Thursday, January 30, 2003

Yesterday I was nearly run over three times, each time by an ambulance of one sort or another. What gives them the right? Are they so intent on saving a life they'll run over this one willy nilly? It's not as if I'm inconspicuous as I wobble along to class on my creaky "here take it I never use it" gifted so don't look it in the mouth bicycle.I wear the kind of brightly coloured hand me down clothing that makes strange boys throw bottles at me, and lorry drivers pshhh past in a woosh of giggling brake pressure, mouths slack and agog.
Why are ambulances out to get me? Maybe they're not.Maybe I'm a suicidal cyclist who likes to get in the way of other people's vehicles just to attract attention.Yeah, that'll be it for sure. So why am I writing this? Because just as I'm ready to get it together for another thursday trudge round the narroway it starts snowing in a peculiarly hard cold and driven way, a way that makes me feel guilty for staying inside my centraly heated box, but not exactly impelled to go out Scott of the antarctic style.Who knows, I may be some time.
Still, I will have to go out sometime, since I've run out of milk again and the only food in the house is cornflakes... not eating them dry; not again, it's so humiliating.....
Oh there goes another police car, sirens in effect...what kind of crime is committed in this weather? Snow seems to quell my any impulse except the one to hibernate. My bike seat is already covered in a chilly frosting of city flavour snow.Think I'm gonna go down and rob someone?Think again.... this one is going to stay in nice and warm and watch whatever crummy b+w movie beeb 2 has for a matinee.
So my conciousness is invaded at seven thirty by my mobile phone alarm; and you bet I've got pretty good at turning it off while totally asleep.It doesn't mean i have to wake up, it means i have to bellow at my thirteen year old dream child "Raff it's time to get up.Now!" And she, who has either been fast asleep under the eider down or awake since six thirty lost in a teen day dream will stir herself and get it together for school.
She's been getting herself ready for school since the age of four.Her whole life I've been training her not to wake mummy.Mummy in the morning is only a myth; a sweet memory of the kiss goodnight the night before.Mummy is replaced before noon by a creature child killer, who yells and moans, and if properly awakened or -horror- asked to do anything or -even worse- supply money , will arise hissing and bite any child within striking range " here's the bread , here's the cheese... can't you even make a sandwich yet... jesus how old are you Five? for god sake let me get some sleep......"
Then, after she leaves... "Yeah bye" i get some more sleep, until the phone goes... to answer or not? Sometimes BT will ring early, while i'm still tender, about the non payment of the latest bill, but chances are it's papa, and i can never remember what it was he said for I'm soon asleep again.
Oh yeah, this morning something about it snowing in west london, which was a good enough reason for me not to go to this morning's class (video) since I live in east london.
Snow=no go.Rain= no go, if you live in east london your most likely form of transport is a bicycle, which really gives you a great excuse not to leave your borough at all in winter; do you really want to ride a bike through wind and rain?It'll only exacerbate whatever virus it is you're incubating... so i rolled over with an easy conscience and went back to sleep.Then I really woke up made a pot load of very very strong coffee, thought about meditating, and decided to get stuck into the Hunter S Thompson book I found in the books for free box outside the romanian charity shop in the cazenove rd instead.
The book reminded me of my ex persona, the hard drinking, drug addled party girl i'd been for four solid years until the acid finally took me to a new place and shook me into compliance.. the acid showed me god and god showed me a new self and eight months later I was still finding the new self hard to take.Nobody liked her, not even me.
I was still lazy, inconsequent, opinionated and judgemental, only now I was sober too. When you're drunk you don't really realise what a pain in the ass you are.
So now I know, thanks a lot god...... now I sit and meditate and feel for real how wonderful it is to have a god like nature, then I open my eyes and see the floor covered in shrivelled up grains of rice and the fridge floor coated in miscellaneous stains ... so I'm not perfect but I feel I should be.
So I have no job, can't really hold one down when most of the day is spent on my yoga mat, have a place on an art course though I don't often go ( see weather rules above).What the hell is going on?
So now it's past noon and thanks to hunter I felt inspired to write something, then who knows I might get it together to mop the floor, or go out and mooch listlessly round the charity shop like the other hackney loosers and smelly people who hate themselves so much they'd rather wear other people's clothes. Other people's clothes are now no cheaper than brand new ones you get in Mark One or New Look, thanks to the Thai sweat shops , but the charity shops still push up thier prices and go through the rag bags, colour coding the stock and putting it into price brackets according to their own particular fashion prejudices.You always know not to bother with a charity shop when the clothes are hanging in colour groups... Why pay 9.50 anyway for a fourth hand black jumper for chrissakes?But I'll probably buy something kitchen related.Pans, glasses, aprons, these are a few of my favorite things....
And then Tescos, often quite eventful, last week there was a shoplifter guy, it took four security personnel to quiet him down on the floor.... Morning lane tescos, the supermarket with bouncers....
There's another four police cars off to some incident or other, oh and today is Thursday, Hackney Gazette day, when we get the horror of the borough right in our faces in black and white. Oh Goody.
You can meditate but you can't hide.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

