24th–26th July 1992: Spiral Tribe at Happy Daze Free Festival, Kerry, Wales

Here’s a review by an anonymous raving reporter:

Wales again- another marathon drive. Waiting around with a massive crowd of other ravers at a service station as people took it in
turns calling the info line on one payphone. Must have looked quite a sight.. Eventually found out where it was and set off. It must have been an overnight journey as I remember it being light when we got there. We saw a police roadblock ahead. There was gravel piled across the road. I remember some kind of pantomime with the cops where they couldn’t explicitly tell us not to go down the other road. So we went down the other road and found the party 🙂

We parked up outside the fence. I think that’s when my mate took this picture:

We were quite high up, right on top of a hill, and the site was quite small and muddy compared to Lechlade, the only other festival I’d been to at this stage. There were a couple of rigs there, though apparently there had been some confiscations which dampened the mood a bit. Luckily the people who took us to the party had brought a tent. A bit of lifesaver on this occasion, we spent a lot of time there.

Somewhere on this newspaper clipping taken from the front page of the local paper is our tent and the white Fiesta ravemobile

A friend of ours had walked from his hometown, and somehow managed to find us when he arrived on site. He said that he’d thought the party was ‘just over the hill’ but it turned out to be a longer expedition than he’d expected.

Once we were all ready we swallowed some huge browny grey biscuits. They were about the size of one of those big vitamin C tablets, and they supposedly contained mescaline. I know, it sounds like sales patter, but there was definitely something special in them. Things get a bit blurry for the next few hours.

One of our friends, who was quite tall, as it goes, was scared silly because a group of 3 or 4 even taller blokes appeared out of nowhere and proceeded to dance under the low canopy suspended over the sound system, their heads bobbing up and down and making random lumps and bumps in the makeshift tent. Although this isn’t scary in itself, add a liberal helping of bass-heavy gabba with samples such as ‘there is no planet earth, there is no planet earth’ and you have a severely frightened raver who is convinced that the aliens have come.

UPDATE 08/03/09: It was this track:

Shout outs to wheezer for id’ing it 🙂

At some stage the ground turned into bouncy muddy techno foam rubber.

I saw hidden codes written in the barcode on a Ribena packet.

There were, I think, 2 rigs but I think we were only hanging about at the Spiral affiliated one. I don’t even know if it was their own rig but I remember it was little.

Thinking about the music at that party, there were two things, or rather people- that really stood out, MC Scallywag and DJ Aztek. Aztek was playing a style I’d never heard before. Still not sure what it was (any ideas?) but it was hard and fast and gabberish. Scallywag on the other hand was just making up daft rhymes about ravers not leaving their turds all over the place (good point).

At some stage day turned to night and back to day and we were back in our tent drifting in and out of consciousness. The whole cycle started again on the Monday morning.

We bumped into someone we knew from Dorset who had enlisted in the brew crew. I had a half lucid conversation with him and then when I saw him in town a few weeks later he denied he had even been at the festival.

Halfway through the festival we wandered to the gate. There were a few journalists and cameramen hanging about and being berated by some angry travellers. When we finally reached home we made some tea, sat down, and turned the TV on. The party we had just been to was on the news. Not only that but we could be seen ambling around in the background. This festival was mentioned in the media because the DHSS had actually showed up to the festival to allow people to sign on on site. And at that time I expect there was a Daily Mail/Express/some politician expressing ‘outrage’ about mediaeval brigands &c &c

On the Tuesday (???? my memory’s not infallible you know!), the music was still going and there was a police helicopter circling. Some cop was blathering away over a megaphone, some nonsense about leaving the site, er, which we did.

Not long after we left the site we saw a police checkpoint up ahead. The driver decided that maybe we had to stop (maybe he had a guilty conscience!), but we urged him to drive on.

On the way back we stopped a couple of times for food- the first time was a little old ladies’ tearoom where we felt completely out of place after spending a weekend in another dimension. The second place was one of those fucking abysmal overpriced motorway service stations. We made the most of it though. Again we felt a little out of place. The most wrecked of us all spent some time transfixed by the weird spiral shaped Cumberland sausage on his plate.

I could post a well embarrassing pic of 2 of my fellow passengers, heads right back, gobs wide open, dead to the world leaning against each other all e-sleepy in the back of the car but A) I can’t find it, and B) it would only be amusing to about 10 people 😉

UPDATE: Amino Clang, who walked from his hometown and spent the weekend raving with us, just sent me this account, THANKS LOADS! 🙂

This weekend all starts on the Saturday night when my Mum had decided that she would like to come along to a rave to see what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately, our dog had “done a runner” and he didn’t get home until quite late so it was decided that we would not go to the rave tonight. I was supposed to be meeting up with some friends of mine who were going to give me a lift down to visit my Dad in Dorset and there was going to be a big bunch of my mates from Wales going too so I was not impressed with this decision but I was promised that we would go down there the next day instead. I didn’t sleep well that night. I just couldn’t wait to get there and meet up with my mates and get munted in front of a spirally sound system.

