welcome

The elvin Moon Moot

August 17th 2002
Inkpen, Berkshire

It'd been nearly a year since I last went to a London party, indeed I'd given free parties a miss during 2002, apart from a couple around Norwich and a fairly big gathering somewhere near Newmarket around the jubilee day featuring Planet Yes.

But all year there had been parties on the Ridgeway in Berkshire which had sounded good.

The free party rave scene in the UK is very underground. If you're in the know, you maybe follow a sound system and have their partyline number which you ring around midnight on Sauturday, whereby you get directions to a field somewhere out in the sticks.

This party was in the south of England, about 50 miles west of London near Newbury in Berkshire close to the small village of Inkpen, we were on land liberated by the Druids of kaos.

So I hired a car from the place I normally get cars from. I'm a regular customer there, not often more than twice a year but I've been borrowing their cars for some ten years now, so I guess I've got "valued customer" status. My normal approach is to book a small, cheap car and the usually give me an upgrade of some sort, which is nice. This time was no exception, and they gave me a brand new just out the box Vauxhall Corsa, the sort of car longed for by Mr & Mrs 2.4 kids from suburbia - front wheel drive, very nippy. This was to prove a baptism of fire for the poor thing, but it did survive unscathed.

So I set off on Friday intent of having a trip around the pre-historic "Ridgeway" footpath, which was also nice. Saturday was very chilled, soaking up the vibe of 5,000 year old tombs (Wayland Smithy) and the vale of the White Horse. Around 9.00pm and I've getting restless though. I have to be at a service station on the M4 motorway at 10.00pm, ready to meet up at 10.30.

I had an hour to kill and didn't fancy just hanging around in a service station, so I went for a slow drive. This turned into something of a bonding session between me and the car. Don't laugh, I mean it. I drove at 40 mph down the A34 listening to classic rock on Radio 2, being overtaken by everything else on the road. I Iiked that car, it was quite happy driving at 40, something I would never do normally. The result was I that I was calm, totally unstressed and ready for whatever was to come next, which was just as well

So anyway, feeling very laid back I arrived at the service station and there was no sign of anyone else, so I hung around. As I waited, I clean my glasses - I need my glasses, without them I'm blind as a bat. As I polished away, one of the lens fell out. It was at this point I discovered I had forgot the spare pair. Great. I put them back together, but this wasn't good.

Eventually the man phones me and tells me the meet up isn't going to happen as I was told to expect because he was late and I had to be in the car ready to leave when he phoned back. About 10 mins later I've given the instruction to leave the service station and join the A34 South bound and to drive slowly. Just as I do this I get another phone call and he's looking for me.

Suddenly a well used white van goes past, flashing its lights and I start following. We don't hang around.

I follow and the chilled out "bonding session" I had with the car was to prove useful. As soon as we left the main road and hit the country lanes, it became more like rally driving. I just about kept his lights in sight as we thrashed down these tiny country lanes in the pitch black of night. At one point I had to break very hard as an oncoming car refused to give way on what suddenly turned out to be a single track bridge, then up steep hills, round hairpin bends, I'm up and down the gear box and brambles swish past the windows.

Sudenly I realise there's a string of headlights behind me and we are at the front of a convoy.

The police turned up pretty fast and sat at the bottom of the hill, we could see the blue light flashing away down there. One system was stopped by them and the story they had to tell is worth repeating:

Police: "You going to the party?"
Rig: "You got a problem?"
Police: "Give us your drugs then so we can arrest you."
Rig: "We haven't got any"
Police: "We don't belive you"
Someone from the back of the van piped up: "I've got a bag of weed if thats any good"
Police "Nah, we don't want that, just your smack and crack"
Rig "Sorry, can't help"

The police let them through, after telling them they've radioed their assessment of the situation through to police HQ, saying it would take 5 fully armed riot vans with helicopter support to close the party. As it was unlikely this sort of back-up would be available, they couldn't do much to stop us, so have a nice time goodbye, or words to that effect. Actually I don't think they were very happy really.

