watchful gaze of the Forward Intelligence Team (plainclothes and on their shiny new mountain bikes) over 1,000 people successfully reclaimed Mill Road in Cambridge for six sunny hours on Saturday 14th September. They turned one of the city’s most congested roads into a free party zone. Local residents were supportive with many askingwhen the next one was going to be. Police managed to intercept one of the tripods but made the mistake of trying to bring charges of theft against the tripod team, when the scaffold poles were actually legal. The other tripod was successfully raised and was soon followed by a crowd that had gathered at the railway station. A thin blue line held them back for a few minutes but a strong surge broke through. Drummers and two sound systems then kept the party going for the whole afternoon, with several hundred out-manoeuvred cops just standing by and watching. The sounds went off at 6.30pm and most people then left. Around forty people resisted the police line which was then blocking most exits and trying to clear the residue of the party instead of waiting for them to leave of their own accord. A typical over-reaction by the police yet again as they all changed into full riot gear. The riot cops then spent about the next hour baton charging the forty all the way to the ring road, while locals looked on bemused.
Cambridge police just couldn’t resist a macho show of force after losing the day to RTS – even the local MP is making a complaint to the Cambridge Chief Constable. Tally for the day was thirty-eight arrests. A defence campaign for those arrested is now being formed, with the prospect of suing for unlawful arrest.
Airport Evictions Take Off
After a long hard winter in Devon and the rapid, violent evictions of Allercombe and Trollheim it looked like Babylon had caught up and many people predicted the end of onsite campaigning. Now it’s all different: undersheriffs everywhere are wondering who’s next; Surrey County Council couldn’t afford to fight in Guilford; and Manchester Airport is counting the cost of another mammoth eviction. There the baddies made the same mistakes all over again with the security costometer spinning outta control.
The vindication of tunnels and the press attention at Fairmile brought confidence, publicity, new people and energy to the campaign against a second runway at Manchester Airport. Underground the much hyped “men in black” had their high tech operation reduced to hammer and chisels for most of the time and so are learning to appreciate how much work goes into defending the earth.
The eviction finally began in mid May at Zion Tree where tree dwellers led the first line of defence whilst the tunnellers held out for almost a week. Undersheriff Randall Hibbert managed to get his PR operation off to an appalling start as the first person out of the first tunnel in the eviction had been sprayed with what the bailiffs said was CS gas (though in reality it was water). To complete the blunder a journalist was truncheoned on the head when dragged from a bender despite making it clear that he was not going to resist. The media reaction to the violence set the agenda for the rest of the eviction – identifying the protesters as the ‘good guys’ although it’s still difficult getting away from the lifestyle focus.
The fence constructed around the camps before the eviction meant that once the undersheriff appeared on the scene security levels were not necessarily stepped up though the several complete deconstructions of the fence, with security collaboration, was probably about the same cost. This cooperation meant that protesters were still able to gain access to the site even when the fence was up; many of the security were quite blatant about their support and acknowledged that they were ‘doing a job’ but no more.
If this meant turning a blind eye to avoid confrontation then they were often prepared to do so. When the undersheriff foolishly banned the delivery of food and water to camps still awaiting eviction (a decision reversed after three hours in the face of protester and media outcry) the bailiffs pooled their lunches and delivered the food to one camp declaring that they disagreed with the dictat.
The eviction is now in its fourth week – the undersheriff having taken on one camp at a time and the tunnellers doing an excellent job at restricting the use of cherry pickers on site and ensuring that the eviction process lasted a significant time. Manchester Airport saw not only a strategic and effective use of underground burying but also a successful experiment with a ‘scab-proof platform’ on a treehouse. The four-storey construction, the Battlestar Galactica, managed to withstand four days of onslaught from the sheriff and his men and an increasingly infuriated Richard Turner and was eventually only defeated when a crane was brought on site.
What Newbury did for the south, Manchester Airport did for the north in terms of attracting thousands of new people and cementing the network for a sunny summer of actions. Aviation is firmly on the agenda and for more people than ever before it’s clear!
that it ain’t just about cars.
Regular Sunday Fundays in the lead up to the evictions brought hundreds of locals on site and their support was phenomenal. These so called green wellied ‘nimbies’ and the equally mythical ‘ecowarriors’ ignored the marginalising definitions and worked together on the vision of real progress.
On going to press there’s still one person down the Cakehole tunnel and there is still potential for visits to AMEC, TARMAC, Randell the Vandal and other greasy palms. The latest media guestimate has the costometer flashing like mad at Six Million Pounds and rising. Well done to everyone who came to cost, a bigger chunk of the population is thinking about sustainability with a whole bunch of them now prepared to fight for it.
On the same morning that Undersheriff Randalf Hibbert began an attempt to evict Flywood, the longest standing camp at the Manchester Airport protest site, his staff back in their elegant Chester offices must have thought they were far from the scene of the action.
