One raver, Adam, talks candidly about his personal experiences of the low-level police campaign that began against the scene as he got involved in it in Suffolk last year
I started going partying about a year ago. My first real party was in the Halloween of 2004, I was heavily impressed by the unity between people at parties and the buzz I felt just going to one.
For those of you that don’t know the structure of a party it works as such: Usually you meet up with friends at around 9-10pm and hang out for a bit in some out-of-the-way place until the direction or general area of the party comes in on the ‘party line’, (usually consisting of an answer phone on a sim card).
At about 11.30-12ish the meeting point will be put on the line - usually late because you want a lot of people all at once. People power is what makes and keeps any party going.
Excitement starts flowing as you head in, this was true even when I had just started going to parties when meeting points were pretty safe and there were hardly any cops.
These days though they are becoming so hot on any raving that you might have two or three cop cars blocking the end of the track trying to split up the convoy. Everything here travels by word of mouth, making talking pretty important. If you see anything that isn’t right you tell people sharpish and make sure you get it correct.
When loads of us are there, everyone gets behind the rig (‘rigs’ being the extremely expensive sound systems which provide the music for partying) and we drive off in convoy to the venue.
The first thing many people do when they get to the final destination is chill out while the sound system is being set up. Finally the party goes on, people have fun, and if all goes well we leave at some point on the Sunday afternoon. If all goes well - I wish! It used to… at my first party cops came down to see what was happening but left within minutes. They had no power over us, but as time went on they seemed to start making more regular and menacing visits.
The first example of this that I can think of is a party I went to in February last year. It was a multi-rigger (where more than one organising group or collective is involved and several rigs can be mustered to expand the potential size and experience of the party), Slack Banta and Equality Cohesion playing in a deep ex-quarry.
Theoretically speaking this was a very considerate venue. It was at least a mile from anywhere (a must when venue-hunting) and the hole was deep enough to suppress most of the sound, but what we didn’t know is that it was on the Queen’s land. To the police this must have been like meat to dogs. It started to go wrong when we were walking up the path out of the quarry, and there in front of us were about six squad cars, two dog unit vans and a couple of police land rovers too. I was pretty shocked, but we had to get to the I carried on walking, until I realised that there was a cop standing directly in front of me, facing a video camera at me - recording everyone walking out. My first reaction was “What? Did I miss something, like their reasons for wasting police funding?” After a while, a troop of them come careering on foot into the quarry in true get-out-of-my-way cop fashion. As always in these situations community spirit lifted and everyone ran to the stack (the deployed sound system) to protect it, and themselves.
This time we were lucky, the cops simply said we must move the rig, and because they had the Superintendent there, they could and would issue a section 63 (meaning they can take the rig if you haven’t hopped it after being told to). We left without a fight but they filmed every car leaving, and no doubt put it in a little illegal ravers notebook.
The second happening is a more recent one, a Brainskan party that happened in North Crete. From the off it was attacked from all angles with police. The meeting place was the same one as on Halloween of 2004, somewhere in Kings Lynn (though the exact details get lost when you don’t drive). I heard word of cops at the end of the track, so people quickly got moving to see what was happening. At first it was just two squad cars. We walked up to get a better view, with cars still driving in past them, and it was calm for a while. But, in true police style, they decided that blocking the entrance might make the problem disappear. So there they were a few minutes later, maybe ten stood end to end over the drive, creating a tailback of about 30 cars. People reacted by just parking on the road (like they’d just drive on and forget about a party!).
Some stopped further down the road on a hard shoulder, while others parked up the way they came. Police had begun filming by this point so every person was walking round covering as much skin as possible. The response was quick, and along came a few riot vans with some other squads. The road was by now pretty much fully blocked with ravers and cops –it was very hectic.
After a few more minutes of this fooling around they realised that they weren’t gaining anything and were blocking a major route through the area. Everyone wanted to get out fast, so the idea was to get everyone into the meeting and then out the back way. Half of the convoy did this while half didn’t - then we lost the system leading and had to mess about for an hour or so to get to the party.
At the party everything was fine. The rig was set up and running when we got there and there were no policemen to be seen. It wasn’t until the next day that they showed up. It was midday on the Sunday morning and I’d just woken up from an hour’s sleep. I got out of the car, walked across a track and bang! A troupe of riot-geared policemen were marching towards me. They really like spending money I think. I had to dive off to the stack to protect it, half running towards it to cries of ‘pigs!’, ‘riot cops!’, ‘get round the stack!’ and other warnings. As I was coming up to the stack they stomped right through everyone to the front of it and created a barrier of riot shields, held up by police in between us and the speakers. But the music was still playing and a good few were still havin’ it in the mud to the music, pushing the police a bit and trying to get them dancing.
Then after just a bit of this they cut the music and it was just a wall of cops, facing the ravers. I’m sure you can imagine this, it was like the way kids react when TV is turned off. We moaned a lot and didn’t move. Eventually we decided to sit in. Everyone sat down but this didn’t last very long, maybe only five minutes, because the cops were getting pushy on people at the front, so we all stood up on the attack (as though it would do us any good against their tank-like armoured bodies).
A few cops were standing at the top of the quarry and one walked up with a megaphone and handed it to another, who turned it on and started to talk, but everyone in the stack he was talking to were all shouting back things like “what? I cant hear ya!” “fuck off!” “oi oi!” “go back to the office!” “leave us in peace!”, that sort of thing.
No-one could hear what he was saying, but it didn’t matter because we all knew he was issuing a section 63. However, as far as I recall they must give a warning and give us time to leave before they come storming in. When asked, they said they had done it during the night, but no one saw or heard them and they couldn’t have given it to us at the meeting, because legally that’s a different site.
We stayed almost surrounded by the police for a good hour or so.I found myself at the top of the quarry looking down on the stack, and I could see people moving out mixers and such to try and save what they could before the old bill apprehended it all. I was talking to an officer, and I looked down to see the cops every so slightly shuffling forward, pushing party people further away from the.
I didn’t stay still for long, and went down into the quarry, up in front of the cops. I leant on their shields and tried to stop them pushing us back. We knew we weren’t going to win but, well, it was worth putting spirit into. Some of the police were fine, you could tell they didn’t overly care about the situation, but some were on top hype - really loving the fact that they could show anger and get a little aggressive. I remember it seeming very primitive to me at the time. Eventually of course they pushed everyone so far from the stack that we had no chance and they had already started to dismantle it when people started to give in. I missed the night of this year’s New Year party, and turned up in the daytime. The cops were using dogs and nudge sticks on ravers and some scallies were causing trouble but I’m only going off other peoples’ accounts. I’ve been told some interesting stories about that night, but they’re for another time, from another mouth.