| HOW TO HAVE A FREE PARTY!
Essential guide to putting on a free party
FREE PARTY LINKS
(Source: the excellent SchNEWS 2002)
Round up the crew, blag a rig and a van, find a venue, ring your mates and tell them where and when, score, set up the rig at the venue, switch it on and Bob's your father's brother.
Most Important Things:
Nice People in Safety
Top Sounds & Visuals
The best thing about putting on a free party is that all your friends are there. Word of mouth is usually the best way, and you'll only get friends and friends of friends etc. Advertising in other ways may attract unwanted 'guests'. To help each and every one of your crowd correctly to experience the 'dance energy rush' in an environment of relative comfort and safety here's a few tips:
Always check squatted venues at least a day or two before the party for:
Safe floors, ceilings walls, broken glass, electricity etc. (we found misguided revellers using a hanging live power outlet as a swing!), running water, flushing toilets and sufficient fire exits.
Essential safety kit:
At least one C02 (black) fire extinguisher. Trained first-aider with a decent first aid kit. Mobile phone.
A 12 volt Halogen floodlight is useful for setting up (you can run it off a car battery).
A 240 volt floodlight (or more) in case there are dangerous dark areas.
It's all dull, and some of it's expensive, but there's nothing that kills a party more effectively than someone dying in blood-soaked agony on the dance-floor.
If you can't think of any good music to play — let someone else do it. If, after announcing your intention to organise the party in the pub on Tuesday night you aren't bombarded by endless DJ's, all of whom who will guarantee to 'rock it' with their 'fuckin' mental' collection of 'white labels', then, and only then, resort to "Now that's what I call Absolutely the most 'avin it, Hardcore Industrial Ultimate Rave Dance Anthem Classics in the pan-dimensional multiverse before and since the Big-Bang" from K-Tel.
Your sound-system should have three important qualities — bass, midrange and treble. Many have only two or even one of these, but all three will seriously enhance your listening pleasure. Alternatively, soak your ears in Ketamine and Brew and lie face down in the scoop bin which was all you could afford with your last Housing Benefit cheque and forget about the irrelevant higher frequencies.
A good choice of venue will greatly enhance everyone's fun. Beautiful countryside makes a cheap and effective backdrop. A sunrise is infinitely less expensive than a laser and a squillion times brighter. Indoors, everyone will be happier if there's somewhere reasonably comfortable and quieter to sit down.
Drugs of all sorts may be available at your party, and will have an affect on the atmosphere. If you're planning to sell alcohol, remember the penalties can be severe and the police may use this to get you if they can't use party related laws. If you're bringing the sound system you'll be the first to be searched for illegal drugs.
A good way round the sale of alcohol problem is to buy it in bulk, which everyone can 'chip in' for in advance (e.g. from France) and have a list of people who 'chipped in' ready to show the police if necessary. If you find that there are dealers at your party are selling drugs, no-one will thank you if they get sold horse tranquilliser as ecstasy. Take some ecstasy testing kits if you can, for the safety of those who will take it, but don't carry any illegal drugs with them (obvious really!)
Avoiding grief is the biggest challenge faced by anyone putting on a free party in Britain today. No matter how careful the organisers are to be safe and conscientious, some people just can't handle seeing other people having a good time — especially if they're not invited! Outdoor and indoor events face grief from the police (Criminal Justice Act, Public Licensing Laws), angry neighbours, uninvited guests and the weather:
The ideal location is one where no-one can see the party or hear the music other than those attending. Sound travels a long way outside, partying in quarries and deep valleys can be very effective at limiting the range of noise disturbance, whereas trees reduce the volume much less.
As a rule of thumb, if you can see a building from the soundsystem then they can hear the music. The amount of noise which constitutes a disturbance has frequently been debated.
Some moaning ninnies will strain to hear a faintly audible whisper of a kick-drum, with the windows open and consider this an infringement of their rights as a miserable, party-pooping, tory (probably) land-owning killjoy.
On the other hand pick your site badly and you could keep hundreds of people awake all night needlessly.
The C.J.A. allows the police to insist you leave the site if they think that the party may cause serious distress to local people. Serious distress has not been defined in law and presumably if the police eject a party from a site which would not have caused a problem, they could be taken to court over it, but as yet no-one known to us has had the time or the means to try this.
To order you to leave the land, the order has to come from a superintendent or higher ranking officer, although this often comes as a signed standard letter. In one case, the soundsystem refused to leave land when issued with this order in East Sussex and in the morning the police confiscated some of the system.
If you successfully argued that no distress was or could be caused by the party you might get compensation for the loss of the rig and get it back, but this argument has never been tested in law (to our knowledge).
Under the C.J.A., a confiscated soundsystem can be destroyed if the owners are convicted, and the maximum sentence for organising a 'rave' includes five years in prison. These laws apply whether or not you have permission from the landowner of the party site, although the police are less likely to prevent parties on land with permission. Outdoor events are not subject to the same licensing laws as indoor ones, although a marquee might be construed as 'indoors' for such purposes.
