21 September 2009

"Damn Good Extropy"

DiY Sound System - 20 Year Birthday Party
A Field, somewhere near Nottingham, September 19th 2009

The day after posting pictures of their 10th anniversary party in London on their site it was time to head up from Whitstable, Kent to Nottingham for DiY Sound Systems 20th Anniversary Free party. Oh, how time flies. Funnily enough, after getting up there without much hassle, I bump into Pete Woosh who goes “Oh hi Oz. Long time no see? When was the last time we talked?” I goes, “I think it was 10 years ago at the 10th Anniversary party”. “Have a good one”, he says. “I will; cheers. See you at the 21st party?”

DiY were, as mentioned on previous occasions in this blog, a seminal influence on tVC. We first encountered them on the free festival circuit back in the 80’s; or was it the early 90’s? I can't remember. I’ve had loads of conversations with many experienced party people and one thing we have in common is that we can remember fuck all. Who said experiencing altered states of mind can fry your memory? Certainly not Aldous Huxley nor Terence McKenna ("It is no great accomplishment to hear a voice in the head. The accomplishment is to make sure it is telling the truth, because the demons are of many kinds: "Some are made of ions, some of mind; the ones of ketamine, you'll find, stutter often and are blind."). Mick Jagger once received a seven-figure advance to write his memoirs. He eventually returned the money, saying he couldn’t remember anything of significance. P Diddy apparantly had the same "not being able to write a memoir" problem for some reason. The great idea I had about chronicling DiY’s growth and achievements would probably receive a similar response from Harry et al. Or not. Who knows?

This party, for me, was a bit like that. About half way up the motorway me and Brummy Jon, ye olde stalwart from the Splosh Sound System, from the Midlands, from back in the day, decided to, er, have a little pick me up. Couldn’t of course be arsed to half our little friend we decided to just “fuck it” and have one each. Of course, as one learns from experience, this is “a bad thing to do”. My experience always told me to “wait till you were at the party” before indulging in any attitude changing accoutrements. But, hey, who listens to the voice of experience when the hedonist wants to take over? Not Mick Jagger and not me. That was about 10 o’clock at night. At 10 o’clock the next morning BJ goes, in between several cups of tea from the back of his car; “time to head back to Kent mate.”

During the mean whilst I just had to marvel at the lovely marquee filled with what Scouse Steve called a “well old school sound system”. Steve has just purchased one of those tiny yet loud systems that he plans to debut at a party in Margate soon. To me it looked like DiY’s old system; nice, large bins, but I’m not too sure. Remember when they had them 2 semi circular stacks? That was a nice sound. This system here was filled with Eminence speaker drivers, I was told, and powered by Crown amps. A reasonable budget option that really sounded spot on when cranked up a tad around 1am; a warm, liquid bass, tight filled out midrange and that essential crisp top end. All just at the correct volume, for me, right in the centre of the marquee, right by the central post. Glasses off. Couldn't see a fucking thing anyway; room filled with smoke most of the time. Rob Lights did the lights? I don't know, I couldn't find the fucker anywhere. Just wanted to say hello. Panta rhei -"everything flows" as Heraclitus said.

So I’m standing there, minding my own business, listening to the lovely, deep house music. I’m a slow starter on the dancing front and tend to do what we call the “Stella Shuffle” for hours on end; both feet on the ground, balanced out, knees slightly bend to enable swaying around the central vertical axis and movement of the upper body and legs in 360 degrees; a good bounce to the bass here is essential and this configuration permits thousands if not millions of variations of movement depending on what the music throws at you. I personally adopt this stance as my default setting mode in most dance orientated situations; not going too crazy to attract unwanted attention but not standing there rigidly straight in the middle of the dance floor attracting even more attention. A nice, middling, “I’m on the dance floor - all fucking night. I’m warming up. I like it. I’m connecting". Gently. Hands are occupied by being firmly shoved in my pockets. I might even tap out a little rhythm with my fingers inside my pocket; and it’ll take me hours before I even take my hands out of my pocket. The only other time one hand is out is if one is carrying the obligatory cold, fizzy can of Stella lager or smoking a cigarette.