Sunday morning came and we all piled into the car to drive off to the festi. It was supposed to be in Kerry in South Wales and we lived in North Wales so we made an early start. Kerry was awash with coppers and the road up to the site was blocked. Not even my mum could persuade them to let us through, but when I explained that I had to “get up there to get a lift home” the copper in question said “I can’t just let you go through here, but if you walk around that way you might find another way though.”

I put my big backpack on my back, I had another bag in one hand (full of juggling equipment and water probably!) and I had another big bottle of water in my other hand. I said my goodbyes and off I went, on my own into the unknown!

An hour or so later I found myself on top a welsh mountain asking a group of dog-walking locals where the rave was because I needed to get there to catch my lift home. They pointed to the top of the hill on the other side of the valley and there, running across the horizon I caught my first glimpse of Happy Daze Free Festival, Kerry. With a new spring in my step I started the long walk down into the valley, through the woods and up the other side.

I-don’t-know-how-many-hours later I finally made it onto the site. Yeeeee Haw! My shoulders were killing me from carrying all my stuff, I had narrowly avoided a confrontation with a local farmer and his angry looking son, I was so fucked that a night of raving was the last thing I needed, but I had made it! Now I had to find my friends.

I did a couple of rounds of the site looking for somebody I recognised. I later discovered that all of my mates from Wales had gone home already and I guess everybody else was asleep following a hard night on the turf. Eventually I saw a car that I thought I recognised so I went closer to investigate. I was looking in the windows of the car to see if I recognised any of the stuff in it when this crusty came over. I am still not sure if he was serious or if he was checking me out but he was saying “Yea, go on mate, just smash the window and grab what you want. We could take it for a spin if you like…” etc. He wierded me out enough to walk away from the car and I was about to give up when one of my friends poked his head out of the tent next to the car and called me back. He said that he thought he had recognised my voice, but wasn’t sure. Yipeeeee! I had made it to the rave AND found my lift home – Happy Days!

Later that night our other friend (the driver) found us all some “Disco Biscuits” (they looked like somebody had drizzled chemicals into small biscuit shapes about the size of a penny and we were told that they were MDMA and mescalin, later experiments have lead me to believe that it was probably MDA – allow me to elaborate…) so we all dropped them together in the tent – the driver, his missus, two other close friends and me…

The next thing I remember is coming up like a demon had just jumped on my head and was beating my brain into submission. It was all I could do to clamp my jaw down on my wallet and scream my little head off! I was in the tent with just one of my friends (I guess the other three had gone for a stomp) and we were both beside ourselves with rushes.

A short while later the others came back into the tent (they had assumed we would be in a bit of a pickle if their state was anything to go by) and asked if we were OK – what with all the screaming and shouting and all that! We started to come round, but I asked the driver’s missus for a hug because I was so far gone (nothing funny like, just a friendly hug from a friend, please), and y’know what, it made things a bit easier. I strongly recommended my mate do the same so we all had hugs in the tent and then walked over to the Spiral Tribe Sound System for some dancing.

Dancing! Ha! Don’t make me laugh, I could barely stand up straight, never mind dance. Squishy field, wonky pills, gnarly techno, happy people. I think I went up and gave a dealer a hug at one point because she was doing such a service to society by spreading so much happiness (a view I still firmly believe – I mean, can you imagine a world where dealers didn’t provide some much needed escapism from the mundane modern world of working to pay the bills?). I also remember getting into quite a discussion with somebody who had lost their mate “Billy” and was asking if I had seen any of him – I just didn’t get it!

Later the next morning I was still awake with some other friends who I had met up with and I think we were talking with some Tribers because one of them was saying how the spiral is the best shape for a festi. “If all the vehicles,” he was saying “would park up in a big spiral with the rave in the centre, the police would never get in. You just park the last one in front of the entrance and leave them there – what could they do?”. He was not impressed with my suggestion that “It would be horrible if you were the first one here, but you had work on Monday morning though wouldn’t it?”

Well, later that day we had to start the long drive back to Dorset so we did another round of the site (stopping at the entrance, where there was now huge water containers) to fill up some bottles for the journey, and off we went.

A relatively uneventful drive home later and we were back home again (in my Dad’s place in Dorset) regaling my Dad with tales of the rave with the telly on in the background… when suddenly somebody shouted “OHMYGOD! It’s us on the news!”