Wherever you party, cleaning up afterwards is essential. Why should we fuck up the countryside for a party —after all industry and roads do it much more effectively. Cleaning up keeps on the good side of locals and helps perpetuate the outdoor free partyvibe—man!
Partying indoors throws up a whole new legal minefield. Theoretically any gathering in a building with music and dancing to which the public have access is subject to an entertainment licence under the neatly titled Local Government Act (1982) Miscellaneous Provisions.
Prosecution under this act is at the discretion of the Local Authority (usually) and in most cases this is too expensive and time consuming for them to undertake. However if pushed this will happen and it's very hard to fight. The only defence is to show that all reasonable precautions were taken to ensure that no uninvited guests had access to the building.
In the eyes of the average magistrate, this means having 6 or more bruisers in bomber jackets with headset walkie-talkies strutting around as though they just stepped off the set of Bladerunner. Taking money on the door also implies a licence is required. To the best of our knowledge, no case of this kind which has gone to court has ever been won by the defendant.
The maximum penalty is £20,000 and/or six months, although a fine of a few hundred is more usual. Once again ownership of the building makes things easier although this law still applies. If you can prove that all the people at the party were invited—you do not have to have a licence.
The other angles the police may use to try and stop the event are breaking and entering and abstraction(?!). If you're cracking a squat for a party do it at least one or two nights before the event, so if you get caught you're only looking for somewhere to live and not standing with a jemmy in one hand and a record box in the other.
A discrete window can be left open for access on the night of the event. Most buildings are accessible without causing damage, if you break a lock or something getting in, this is enough to get you nicked for criminal damage - so replace it. Locks don't cost much and might be useful on the night. Once you're in get the tools (jemmy, bolt-croppers, screwdrivers etc.) off the premises immediately.
Abstraction is stealing electricity. Check the state of the power before the night of the party. If there is power in the building go to your local electricity board shop and pay for some (£2O will do) in advance. They will normally accept the advance payment, and rarely inform anyone. If the police suggest that you're stealing the lecky, you can produce a receipt! If possible have a generator on hand as a back-up.
Often, the key to success seems to be not to give the police a reason to stop the event. A long-term empty industrial building, a few streets away from any residential areas can be partied all night without any authorities being aware. If you are careful about not inflicting too much damage, clean up afterwards and put your own locks on you might be able to party it again in a month.
However, too many parties in the same building brings other problems and soon the crowd will expand to include small time local mafia and other thugs who have their own unpleasant profit motives for attending. A good phone network of friends and moving the venue each time will keep numbers manageable and idiots away.
In general when dealing with the police, environmental health and any other officials or general busybodies and members of the public, remain calm and courteous at all times. This is a disarming tactic which will render even the most puffing, ruddy faced retired ex-colonel's barking complaint ineffective.
Listen to what the police say, reason intelligently and don't believe a word of it without consideration. They will lie to you, steal your generator from behind your back and to hell with the law if it serves their purpose.
If you think your event might result in a prosecution — take measures to protect yourselves against potentially biased court proceedings. Take photographs of all the safety precautions you have undertaken, and have a reasonable number of visible stewards. Don't take money on the door, clean up afterwards and take photographs of the site afterwards. If possible have a camcorder available to record the event particularly interactions with the police.
Lastly a few (highly sarcastic) DO's and DON'Ts:
DO hassle stressed people with head-torches and screwdrivers when the music's mysteriously stopped saying "Oi mate, can I borrow your miners helmet to skin up with."
DO poke bits of metal into unknown boxes on the wall with coloured lights, saying "Beam me up Scotty".
DO gather round the police when they arrive, waving empty bottles and shouting "Remember the Beanfield, bastard pig wanker?"
DON'T help clear anything up at the end, but instead lie around in a pool of piss and dog turd informing the organisers that they're slaves to the system.
DO arrive at a pitch-black Welsh hillside in November with only a small nightie, high-heels and two pills (previously ingested if possible).
DO believe the police when they tell you the party's cancelled (as they never lie), and on no account bother to try to find a different way onto the site, returning 40 miles to your flat to watch telly.
DO park across the access road to the party so that ambulances can't get in.
DO give out printed flyers saying "Illegal Rave" in large letters a week in advance to give the police ample time to plan their operation.
DON'T pick outdoor sites with ample parking as muddy dodgems in the morning is a top laugh and modern ambulances have wings.
DON'T bother with a tarpaulin to cover the rig as it never rains in Britain.
DO put generators inside buildings as Carbon Monoxide heightens the effects of ecstasy
DON'T bother bringing any water to the party. If someone dies of dehydration it's their own stupid fault ...your honour.
Good Luck and Enjoy!
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