On my way to the bodyworld exhibition Narada phoned to say he'd be late... that was fine by me, because although it was raining, I would have time to spare in the Muslim Care charity shop, if they were open... often they shut for prayers.The last time i'd been in I'd bought a hat to wear in Africa, and he'd asked me how much I wanted to pay, and I'd offered less than he wanted, and I'd left in a huff at being thought cheap for haggling in a charity shop.As I'd left there was a thunderclap, and the guy popped his head out after me " You are welcome any time " to show there were no hard feelings.
This afternoon I went in and found it was half the place it used to be, they were dividing it in two."Ah good " said an older blonde customer, "this place is always such mess, so difficult to find anything" then she found a gold lame dress.He wanted ten pounds , she offered five, then he suggested they meet half way, then she got huffy; saying she works for charities all her life, all round the world she's been , working for charities, she works for God, he should have noticed, that's the trouble with muslim men, just because she was a woman....... She left in a bit of a huff. A lot of stress for a charity shop .I felt bad for the man, who just enjoyed bargaining.
I had to buy something just to show my solidarity.I bought a pair of jeans , he only took three pounds, and no haggling this time.
I spent yesterday trawling through the immense volume of clothes i have but never wear, all of them bought from charity shops or jumble sales... I have something from each decade of the last century, something from each genre, especially dressing gowns.I spent my teens bunking off, pretending to be ill, so i spent a long time in dressing gowns, esp the nylon quilted type. I also have a side line in bedjackets, but stopped wearing them after someone mentioned the whiff of dead old lady;.When I lived in Stamford Hill I took quite a fancy to housecoats, viyella mostly; bit difficult with the stains and the crumpled tissue in the pockets.
From there it was a small jump to aprons; frilly, embroidered, the souvineer type, they were always a success down the pub.Men are never quite sure how to take the apron wearing woman....
Ballgowns.Need I say more... the net is good but they tend to be on the small side at the back,or a bit long and they get stuck in the bike wheels, then I cut them about, then I can't wear them.
Coats need a whole new chapter, watch it when you wear fur, some people don't have a sense of irony, or like the woman who sat next to me on the seventy three " ooh nice coat, it's beaver" "No, No it isn't " Oh yes it is, I know, I gave one to my girlfriend" they get a bit carried away.
Crimplene dresses , you just cannot get the underarm smell out.Sixties woollen suits are just too hot to wear out, suede minis- well not much wrong with those, except they stain and then it's more money than they're worth to have them cleaned.Biker jackets... they only look good for five minutes then they just look wrong for another ten to fifteen years.Laura ashley..... just this side of close to the bone, i was in one on the Piccadilly line, last train home, all these kids dressed as school boys for that school disco type deal giving me the funny looks... " what are you meant to be? " they asked me... " Little house on the prairie" I answered... if they have to ask....
Loons impossible to wear on a push bike, long velvet gypsy dresses same, oh and the turkish geezer from the offy would go mysty eyed at the sight of me... "Where you from ? In my country we have like this" don't let him start fingering....
Comedy jumpers... owls , sheep, lurex, sweater dresses, well you can wear them but you get tired of them fast... Indian prints, mirrors, sequins and bells same.
Wedding dresses are good, if you like being the fairy god mother in the slimey squat rave," You look like an angel" might not be good if you are in nightlife hell.
hats are good, and especially easy to give away or loose... they can blow off at any time....need pinning.Ponchos.. yes, but everyone wears them now.....sequin boob tubes never very comfy, what with all the pulling up and the rubbing.... quilted seventies skirts and salopettes tend to unravel, well you give up because the salopettes are to small and the skirts are too big, uniforms, well not such a good look really , so after careful consideration I've come to the conclusion that there is nothing to wear.Not just in my seven laundry bags stuffed and out spilling wardrobe... I mean anywhere.At all.
In all the charity shops across the land, whether colour coded anally staffed Oxfams or chaos reigns Aladin's caves that support cats or Bosnians and stink to high heaven, nowhere is there a garment I havent got a fair example of, and become exasperated with.Don't believe me? Try the men's... suits, tweeds(yuk) nylon tennis shorts with the stained fly or the slazenger logo, baggy cords, farahs....big nehru collared cotton shirts, been there, done that , worn the t shirt. Raid the kiddy section, I have worn anything that fits, including the brownie sweatshirt.I have reached enlightenment.
If you want to keep one step of the crowd and set a trend it's got tricky.There is no decade left to plunder. There is no way to cause the kind of frisson that you used to get from wearing an eighties jumpsuit with white stillettoes .Except, and follow me if you dare , fashion victims beware, be there or be square from now on I shall go butt ass naked.I shall wear nothing at all.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Last December there was a solar eclipse, not visible from urp, so for all you Northern hemmis here's a party review, not by me of the Australian party.I went to the South African party, where, ok it may have been cloudy at the crucial moment, but at least we had a fantastic Dj line up, oh and showers, so there!

