I had Bob Marley’s “Caution” playing in my head as I wrote my final exam on Friday. After two hours of questions on Technological determinism and the Indian Green Revolution, that song might well have been have crossfaded into “Everything’s gonna be alright” – despite having a customary stress crisis after half an hour (realising that there’s no easy way to do cut and paste and revise your sentences when you writing with pen and paper, thinking that all that you’ve written so far is utter shite), everything did indeed seem to turn out for the better.
Thus, this weekend marked the beginning of three months of summer for me. Most of the other international students finish on Monday with their English exam (which I spared myself), but even so, I managed to lure a sizely bunch of them with the rumour of an illegal warehouse rave somewhere in Manchester on Saturday night.
By mere coincidence I had stumbled upon the website of MISSING, a bi-annual independent party with lots of underground music and funny, fluffy people. Manchester has bred quite a fair bit of the techno and clubbing culture in Europe, especially through the Hacienda – a notorious in-spot in the early 80’s, as portrayed in the film 24 hour party people. I thought that this would be my golden opportunity to experience that unique atmosphere and meet a lot of friendly people.
The whole invitation procedure was proper cloak and dagger stuff to keep the police off their tails, as they were trying to disguise it as a private party. Therefore everybody had to be invited (ie. join the mailing list), and they would then send out an email on the day, offering 3 phone numbers which the guests could then call in order to get directions to the warehouse where the party would take place.
Manchester has lots of old warehouses, and lots of old semi-derelict industrial neighbourhoods with few nieghbours to complain – all of which is required for this sort of all night partying. Therefore, the party could take place in any number of places, and we could only wait until they would tell us where to go.
So when the word came, we joined the throng and took the tram to Trafford Bar where the party supposedly was taking place. But by the time we got there, the police had arrived and were closing down the party before it even had begun. Some of the other tram travellers got really paranoid and went straight back into the tram fearing, as they said, “snif-dogs”!
As we were much too decent to be doing any drugs, we had a good laugh about that, though it didn’t really help us much. We didn’t know where to go, and despite the promise of “back up venues”, it soon turned out that the police had gotten the better of the party planners, and that no rave would be taking place that night. Several thousand disappointed youngsters spread across town, looking for some party or another.
We happened to come across a tiny club where most of the clientele were of Caribbean descent, playing loud dancehall and funk, and we had our chance to dance and have fun there.
But one of the other students told me that in the mid-nineties, the British government passed a law inspired directly by a wish to be able to break up raves more easily without having too much trouble with civil rights of private gatherings. Potentially illegalizing any parties “with 100 or more persons at which amplified music is played during the night. Music includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.”
It seems to be just another glorious case of a government trying to legaslate their way out of something that they don’t understand. Thus attacking symptoms rather than causes. Did I mention the new case against hoodie sweatshirts?