The site was very good, right on the edge of the escarpment at an altitude of 200 M (6 - 700ft) or so, just below cloud level. The field had recently been harvested and was just stubble, the nearest village was Inkpen and that was far enough away to not be disturbed too much.

Over the next hour or so van after van turned up with sound rigs. Not sure how many in total but there must have been over 20, maybe nearly 30, it was a big site.

First up was Deviant and around 2.00am the headlights of party people began to be seen coming up the hill.

Car after car found their way to the site, without any kind of parking assistance things got a big chaotic, but it eventually sorted itself out and by 3.00am the party had kicked off. Hard to say how many people turned up, but it must have been well over 1000, maybe more, this huge site was packed. The local press reported 700, but then that was probably a police estimate.

I decided it was too risky to wear my glasses, if I'd lost the lens I'd never have found it again, so I went back to the car and stashed them, then got on with the party. I didn't go back to the car for some time.

I spent most of my time wondering around this huge site. Most of the rigs weren't that big, maybe around 2 KW or so, but there were lots of them. The musical choice ranged from braindrilling hard techno to psy-trance and jungle. To be honest I was spoilt for choice and didn't really settle on any particular rig.

The 'Tribe of Munt' were there. This is a rig I'd long wanted to hear, we're talking a hard core techno outfit here, but the sort of guys who really know about sound and have been willing to spend all their money making it good. Tribe of Munt were one of the first rigs I heard of (by reputation) some years back, but this was the first time I'd met them.

Dawn came and I discover Ape. Ape system play - well, what to call this stuff? It really should be called "acid techno", except that term has been coined already and means something much more 'aving it stylee. This was pure psychedelia of the first order, wonderful stuff. Not only that but it was dawn now and a radiant blue sky with wispy clouds was the perfect backdrop for the Ape system. Ape consists of black speaker bins, some of which have day-glow red details and they stack the bins in a sort of chaotic way, probably because it was dark when they set up. The HF speakers in particular have this red detail and, well, it was as much fun looking at this rig as hearing its wonderful sounds. Needless to say you do have to be "in the right frame of mind" to appreciate this sort of thing, well, I was, very much so.

Sadly, sometime around here I lost my one of cameras, and a few other things. Yeah, I know, I can't moan, it wasn't a very good camera anyway. I also wondered past the car and noticed the hatchback was wide open and the doors unlocked from when I'd stashed my glasses. Whoops, but nothing was stolen from the car.

Sunday morning and a police helicopter circles the site, it goes away and an hour or so later a small police car turns up and a couple of plod wonder round, saying hello to everyone. They chat to a couple of munters for a while and then trundle off.

So the day passed and the music mostly continued, by late afternoon we were down to half a dozen systems. Barinskan are from Norwich, for some reason their crew likes to dance together, like really together, like close. A very friendly bunch and some of the nicest people I've met in a long time. Panik likewise, I know these guys from the London squats, also they've got Magen, a dog who's a very proud lady. what else can I say?

So by the end of Sunday, Panik are the only rig left playing. I help get the fire built by taking my new fresh out the box car down to the woodland to tow a log back, very aware that I was in no state to drive on the public road. Around 10.00pm I go sleep at last with hardcore techno to lull me off. I wake up at 7.00 in the morning and drive home. Panic are still playing, a kid from Inkpen made his way up, having heard of the party and was playing his hard house on the rig, having lugged his tunes up the hill on the off-chance. There were still people awake even then, although they were very messy.

So there you go, a tribute to the strength of the British underground, a true flowering of a culture which simply will not go away. I'd been taking a break from all this for a while, I'd become jaded and needed a break, then it all re-invents itself and comes up with something wiked.

Wonderful, no other word for it.

Oh, I should add there was a litter pick and the site looked as if no-one had been there when I left, but some idiots did set a dumped car on fire at the bottom of the hill in the early morning of Sunday.

Back to Diary of a raver

Video my Tribe of munt, edited by me, photos by myself and Nightstorm

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