Free Party: A Documentary

JUST TWO DAYS LEFT!

Scroll down for the link to the Kickstarter and the Facebook page where you can see exciting new teasers and trailers and read more about the different goals to be met.

Finally, someone is making a documentary about the UK free party scene! I can vouch for the creator as being someone who was there at the time and cares in a big way about helping the people who were there tell the real story of what happened in those amazing and intense years at the start of the nineties. Click on the links below to support the film and follow it’s progress. I can’t wait to see this 🙂

They wanted the freedom to party, the state saw them as the enemy within.

A Folk History of the Free Party movement.

Free Party is a documentary film charting the free party movement’s birth, its rapid rise and how the state tried to crush it, from the people who lived it and the global legacy it leaves in the present day.

Here is the Facebook page so you can follow the film’s progress. There is now a trailer and a teaser on there to give you a taste of what’s to come. WARNING: The videos will make you rush your bollocks off.

And here is the Kickstarter, which has some stretch targets still to meet, have a read if you want to be a part of it.

22nd-29th May 1992: Adrenalin, Bedlam, Circus Warp, DiY, Fun-de-mental, LSdiezel Spiral Tribe, and Techno Travellers at Castlemorton Common Free Festival, Worcestershire

UPDATE 14/6/21:

Regular contributor Simon M sent us this report:

There were rumours going round about a free festival being held somewhere in the west country on the 23rd. At first we thought it might be at Chipping Sodbury, but late on Saturday night we found out it was going to be near Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire. We switched off the episode of Casualty we’d been watching (which was about a drugs overdose) and the four of us set off from Bridport towards Gloucestershire in my gold Mini Metro.

Once we got past Bristol we saw loads of other ravers and travellers headed in the same direction. Near Tewkesbury we joined a convoy of disparate vehicles that stretched for miles towards Castlemorton Common and realised this was going to be a big free festival.

Having got appropriately stoned whilst dawdling along in the line of traffic we finally arrived on site at about 2am and parked the overheated Metro on the side of the road going through the common. Jumping out of the car we hurried towards the lights flashing into the sky from what looked like a huge sprawling township that had grown out of nowhere. Music blasted out in all directions, a mash-up of house, hardcore, breakbeat and techno. There were people every where and parties already in full swing.

Surrounding the marquees were traveller buses, ravers cars, tents, fibreglass sculptures and human gyroscopes. People were selling stuff all over the site. Beer, dope, E’s, acid, speed, rizlas, fags, coffee. We scored and dropped some ecstacy and stayed around the DiY and Circus Warp tents for the night.

After coming up, my fellow raver, dressed in a boiler suit and gas mask hat turned yellow and went outside to puke. I only found him much later, dancing, luvved up, ice lolly in hand. Once the sun came up we had a better idea of the layout of the site and in amongst the 40,000 party goers we found some friends from Dorset and joined them at Spiral Tribe. We sniffed some K and did some wobbly dancing, creating solid shapes out of thin air.

I was never a big fan of Spiral’s hardcore music and would have preferred to be back at DiY, but the Ketamine had me stuck to the spot like glue. Some travellers with families were quite rightly annoyed at Spiral Tribe’s strict policy of 24 hour hardcore and techno. Other systems mellowed out with some dub for a few hours on the Sunday to give people a breather and for kids to get some sleep, but not Spiral.

UPDATE 8/6/21:

Fixed link:

Commenter Jam Smoot told us about the Sparks and Martian at Castlemorton mix, here’s a new link for it:

https://soundcloud.com/alistair-hill-2/martian-sparks-castlemorton

I missed Castlemorton but I believe everyone who says it was wicked. Interesting that dr_box (see below) mentioned the police herding him onto the common, people often forget that the travellers and soundystems were pushed/chased there by the cops. By the way, if anyone has exact dates for this please let us know, we know it’s quoted as going on for 6 days, but we need some sort-of-facts!

Interesting query from Hardcore Bob in the comments: the Techno Travellers (who we’ve now added to the headline) had their rig in the blue and red marquee, so which other rigs were there, and which tents were they in? Let us know in the comments 🙂

Thanks!

UPDATE 23/1/21:

It's Not About Me Lechlade p.56It's Not About Me Lechlade and Castlemorton p.57

From Ian Young, It’s Not About Me! Confessions Of A Recovered Outlaw Addict- From Living Hell To Living Big. Norwich: Anoma Press, 2013, p.59-60.

We came across three longish (slightly chewed) VHS videos of Castlemorton free festival recently. Thanks a million to youtuber discodelinquent (great name by the way!) for uploading them. Discodelinquent has also uploaded some footage from Sugarlump parties. We’ll probably do a post on Sugarlump sound system sooner or later… Meanwhile, enjoy these videos:

Here’s a quote about Castlemorton from ‘Adventures In Wonderland’ by Sheryl Garratt:

Mr Arm (you know who you are!) let us scan a load of newspaper cuttings from his scrapbook. Big up! :


The following photo was captioned “Festivalgoers on Castlemorton Common yesterday, enjoying the sound of music in the Malvern Hills”.

The following photo was captioned “Common nuisance: The 20,000 hippies encamped at Castlemorton common yesterday”.


