29. June 2021 · Comments Off on Stu’s Views – Free Parties · Categories: Comment, Hifi News, Views Of Stu · Tags:

A personal viewpoint on free parties.

The weekend before last was a bit of a double whammy with regards to getting to listen to outdoor music given that it was both Fete de la Musique and the Summer solstice. For those that don’t know, 21st June in France is a day when musicians take to the streets and people come together to enjoy their creative wares. Likewise, since time immemorial, the Summer Solstice has been a time for people to come together and celebrate, more often than not with music being a prime focus. This year was a little different for obvious reasons but events did happen, though some didn’t end well. In Redon in North West France there were violent clashes between ravers and police with one young man losing a hand, and in the UK the planned (close to, but not at) Stonehenge get-together and live music event was stopped, though more peaceably than the French variant. Needless to say that given our caution over the dreaded plague that seems to be doing the rounds still, we were at neither and didn’t get to see any music.

Anyway, I was looking at the images on the news and wondered just what it was about the gathering of people together en masse to listen and to dance about to music that seems to upset the powers that be quite so much. Yes, I get the fact that these were unlicensed and free events and that public safety is paramount, but having attended French raves in the past I can attest that their organisation is equally on a par with some of the legal events that I’ve been to – and in some cases a whole lot better. So it must be the fact that this kind of illegal rave attracts litter louts who will leave a trail of rubbish when they vacate the site? Well, the ones I’ve been to and visited the next day have left virtually no trace that they were there at all other than trampled grass. So it must be that there are drugs at these events? Fair dos. I’m sure there is, but it’s not like, if you read the newspapers and watch the news, drugs aren’t absolutely everywhere anyway.  Look we live in times of Covid and so large gatherings are dangerous, right? Well, I could actually buy this argument if there wasn’t, as Goldie suggests in his recent online statement, “30 000 football fans on the streets of London” with the full consent of the government.

So what is the real reason for the closure of these events?

Perhaps the truth of the matter lies more in the belief that any group of potentially like-minded people gathering in one place may pose a threat to the status quo (the “existing state of affairs” and not the band). Is dancing and enjoying music with folk that are on a similar wavelength to you really that subversive an activity – remember we are talking both live bands and what could broadly be called techno here, and so it’s not just the “repetitive beats” thing. Or is it more likely that the people who organise and attend these free events are seen as the dangerous fringes of society who will corrupt our youth faster than you can say Wally Hope? I don’t know the answer to that question, but it would be an interesting social experiment for a group of classical music enthusiasts to set up an unlicensed event, perhaps with a series of small chamber orchestras as the artists, and see what the powers that be’s response is.

I deplore violence and denounce it from whichever side of the fence it is coming from, however, having spoken to a number of people on the free party scene over the last few days (thanks Mick and thanks Mark) I can only see the problem getting worse and the response from the authorities becoming worse. Mick N made a good point when I asked him for a comment about the seemingly increased intolerance towards raves and the people that put them on “My thoughts are that these party people have done exactly that to the government (pointed out something is wrong with society as a whole) and rather than admitting it, the authorities and the establishment have become aggressive in their defence.” Sadly violence begets violence, and if the authorities continue to stop people from celebrating music and dance in a free (and I mean that in both senses of the word) manner, then things can only escalate and become more of a problem.

Surely a better way for this to move on is with a degree of tolerance from both sides of the discussion?

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