:: Outback Eclipse Festival 3 - 6 December 2002 ::
Lyndhurst, South Australia
photos and review by Lara Winter & Emma Sput

Here is a review of my time in the desert. It doesn't cover everything, and I apologize for anything I have left out. No single human could have taken everything in… sensory overload…

Well this party was like no other… it shouldn't even be classified as a party but needs to be regarded as one of the more important festivals of our time. We've heard about the last few Eclipse parties in Hungary, Portugal and Africa but this year it was our turn. The eclipse would be gracing the shores of Oz. The talk amongst trance groups was excited and energized. Eclipse fever had hit the big time.

This wasn't your usual "jump in a car and make it to the party by sunrise" kind of shindig. Attendance (and survival) required careful planning, insightful organization and intense deliberation. Most of which are unknown to trancers… but still that didn't stop the 6000 or so punters from trekking across the desert to witness this freak of nature.

So this festival wasn't just about the party. It was also about the drive to the center of Australia, the most barren and red piece of land we know. A good 2-day journey from any capital city in Australia (except Adelaide). The drive to the festival was just as much a part of the adventure as was the three days of partying in the desert. It was quite an amazing experience to bump into familiar faces and fellows doofers in towns like Mildura and Burra. Even more unlikely were the happening towns of Hawker and Leigh Creek that housed and comforted most trancers in the southern hemisphere for the first week of summer in December 2002.

