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The Hackney Community College

Mare Street, Hackney, London
19th December 1999

I arrived in Hackney around 1.00am and, after a short walk down Mare Street, found the party which was just kicking off on the top floor of the old college. Hard London acid techno was echoing around the nearby buildings and it was clearly going to be a big one. Trouble was, there was no way in, so I spent some time exploring the area.

I eventually found the door though and in I go.

However, when I get in, I discover I'm in a different party featuring Underground Sounds who were still setting up, so I leave that and go look again.

I find the way into the party with the music already playing a little further down the road and in I go. Crossbones are the rig already operating upstairs and HEADFUK are in the canteen downstairs. As time passes, more systems set up and the old college is opened up, eventually the two parties merge into one.

Jeeze, this place was huge and very confusing, things were made more even more confusing by the way new bits continually opened up and new areas became available.

I've been to quite a few London squats this year and sometimes they can be very scary, they often have a darkside which

you never see in free parties out in the country. This one though, was very different. I think it was something to do with the way it was organised, as we went in they were genuinely asking for donations - sometimes its "three quid or you don't come in", not this time.

There was tea, coffee and beer on sale as well as snacks and all at really cheap prices. Also there was free water, at least from some taps. You really can't ask for more in a squat party.

As I wondered around this huge venue I came across more and more systems, most of whom I hadn't seen or heard of before - hard edge pounding techno through drum and bass and even some chilled reggae in the morning. The good vibe seemed to rub off on everyone there, everyone seemed up for having a party, not just for getting as trashed as possible.

Hackney Community College

Hackney Community College
Hackney Community College's old campus

I stayed till around 2.00pm the next day and sat talking to some of the organisers. They explained how they are in this for the love of the whole thing and that was the reason for the way the party had gone, they weren't there to make money, so no-one felt ripped off, "This one's pukka" they said, and they were right.

I took one last walk around the old college. Well, there was graffiti on the walls and a bit of litter (hey, there'd been a party - what do you expect?) but there was no damage to the building, no-one had trashed anything.

Easily the best party I've been to in London this year and a fine end to the Millennium.

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