Last week we transcribed the Queen’s speech, this week we are doing Meow Meow while skanking with Britain’s Illegal Rave Renaissance. We have long been fans of Vice, especially Clive Martin’s Big Night Out series, so are showcasing the Britain’s Illegal Rave Renaissance Transcript. You can read or watch it in full below or download our subtitle/caption file or the full transcript from the links below:
Britain’s Illegal Rave Renaissance Transcript: Locked Off (Big Night Out Series)
Clive Martin: Rave culture was always supposed to polarise people. Depending on your experiences, it’s either one of the UK’s great exports, or a symptom of our own moral decline. After a nationwide clampdown in the mid ‘90s, the scene was forced further into the underground, with new super clubs, and licenced, sanitised parties taking their place. Recent years have seen an institutionalised attack on the nation’s nightlife, with nearly half of all British clubs closing down in the last decade. So, what happens next? An illegal rave renaissance, with young ravers using the UK’s complicated squatting laws to break in, set up, keep the police at bay and go hard. Fuelled by boredom, and lit by social media, the scene has left a trail of chaos across the country, with a number of incidents involving riot police, and more than one fatality in its wake. With the full weight of the British media upon it, and the police using increasingly extreme tactics to shut parties down, can it survive?
M: The locations, they just magically appear.
M: With the right tools, gets you in anywhere, to be honest. You just have to have the master key for the city.
M: Police had a force out, to stop raves.
M: They always come in over-forced, riot gear. What’s the point?
M: We can’t stop kids from doing what they do.
M: It’s not simply a bunch of guys with a bunch of speakers in a field. It’s bringing people together in a way that nothing else really does.
(Music plays 01.43-02.08).
CM: The London squat rave scene is a secretive, clandestine world, but we’ve been put in touch with a guy called Havic, who is hosting a rave, somewhere in the industrial darklands of East London.
We’ve just been messaged the location. Apparently, it’s about a five minute walk away, so we’re going to go down there, where someone’s waiting for us. Just walking over a dual carriageway to go on a night out feels quite strange, and quite scary, in a good way. You know, we’re surrounded by warehouses, and wasteland, and it’s a long way from a night out in a town centre.
M: Project X, House of Havic, drum and bass and house rave. Make sure you get yourselves down to Canning Town at ten o’clock, (inaudible 02.46) station. See you soon.
CM: The party line was out, and the rig was on its way. A gang of bored, tense teenagers were knocking about the warehouse, cracking balloons, and hoping the police weren’t going to shut it down before it started.
So, we’re at the venue, which is a, sort of, disused, industrial space in the shadow of the Blackwall Tunnel. Apparently the balloon canisters over there where actually taken from a medical facility.
The clock was against Havic and his crew, but I managed to get a minute with him, to hear how he makes these parties happen.
So, how long have you been doing this?
Havic: Since 2011. Like, I do these, and, like, people know my name, and it gets bigger and bigger.
CM: Tell us a little bit about the process of putting on one of these things.
Havic: It’s all done over social media and things like that. It’s all networking, really.
CM: How do you source the buildings?
Havic: We just look for, like, ‘to let’ buildings, anything we can use, like, to party, so, we look on the Internet.
CM: The owners have no idea, I presume?
Havic: No, no idea. As long as we can get into a building without making it look like it’s been broken into, then it’s not breaking the law.
CM: How did you get in tonight?
Havic: We never broke into the building, but we took the keys off the wall. It was in a little lock, and obviously someone’s broken it off. I’ve got to go.
CM: That’s alright.
Suddenly, one of Havic’s boys pulled him aside, and the mood changed.
M: The police are coming, I don’t want them to see anyone. Police are coming, but stay here, don’t come out. We’re going to talk to them. We’ll talk to them. No one come out here.
CM: So, apparently-,
M: Don’t come anywhere near this door, any of you.
CM: We’ve been told to keep quiet for a little bit, because apparently the police and the security from the industrial estate are all outside.
M: Basically, what I’ve told them is that we’re living here for a few days. There’s no power in this building, so we’re not extracting any electricity. No laws have been broken whatsoever.
