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Eye of the Storm Gig

Tash [alan lodge] | 26.10.2005 22:26

Marcus Garvey Centre, Lenton Boulevard, Nottingham Friday 28th October 10pm > 6am

Folks putting on this show, have come from the Free Festivals and Travellers Scene. Free Parties, RTS and 'Gatherings'. In sum, most of the folks the CJA was created to outlaw. Please come if you can ......

Eye of the Storm Gig

Marcus Garvey Centre, Lenton Boulevard, Nottingham Friday 28th October 10pm > 6am

Folks putting on this show, have come from the Free Festivals and Travellers Scene. Free Parties, RTS and 'Gatherings'. In sum, most of the folks the CJA was created to outlaw. Please come if you can ......


Tash on some History [Collected] ...... > please read on

Festivals, Travellers, Party and Protest

A Criminal Justice Fact:
The people are growing stronger, in truth it is a fact.
That the power of the people's from the criminal in-justice act
They thought that they could put us down,
then right before their eyes.
All oppressed united join hands and swiftly rise.

The act it seems was drafted for a chosen few's convenience,
So what's left for the rest of us,
Down right disobedience

Ant, Plumstead


The Story so far * Public Order Act 1986, Section 39 * Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, Sections 61 - 69
* CJA (Home Office Press Release) * Right to Party * Sound Advice


'All Systems' - Midlands answer to the Criminal in-Justice Act

One Saturday night in May, in a quarry near Matlock, Derbyshire, 500 people are dancing under a full moon and clear sky. The free party scene is alive and kicking all over Britain with particular determination in the East Midlands: the spirit of the free festival lives on.

Smokescreen are the posse hosting this specific bash. easy techno, trance and solid house sounds bounce off the sides of the quarry, filling all space.

Smokescreen, from Sheffield, are currently hosting a free party most weekends, usually in Derbyshire. They are also part of All Systems Go! - a collective of sound systems from Nottingham, Leicester, Sheffield and Lincoln.

All System individual components are a name check of the most popular East Midlands dance posses: DiY?, Smokescreen, Pulse, Babble, Floatation, Breeze, Rogue and Go-Tropo. The latest addition to the collective is Spoof (Sheffield people on one forever). Together they form a loose community alliance that is mutually supportive but flexible enough to allow each posse its own individual identity and set of priorities. The result is an eclectic, organic scene where community and co-operation are highly valued as fundamental to the free party ethic.

All Systems sprang to life in 1992 in response to particular clauses encompassed in the Criminal Justice Bill affecting the rights of party-goers, squatters, protesters and travellers.

Rick, (DJ Digs) of DiY? explains: "We met in a club, about 30 - 40 people. We just talked about this new law. Awareness raising seemed to be the one and it was initially a big information campaign".

All System began organising benefit gigs to raise money to put into information.

Rick: "Because we had a PA and knew other people who were doing what we were doing, and had access to DJ’s, we paid minimum expenses, paid for the venue and flyers, fivers in and it was a highly efficient way of making money. That crystallised the whole All Systems thing cos it was literally all systems in one room!".

One member of DiY? who took the information bit between his teeth was Tash. Tash is a veteran of the ‘70’s and 80’s free festival community. His photographic work has documented the rise and fall of that community and he was one of only three independent photographers at the Battle of the Beanfield in 1985.

He sees what All Systems are doing as an attempt to hold on to a vision of DIY community and celebration: "After I heard about the Bill, I realised that they meant festivals, protesters, raves and everything else I was about. It was a big thing, the authorities have been trying to write the `Hippy Act’ for years, but they’d never been that specific before. At the meeting I showed people clippings from the papers and told them that it meant them as well. A lot of people don’t think they’re anywhere near important or dangerous enough to warrant this attention. They might not but the establishment does. I was concerned that what we should primarily be about was publication to tell the public at large that there’s something off".

A free booklet entitled `Right to Party’ was produced as well as a cartoon poster depicting Peanut Pete’s explanation of the main clauses of part five of the Bill, all happening on a Union Jack. The booklet contains warnings of legislation to come, its affect on the current scene, historic references and affirmations of dance culture.

By June 1995 the fifth edition of the booklet had been produced and became a well-known respected and effective tool for informing the underground dance and festival scene of exactly what they were up against.

Tash "We spent money on five editions of Right to Party. And each copy, because of its nature, was probably read by four or five people. We were mainly concerned with raising awareness. It’s my contention that should be our priority".

Meanwhile, money from benefit gigs was also being put into buying a communal rig. Primarily called the Party or Community Rig it soon earned the nick name `Kamikaze’. This rig is owned by All Systems and "borrowed" by individual systems for specific free parties, usually outdoors.

This way if equipment is confiscated by police then no single outfit would suffer. One reason some members of All Systems don’t like the term kamikaze is that implies disposability.

Tash: "Kamikaze rig is quite a catchy name. You can put it in situations where you are prepared to lose it but it would be nice to hang on to it and the community at large can use it. If the police were confronted by a set of boxes that they knew were called kamikaze it might imply that after confiscation the court would treat it disposobaly".

