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universal rip offs
the big cash moves in

We here at Urban75 view mega-rave organisations such as the Mean Fiddler, Universe, Ministry of Sound and their like with great suspicion, convinced that for all their exhortations about being part of 'the scene', their only real concern is boosting their bank balance. At any cost.

We've pledged to post up any reports we get to hear of rip-offs and dodgy clubs, so when we heard people complaining that they'd been mightily ripped off at the huge New Year's Eve Alexandra Palace Show in 1997/8 we got right on the case.

Our top rave correspondent Matt Wilson reports:


'You think when you pay thirty pounds for a night out in London the organisers would take long hard thinking time about organisation and management. You'd be wrong.'

So began a thread on the newsgroup that looks destined to run and run, a thread that unanimously condemns the Mean Fiddler and Universe for their shocking 'Mount Universe' rip-off of New Years Eve. Many first-time posters complained of overcrowding, cloakroom disasters and lack of general toilet and water facilities. Quite interesting, considering that at least ten thousand people had paid the full price of thirty quid, that Mean Fiddler couldn't allocate some more of its 300 grand plus budget on toilet and water facilities. Perhaps some of the dj's had asked for a pay rise.

Being a huge fan of Orbital, I'd elected to bring in the New Year to the tune of their fantastic live show. What I hadn't reckoned for, however, is the totally shoddy, mis-managed, complete mess that 'Mount Universe' became by 1 o'clock. If Universe/Mean Fiddler ever did arrange a mountain expedition (the metaphor used in their inane advertising blurb), the sherpas would be left frozen half way up while Vince Powers charged companies for advertising space on the flag at the top.


It all started with the cloakroom queue. Probably large enough to wrap around Mount Everest several times, it was patently obvious that some of the poor buggers who queued for up to 2 hours weren't going to get their coats and bags in. In fact, the cloakroom was full by 10:30. Surely an organisation of this size could manage the intricacies of cloakroom management. It would seem not.

'Apparently one of the cloakrooms was outside, which meant that people had to queue up for hours in t-shirts in the freezing cold at the end of the event.'

We sensibly avoided the cloakroom and headed straight for the main room, where the freezing temperature at least meant we weren't going to overheat, even with our jackets on. Which is just as well, because the friendly organisers had turned the tap water off in the toilets. Tough luck, I suppose, for casualties on the big climb to Mount Profit.

'And people were prevented from seeing acts/DJs they paid their money to see! The Chemical Brothers, a big name, played downstairs but the room they played in was quite empty, due to the fact that no-one was being allowed to see them.'

In the house room I stopped a while to listen to some of the classics of the past year. Admittedly, I had to listen quite hard, as, just as with Big Love, the sound quality was terrible. As I was watching the impressive video screens I noticed they were computer graphics overlaid over a video of two professional dancers, one male, one female, in swimming costumes grinding their hips against one another. I remembered a night at the squatted parkway cinema earlier that year, where 2000 people danced as the cinema screen showed images of the brilliant 'Reclaim the Streets' parties of the summer, and work by up and coming animators and artists. But not for the Mean Fiddler. We get some bullshit semi soft porn dancers.


'During the night I cut my finger and wanted to get it patched up by the medical people. Firstly none of the Security people knew where the medical centre was or if there even was one (and they didn't really care too much)! Very handy if I had really been bleeding. Secondly while in the centre after having traced it down (20 mins), I heard a message on the St Johns Ambulance intercom saying that their supper was ready, but that they would have to pay for it out of their own money!!. This is the tightest thing I have ever heard.'

The dancers make a better metaphor for big love than any cod-spiritualist or mountaineering pap. What's the real inspiration for Universe? Any opportunity; make it expensive, make it monopolistic, support the existing hegemony of big time dj's, make the security tough, the joke of a cloakroom expensive, make the water stop, the music quiet. the imagery commercial, and above all, make shitloads of money.

(Matt Wilson. Dj's for the Advance Party and has played recently with UN Sound and Kiwi Systems in London. He plays for free.)


Have you been ripped off at any other big event?

We here at Urban75 want to hear about your experiences, which we'll gladly mail on to the organisations concerned - and if we think they're being 'bang aht of order'! we'll forward them to several magazines for their comments too. Click here and tell us how it was.

We'll post up the most interesting/maddest/funniest contributions we get - and reproduce any entertaining answers we get from the clubs...

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