So we arrive in Lyndhurst after two solid days of driving. The town was absolutely pumping, even though it only boasts a population of 10 people. We were told to look out for markings on arrival in Lyndhurst, and then we see our first sign to the eclipse festival, a very understated marker to get us to our final destination. We wait in a long line of four-wheel drive vehicles to have our car spot-checked for glass and alcohol. We were eventually waved through and were within the boundaries of the eclipse party.

Upon stepping out of the car for the first time we got a taste of what we were in for. If you have been to a desert somewhere in the world you may have some idea of the harsh conditions, if you have been to the Australian outback, maybe a better one. But nothing in the world could have prepared us for the onslaught of wind, dust and heat. And there we were, stuck in the middle of the red desolate desert. We were lucky since we just missed the latest sand storm. But we had been there for no longer than 10 minutes and were already covered in red sand. And we gave into the fact that was how it was going to be for the next 3 days. Tents were set up but most were torn down, but the troopers just kept building and fixing and nutting it out.

Tuesday 6.00pm -
The opening ceremony began on the main dance floor as the desert sun began to set. There were two aboriginal performers singing and playing acoustic guitar. The several thousand doofers sat quietly to unamplified music and showed total respect for these indigenous locals. An Exotic Native member then came out and announced the festival officially open and the music started… The entire floor erupted smiling ear to ear, everyone began moving to some funky tribal beats. I was shivering all over and could feel the excitement running through my body. There was a magnificent electrified energy streaming through this entire party.

Later in the evening Mr P was wicked as always and everyone was loving him. Matt Boom played next and this guy played some remixes of old classics and got everyone in the mood. Fractal Glider showed pure talent and performed with A1 class like he has been of late. Some funky tunes that drove the whole crowd insane.

Wednesday morning -
Sally Doolaly was charging away on the stage with some progressive beats. She looked mighty fine up there and has really taken to the Aussie scene. She has definitely made some fans down under and people will remember her for the summer of 2002/3. She dragged a fair crew down from the UK and was seen busting a move on the dance floor as soon as her set was finished. Sunrise was special with Antix waking us all slowly with some minimal music. ABE got the house rocking a little too but also kept it fairly low key. It was a day of breaks and beats and the market floor was keeping it real with some house tunes. The only hiccup for the first day/night session was the blow out on the Outback Ozzy stage. This didn't stop the hardcore troopers from stomping away to their own CD's of Infected Mushies and the like because the other stages were only easing into it slowly.

As the winds started picking up in the afternoon, most punters were seen departing the eclipse site to head to the local Leigh Creek pool. Only a short 20-minute drive from the party, beautiful relief was found at a 50m pool with lush green surrounds and a stunning leafy outlook. This helped charge all batteries for the next killer onslaught.

There aren't too many words to describe this phenomenon so I'm going to let the pictures do the talking. It was a magical moment! The earth felt like it stopped so it too could get a good look. The entire eclipse went for over 2 hours but the moment of totality was a mere 26 seconds. The whole world knows that Lyndhurst was the place to be… As the moon fully eclipsed the sun, you could hear the screaming and shouting of thousands standing up on the hill to get the best view. It was the strangest energy, which we all took into the rest of the night and day.

Thursday morning -
Ganga Giri rocked us with some artistic earthy music. He tranced it up a little with his electronic didge but the 6-footer trumpet got us all stomping. Olli Wisdom got us back to our roots of psy with some cranking twisted beats. There is nothing like a bit of mad Morpheus to get those booties shaking. He made sure the distant dance floor was full and going off. Redline came on soon after on this secluded little dancefloor. He was joined by special guest Matt Boom. The two men rocked in tandem!

Again most ventured into Leigh Creek to clean up and chill out. It was time to get out of the dust for a while and have a well deserved shower. But there was plenty going on around the eclipse town all day. There were yoga retreats, meditation seminars, massages and giant twister games. Everyone was catered for and kept entertained for the entire festival.