The All Systems ethic is of communication and co-operation to facilitate free parties and mutual support. A benefit gig in April raised money for Buxton-based Black Moon Sound System, the first outfit to have their rig confiscated under the CJA.

Another benefit in Sheffield on May 31st was also successful. Money raised from that event has yet to be allocated but options include fixing the kamikaze rig, more informative publications and starting a bust fund for systems.

Harry, an original member of DiY?, is clear about what All Systems priorities should be post-CJA: "It’s hard to have any direct resistance to the CJA now that it’s law. National resistance seems to have petered out. So, basically we’ve got our own organisation here, we’ll maintain links, keep the fund-raising going, maybe set up a bust fund to support anyone who might get nicked in the future".

There is a strong belief within All Systems in community and the strength that community offers. When people feel part of a larger, similarly-minded group then there is courage to deal with unfriendly authority or potential imprisonment. Tash: It’s all about intimidation and the vested interests’ game plan to lower people’s resistance to intimidation. Our plan is to support people so they can continue".

All Systems’ gigs are specifically designed to raise funds to support party-goers and systems doing free parties. Otherwise all the individual systems involved in the project are dance entities who do weekly club nights to finance the production of records and keep them doing free parties at the weekends. Laurence, DJ and founder member of Smokescreen explains: "We always leave Saturday nights as free party nights. Maybe two or more nights during the week we do clubs and try to support ourselves day to day. Free parties we do at weekends.

We recently had a meeting with SHED, a local drug advice agency. There was a guy there from the entertainment’s and licensing committee, part of Sheffield Council. He was implying we could get a venue, find who owns it, hire it, get fire and safety, get a licence and do a party. I said we already do events and to do it that way would cost quite a bit of money. I asked why the council couldn’t give us some unused land or property, then we’d get a licence and do free parties; we could pay for the licence through donations.

It’s summer now and we primarily want to do free parties outdoors, but the ideas being floated at that meeting would mean we could do free parties in the winter without threat of police harassment. The guy from the licensing committee thought we were going to charge people. We had to explain to him that we were essentially a free-outfit, we didn’t want to worry about money, dress-sense and security; it’s free party ethics. It took him a while to get his head round".

Police and official attitudes to the free party elements of All Systems have been varied. At Smokescreen’s Quarry gig in May, Derbyshire’s Constabulary were notably playing a low profile game, acting more as traffic wardens and parking attendants than potential obstructers.

"All we’re really worried about is ambulance and fire engines being able to get up to the village", said one sergeant, as his colleague directed a reversing Mercedes van into a tight space.

Rick: "Mostly police pressure is words in ears and such, nothing too heavy, just intimidation. On New Year’s Eve we were doing a party and by a complete coincidence it was the same weekend as someone else was trying to organise a massive party - Castlemorton-revisited style. The police took loads of information on vehicles all over but they didn’t follow it up until the May Bank Holiday, four months later. They traced our truck and came to the DiY? office and seriously bent our ears, `we know who you are... what you up to this weekend’ sort of thing.

I know what pressure the Exodus Collective have been under but it’s a question of scale, they’re much more in the authorities’ faces. They’re dealing with thousands of kids from a small area whereas we’re dealing with a much wider area. There’s quite a substantial following for Smokescreen gigs at the moment and people come down from Leeds, Sheffield and Leicester for gigs in Derbyshire".

Smokescreen had similar attention from the police after they did a free party in Sheffield.

Laurence: "We did a party at an old abandoned school just a couple of hundred yards up from Sheffield’s central police station. We knew we were taking the piss a bit but it was cold and we wanted to be indoors. The police turned up and just sat outside. I went to talk to a couple of them, they said there was no problem, they were just there to watch. During the night fire officers turned up to check safety but there were plenty of fire exits and stuff so after we walked them round the building they went away.

During the next week we heard from several people, not part of the system, who had been contacted by police asking who were the organisers, was there beer on sale, where do these people come from, how did they hear about it..... just someone in the police force saying to others I want you to devote time to finding out about who these people are".

Smokescreen, Pulse and the other free party components of All Systems have respect. Respect not only for each other but for the wider community; local towns and villages. Party venues are carefully selected for noise minimisation and care is taken to ensure adequate and safe vehicle access; no excuse is given to the police to close them down. Maybe this is another factor in their success.

Rick: "Quarries are perfect for parties - one system is good enough for it. You can’t beat a good quarry for the ultimate party and Derbyshire is the best place for quarries - perfect".

All Systems are not interested in direct confrontation, they’re interested in the spirit and community that they are increasingly generating; a free-festival style celebration through dance.

Members of All Systems also know what they want: to continue to put on free parties and get away with it.

Laurence: "We did one party in Sherwood Forest, in April, that got a bit more attention from the police than usual. We talked with them and negotiated a time to close the party down. When that time came and we hadn’t, they got a bit heavier. We then gave everyone an hour’s notice that we were closing down. Anyway, an hour later we started packing up. We had a few punters come up and started giving us a hard time for giving in. I asked them what they wanted: to dance another couple of hours ‘til the police come wading in, we lose our rig and that’s it - or do you want another party next weekend?