CM: So, what’s happened is that the police have turned up, you know, some of the guys here have said that they’re, kind of, essentially squatting the place, will be staying here for a few days, which, apparently, is the way to, sort of, buy yourself some time.
M: Hey, the security van has left, isn’t it? He’s not, Terence has said he’s pulling up.
CM: You can tell, actually, this is probably just an inevitable part of the process, and this isn’t the first time it’s happened. It won’t be the last, and, as it stands, tonight is still going ahead. Every now and again you hear a loud explosion, which is usually someone’s balloon blowing up, because they’ve put so much gas in it. The rigs are coming in, starting to fill up a bit. For everyone on this side, that’s a lot of speakers.
M: Okay, yo, party people, (inaudible 05.17). The party starts right here, right now. (Inaudible 05.22).
(Music plays 05.27-05.38).
CM: With Havic and his crew seemingly off the hook from the police, everything was in full swing, but in a city the size of London, I wondered what the people who come to these kinds of events get from this outsider style of partying.
M: It’s a massive culture where, like, people dress the same, people, like, like the same music, everyone doing their thing. It’s just sick.
CM: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen at a rave?
F: A girl getting her finger cut off.
F: Were you there? Oh my God.
CM: Is this quite a legendary incident, you’ve heard about this?
CM: In terms of going to places on a night out, how often do they get shut down?
M: Too many times, too many times. Almost every time I’ve been, it gets locked off later on in the night. It’s just, like, young people trying to have fun. There might be some drugs involved, but, like, the same as anywhere else, isn’t it?
CM: You do have to remind yourself, at certain points, that this is an illegal venture, and people are breaking the law in there, and people have gone to prison for this sort of thing, you know, cash changing hands, the tax man isn’t seeing it at the end of it, but it’s no secret that clubs are closing down everywhere. It’s no secret that a lot of clubs have become quite sanitised and not very fun, and when you’re looking for something that isn’t being provided, it’s only natural that that comes from a slightly illegal source. There is that, kind of, edge of danger that, kind of, just-, it does make it a lot more fun.
The warehouse used for Havic’s night had been acquired by a guy called Jimmy White, a 22-year-old veteran of this young scene, with six years’ experience in the game.
Whereabouts are we going now?
Jimmy White: Just, literally, it’s just over the road, isn’t it? We’re going down there, and we’re going to see-, we’ll get into this fold (ph 07.11) quickly.
CM: Jimmy had a reputation for sourcing the best locations for parties, keeping them on ice until they were rave-ready, and using his knowledge of squatting laws to circumvent the police, until they could sneak the speakers and the punters in. He’d offered to take us on one of his regular scouting missions, finding potential venues for any future hedonism.
What do you look for, when you look for a building?
JW: Obviously, size. If security are around, like, if there are a lot of people in the area, something quiet and out of the way, really.
CM: This is, kind of, perfect for that, right there?
JW: Yes, of course. This area’s been hit a stupid amount of times.
CM: How do you find these places?
JW: I just get into a car and scout around the areas, like, as many industrial estates as I can. You’re never going to find the best buildings on the Internet. I’m just going to check if it’s okay, yes? Yes, it’s sweet. Like, the things I’d usually check is, up on the top, how to get in from the top ways, but it’s obviously quite secured, quite well, to be honest. It’s got, like, metal sheets up on there.
CM: So, someone has taken measures to-,
JW: Yes, they have taken quite good measures to actually stop this from getting on, like, a big chain.
CM: Yes, and you can’t just get a pair of bolt cutters to do that, legally?
JW: Well, not legally, no. This is what we stick up onto our buildings, as soon as we get into the building. This is just, basically, let’s just say, our safety net. We stick this up on the door, and we can’t be told fuck all. It just states that we’re living in this property, this is our home, and we intend to stay here. At least one person will be in the property, and if anyone comes into the property without our permission, we have the right to prosecute them, and take them to court, and the only way to get us out is by a high court order. Any other way to enter this property is completely against the law, and we will prosecute, is basically what we’re saying. This is the preparation before the party happens. No club could ever compare to what a squat can create. Going to the party, finding out the location at 10pm, it’s just all to the excitement. You can do whatever you want. You want to roll a Rizla? You can roll a Rizla, if you get my drift.