Friday morning -
Pied Piper got us all moving in the freezing cold of the desert night. Then Joti gave us some sightly harder night-ish music with a full-on flair, but still in the progressive type mode. Some deep bass lines and some serious stompers to get the crowd moving. Pena was also quite progressive with the occasional more melodic track thrown in. A nice way to bring in the sunrise. Everyone thought they were no chance for the third day in a row. But again, the dance floors were full and bouncing away in unison. Onyx (half of Reefer Decree) gave us a nice mix of funky/melodic progressive beats and some more slightly minimal tunes to keep the crowd on their feet. Then Oliver still kept the progressive theme of the morning going. Kostas was sure to rock but by this stage some tents were clearing away and the tent city was diminishing. Some had started the trek home and some were passed out.

Lets face it; it wasn't easy living in the desert for four days. We're no Bedouins! There were no showers, no X-dream and no Eatstatic. But this didn't wipe away one smile for a second. We embraced the dust, bathed in the dirt, and became one with the desert! I bet anyone asked would do it all over again the exact same way. Exotic Native consummated the impossible. They accomplished a massive task and did it in style. The Outback Eclipse Festival 2002 was NOT one to miss and is most definitely one we'll always remember… The memories are still giving me shivers!


Thursday, November 14, 2002

Last weekend I went to a trance party that thought it was a squat rave, I mean it was a squat rave but they owned the building , if you know what I mean... I couldn't get my head round the concept of no water... a free party and no water.....lots of beautiful people sitting in rave slime, too wasted to dance.....a trance party where people are too wasted to dance is kinda fucked up.......
This weekend I'm off to cleanse, sort my head out man, at a sweat lodge , in Devon, run by Bethlehem Taylor.I wasn't going to go, feeling too flued out and tired, but today I saw three rainbows, right over my house, so bright that it had to mean something.The sweat lodge is in a field called three rainbows. So I'm on the train. Can't wait to write about it.In the meantime, here's something on sweatlodges i copied off the web........

The most popular form of sweat bathing among North American Indians was the hot rock method and its variations. These were used exclusively by tribes in the central plains, the southwest, the Great Basin and the eastern woodlands.

Whether permanent, temporary or portable, they were smaller than other Indian structures, and usually domed and sometimes oblong. Nomadic tribes drove pliant boughs, such as willow, into the ground and arched them into a hemisphere, secured with withes. Stationary tribes used more substantial materials--logs and heavy bark. Temporary sweat lodges were covered with blankets or skins, while the permanent types were sealed with mud or sod.

In either case, a depression was dug near the door or in the center to cradle the rocks, which were heated outside and brought in on forked sticks. Steam was produced by sprinkling the rocks from a straw broom or a hollowed buffalo horn. Although simple to build, every detail was symbolic.


The Sioux, for example, see the interior of the sweat lodge as representing the womb of Mother Earth, its darkness as human ignorance, the hot stones as the coming of life, and the hissing steam as the creative force of the universe being activated. The entrance faces east, source of life and power, dawn of wisdom, while the fire heating the rocks is the undying light of the world, eternity.

Sweat lodges were often connected with gods and creation. In the lore of the Wintu tribe of California it is said that Olelbis, the creator, built a great and awesome sweat house, its middle support being a huge white oak, with various kinds of oaks being side supports and flowering plants serving as binding and sides. Then, as the house began to grow wider and higher, it became wonderful in size and splendor. Just as daylight was coming, the house was finished and ready. It stood in the morning dawn, a mountain of beautiful flowers and oak branches; all the colors of the world were on it, inside and out. The center tree had grown far above the top of the house, filled with acorns; a few of them had fallen on every side. This sweat house was placed there to last forever, the largest and most beautiful building in the world, above or below. Nothing like it will ever be built again.

The Maidu's story of Creation begins with a sweat in the dancehouse. "The Great Spirit made two dolls of clay and laid them on the floor. The Great Spirit then lay beside them and sweated so long that the dolls turned into living people."


