23rd–25th July 1993: Happy Daze Free Festival, Wales

Good old Amino Clang came up with the goods again, here’s his report on the 1993 edition of the Happy Daze festy:

Happy Daze Free Festival in a Swamp

Well, here we are – Happy Daze Free Festival number three!

I have no idea where the site for this festi was, but I later heard that it was officially “The Wettest Place in Wales”. I didn’t know that when we all set off with smiles on our faces, but hindsight is a wonderful thing! I swear that everything I am about to say is true and I have witnesses if you think I am making it up or if you think it is just the drugs talking.

I think there were three cars of us who came to this festi, and when we got near the site there was a full police roadblock set up with flood light and hundreds of police. At least they had the common decency to come down the line of cars and let us know that we were welcome to go onto the site if we wanted to, but that we would all be searched before we were allowed past the blockade. We thanked the nice copper, and then there was a mad scrabble to hide/eat drugs before we got searched. Out of the three cars of us (15 people I guess) only ONE person was not asked to take off his shoes and socks… the ONE person who had 6 trips and a quarter of dope in his shoe! The night was all a bit like that – bad luck that there was a roadblock, good luck that we didn’t get arrested!

We made it up onto the site – did I already mention that it was officially The Wettest Place in Wales? It was essentially a swamp with sideways rain (that fine rain that soaks you through!) full of traveller vehicles and pissed off looking raver types. The closest there was to a sound system was a couple of speakers rigged up next to a bus that was playing tapes all night (apparently they only got onto the site because the speakers were being used as seats in the bus at the time of the search).

My mates started tripping and I was given a dud pill that never really worked, but the night went by mainly with me looking after another friend (who had come independently) who had been in a tent (she wasn’t sure where it was and we never found it again) swapping tequila for trips. She was staggering about the site trying to be a tequila girl (you know the sort – shot glasses in an ammo belt, cowboy hat on, shouting “Tequila! Rrrrrrrrraaaaa!”), but never actually selling a single shot because she was so tripped out wobbling about in a swamp in the rain.

The next day we all found ourselves in a tent being talked at by a crazed traveller type who kept taking more speed and talking some more. The only thing I remember clearly about the conversations that were had in that tent was that there was a rumour spreading that the police were spying on the travellers using one of those satellite dish type listening devices. No sooner had this rumour reached us than we heard a couple of crusties walk past the tent shouting very clearly “MUMBLE, MUMBLE, MUMBLE… HEROIN.” To which his counterpart replied “MUMBLE, MUMBLE… THREE THOUSAND POUNDS!”

Ah, how we laughed!

Eventually I persuaded our new speedy friend that she would like to go and find me some acid. She came back a little while later with two Strawberries (not the small red fruit!) which me and another friend immediately ate (neither of us were tripping yet and all of our other friends had been on one all night). No sooner had we started to come up than the driver decided that he was straight enough to get us out of this hell-hole, so we helped him pull down the tent in the wind and the sideways rain (did I already mention that this was officially The Wettest Place in Wales?) and the psychedelic traces coming off everything and eventually we made it into the car.

We had stashed the last of the drugs, packed everything up and were ready to go. The only problem was the couple of trippers on the back seat pissing themselves laughing because they were coming up while everybody else was coming down.

The Pit of Eternal Laughter is a place you sometimes visit when you are tripping and once you are there it is incredibly difficult to get out again. This is not that bad as all you do is laugh, but it does become quite painful eventually. It is a happy and psychedelic place where everything is funny, especially the fact that you are laughing so very much. Whenever you see the gates out of the Pit, and catch your breath just long enough to avoid passing out, you remember what was so funny and off you go again, tumbling into the warm colours of the pit as it tickles you and pulls you deeper and deeper into it’s belly. I could go on, but I reckon you probably get the picture.

Anyway, back at the “rave” we were desperately trying to pull ourselves together enough to make it through the police blockade without drawing any attention to ourselves. When we had calmed down a little (still giggling, but a lot better now) we set off down the hill towards the police.

As we approached the blockade, I wasn’t sure if I believed what I was seeing (it has been confirmed by lots of other people who also made it onto that soggy hillside though) – all of the police were wearing dayglow Mickey Mouse sunglasses (under real glasses if necessary, but EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM!). They flagged us down (me and my tripping buddy trying so hard to keep out of the Pit) and the windows got wound down.

“Good morning!” said the police officer in charge. “Did you all have a nice time last night then?”

“Yes thanks!” we replied in a state of total confusion.

“We were just wondering if it is anybodies birthday this weekend?” asked the copper.

It just so happened that one of the crew had been celebrating his birthday so he owned up to it. The entire collection of police at the blockade proceeded to sing Happy Birthday to our friend and then they sent us on our way with a jolly “See you next year then!” from the copper in charge.