CM: Yes, yes.
JW: A nice little porta cabin. Let’s check if this is open.
CM: What would you have to do, to end up in trouble for it?
JW: They’d have to actually hunt you down, and find out every information about you. The only way that you could really get in trouble for it is if someone’s talking, and that’s the only way to get in trouble for it.
CM: Even though it is in this, kind of, grey area, why does that mean you need to conceal your identity?
JW: At the end of the day, there are a lot of things that I’ve done in the scene, and a lot of things that my group have done in the scene that I would prefer not to put a face to the picture. What I do, I do it for statement, and I do it just to literally say to the police, ‘Try and govern this.’
CM: Well, they are governing it, and this is how. Last year, a Halloween rave thrown by the notorious Scumtek collective was shut down early, only for a full-blown riot to erupt. The police turned up in full force, (TC: 00:10:00) with truncheons, shields and dogs. The ravers quickly replied with anything they could find. The usual suspects in the media responded in typically hysterical fashion, and both the police and Scumtek were quick to blame each other for the trouble. Scumtek are famously camera shy, but they offered to tell us their side of the story.
M: Halloween was the most intentional piece of aggressive policing that any of our crew have ever witnessed. Now, some of our crew have been around for a long time, you know, they were there at the poll tax riots. Their first news report, going around stating that the police turned up to the venue, and bottles and bricks were thrown at them. Now, that’s absolute nonsense. There’s video of the first line of riot police arriving. There are peaceful ravers stood down at the end of the street. There are about 800 people inside. An hour and a half has passed without incident, apart from the noise. They had a perfectly legitimate way to shut the party down the moment they arrived, because it was next to housing.
They could have gotten a noise abatement. I’m pretty sure, if we check the council records, there will be noise complaints. With one noise complaint, they could have served paperwork, and then you would have shut the party down. No sound system would ever risk their equipment with the right paperwork being served, because once that’s been served, they can legally destroy the equipment. That wasn’t done.
There was no negotiation. There was no talking through law. There was no attempt to peaceful shut the party down. It was a completely intentional piece of policing, and media dissemination of information. The damage that was caused was terrible. I think that was all completely unnecessary, however, I think everything on that night felt very strange, you know? It felt like this was almost the reaction they wanted. I don’t condone how people reacted, but they were hit for at least two hours with batons. People are not feeling great at the moment.
CM: With the increasing pressures on the scene, and the resulting paranoia, would have its own consequences, this time, on us.
Since the House of Havic rave, there’s been some bad news. There have been a few police incidents at a few raves around London, and a few of the promoters, including Havic, have been actually visited by the police to their houses. As we were, sort of, you know, digging around at the same time, they put two and two together, made 50, and decided we were police. So, we’ve been told not to come to any more raves in London, and that we’ve essentially been banned from the city. In the aftermath of it all, we’ve got some absolutely fantastic threats come through. This is a message we’ve got from Havic. He says ‘All them videos you have of me, can you please delete? Please come to my house today’, and I don’t find that a coincidence, and this is one, one of the producers got. ‘You give us all the footage you took from the event on Saturday, or pay us, or you’re going to have problems. Seriously. No message by Monday, people will be coming to get the footage back’.
There’s a lot of scrutiny on this scene right now. The police are very much on top of it. The media seem to be increasingly involved, and, you know, it is something of their own. I can see why they would have a problem with people coming in, to, sort of-, especially older people, coming in to, kind of, look at it, and dissect it, and investigate it, I suppose, but there’s this unholy trio of illegality, bravado and paranoid that makes him very difficult to work with.
Tensions between the promoters, the punters and the police had burst a culture of accusation and aggression. The stakes were high, and everyone was out to protect their own interests. I wondered if there was another version of modern rave culture out there, something more open, more inclusive, more akin to the dream of the ‘Summer of Love’ generation. So, we went to the promise land of the rave scene, Denbigh.
