Temporary Autonomous Zone – “ a socio-political tactic of creating temporary spaces that elude formal structures of control” - Gray, Chris (2001). Cyborg Citizen. New York: Routledge. p. 47. ISBN 0415919789
Rave is a lot to do with re-connecting something perceived as lost - a community, our bodies, nature, and ultimately the womb. Some have argued it reflects the refusal of citizenship, adulthood and responsibilities. It could be suggested that it is less to do with a refusal to grow up but more a hatred of the boundaries which are imposed between adulthood and childhood.
The effect of Ecstasy is to make sexual climax near impossible and returns the sexuality of the body into a pre-oedipal polymorphous state of desire. E androgenises. The music itself is structured around the delay of climax with its lack of closure and narrative structure. It is an ongoing 'pleasure plateau' which never reaches its potential to be released. Rave is a culture of clitoris envy, a lowbrow version of Lacan's green eyed feelings about the mystic St Teresa. In his book on Lacan, Malcolm Bowie, paraphrasing the psychoanalyst, describes women as 'perpetual motion machines programmed to produce their own rapture'. Pure rave! Rave's epileptic bombardment of stimuli (staccato beats and strobes) reflects the subcultures's essence: 'nympholepsy' an ecstasy or frenzy caused by the desire of the unattainable'." rave culture makes more explicit the formal rules of British culture: Rave offers an arena for entertainment which is freed from the surveillance imposed on us by institutional procedures, apparatus, architecture, private security and closed circuit television. It takes place on the margins (sometimes outside the law), in the dark, invisible and uncontrolled. Escaping from surveillance and order, the virtual cyberspace of the warehouse and mobile phone is about interaction, fluidity, chaos and contradiction.
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND: An Analysis of Rave culture. Helen Evans, 1992
Got this email from the police before the BBQ party on the beach the other week;
Date: 26/06/2010 20:40
Dear Mr tVC,
We are in receipt of information that you may be involved in the organisation/facilitation of an event on the beach at Whitstable which would constitute a 'rave' as defined by S63-65 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.
I write to inform you that police resources have been put in place to prevent such an event from starting. This is a residential area and such a gathering would be likely to cause a significant disturbance.
I would also advise that any sound equipment may be liable to being seized by Police.
I would ask that you take what steps you reasonably can to prevent any gathering and to inform any people who may be seeking to attend this event that it will not now be taking place.
Inspector Gordon Etheridge
Canterbury Police Station
Old Dover Road
Obviously I’m one of those people who don’t check their emails every day – so busy, darling - so never even saw it till mid week after the party, after I'd talked to the Inspector, who had asked us to turn it down - which we did. By then I had had another from the Inspector;
Dear Mr tVC,
Just a brief e-mail to thank you for your cooperation in removing the sound equipment at your party last night.
This was negotiated on trust and I am pleased to note on returning to duty today that there were no reported problems following our conversation on the car park.
I would recommend in future that problems could be avoided if you were to apply for a Temporary Events Notice - the City Council website has the appropriate information as to how that's done.
I hope you and your guests enjoyed the rest of the party.
It’s churlish to expect that having operated as a free party sound system for so long, so openly, so blatantly, naively without fear of repercussions that the police have not been aware of our ‘nefarious’ activities. At most parties we are greeted by the police with the repost, “oh no; not you lot again.” Affectionately known to the local press as the middle aged ravers – God, how we hate that term - middle aged, our relationship with the police over the years has been reasonably good. We do a party, they don't turn up, we have a good time. we do a party, the police turn up, ask us to stop or turn it down, we do. Things changed a bit after the last gathering on Whitstable beach the other week when the police turned up mob handed threatening all sorts of Section 63, clear the beach, we're going to arrest you and sieze all the equipment shenanegans. They were convinced it was going to be a massive 'rave'.
The word ravers, in the context of this case was coined or rather misappropriated by the rabid tabloid gutter press during the first flush of hysteria around the acid parties that were springing up everywhere like uncontrollable geysers in the British Diaspora at the fag end off the 80's.
The term rave first came into use in late 50's Britain as a name for the wild bohemian parties of the time. (2) Party people never called it a rave. It was only used by outsiders as word to generate fear, fear of the new, of the unknown and another way to demonise the young; to ramp up hysteria to perpetuate myths of a shadowy subculture of youth who, in reaction to the materialism of the "me" generation, embraced a party etiquette of peace, love, unity and respect; indeed a throwback as it were to the peace and love doctrine of the hippy era.
Thatcher and her government of the day didn’t like this new expression from the Stonehenge hippies or the free party bastard offshoot of the massive money making M25 orbital raves . Since the "acid house" media scare of what the British style magazines still refer to wistfully as the Summer of Love (1988), ravers and rave organizers were soon treated the same way that the hippies at Stonehenge had been treated; in a similarly brutal repressive fashion. During "The Summer of Love," Britain took two US imports - ecstasy and house music - added large doses of street style and attitude, and created the most explosive new dimension to popular culture since punk. Couple this with the increased interaction of these two groups, hippies and free party people, around the late 80’s and you have a new plane of cultural contact.