A classic headline:

Click on images for larger versions:

The following picture and article appeared with the headline: “Villagers threaten to burn out hippies -An illegal festival in the Malverns has driven people living near the site to breaking point”

Continuation of article above, click on image below for larger version:

The following article and photo appeared together:



Here are a couple of videos, the first one’s been online for ages, the second one’s newer and includes some footage taken near the spiral rig-

Thanks youtuber Yangow for the first vid, and thanks youtuber hemustbemad for uploading the second (he credits his friend Matt with filming).

Old friend Simon M was there, and he sent us this page from his diary:

These great photos courtesy of Pete Dibdin whose work can be found at http://www.peterdibdin.com/ :

The photos below are from George McKay‘s book ‘Senseless Acts of Beauty’ and I believe they were taken by Alan ‘Tash’ Lodge (whose excellent website you can find in the links on the right hand side of our main page.

The Riddler (who has a great site, well worth a browse), has some pics of castlemorton here:

http://www.webm8.co.uk/riddler/castlemorton.htm

A Flickr pool with some pics of Castlemorton:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/castlemorton/pool/

A couple of contributors remembered some tunes they heard at Castlemorton and here are a couple of youtube links for them (see this post for details:https://freepartypeople.wordpress.com/2009/02/27/some-hardcore-mixes/ )

Tim Aldiss’s site has his account of his trip to Castlemorton (his rave diaries are a good read, look at the other entries while you’re there)- http://www.loftsites.co.uk/old_school_rave/diaries/castlemorton_common.html

Here are a couple of Guardian articles about Castlemorton etc: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2009/jul/11/castlemorton-free-party-scene-spiral-tribe?showallcomments=true

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/jul/12/90s-spiral-tribe-free-parties

This lucky lucky person was there too:

dr_box wrote:

Castle Morton was an experience.. I’d been visiting a mates place in East London and he was coming over to mine in the depths of West Wales afterwards. we’d heard that there was a festi down near Bristol that weekend, so set off on the hunt along the M4. At one of the service stations along the M4 we got a lift from a Green godess fire engine that was loaded down with kit and Hippies, it was one of the vehicles spiral tribe was using to get to the festival. As we got close we found out that the festival might not be on, so set off on a hunt. the police herded us up to Castle Morton, by the time we got close there were several miles of trucks and busses full of people. At one point the line stopped and a guy with us got out and started counting vehicles as he walked towards the front. when the line started moving again, he waited for us to catch up. he’d counted over seven hundred vehicles, and he hadn’t reached the front of the line.

When we got there, the sun was setting and from the hills overlooking the site you could see the site starting to pulse with light and hear blasts of sound as things were set up. Travelling off all the way to the horizon there was a ribbon of headlights delivering more people to the festival.

Blinding weekend, my mate had his first E experience, Watched the police try and drive through the centre of the crowd. they got stopped in the middle, and a nameless longhair got passed over the crowd, and started selling Acid off the bonnet of the police car. after futilely attempting to get out of the car the plod ended up just laughing at the sheer balls of him.

Nighttime had more than its fair quota of low flying helicopters with spotlights. (although someone did take a potshot at them with a firework)

Last of the truly fun free festivals.

Sweat Soundsystem- Are you out there?

Were you one of the people that organised these legendary parties? The producer of a new independent documentary about free parties would really like to get in touch with some or all of you and give you a chance to tell your story. See the post just above this one for details of the documentary.

I too would love to interview you but my priority right now is to help with the documentary.

Just email me if you are one of the Sweat people: freepartypeople@yahoo.co.uk .

And if you haven’t heard of Sweat, here are some writeups of the events they put on:

1st June 1991: Free Party at RAF Charmy Down, Somerset

Disused RAF base. Apparently this took place a few weeks before solstice, can anyone confirm the date! DJ’s Die, Easygroove and Tommy B were there, and the rig belonged to someone called Kerry from Bristol. There are rumours Techno Travellers were there too, does anyone know more about rigs in attendance, or dates, please? Thank you 🙂

This is still used as a party venue, the last one was summer 2020.

Thank you to Youtuber MrBenRNA for the video!

27th April 1991: Free Party in Forest Hill, Oxfordshire

Here’s a video of this event. Know which rig it was? Anything more? Let us know in the comments! Scroll down for the mix.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzGbabT0Ks0

Thank you MrBenRNA for the video!

Here is a recording of 90 minutes of the party:

31st December 1993: New Year’s Eve free party at Bloxham, Oxfordshire

It was in a cold farm building,and no-one seems to know who supplied the rig. Apparently some Lazy House and DiY DJs played, there was calvados on sale, and some DJ showed up in a Ferrari 😀

Here are some memories of an anonmyous raver:

I was there. It was freezing. We drove down from Leamington/Kenilworth about 10 of us. We got collared by the tv crew in the lanes looking for the party. It was a French outfit recording a documentary called l’angletterre underground or something like that. We got there about 5 in the morning and scored some speckled burgers. Very trippy. I remember Rich Webb on the decks and Underworld with John Lydon playing distinctively. Ended up dancing madly with a guy called Wolfie. Helped push a bus in the icy morning. Good laugh.

And that selection of memories, dear readers, is all we know! If you know more, do please let us know in the comments! As always, there will be a slight delay until your comments are approved, but we do approve everything that isn’t spam 🙂

The party features at about 23 minutes from the start of this documentary, which is worth watching in full. About 20 minutes in the producer visits a police station where a copper explains how raves are organised 🙂

If anyone is wondering why these reports are getting shorter it’s because we are trying to list all the events we have heard of before fleshing them out with more details. It’s over to you, you make this site!