The following story (my favorite) personifies the sweat lodge as the powerful friend and leader of the "Animal People." Like most tribes in colder climates, the Nez Perce Indians spent long winters in tipis, earth and brush lodges and, of course, sweat lodges. This was a time for legends and storytelling. Origin of the Sweat Lodge is translated in "Legends Told by the old People," a Good Medicine book:

Long ago, in the days of the Animal People, Sweat Lodge was a man. He foresaw the coming of Human Beings, the real inhabitants of the Earth. So one day he called all the Animal People together to give each one a name and to tell him his duties. In the council, the Sweat Lodge stood up and made a speech:

"We have lived on Earth for a long while, but we shall not be in our present condition much longer. A different People are coming to live here. We must part from each other and go to different places. Each of you must decide whether you wish to belong to the Animal beings that walk, fly or creep or those that swim. You may now make your choice."

Then Sweat Lodge turned to Elk. "You will first come this way, Elk. What do you wish to be?"

"I wish to be what I am--an Elk."

"Let us see you run or gallop," said Sweat Lodge.

So Elk galloped off in a graceful manner, and returned.

"You are right," decided Sweat Lodge. "You are an Elk."

Elk galloped off, and the rest saw no more of him.

Sweat Lodge called Eagle and asked, "What do you wish to be, Eagle?"

"Just what I am--an Eagle."

"Let us see you fly," replied Sweat Lodge.

Eagle flew, rising higher and higher with hardly a ripple on his outstretched wings.

Sweat Lodge called him back and said, "You are an Eagle. You will be king over all the Birds of the Air. You will soar in the Sky. You will live on the crags and peaks of the highest Mountains. Human Beings will admire you."

Eagle flew away happy. Everyone watched him disappear in the Sky.

"I wish to be like Eagle," Bluejay told Sweat Lodge.

Wanting to give everyone a chance, Sweat Lodge said again, "Then let us see you fly."

Bluejay tried to imitate the easy, graceful flight of Eagle, but failed to keep his balance and was soon flapping his wings.

Sweat Lodge called him back. "A Jay is a Jay. You will have to be content as you are."

When Bear came forward, Sweat Lodge said, "You will be known among Human Beings as a very fierce Animal. You will kill and eat People, and they will fear you."

Bear went off into the woods and has since been known as a fierce animal.

Then to all walking creatures, except Coyote, and to all flying creatures, to all Animals and Birds, all Snakes, Frogs, Turtles and Fish, Sweat Lodge gave names, and the creatures scattered.

After they were gone, Sweat Lodge called Coyote to him and said, "You have been wise and cunning. You have been a man to be feared. When this Earth becomes like the air, empty and void, your name shall last forever. The new Human Beings who come will hear your name and say, 'Yes, Coyote was great in his time.' Now, what do you wish to be?"

"I have long lived as a Coyote," he replied. "I want to be noble like Eagle or Elk or Cougar."

Sweat Lodge let him show what he could do. First, Coyote tried his best to fly like Eagle, but could only jump around, this way and that. Then he tried to imitate Elk in his graceful gallop. He succeeded for a short distance, but soon fell into his own gait. He stopped short and looked around.

"You look exactly like yourself, Coyote," laughed Sweat Lodge. "You will be a Coyote."

Poor Coyote ran off, howling, to some unknown place. Before he got out of sight he stopped, turned his head and stood--just like a coyote.

Sweat Lodge, left alone, spoke to himself: "All now are gone, and the new People will be coming soon. When they arrive they should find something to give them strength and power.

"I will place myself on the ground, for the use of Human Beings who are to come. Whoever visits me now and then, to him I will give power. He will become great in war and great in peace. He will have success in fishing and in hunting. To all who come to me for protection, I will give strength and power."

Sweat Lodge spoke with earnestness. Then he lay down on his hands and knees and waited for the first People. He has lain that way ever since and has given power to all who sought it from him.