The new hippy/rave movement was indeed similar in many respects to the hippy movement except one; the use of technology. The late Fraser Clarke from Megatripolis and Encyclopaedia Psychedelica editor called these new tech hippies Zippies. Zen-inspired professional pagans. They are the product of UK dance-scene hedonism, cyber street tech, pagan spirituality, postpunk anarchism, and go-for-it entrepreneurism. (1) A Zippie was 1990s technoperson, in contradiction to yuppie, a unique subculture that “combined the 1990s techno hemisphere with the 1960s earth person”. tVC were an active, if small, part of this movement which had roots in the free festival scene, born in the 60’s and now manifesting in the New Age Traveller scene of the 80’s and early 90’s.
As a movement, the zippie scene might never have passed childhood to reach its current state of maturity had Margaret Thatcher not been determined to beat some values (hers) into two very different (to the point of mutual antipathy) groups of recalcitrant citizens. These were folks who refused to bend the knee: so-called New Age travelers (or crusties) and ravers (house music enthusiasts). (1)
A new and contagious cultural virus is ripping through the British Isles, a meme, an "idea with attitude." Like all successful memes, it confers advantages on its host: Those infected suffer attacks of optimism, strong feelings of community, lowered stress levels, and outbreaks of "pronoia" - the sneaking feeling one has that others are conspiring behind your back to help you.
Imagine a world where it’s Hippy Plus; all the ideology plus technology. As Timothy Leary said;
Hippy is an establishment label for a profound, invisible, underground, evolutionary process. For every visible hippy, barefoot, beflowered, beaded, there are a thousand invisible members of the turned-on underground. Persons whose lives are tuned in to their inner vision, who are dropping out of the TV comedy of Life. Timothy Leary - The Politics of Ecstasy
To be a hippie you must believe in peace as the way to resolve differences among peoples, ideologies and religions. These days we have a Facebook page to spread the word; phones, websites, newsgroup forums. The way to peace is through love and tolerance. And communication.
As early as 1958 Kerouac’s “Dharma Bums” refused to “subscribe to the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming”.
If you subscribe to Lawrence Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development, which says that moral development is conditional upon being exposed to role models that exhibit different levels of morality, then you might have some hope for humanity. I, personally, have been involved in ‘youth work’ since tVC began; reaching those hard to reach young people who have rejected societal norms and float around on the fringes of youth culture disconnected from mainstream society. To see them cooperate, work together, create a party from a disused warehouse or a marquee in a field; to see the sense of pride and unity; to see behaviour positive and friendship bonds strengthen is very real and very undocumented.
The police see something different. A crowd to be controlled. An illegal gathering. People ‘under the influence’. Breach of the peace. Trespass. Parking issues. Complaining locals. Cost of police manpower. Potential arrests. More people clogging up the judicial system. Noise pollution. Violence.
It’s this splitting of a free party into exactly two non-overlapping parts; in this dichotomy of zippy expression and the 80’s fear and phobia engendered from the Thatcher era still prevalent in modern police ideology towards the free party people, that lies the land where confusion reigns; old, outmoded ideas still have hold and flourish; a lack of understanding predominates. This is the area where mistakes happen, where people get arrested, where cultures clash; expensive equipment is trashed or impounded, party-goers beaten up. Relationships between the police, the public the party goers are soured.
What happened next in the early history of free party culture?. In May 1992, Castlemorton, was to change everything forever. Cops cracked down. “Zippies are unashamedly psychedelic - hash spliffs, ecstasy, acid, mushrooms, and for the hip and well-connected, DMT. This penchant for mind-benders is partly to blame for the Establishment crackdown.” (1) In the wake of Castlemorton the Criminal Justice Bill was pushed through Parliament.
Now an interesting suggestion was made by the inspector; a TEN. Temporary Event Notices, or TENs, can be used to authorise relatively small-scale events, involving less than 500 people at any one time.
Organisers must give notice to both the local authority and the chief officer of police at least 10 working days before the event is due to start. The notice must be for no more than 499 persons. Cost £21.
The inspector suggested we try one for our next event. Could this be a solution to the friction or just an advance notice to give the police time to organise themselves to stop it? Would the party be allowed or stopped in the embryonic stage? Would the party go on with police approval? There’s only one way to find out.
Although evolution, not revolution, informs the zippie agenda, its submemes ensure that zippies will inevitably continue to come into conflict with the powers that be. "The political content of dance music is intrinsic," Will Sinnott, of the early zippie band The Shamen pointed out two weeks before his 1991 death. "It stimulates ego-role behavior reduction, offering the experience of unity and affinity with others. This experience invalidates liberal, individualistic ideology and creates true political opposition."
The pagan roots revival that the travellers brought to the zippie movement is fundamentally at odds with the government's insistence on Judeo-Christian pub culture and 11 p.m. bedtimes, no matter how hard the police crack down. This dominant ideology or Cultural hegemony of ideas considered the “norm” is perceived and sold as an idea to benefit everyone whilst only really benefiting the ruling class.
Interest in the New Age is more than passive; it's rooted in a darker, indigenous Celtic/Nordic shamanism revival that has become increasingly politicized. (1)
This blog will follow the progress of the first tVC Temporary Event Notice. Now, first things first; let’s download the fucker from the Canterbury Council website then decide which of the parties we want to try it out on.
(1) Jules Marshall - Zippies!
(2) OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND: An Analysis of Rave culture.Copyright Helen Evans, Wimbledon School of Art, London, 1992