Dan X: Let’s just wait for these to clear off. You can see this track is used by ramblers, walkers, ravers. North Wales used to be the place for raves. It’s died. It’s coming back now, back with a bang. The music we play is a hard style, hard trance, gabber, underground stuff, mate. We started off doing raves in clubs, and, like, they were alright, and we had our good weeks, we had our bad weeks, but people want to be able to come to a rave and relax, and be able to have a good time without, you know, dickheads over their shoulders, off their heads on, you know, beer and stuff like that. Then, bouncers, you know, in your face all the time in the town and things like that. I mean, it’s just land going to waste. It’s just a beautiful spot. We’re causing no hassle. Everyone has a great time. I don’t see what the problem is, they should just let us rave.
CM: Dan and the distortion crew were also feeling the brunt of new police incentives against the scene, with increasing pressures putting them in the same precarious situation as the London ravers. The terrain might have been different, but there was just as much to lose. They were in preparation for one of their biggest events yet, a huge party in the forest of Denbigh.
Dan X: If anyone wants to commit a serious crime in North Wales tonight, do it, because all the police are going to be on us. Fucking knob heads, like, you know what I mean? I told the coppers straight when they came to my house the other day. I said, ‘Listen, we’re going to do the rave. I know the consequences,’ do you know what I mean? If they come, they will arrest me, yes, because I am the orchestrator, yes? The guy in charge, yes? I’ve got so much to lose, do you know what I mean? I’ve got a missus, I’ve got a good job, you know what I mean? If I end up in jail, I’ll lose everything. The police’s main issue, obviously, is drugs. That’s the main issue. End of the day, they just don’t like us having a good time. Do you know what I mean? We’re not causing any hassle. We’re not causing anyone any trouble. We’re not anywhere near a fucking built up area, or a town, or anything like that. We’re in the middle of nowhere.
If we pull this rave off tonight, without any hiccups, right? I am going to be a fucking legend. Clean air, mate. God’s back garden, this, mate. We’ve got to watch out for those sheep in here, they can fucking pop out anywhere, mate. I’ll tell you a story about here, once, we did a rave here, oh, about ten years ago, mate, here. We had the fire going. I had someone throw petrol on the fire. The fire went straight back to the petrol can, man. Poof, everywhere, man. Fucking hell. What an idiot, eh? What an idiot. It’s quite funny, though. It’s quite funny, because his trackies were melted to his leg, and you know, back then, about ten years ago, when all these fucking shell suit, trackies were out, you know what I mean, then? Adidas poppers, Naf Naf jackets and all that, like. Do you know what I mean? Fucking hell. We’re here now, this is it. This is the venue for tonight. I can give you a quick walk around the site, like. What do you reckon then? Sick, isn’t it?
CM: This vast plain of felled trees seemed all too serene, an unlikely place for the madness that lay ahead, but for Dan, this was perfect rave country.
Dan X: In a couple of hours’ time, this is going to be, like, the most popular spot in North Wales, like. I can’t wait. Yes, man.
F: This isn’t going on BBC Three, is it? Only joking (laughter).
M: I’ve not done anything, I swear.
F: You don’t mind him doing that, do you, while you’re there?
M: Ask these lot. I wasn’t doing anything, I swear.
CM: From what I’d seen, Dan and his friends were doing this out of necessity, and in doing so, they’d attracted people from all walks of life. This wasn’t just limited to people from no-club towns. The party was drawing attendees from much further afield, from places with a thriving nightlife.
Hi, I’m Clive. How’s it going, are you alright?
F: Yes, I’m good.
CM: Thanks for telling us.
We travelled to the outskirts of Liverpool for a pre-party that would end up crossing the border into Wales.
So, is everyone looking forward to tonight?
Yes (general agreement).
M: Are you?
CM: Yes, I think so. What can we expect?
M: It’s all about gyms, weight and protein shakes, lad.
F: We don’t really go to town. We don’t really go to Liverpool.
F: Once you’ve gone to a rave, and you felt, like, the atmosphere, and what it’s like, it’s well better.
