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urban75: rave and music section   Party animals?
  The free party scene in 2002

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(Source: SchNEWS, 12 July 2002)

Despite the best efforts of the cops backed up with roadblocks and the trusty old Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, free parties just won't go away. Usually low key attracting a few hundred with no one taking much notice, over the past few months some have become festival size.

The problem of trying to put on anything (ask the Welsh Green Gathering lot, SchNEWS 354) is you've got to jump through a million licensing hoops, or like Glastonbury forced to work with corporate cock suckers like Mean Fiddler.

Take Stonehenge where for the past few summers people have tried to sort out a festival afterwards last year the MoD pulled out at the last minute, this year there were rumours that farmers who were up for renting their land were warned off by the cops.


So instead of free festivals being at least a bit planned, and stuff like provision of toilets and wood for fires, it becomes a game of cat and mouse with the cops, with the result that parties end up on sites that aren't always suited.

One local complained to SchNEWS about the festival in Steart over the Jubilee weekend "Over ten thousand of you arrived at a nature reserve and birdlife sanctuary - at the height of the wading birds nesting season.

For three days, you terrorised the local inhabitants, and destroyed the nests and the fledglings." Guilfin responded "The site wasn't the one chosen, confusion abounded, a few rigs took to the previously used beach, then everybody else followed.


It's not on to use somewhere like that, but if you're not aware of its sensitivity, and the police are chasing down convoys, then it's not surprising someone made a snap decision to take the site. What we need is places to party safely and responsibly. Dancing shouldn't be an outlaw activity."

So beyond the road blocks the parties continue. Here's one report from someone outside The Great Wall of Glasto plc: "Several thousand people in a field, dancing to underground music from sound systems to live bands, taking whatever drugs they want as the party continues 24 hours a day, and making new connections outside capitalism's reign of terror.

Sound idyllic? This was the scene at Smeatharpe, a former airbase some twenty miles from Glastonbury last weekend. Worlds apart? Well actually maybe not.

Smeatharpe should be the ideal spot for a free party. It's in the middle of nowhere. The neighbouring farmer had no problem with the party as long as people showed him the basic respect of not using the fences for firewood (it's lambing season at the moment) or trashing his crops.

Not so tricky really, but that, unfortunately, is what happened, as well as kids burning a car left behind 10 years ago and sending a smoke signal of filth over the surrounding countryside.


Free parties and festivals are great cos they rely on the people there to sort out everything themselves there's no gap between organisers who sort out infrastructure and the punters. Everyone's on the same vibe - in theory. No one will look after your land for you, toilets and bins won't be provided.

So it's best to take a shovel (or even a trowel if you're hitching), clear your rubbish and take it with you, and if there are people who don't know the score, let them benefit from your experience.

Free events are a great opportunity for our culture to make the connections between free space and the environment we live in. Let's create the world we want to live in all of us, together."

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option London squat party scene in a critical condition?

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