The sweat bath often accompanied other rituals. The Utes of the Southwest, for example, preceded their peyote ceremony with a fast and a sweat to purify their body, while peyote released evil from their souls. Cherokee priests, custodians of sacred myths, were allowed to recite them only in the sanctum of the sweat lodge. Their knowledge was not for everyone to hear. They would meet at night in a sweat lodge and discuss the inner knowledge among themselves.

In one of the Omaha Indians' chants, the sweat lodge rock is called "Grandsire" or "Aged One." The stones symbolized the state of being, immovable and steadfast, "dwelling place" of all. The Fox Indians believed the spirit Manitou dwelled in the stones of the sweat lodge. An old Fox Indian told this: Often one will cut one's self only through the skin. It is done to open up many passages for the Manitou to pass into the body. It comes from his abode in the stone, roused by the heat of the fire, and proceeds out of the stone when water is sprinkled on it. It comes out in the steam and enters the body wherever it finds entrance. It moves up and down, and all over and inside the body, driving out everything that inflicts pain. Before the Manitou returns to the stone, it imparts some of its nature to the body. That is why one feels so well after having been in the sweat lodge.

Preparation for the sweat bath and its indulgence followed traditional disciplines, often conducted by a medicine man. The Kiowa built their sweat lodge with a framework of twelve reeds, other tribes used more. The number of stones varied, but five or six were common. Some tribes cooled off in snow and sand (as the Navajos) while others plunged into lakes and streams. Buffalo tails and eagle wings were often used for whipping the body, much like the Finnish vihta or the Russian vennik.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Something I read on Guilfin....

This a reply to 'Standard: Rave causes £150,000 damage' by moneypenny
Standard: Inside the secret raves

Inside the secret raves

By Kate Aster, Evening Standard

Beads of sweat bulge on his brow and his voice, which has reached fever pitch, cracks occasionally. "Get out of here," yells the man in his thirties. "You lot are spoiling it for everyone else. Take your drugs and clear off."

The object of his fury is a small clan of shifty-looking 18 and 19-year-olds who have been peddling crack cocaine to revellers at a socalled "squat party" in a Camden office building owned by Viacom Europe, parent company of music channel MTV.

The cold light of a new day would later reveal that the building had been "trashed" by hundreds of party goers.

But for now, there is a tense stand-off between the organisers and the crack pushers. As a firsttime reveller with no experience of illegal parties but an awareness of the close relationship between crack dealing and guns, I can feel the beginnings of panic rising in my throat.

I am standing on a mezzanine level, a relatively safe vantage point. But I know that there is only one exit, and getting to it involves descending a spiral staircase and squeezing past the flashpoint. By now, the music has been killed and industrial strength lights have flooded the murky building. A crowd of more than 100 dancers watches the action, and another 50 or so are watching with me from above. The message is very clear: you lot are not welcome and until you leave, the party is over.

In the unused open-plan office complex, filing cabinets and desks have been pushed aside, electricity meters have been bridged and impressive sound systems have been rigged up on all four floors. A bar has been fashioned out of what was once the reception, and marker pen written straight onto the wall lists the menu: beer £1.50, alcopops £1.50, Coke and water £1. The bar staff, a ravaged, pierced blonde and a handful of baseballcapped youths, share lines of white powder on the counter.

This is permitted. Squat-party etiquette says that amphetamines and cocaine are OK. Marijuana, ecstasy and hallucinogenic drugs are also permitted. The horse tranquilliser ketamine, or "k", which is becoming the mind-altering drug of choice for squat party aficionados, is also allowed.

But crack cocaine, the highly addictive smokeable form of cocaine sold in rocks, is most definitely not. Crack cocaine brings with it violence, paranoia and gangsters toting guns. It leaves users slumped against walls jabbering incoherently, highly volatile and willing to do absolutely anything to get the money for another hit.

Squat parties - the modern generation's answer to the more Utopian world of Eighties raves - are on the rise.