F: We don’t feel out of place, no matter who’s there, whereas, if you went into town, the lads like to fight and the girls are quite-, the girls look you up and down, and make you feel like shit. Whereas, when you go to a rave, no one-,
F: We go now and then, like, don’t get me wrong, but we just stick to our raves.
F: Yes, stick to what we know, because it’s the best.
CM: What do you think about the, kind of, media portrayal of, you know, the rave scene, ravers?
F: When you say, ‘Rave’, everyone gets the persona of, ‘Oh, it’s scatty, they’re sweaty, and it’s just-,’ I don’t know, I think it’s more the drugs side.
CM: So, what words do you like about the legal raves?
M: Illegal makes you want to go even more, you know what I mean, just because you’re not allowed, and it’s not supposed to be happening, so you want to be there, in the centre of it, in a mess.
M: I like going places to see people that are messy. You see them, like, they need help, but, you know they’re in a good place, you know what I mean?
CM: I think you might find that tonight.
M: Yes, 100%, mate.
CM: What do your families think of the, kind of, rave lifestyle?
M: My ma hates it.
M: My ma hates it.
M: Do you know what, though? The way I see it, she hasn’t lived.
M: Hey, I’ve just got the five grams, lads.
M: Of what?
M: Oh, that’s right.
M: Scatter, we’re having a party.
CM: So, we’re in a minibus. We are somewhere around Chester, and we’re off to this rave, and there are going to be a lot of people. It should be fun.
Bombing down A roads in a hired minivan. It seemed a long way from an overpass in Canning Town. We were driving through county lines in a haze of vape mist and vodka. The whole thing felt like some kind of hardcore holiday, and much closer to the traditional idea of rave culture that most people might understand.
(Music plays 19.31-19.42). So, we’re now walking up a dirt track, up a hill in Wales. It’s fucking freezing, and I think this might be the closest I ever get to a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I can hear the faint sound of hardcore European (TC: 00:20:00) gabba.
M: Video, video.
M: We all love the beat.
(Music plays 20.07-20.20).
CM: The party took place under what seemed to be a garden centre marquis, with the storming gabba, hard style and acid techno tunes banging out of a borrowed PA system. Gathered was a strange mix of hardcore heads, farm kids, night tripping Scousers and aged ravers, in the midst of a chemically-induced knees-up.
Girls, how are you enjoying your night so far then?
F: Oh, amazing. Really, really good, yes.
M: I can’t even count the amount of people I’ve given bevvy to tonight, just because I like them, because I’m off my head.
F: You’ve got no rules here. You (inaudible 20.47) do whatever you want.
M: No matter about us, how are you finding it?
CM: Yes, I’m having a great time. I think I’m a little bit too sober. No, I’m good for drugs. Every car we’ve walked past so far has had the light on, full of passengers, seemingly doing lines of white powder off CD cases. It’s, like, apocalyptic dogging. Pretty obvious question, why have you come here?
M: Just to smash the music and get, like, fucking messy.
CM: What kind of music are you into?
CM: Do you get much gabba in the clubs where you’re from?
M: Do we fuck? Around Widnes, it’s all, oh, pop music, Girls Aloud or something in the club. ‘Put your finger in the air.’ Fuck off, man. Get on the gabba.
CM: How do illegal raves and, kind of, more legal ones compare?
M: Oh, there’s nothing illegal here, man. Nothing illegal here.
M: Mandy madness.
M: Have you got any water? I’m dying of thirst.
CM: Dan’s party was a success, and to discuss the fruits of his labour, he invited us to his makeshift office, the back of his girlfriend’s hatchback.
How are you enjoying the night so far?
Dan X: Fucking loving it, mate. Fucking brilliant, isn’t it?
CM: As many people as you expected?
Dan X: It’s still early yet, mate.
CM: Still early?
Dan X: Getting on.
CM: So, it’s quarter past two, and it’s still early?
Dan X: Fucking right, yes.
CM: What is it about wanting to do it illegal, rather than, sort of, doing it in, you know, a club in the town?
Dan X: It’s not like we don’t want to do it in a club in the town, it’s just that most of them won’t accommodate us, and the other half, they’re just too expensive. People come here because they feel free, and they can just have a good time. Yes, everyone’s just here to do the same thing, you know what I mean? Sit around the fire, or jump around like a loony in there, mate.
