20 February 2016

We just wanted to dance in fields and be free and happy.

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4

When I first encountered alternative living for real it was the era of free festivals. It was before people were worried about being branded anti-social or breaking Section 63 and seen of as criminals. It was before the time a new age traveller lifestyle was seen as part of ‘The Enemy Within’. It was a more tolerant Britain; with freedom to explore alternative way of living; seen a rite of passage; an expression of our feelings against capitalism, against more restrictive ways of living and for being more in touch with our land, expressing a right to gather together and roam freely, to respect nature and nurture of green eco side. The pursuit of happiness and freedom. The right to explore these philospohical concepts. No charge. I had seen the future and it had changed my life forever.

Thatcher transformed all that of course. She initiated a systematic destroying of that free festival culture and all it's ethical entitlements. We still live with that legacy today. The modern legacy of her legacy is that by any means necessary we now question our scientists, politicians, academics if they are doing something we object to. I’m all for that. Thank fuck for the hippies. It’s about openness, justification, democracy. For that reason alone carry on doing what you are doing. If you believe something is wrong in our society it is your right to point it out, investigate it and fight for change.

If you believe, as my good friend Shaun Bishop and scientist David Keith does that geoengineering puts aluminium, illegally, into the environment to block the heat of the sun and that this causes side effects that are causing problem for human respiration and leaving chemical trails in the sky (What in the world are they spraying?) then of course the authorities need questioning and exposing. This ‘covert and secret’ strategy is denied by governments. Well, it would be wouldn’t it?

It was simpler years ago when I was young; or so it seemed. We just wanted to dance in fields and be free and happy.

Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to Him with tambourine and harp.” Psalm 149:3

I grew up surrounded by big sound systems in the 80’s. The place you heard them was the free festival circuit. To travel all summer from festival to festival was what it meant to be young. We were strong. Stonehenge always our epicentre.

It was one of those moments that truly get etched in your mind. Up there with Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, which I saw when I was seven. The sun rising over the heel stone. People gathering, just as they always have done, in this sacred space. Celebrating the sunrise of the longest day. Dancing to the beat of the drum. From that moment on I just fell in love with that special day. I had seen the future and it had changed my life.

With Nicky, my girlfriend at the time, we got our tiny system, such a heap of shit, put it in the back of an old long wheel base Land Rover, ditto, and took it on the road. Free music for free people. Yay! We so bought into the idea. Eight years later it all changed. I would be standing in the same place on Salisbury Plain but the helicopter hovering low above our heads drown out the cheers as the sun rose. The ethnic cleansing of the travelling hippies had begun.

1986 was good year. I was at University, had met my soul mate and partner in loud speaker crime, lager and laryness; we’d put all the potential names for our fledgling sound system on a list and laughed, a lot, at all of them; we chose to call the speakers and amp we owned tvcabbage. Every summer for the next 3 years was an adventure of music and mind financed by our full grants and the two to three weeks well paid work drying hops that I did in Horsemonden. Living free on the road was so cheap.

High on life and youth and adventurous meanderings our favourite activity was dancing to house music. Life short-circuiting past my brain and went straight to my hips. Those drum circles and loud speakers just kind of get to you. You can see the emotion all through everyone’s bodies, not just their face and eyes, but in every line and muscle. One dancer said, “I have to dance, I just have to!” and I totally believed her.

But the desire to be free and dance has been around for a very long time, and can find its roots all across the globe. It has been used for celebration, supplication, ritual, and bonding. Tribes, including our tribe, also have a rich history of dances for both ritual and social purposes. The drum representing the heartbeat and the sound and rhythm of life of the musician and sound system. All this was at the free festival gatherings. Homophily is the tendency of individuals to associate and bond with similar others and, boy, did we homofilate. The actual or perceived similarity amongst friends results from a process of influence. So it all became about how we hear things, how technology, memory, and culture change the way we hear things?

Heraclitus said “one begins with logic”. And the logic of happiness, dance and freedom sung its song.

Any type of dancing is good for your mind, soul, and body. There were no stereotypes about dancing, it seemed new for and probably invented before I was even born, probably when the first human was born. We dance with more freedom. The dancer's movements are more expressive with head, hand, and body gestures representing the soul of happiness. The slow gestures carry a peaceful mood. Dancing is about freedom of movement, to step in time with the beat of the music. Whether it's for a performance, fun, or ceremony, dancing keeps you in shape.

It’s really about seeking happiness. Not as Buddha said, and I paraphrase and boil down the essentials to 15 words; we crave because of ignorance and false knowledge therefore we suffer, eliminate craving, we happy.

Huston Smith explains the pursuit of happiness by using the metaphor of a shopping cart that we “try to steer from the wrong end” or bones that have gone “out of joint” (Smith, 1991, p. 101). In short, we can never be completely happy. No matter how much we dance.

The fun of course is being young and trying to be happy and free. The time I spent on the road and in fields watching the first house DJ's blend two tracks together were the experiences that opened the world up for me. As soon as I saw that I stopped dancing and started counting heartbeats.