We barely made it around the corner before the whole car was firmly entrenched in The Pit. The driver had to pull over he was laughing so hard. Nobody really believed what we had just witnessed, but as I have said – everybody saw it and the rest of our mates who came in different cars all confirmed the dayglow sunglasses and the eerie happiness of the police blockade. There was a suspicion that they were all tripping too (you can tell another tripper when you are tripping), but there is no real evidence to support this wild accusation except the looks on the police’s faces and the distant glint in their eyes.

Ah, Happy Daze!

Again, if anyone can help with exact(ish) location that would be great 🙂


5 Responses to “23rd–25th July 1993: Happy Daze Free Festival, Wales”

  1. lolocostar Says:

    ahhh, well i was the tequila girl and look after me you sure did ,,fuck i was messed up,after having been strip searched in the back of a police van upon arival at the sight then set free minus 1 mate who got nicked with somthing or other,i proceded to find my buddys who had arived before me 5 of them cramed into a 2 man tent in a big puddle and one of them puking in a pan,,,,,,,,,not to impresed with this situation i decided to go for a wander or rather a squelch,so armed with the ariiiiba tequila call off i went,,my first and last customers of the night were 3 verry tribal guys in i kid you not a round zebra skin tent who wanted to exchange wares.after that it all went rather hazzzzzzzzy,i can only asume that i had numorous trips stuck together when i thought i was droping 1 cos fuck it hit me like a lightning bolt,,,so after exiting the tent finding myself up to the armpits in mud with limbs that wouldent do what they were told i must have wanderd and colapsed in a heap of technicoloured gooogansquelch,when i was found by my rescuer and another friend who wanted to get off there heads to and had been sold duds ,so they took an arm each and propeld me along in search of the elusive zebra tent,,which was never to be found again.
    i dont remember much that passed apart from being intimidated by some crustys who i am sure were not being verry kind to my allready imploding mind,and being safly spirited away by my knights in shining armour.
    the morning found me in a friends car looking at the fantastic paterns the raindrops made on the windscreenand all was good untill the driver anounced he was off home and my seat was pre booked by someone else…..which confused me alot as i couldent figure out why i wouldent fit in the car for the journy home as i was sitting in it already,,,at which point i realised that i was never going to be abul to speak to my grandad again without laughing at the crazzy paterns he would undoubtedly have allover his face,,,,,a trully bizzar and disturbing thought.
    the rest is history i moved from the car into a dome tent with 11 others sheltering from the cosmic storm to soon be joind by the crusty woman my mate wrote about who kept taking out wraps of speed and licking them clean in 1 go ,,which i thought was pretty inconsidrate to be so energetic in such a small space with so many people so i was verry glad when she got out to go and get acid for my mate,,,,,,,and even happier when someone turnd up a little while later and said he was driving home and there was a space for me if iwanted,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,upon careful consideration of my surcumstances i gratefully accepted.
    at the road block i was not suprised at all by the singing cops in tecno disney shades as it all seemd like the natural order of the day but turning round i could see my mate in the car behind and tell without a doubt the crusty womans acid was working just fine.
    when i got back to my local pub after all this ,up to the bar i went and instead of asking for my usual pint of cider a little glitch in the mateix found me slurping on the one and only pint of guinis i have drunk in my life ,,,,brown sludggg…………………ahhh happy daze

  2. Michele Sweeney Says:

    Fishgaurd – it’s below sea level hence the swap, bloody good though

  3. Matt and Paula Says:

    It was Elan Valley above Rhayader Powys Wales. We were there, in a cloud all weekend. Remember cloud dodging game where we all jumped into dips in the ground and watched them go over. There is a sign post as you enter the valley claiming to be the wettest place in the UK. No argument there.

  4. Rich Says:

    Yeah, Elan valley. I remember it well, after Bala lake and Kerry the previous two years, a load of us set off with high hopes.. The police were well crafty, rather than trying to stop the festival they let it go ahead on their terms, ie every bit of sound making equipment (even acoustic guitars) being confiscated at the road blocks, then everyone escorted to a site which was basically the top of a mountain with no trees for 3 miles or so.. as already mentioned, the wettest place in wales!! I remember a mate getting headbutted by a traveller who thought he was a cop, and a gang of farmers on the hillside above us shooting any dogs who strayed near them.. the whole thing was pretty grim and a sad end to what had been a brilliant couple of years of free festivals for me. I work doing sound at a lot of pay festivals now, some of the smaller ones are good but will never have that seat of your pants, close to the edge anarchy of a real free festival!!

  5. albert goodier Says:

    Matt and Paula right- it was Elan Valley. Took 13 hours to get there in convoy from Donnington site about 30 miles away. Pigs nicked all sounds on the way at big organised road blocks ( but not all the supplies ) so as said above the only music was 2 little speakers under a gazebo ! And yes it hammered it down all weekend… It was the most boring free festy I ever went to – only interesting bit was Danny getting his Matador stuck and getting towed out by milk lorry ( who was on tarmac )

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