I bump in Austin Space. His first words to me, and bear in mind I haven’t seen him for a few years, are; “have you got any coke?” The guy is his usual overflowing fountain of ideas. All true or all lies or a mixture of both or either or neither. I do have a soft spot for him and it’s real nice to just listen to him chat away. I’ve missed him. Feels like a DiY party already.

It starts to get a bit hot inside the marquee so I head outside for a wander around. I find the bar and try to blag 2 cans for 2 quid. “Sorry mate, we’re being really strict tonight”. “I’ll try again when you’re pissed later”, I say. “We don’t get pissed”. It’s here I bump into Simon DK, Nicky and Cookie. They’re all really “drunk” and leaning on each other and linking arms. Cookie drops his can of cider on the ground and doesn’t notice he’s done that. It just slips out through his fingers. Nicky is talking to BJ but keeps repeating the same question. BJ re-explains every time. Simon, whilst rolling a cigarette finds he has lost his roll up cigarette filters and his getting anxious searching all his pockets twice over. "There was something else in there as well". He gives me his can of cider to hold whilst he does this. “Now, Simon”, I say, “Do you remember the last time you opened the tin with them in? We might be able to retrace your steps and find them”. He pauses, has a think. During this I think Cookie is falling over and rush to help onto the nearby seat. He’s only bending down to pick up, the now empty can he dropped earlier. Simon goes; “No, I don’t remember”. I give Cookie Simons can of cider and they all walk off to the dance floor as Nicky goes “I love this tune…” Me and BJ say to each other how much we love Simon and all of the DiY lot.

Back in the marquee and Harry is out front by now and working the room like a pro. He seems a lot more relaxed these days. He doesn’t recognize me or remember me. Why should he? We shake hands anyway. It’s good to see them all together or most of them together again. I give Rick a big hug; now he’s in London we do tend to see more of him than the other DiYers. His next tabula rasa appearance, for example, sometime in October. I do enjoy their Digs and Woosh set in the early hours. Cary Grant thought it a bit "girly" but I liked it for all the reasons that he didn’t. It was CG’s first even DiY party. He’s a bit of a London tech boy at heart on the decks but loves it real deep and appreciates the lovely, quirky vibe in the marquee. My hands were out my pockets and flapping around like little good uns without me realising it. Whatever next? Spontaneity?

BJ spent most of the night reacquainting himself with the old Splosh Crew, of which there were many there. Behind the central post in the marquee they all gathered; “Splosh Central” Jon called it, and thus it was so named. There was a distinct lack of older faces from the scene from way back in the day of the early 90's. We thought they might have made more of an effort to come to the 20th anniversary of DiY, the legendary, unacknowledged founders of our deep house free party scene, the agents that forged the moral panic that forged the creation, along with the other Castlemorton rapscallions, of Section 63 and that hilarious “repetitive beats” line.

I was once again trancing out a bit to the music and this guy approaches me; “Wow, were you on the scene at the beginning? What was it like? I’m 40 now. How old are you? You got to find me in the morning so we can talk about them days. I thought there would be more like you here. I’m Dave by the way”.

Later on in the morning I'm walking back to the car for a cup of tea and this guy shouts out to me “how many balloons filled with helium do you think it would take to lift my car off the ground?” “ooh, I do love a maths question in the morning at a free party”, I say and we discuss the functional implications of solving such a problem ( how much does the car weigh? How much weight can one balloon carry? Etc). As I leave, because my tea is ready he shouts “I’ve got 4,000 balloons in my car!” As a big hot air balloon was slowly drifting over our heads my answer to his question was, of course, it would take just one balloon filled with helium to lift his car off the ground.

DiY's Extropy - "the extent of a living or organizational system's intelligence, functional order, vitality, energy, life, experience, and capacity and drive for improvement and growth" - is still there, still palpable, if evidenced from this party. After all the years that have passed.

Happy birthday you old buggers.

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