(Music plays 22.22-22.54).
CM: So, we met these kids from Liverpool, came down to the rave with them. It’s interesting because, you know, they’re not local kids from the farms, they’re from a major European city, but this definitely seems to offer them something that they can’t get there. There is a lot of, you know, intimidation, violence, a lack of fun, I guess, is what they were saying. It takes those restrictions, that, being hemmed into a tall building, managed with, you know, CCTV cameras, and security as well as a lot of people trying to prove themselves out of the equation, and, kind of, brings it to something, I guess, more pure. When you take a party this far out into the woods, into the absolute, completely unreachable part of the world, it’s in no one’s interest to even shut it down.
The party went on until about 9:00am, with a dedicated subsect still going strong, into the biting, North Walean morning. There was no police presence at any point, but not every rural event passes off as smoothly as Dan’s. Last year, a party in Twyford, Lincolnshire, turned ugly, resulting in another skirmish, where 20 ravers were charged with drugs and disorder offences, and 21 police officers, and a dog, were injured. Nothing compares to the scrutiny the London scene is being subjected to, due to a series of raves gone wrong, including the now infamous drum and bass party in Croydon, where one teenager lost a finger, and another lost his life, after drinking from a ketamine-laced bottle of beer.
One of the things that really attracts people to these raves is the fact that they operate outside the law. With that, it does bring a slightly more, kind of, dangerous element to it. They’re unlicensed, they’re supervised, but accidents happen. So, we’ve come to South London to meet a guy called Jack, whose experience in the illegal rave scene shows us how wrong it can really go.
Jack was sixteen years old, when he, his friend Daniel and a number of other schoolmates heard about a rave in West London. It was a night that would come to shape their young lives.
Jack: This is us in the sixth form centre. That’s Dan, there. We would sit together every single day.
CM: How did you find out about the rave you ended up going to?
Jack: Well, it was actually proposed to us the lunchtime of that day. It was a Friday. A friend of ours said, ‘There’s a party tonight. Do you guys want to come?’ I mean, none of us were doing anything. It was, sort of, you know, quite exciting. We thought it was going to be a good party. Everyone else was buzzing. They couldn’t wait for it.
CM: With regards to the drugs, was that something you, kind of, sourced beforehand, deliberately?
Jack: I wasn’t involved in the drug part at all. There were about three or four of them that went off to get them, and Dan handed his money over. They had mixed the drugs with water, and they’d all started sipping at it slowly, but it was on that last train when Daniel, sort of, reluctantly drank the whole thing. I, sort of, remember everyone going, sort of, a bit shocked that he drank it all in one go.
CM: When you got there, what was the venue? What was the set-up like?
Jack: It was an abandoned, sort of, Post Office, sort of thing, and you get in, and it’s just dark, unpredictable, and just, sort of, not welcoming.
CM: When did you first start to notice that things were going awry with Daniel?
Jack: We were there for a couple of hours. I was sitting against the wall. He went off. I remember, I watched him walk off, but I was asking, ‘Where is he?’ I’m standing up, I look to my left, and there’s a topless guy with his shoes and socks off, sort of, mumbling, with this paramedic talking to him. I said, ‘His name’s Dan. I’m with him. Is he okay?’ He was in an ambulance, so, we assumed that that was that, he’d be home in the morning, no problem.
CM: Daniel was taken to hospital. His temperature had gone up to 42 degrees Celsius, causing a massive heart attack. He stayed in intensive care for three days, but died on the Monday morning. He was sixteen years old.
Jack: I think, if I had any regrets for that night, it would be, out of, sort of, young, sixteen year old, selfish, ‘I don’t want my parents to find out,’ mentality, I didn’t go with him because I thought it was going to be fine. I wasn’t there with him. I should have been. The first two months were, yes, the worst months of my life, by far.
CM: Do you hold any grudges against the, kind of, rave scene culture that’s around?