Just as we were pulling off site we were confronted with maybe 25 wagons of police, they pulled to one side and let us drive off. Just one more record and we’d have blown it".

All Systems are under no illusions and Laurence certainly doesn’t view what they are doing as `hard-core’. But they do provide an example of how to just get on with the business at hand; offering a much needed alternative to the machinations of mainstream club culture.

Tash, also, is realistic about what is needed to effect a shift in society’s perceptions of celebration: "When ranged against the vested interests and the Home Secretary, All Systems aren’t going to crack the planet and despite the heroic efforts of a few people, what difference is it going to make unless we can get the word out that what we’re doing here can be done all over the country?

There’s nothing special about the East Midlands. On a local level we have to get involved. As in most smaller towns and cities, we’re privileged to be small enough so that communication is good. That closeness is what’s needed to make a dent".

The way the police are implementing the Criminal Justice Act with respect to raves is not uniform across the country. In many places, as soon as a police officer says those three words to an assembly of more than 50 people, someone is likely to get upset. Until the CJA is more solidly set in the minds of British culture, many constabularies will be reticent about using it and will, instead, rely on the provisions of the Public Order Act 1986. This legislation has been around for 10 years and when used, means the temperature stays lower.

Harry: "When the outrage over the CJA dissipates the police will get on with implementing it. Things become accepted in the framework of things. I remember when the Public Order Act came out 10 years ago, now it’s accepted that you can’t do this but you can get away with that".

The introduction of the CJA was never entirely meant to deal immediately with supposed problems it was intended for; knee-jerk reactions are simply devices to appease constituency members and win extra votes. The motivation for the introduction of the CJA may be much more insidious. In the way the Public Order Act 1986 didn’t effectively destroy Britain’s travelling community until the mid-nineties, the full effects of the CJA may not be realised until after the millennium, when forces across the country will have the confidence and legal precedents to implement it.

Perhaps the future of festivals and parties lies in the persistence, determination and vision of small free party posse. For sound systems to effectively continue in the face of the CJA small well thought-out parties, with locals in mind, would seem to be essential; but imagine a future: hundreds of small systems up and down the country doing free gigs regularly. Each has a loyal following of 500 people and they’re getting away with it. Then, one day, they all come together.

Maybe that day will be the Summer Solstice and maybe the venue will be Stonehenge.


Wot Free Festivals? A rant

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 not 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 in 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
  • Licensing Act
  • Terrorism 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 was the end of all the RTS and similar gigs. Shame eh?

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,


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........


A Further Rant

There are many continued law changes going on, here in the UK, that affect people while trying to celebrate. Themselves, their culture. just wanting to have a nice time! and let rip with their friends. I am `middle aged' now I suppose, but since I can remember, people around me have said. "Why won't these bastards leave us alone? all we want to do is, festival, dance, party, etc. We're not doing anyone any harm". Thing is, the authorities have never agreed, and they think of `free spirits' as a threat to the state and are treated accordingly.

I had much involvement with free festivals and the events and gatherings at Stonehenge. A free festival at the stones at the Summer solstice that had been happening for twelve years. Hundreds of thousands of young ( and not so young!) gathering for what was obviously a `common need to celebrate together. The moral majority! general worthies, the police and the no fun brigade, banded together moved the law about a bit. Then came and hit us with sticks with much blood. It was kind of like a signal and intimidation, to stop many others coming to `play with us in the fields.

Because of our reputation in Britain as having a `proper liberal democracy’, it was news all over the place, that our police could behave in such a way towards unarmed civilians, in pursuit of political ends.

Talking to people in various countries, I know its not just Britain starting to `get tough' on deviants of various sorts. Although a lot of travelling people have left England because of the oppression of their lifestyles, some are starting to find similar law and prejudice applied to them, elsewhere as well.

Some of the ideas of festivals and travelling that we have done here, have some roots in America in the late sixties with the big festivals (with the free ones building on the edges!)., merry pranksters etc. As well as with the ideas of gathering and celebration that go back 2 or 3 thousand years that seem as relevant now, as then.

The music is only part of the mix. Many developed a sense of common purpose and identity. There was an acceptance that modern life was too fast, expensive and polluting to the environment. We had discovered a kind of 'Anarchy in Action', and it worked! People began working out and managing relations within `our' communities, without reference to `Them’ .

They're trying to squash deviance and dissent here, now. The words `new age traveller' are dirty words here. Used by the press when they want to be rude to us. Now in `dance culture'.,it all goes round again.

Shame isn't it. . . . .


TASH's Links :: One Eye on the Road [main] :: Diary :: Photo :: Photoshop :: Stonehenge :: Beanfield :: The Story so far :: All Systems :: Velvet Revolution Tour :: Travellers :: surveillance - start :: surveillance - watched :: surveillance - Nomad :: Land & Protest

and,,,,, It's still all going on, ain't it

Tash [alan lodge]
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  1. Pictures of the event — Tash