We all turned to see the TV and there we were – leaning against the fence by the entrance to the festi, looking distinctly worse for wares, but right there on the national news! Funny how these things happen like that innit!

Ah, Happy Daze!


14 Responses to “24th–26th July 1992: Spiral Tribe at Happy Daze Free Festival, Kerry, Wales”

  1. wheezer Says:

    “there is no planet earth, there is no planet earth” – that’s not gabba, but a stone cold Detroit classic, and coincidentally one I’m still looking for. http://www.discogs.com/release/18583

    aha! Nice one wheezer 🙂

    And more from wheezer:

    http://www.discogs.com/release/18583 it’s specifically the A side of
    that record. A highly sought after track (just look at discogs sales
    http://www.discogs.com/sell/list?release_id=18583 and you’ll see why
    I don’t yet own it) – I’ve actually heard it a couple of times, but I
    know for sure that that ‘Earth, earth, there is no planet earth’
    sample comes from this one – has to be!

    thanks again, dude

  2. Riddler Says:

    Absolutely wicked!I’ve just got on line & I wanna hear from all you 1989+ party people/ravers.I thought Iwas the only one left!

  3. Hippyvancrustie Says:

    My mate Dibs’s bus got involved in bad accident on the way to this, spent all the festie trying to get it roadworthy again, coppers smokin spliffs as I remember……

  4. sandy Says:

    i went to bala festival amongst other free partys x

  5. Mark (mharridge) Says:

    Had a similar experience with penny sized disco biscuits new years eve 1993.. made me feel about 3 foot tall and gave me a manic grin all night – fun tho 😉

  6. Somebody who was there Says:

    The Party Nearly never happened, I had the rig in my truck and we snapped a fanbelt on the way and had to hitch miles to get a replacement one, which ain’t easy in wales when you have an obscure truck… a tractor one worked in the end, as I remember. The Ford A Series that had the amps and the canapy draped off of it was mine. Its the same truck that appears at the begining of the breach the peace video. Good times !!!

  7. i was there Says:

    The clearest memory I have of this was of a particular patch of ground that was really spongy ever time I walked across, that and my mate falling apart on some strong acid, oh yes and a traveller woman having a dump right in front of me…

  8. Matt and Paula Says:

    I have some footage of this one on youtube. The coppers raided my bus on the way up the hill but then let me go into the site. I had eaten all my mushroom stash so by the time i got to the top of the hill i was tripping driving a 40ft bus. I drove traingt into a bog. Sank right upto the skirts. I didnt know what was going on to well so i just left it. i later had an RL and a matador trying to pull me out but it just sank more. I though i was going to have to abandon my home when a guy called frits with a real strong northern accent turned up with a spade and started digging. I supplied him with brew for digging, every time i asked him if he wanted another he just replied “does Pope shit in woods” I took this as a yes and after 3 days digging he had my bus on so many blocks it was above ground level.

  9. Matt and Paula Says:

    Can anyone remember Twisted Tree festival in Wales? We went from Bala to Llanbister festival the following weekend where someone had a hotair balloon, then on to the twisted tree. It was on military land i think. Small gathering in the fog. Cant remember much about it as it was a sleepless month in Wales that time around. Only remember my mate talking to ramblers while taking a shit. Someone selling hot toddies in the smog and val the slag falling asleep in her chinese six leaving site with us all waiting behind her.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    i lived just down the road from kerry and we trecked it up there as they were turning veichles away.trying to remember between kerry ridgeway party or llanbister gettin muddled maybe?but remember just as things were getting light seeing loadsa old bill lined all the way down the fence n a load of us who had got hold of the plastic dayglo police helmets dancin like fuck infront of them!!i also remember hearing the beloved sun rising at about that point fuckin great memory!! the true heads stayed for about a week or so and in the end they set up tables and chairs and took half the staff from our local dss office to go and issue giros just to get rid HA!!!

  11. phil Says:

    mmmmm yes, happy daze, happy memories of that one, was in wales waiting for it to happen at bala, but as in that year, police got wind of it and road blocked the place, so i headed off south ish, a sit was the word another site to hold it was being searched for, all roads south had police vehicles blocking any exit off the main road down to newtown and beyond, eventually eneded up at kerry with no one in sight, so took a turn off up the mountains above newtown, at the top, there was a forestry track going into the woods with a car parking area at the entrance, so pulled in there for the ight, there was a few other folk parked up there, no one knew what was happening if anyhing festival wise, so sat there for two nights with nothing happening, no mobile phones in them days. all i had was my old ford ambulance.
    then the next,evening, was sat not doing alot wondering if it was going to happen, then my ears pricked up and could hear a low rumbling roaring sound, neighbours and me stood there and the general consensus was a load of vehicles were on their way up, we didnt know they were coming, nor did they know we were there, maybe apart from the police, but they hadnt talked to us nor had we seen a copper. there was a blue flashing light light of a police car heading a convoy of vehicles, they stopped by the entrance to the car park and sa tthere, great joy, a load of fellow travllers had turned up, literally minutes later, in the other direction from cantlin stone way, a police bike wa seen, again heading a convoy of vehicles, more joy, they met the other police vehicle with nowhere to go, as it was a tiny lane with no turning space,
    i remember standing there, and a lot of folk were scratching their heads and the police were derliberating what to do, i can picture it to this day, the coppers walked across to a gate that led into a some fields, the police opened the gates themselves, then proceeded to direct all the vehicles into the fields, so there we gathered, as it was night and very dark, couldnt see a right lot, over that night, more and more vehicles arrived and the festival grew, and on dawn arriving, it became clear it had become happy daze. what a party.
    vague memories are bobs hunger buster decker, the 666 bus,
    dibz got there and i think they had the one marquee set up that i remember, i remember seeing the band ‘stormed’ play a set.

    there was an artic trailor housing the news crew., a big silver bodied one, there was plenty of noise from the old bill, but i can assure everyone, they opened the gates and told us all to get on there as there was nowhere else to go,, too many vehicles on a narrow lane, thats a recipie for a party.,
    as said in other posts, the dole office were there using tressle tables as a temporary office, plus the police had diesel delivered to top up vehicles in the hope of encouraging us to leave.

    the last memory i have is trying to help fg ivan to get his fg going as the radiator had a bad leak, couldnt do anything about it as it was totalled, can only presume he got a tow off or aa’d.

    wont forget that party for the rest of my days.

    as a side note, can you imagine what its going to be like in old folks homes and sheltered accomodation in about 25 years time, it wont be beige adorned old men reminicsing and repeating stories about the war, hopefully, there’ll be enough of us left to keep on remembering the free festis.

    i’m still on the road 20 years later, (24 in total and counting) its quieter, but still the best place to be.


  12. Anonymous Says:

    circa 1991 three welsh festivals all on successive weekends ….bala happy daze ….. then llanbister greenman …….. then twisted tree trunque …… was on the old roman road above trecastle ……. was covered in cloud for the first couple of days but the sun came out by friday …… wango’s stage was going ….. not many cheesy quavers coz they all went off to torpedo town so it was more of an old style travellers gig. the earliest I ever found liberty caps (august). I got interviewed by S4C (welsh language news) cos I was the only bloke who spoke welsh that they could find and extorted £40 out of them for doing it.

  13. albert goodier Says:

    Just bin reading the above accounts of Kerry, wicked party, I was only 18 fair blew my mind just like Bala the year before… I remember the band ‘Stormed’ played Sat afternoon to a packed tent – never heard of ’em before or since but they were ace at that gig ! We were some of the first on site, directed south by rozzers from nearer Bala I remember watching the convoy coming in for about 12 hours solid. What else ? On the way dickead builders trying to smash Marks ambulance windscreen with a golf club on A road up by Wrexham (Wrectum) – every time the guy lent out of tranny window and swung club Mark slammed the anchors on and he kept missing.. Also mentally strong amphet coffee from Toxic cafe which kept me up for about two days so I missed nothing, ate nothing and never had to shit… Which is a blessing at a free festy.. I wish my memory was better coz these were the days of our lives and the reason I still on site 22 years later ! aLBERT

  14. BozRock Says:

    a few years later when the press reported a large gathering of travellers in Netwown, so obviously we went to explore that one only to find a huge gypsy festival who where having some born again christian festival, kidz driving expensive cars everywhere, we had a little mini and the kids tried tipping it up but the parents called them off i wish i had the video to that, one of the guys in the car was filming this from inside and we where hitting out heads on the roof while driving along trying to escape across the field the place foot to floor wheels spinning(going 2mph!) surrounded by kids rocking the car!! we got out alive ;o)

    Kerry fest was my first free fest and opened my eyes, at 15yrs old, great fun, i just remember all roads being blocked and having to park maybe 2miles away and walking cross country up hill to the site, a big drought was on at the time in N.Wales so we’d gone up to see what was going on. I remember Spiral Tribe walking through with their custom bags looking cool to do their set. Their was a truck with sound system build into the back which was where i spent most of the time, forget the name of them, then main dance area and a smaller reggae dome from what i remember. Nice vibe there, very sad after 1994 law messed it up for everyone at least thats how i saw it all at the time.. Happy Daze!! i missed Bala, Llandridnod Wells and Trecastle the year before i think but heard some crazy stories from friends! Great website by the way, nice to find this.

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