Jack: No. I think it’s a culture, set up for the people that want to go to it, and it’s sustained by the people that go to it. It’s the people who organise, it’s a business to them. They’re not seeking to harm young people, so, I don’t think you can blame the culture itself for the tragedies that happen within it, because the rave didn’t provide the drugs. The raves didn’t tell him how to take them, but the word wasn’t thrown around, and it’s called an illegal rave for a reason.
CM: Despite the effect Daniel’s death clearly had on Jack, it was surprising to hear how level-headed he was about the culture surrounding these raves, especially in comparison to how the media likes to portray it. More often than not, the discourse around these raves overlooks the reasons why people go to them in the first place.
It seems to me, what’s happened here is that young people, rightly or wrongly, feel like they’ve got nothing to do, and that some people, through either love, or sometimes opportunism, have, kind of, provided a space for them to hang out, and exercise their tribal rights on a Saturday night.
Through stripping young people of their freedoms, society has pushed one of their most important rites of passage into the shadows, and as a result, it’s ended up with something that it doesn’t seem to be able to control. We received a call from Jimmy White, the warehouse hunter, assuring us that the heat in London had died down. He told us he had a different kind of event lined up. He was plotting a protest party for the British rave scene, one which he saw as a kind of sequel to the protests organised in response to the fervently anti-rave criminal justice bill of 1994. Jimmy believed that today’s scene was going through a similar clampdown, and was looking to bring the same sort of anarchy to the streets of Shoreditch, this time without his mask.
CM: Jimmy, how’s it going? Good to see you again. Good to see you without the scarf.
CM: How are you doing? How’s the prep going?
JW: I’m good, I’m good. We’re just having a little look around now, to see how things are going to pan out, but it’s looking exciting. I’m excited.
CM: So, you’re, kind of, hoping it to be chaotic, or beautiful, or peaceful?
JW: A bit of everything that’s in the bunch, yes.
CM: Yes, and what would you hope that people walking past and seeing it would think?
JW: Well, obviously what I’m trying to get from this is to give the perception to the public that we’re not here to just cause mayhem. We’re here to show them peace, love, unity and respect. The public don’t ever get to see what we do, only what they see on the media.
CM: What about the police? At what point do you expect them to show up?
JW: Oh, I’m not too sure how they’re going to be acting. Hopefully, they’ll be friendly and allow the things to happen. It could (TC: 00:30:00) end up in them saying, ‘No, get out of here,’ kind of thing, but it’s what this game’s really about, man.
CM: So, in terms of the location, is it somewhere you’ve chosen so you can, kind of, keep it contained, and keep it almost like it is a warehouse party?
JW: Yes, obviously it feels like it is a warehouse-ish kind of area, but I’m not too sure on the numbers that are going to come, so, it may be that we have to change location. Hopefully we can stay here, because it is quite a good, sort of, atmosphere here.
CM: How come you’ve taken the mask off?
JW: I feel as if, for the rave scene to step forward in the political side of things as well as the raving side of things, there needs to be some sort of face. We want to send a message as well as just party. I want a revolution to happen in this rave scene.
CM: Are you worried about any, sort of, you know, potential legal consequences?
JW: No, not at all, man. I live for this, man. Whatever comes, I take it in my stride.
CM: We arrived to the protest in the early afternoon, and were greeted by a small gathering of crusties and coppers, usually the first to arrive at anything like this, but Jimmy, head freshly shaved for battle, didn’t seem to mind too much.
Jimmy, how’s it going so far?
JW: It’s good, it’s good, just waiting for more numbers to turn up.
CM: It’s early still, isn’t it? Good numbers.
JW: Yes, it’s looking like it’s going to be a good turnout today.
CM: What do the police think about it so far?
JW: They said they’re going to have a little boogie with us later, so, it’s good time.
CM: There are a lot of people. There are, kind of, a lot of cameras as well. The whole thing is just a little bit crustier than I thought it might be.
As the day went on, the rave kids whose social lives are based around this scene started to turn up and show their support.
M: They’ve closed down all the big clubs. So, all we’ve got now is Fabric, hence why people are putting on squat parties, because we have nowhere to hold these parties, so, we have to go to squats.
M: There’s not much we can achieve, but show the police that we are present, and we actually can have parties, and we are alright at doing it.
