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Talybont reservoir

August bank holiday 2002

I had a few days back in Norwich to recover from the Elvin Moon Moot of the week before and by Thursday I began to think I'd better look around for something to do over the bank holiday weekend, so I booked another car from my friendly car hire place.

I got valued customer treatment again and another almost new Vauxhall Corsa. Now I'm no car fan, but these buggies are nice, even to the extent of having seats which fold right down into really comfy beds. Ideal vehicles for following munters to free parties and they look nice parked next to hippy vans.

So a few phone calls and e-mails and I have a selection of parties to think about, so I decide to follow Panik again. They and Tribe of Munt are heading for Wales, a remote beauty spot by the side of the Talybont reservoir. So I leave Norwich around midday and around 4.00pm when I'm somewhere near Bristol on the M4 I get the SMS text message with the location.

I stop in Abergaveny for the last real meal before the party. Abergaveny is the nearest town of any size to the party, albiet 10 or more miles away. It's gearing up for another Saturday night and it's clear to see what the local police will be doing. The car park is full of "boy racers", local blokes with close cropped hair, gold chains and suffering testosterone overdoses in powerful cars are doing wheel spins and other wankerish things, this is probably a regular thing as it is in many British small towns. I eat my chips and head off down the A40.

Following the directions on the mobile phone message and I find the road to the reservoir. This is mountain country, pine forests and steep hills. I follow this little winding road, looking for the car park on the right followed by the fire track on the left, which I have to go down. When I get there a small group of people are sitting at the start of the fire track and they ask me to park up in the car park - "space is limited" they say.

So now I'm about to see how free parties happen again, only this time, it turns out I'm ahead of the convoy, other than a few vans and the "Tossers" system who are busy setting up. I sit around, share a toke or two with a couple of people as we watch the Tossers doing all the work. Then, all hell breaks lose as a couple of hundred travelers type buses, vans snd cars turn up.

For some time it's total chaos as the cars and vans force their way up this little track - people, vans and roaring engines mix with dogs and dust as it all tries to sort itself out. Then a van tries to get past another van and slips into a drainage ditch. At this point things just get more chaotic untill a large lorry somehow manages to drag it out.

After some time, a sort of order settles, just in time for Panik and Tribe of Munt to arrive.

In all truth, there were too many rigs for the size of the party, or at least the size of the venue. The result was Munt went in the field at the top and Panik in the car-park at the bottom.

By 2.00am everyone's up and running, the little road is jammed solid as far as I can see into the distance and people are turning up with stories of the plod going mental as they try and cope with the mayhem which has suddenly descended On their patch.

Seems the boy racers had been having fun as well, resulting in a nasty smash and one car (a Corsa poor thing) on its roof. Best the plod could do about us was to close our road off and warn people coming down that there was a load of ravers occupying the picnic area.

This is a free party so of course there's a fair few travellers, as well as munters out from the big city (Swansea mostly) . Finding a way for this culture to exist alongside "normal" society isn't going to be easy, indeed I doubt its possible. So it works like this, everyone turns up en mass and occupies the area without asking or warning. The law, after all, has made it impossible to organise these events legally, so this is the result.

Parties are noisy and this was no exception, the music isn't often the fluffy trance or hard house style at free parties, it's closer to the brain drilling head bang of the London squats, but perhaps not quite as intense to the trained ear.

So the party kicks off. I think we had about 6 or 8 rigs, including Panik, Tribe of Munt, Tossers, Tribe of Locusts, Noise Pollution and (I think) Mutant dance and others, plus a couple of bar/cafes and perhaps 400 or so party peeps. However, it soon became clear that Noise pollution were also into atmosphere pollution, something nasty had happened to their genset and it was pumping out huge amounts of thick black smoke, so they had to shut down, eventually coming back in a reduced form but without the smoke.

In the early hours I go see Panik in their car park. It's Sleezy boys 30th birthday party and the rig is covered in pictures of a baby Sleeze. The man himself is getting messy already, so I do my best to make it worse. It's as we're talking the subject of the army crops up. Army cadets actually, camped down by the river just behind the rig. Of course, being the army, they'd made themselves hard to see. And of course, no-one had thought of actually checking when the rig went up - despite there being a large and very smart white transit van with "Army Cadets" written all over it right next to the rig. Well, it was dark ...

Anyhow, nothing I could do about that, so I carried on with the party. Oh look, what can I say, there's nothing to beat dancing out doors under a starry sky, the mountains forming dark backdrops visible through the pine forests, very nice.

Daylight comes and the Army cadets wake up. Actually, I think they might have woken up earlier. In fact it turns out they'd already met some of us who'd wondered over to say hello, somewhat under the influence of the donkey dust at the time (ketamine I mean, what else?). The army were not impressed, but given the number of us, there wasn't much they could do apart from up camp and go find somewhere else.

Rumour has it t they are known are "Group 23", a cadet unit form London, there's a cruel irony to that, given the nature of the number 23. Anyhow, they packed up and with help from some of us managed to get their van out, inching past the randomly parked traveller vehicles. It took two hours to get it out, but they managed.

Sunday past in an ever thickening haze of rave style partying. It's well worth noting that people were looking after each other in a way which doesn't happen in London squats, there was a much better sense of community. These, of course, are Welsh hippies, used to living outside rather than in derelict office blocks and also - interestingly - they were older with a several people well into their 50's and even 60's. Standard dress is pretty much regulation raver though, hoodies and torchered jeans or combats and of course rings through noses and lips. Ahhh, civilisation.

Then it happened again. this time someone recognised me from this website. Hello if you're reading this!

I didn't manage Sunday night, I was overwhelmed by the need for sleep. Monday passed in much the same way though, with most of the rigs packing up in the afternoon. By the nighttime, only Panik was left and around 100 of us had one more night, when we were joined by the boys and girls from Brainskan system (from here in Norwich) who had been to another of the free parties.

Plod turned up but stayed off site, they just sat and watched from their car for a while. Also, some day tripper tourists turned up, seems the police warning didn't bother everyone and quite a few were happy to squeeze their cars through the buses and vans to get to the waterfalls. They were, of course, made quite welcome and some bought a beer or two form the rigs bars.

It was all very friendly - apart, as always, from one idiot who, having had some argument with someone lashed out at totally the wrong person, breaking his nose and cutting his eyelid badly. I wasn't there at the time, but Panik's medical kit provided first aid and someone took the guy into Abergaveny for treatment. Poor Ginge now has a broken nose though, but seems to accept he was just unlucky, such violence is very rare at parties.

Tuesday dawned and I give up and go to sleep. When I wake up everyone's gone and there's only the sound of the waterfalls.

There's a few people still up in the Tribe of Munt field, smoking the last of their weed and stuff but otherwise I'm on my own. The only other sign I could see that anything had happened was the neat piles of black bin bags by the gate, the litter pick had been total.

I wondered down to the car park and had a look at the waterfalls, very nice, and then went back to the car. At this point the National trust warden comes along and has a chat. He was quite happy with the situation, if only because we'd cleaned up all the litter. He wasn't too happy about everything we'd left in the wods though, and I had to admit there was quite a lot in the forest, each marked with a little white flag of paper. Well, 400 or so people over 3 days, its going to happen. It is bio-degradable though

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

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Talybont party

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Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Tribe of Munt video

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party

Talybont party


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