Activists however didn’t want them to miss out and took the protest straight back to Hibbert’s offices. They managed to outwit two security guards, and gain entry to demand a meeting with the Undersheriff to discuss his refusal to allow independent legal observers access to the protest site. One activist locked onto a radiator, others inspected offices and made urgent phone calls and several more found their way onto the roof. Most of the staff seemed happy to have an early coffee break and a chat about the issues but two security guards (no doubt feeling a bit silly) kept wanting to try out armlocks on people and had to be scolded by police.
Eventually activists agreed to a chat by telephone instead of a meeting in person with Randy Hippy, as the Undersheriff has come to be known. He denied the need for legal observers, claiming that the eviction had been safe and gentle and refused to come to his office, claiming to be busy elsewhere.
Activists left after two hours, waving goodbye to the many police now occupying the garden. One person thinks she was arrested for breach of the peace – or maybe using the phone – but she’s not sure…
Reclaim yer streeets
They’re everywhere, practically every weekend, and sometimes you can go along and not even know anyone. Outrageous.. Even in York, where there was no sound system and the city is almost entirely pedestrianised several hundred people turned up and danced all day in glorious RTS sunshine. whilst the police, in a remarkable policy switch, voluntarily stepped aside and waved the Greenpeace solar generator van through.
A week earlier in Sheffield over 1000 people reclaimed a city centre dual carriageway as a simultaneous Critical Mass bike ride cruised around reclaiming other streets in the vicinity. Whilst madly dancing the reclaimers allowed a nervous policeman to escort out an even more nervous jag driver whose precious guzzler had sat five feet from the sound system for over an hour but was left completely untouched by the anarchist hoardes. Struggling to reclaim the high ground the Sheffield local nonsense paper described the street party as “an aggressive hostile group allowed to hold people to ransom” and decided to focus on an old lady who couldn’t catch her bus home.. Similar anarchic scenes have taken place in Leicester and Finland and, when Tony Blair heads off to Amsterdam for a change of scenery next week, he”ll find more of the same madness there too.
Protest camp at Wyndham Hill
Wyndham Hill, in Yeovil, is bordered on three out of four sides by concrete, development and car parks. It is a precious fragment of natural habitat, topped by 4 old lime trees. On the open part of the hill is an unbroken view of the Dorset border, marked by the river Yeo. Nestling into the hill is a popular river walk used by thousands. Now all of this is threatened by ‘development’.
There have been plans to develop the hill in the past. In 1994 Sainsbury’s plans to build a store on the site were scuppered. They also intended to fund a ‘bypass’ that would have destroyed the riverside walk and conveniently acted as an access road for them. Using a combination of lobbying and direct action Sainsbury’s were well and truly persuaded to give up
This year South Somerset District Council produced a draft plan, showing that they intended to trash the hill by building a carpark and link road on it. Now they have seven tree houses with more on the way and underground tunnels to contend with. The tunnels go under an existing car park which the council has had to close through fear of subsidence – it will soon be used for more useful things, like growing cabbages and beans
The main camp has been in place for over two months. It’s on the edge of a 16th century country estate which will also be trashed if the “Evil Lords of Tarmac” get their way. There are about thirty residents at present and they’ve had massive local support (a “Beep for Wyndham” sign has had to be taken down because the beeping was continuous!). Eviction orders have been given, a court case held and they’ve been ordered to leave forthwith. Activists believe that this is a winnable campaign so are encouraging people to join them as soon as possible.
Another Leeds RTS
Leeds streets were reclaimed for the second time on Saturday 18th May. People gathered in City Square and set off to a mystery destination. They suceeded in blocking a road in the civic heart of Leeds, between the Leeds Town Hall and the Library.
Police grabbed one of the tripods and tried to stop the other one being erected despite having told a police liaison person that they would only try to stop it if a major junction was blocked, an ominous sign as they had only stood by at the first event in December. The bouncy castle and stage with PA were soon out, followed by music, bands, face painting, children playing, banners waving, stilt demons stretching and the party was in full swing. Fascists were spotted throwing beer glasses in a nearby pub, but neither they nor the police tactics at the end were able to stop a good party. As soon as it became obvious that the party was about to finish the police horses came marching in, it seemed in order just to provoke people and they then began to haul people away. This only succeeded in causing confusion and bad feeling and delayed the end (probably the intention), and triggered an impromptu march up Woodhouse Lane (Otley Road) slowing traffic to walking pace. A few more people became victims of the snatch squads and there were twelve arrests in total. Leeds council are good at talking about how environmentally friendly they are but in actuality don’t carry anything through. Then as soon as people take positive initiative they send the police in feet first which does nothing but sour peoples relations with the police. The city is officially Transport city`96!
Then let’s have some proper cycle lanes, park and ride schemes and more pedestrianised streets Leeds City Council.