CM: The music’s stopped now. The police are here, and it’s less of a party, more of a protest. It seems to be, kind of, fluctuating between the two. It’s brewing. You can see the Gaza Strip branch of Anonymous has turned up. There’s a lot of drums, the whole thing’s gotten a lot more politicised, a lot more lefty, a lot more like a, sort of, conventional protest. There seem to be a lot of different ideas as to what this thing actually is, but I suppose it was never really set in stone, you know? A lot of people now seem to be seeing it as a, sort of, political protest. Some people are still here to do (inaudible 32.30) and skank. It was a lot more fun before, to be honest. I think it should’ve stayed a party.
As night drew in, the previously friendly police presence started to multiply, and hem the protestors into the tunnel. Jimmy, looking on, seemed happy surveying the chaos he’d unleashed.
JW: It’s been a good turnout today. I’m glad it happened. There have been kids here, dancing to the music, people giving each other hugs, everyone joining together in unity, so, it’s been a good turnout.
CM: How much of it was a party, and how much of it was a protest?
JW: It was a mix, obviously, even though it was what it was going to turn out to be, it was just a polite way of saying, ‘Fuck you,’ to be honest.
CM: How have you found the police?
JW: Yes, they’ve been alright, but I think they’re going to try and close it off soon, because of section 35, I think it’s the antisocial behaviour act.
CM: Right, yes. Do you consider this to be antisocial behaviour?
JW: Not at all. I don’t think it’s antisocial behaviour, but you know they do. There’s more police coming down the road now.
CM: The dust has settled. Shoreditch has returned to normal. There’s something quite transgressive, and something quite interesting about seeing all this chaos, and all the police, and all this jump up, and, like, balloons, and cans of beers. For all the, kind of, you know, leftist politics that were going on towards the end of it, the most political part of it was actually the party itself. I mean, there were no slogans, or banners, or anything like that. There was not really even that much of a message. Whether it’s in a field in North Wales, or a warehouse in East London, the real political statement is in the chaos of it, rather than any, kind of, like, manifesto. Whether the people who throw these parties realise that is, kind of, a different question, but I think the scene will always, kind of, reinvigorate itself, because people will always want to do something which they’re not allowed to. They want to do something that, kind of, pushes through the boundaries of normal living, and that’s what these raves offer to people.
We’ve been told about a big one, a party taking place in Tottenham, in the middle of another industrial zone, but as we arrived at about 10:00pm, it seemed to have been locked off before it even started, with a police line assembled, and a gang of pissed-off ravers trying to work out what was going on.
M: I think they’re going to lock the rave, get everyone, kick everyone out, and just get the building-, lock the building so no one else can break it.
F: We got here just as the police got here.
F: Yes, it was such a fuckery.
M: Last time, there was only, like, one fed car about.
M: There were bare this time, though.
M: So many this time.
M: It’s just, like, a waste of their time, might as well just let us in.
CM: Just as we were about to give up and head home, we heard shouts in the distance. People were apparently jumping a wall around the back. The police stayed where they were, anxious not to break rank. Nobody was sure if they’d been outsmarted, but after waiting around for two hours, there was no way we weren’t following.
M: How are we going to get all this shit over though?
M: Just keep shooting.
M: Just jump up.
CM: For tonight, we were in exactly the same position as the ravers. We wanted in, and for the first time, we wanted in for the exact same reasons. (Music plays 35.28-35.36). What was happening inside was the culmination of everything we’d heard about. Hundreds and hundreds of young ravers, skanking on the broken concrete, sucking on dummies and huffing on balloons. This was pure, unadulterated, underground youth culture in its rawest form. For these kids, it was simply a release, one made even more vital by the incredible lack of anything they could call their own. They had taken the ideals of the original rave generation, the same search for freedom in a society that won’t offer it, and forged their own fight back, with a scene that’s totally of its time. Something louder, harder, less idealistic, but every bit as hedonistic. The police, the authorities and the property developers might be moving closer, but for now, the scene is a long way from being locked off.
Transcribed by Take Note®
Transcriber Solfa C.
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