Every weekend, all over London and the South-East, thousands of revellers descend on disused offices, empty warehouses and remote industrial estates to enjoy dance music, illegal drugs and the sheer euphoria of being somewhere you should not. From young professionals to inner-city kids, the revellers are united in a growing sense of release.

They have found out where the party is by calling one of several secret numbers or from being part of a growing "database", friends of friends of friends of the organisers, whose mobile phones are texted with the venue, just hours before the party kicks off.

Others, mostly backpackers from the capital's hostels, have heard by word of mouth that if they meet at a certain spot in Leicester Square at a certain time on a Saturday night, a figure will arrive and tell them where the party is. The venue is always revealed at the last moment to avoid the chances of police intervention.

However they discover the location, all revellers will be united in a mutual throwing off of inhibitions, a sense of camaraderie and an utter abandonment that you would rarely find in a licensed club. Nick Stevenson, clubs editor for Mixmag magazine, explains: "Clubbing is becoming so institutionalised. You've got a set of rules and you have bouncers to enforce them. It's almost as though you're being told how to have a party," he says. "When you go down to squat level you're going to find that people police their own events."

Yet many squat parties have a sinister underbelly. On the stairs in Camden, a greasy blonde, no more than 15, asks for ketamine or trips (LSD). Her friend's eyes dart about, sweatily. In an office at the top of the building, I retreat hastily when a step inside the door is greeted with hostile eyes and the smell of smoke from an unidentifiable drug. Outside the building a girl of 12 or 13 postures at the side of an older man who is arguing to be allowed in and a teenager leans against a van violently throwing up. Last month an inquest heard how a man died after overdosing on ecstasy at a squat party in Tower Hamlets.

But if you don't look too closely, the allure of the squat party culture is undeniable. Something as secret and big as this generates excitement. Fists meet, knuckle to knuckle, in wordless greetings and in the small offices that fill corridors throughout the upper floors, groups of friends share "spliffs" and people dance solidly for hours to earth-shaking basslines and aggressive lyrics.

It is this sub-culture that the man confronting the crack dealers is defending; he isn't just trying to throw undesirables out of his bash.

He appeals to the crowd to stand up to the intruders with him. "Let this scum know what you think of them," he shouts. "Let them know you don't want them at your party. If we all stand together they'll have to go. They'll have to go." The crowd pull in closer, and a lone female voice from the back rasps: "Go on, f*** off."

The gang eventually admit a reluctant, non-violent defeat and leave. Egos have been bruised and income lost, but for the moment the party is safe. Later I discover that this kind of confrontation is not unusual. Jon, 27, a local journalist, who has been going to squat parties for years, says: "I wouldn't be surprisedif there are firearms here. I've never seen any, but I have been in some aggressive situations. They are the downside of squat parties but I never feel that it is mad enough for me to stop going."

Squat parties aren't all the same. Each is characterised by the type of sound systems that attends - "sound systems" applies to both the equipment and team of DJs - and which followings they attract. Some, whose music is heavy and subversive, bring in a more sinister, criminal crowd.

The sound systems keep in touch with a small clan of party organisers whose job it is to locate suitable venues. They will spend the week scouting the industrial estates and streets of London looking for a possible site. On the day of the party they break in, secure the venue, sort out a power supply, set up the bars and only then put the word out to the sound systems, who dutifully turn up. Jon uses squat parties to let his hair down. He goes for the music - "some of it's pretty heavy and dark, you can't hear it in mainstream clubs" - and for the drugs, which are astonishingly readily available. At the one in Camden, I couldn't go more than three paces without a shifty face thrusting out of the dry ice to offer me pills.

The drugs at squat parties are much cheaper and purer than those you can buy on the street, says Jon. Big-time dealers are said to supply the bags of cocaine, "k" and ecstasy pills, and consequently the drugs are claimed to be of a higher quality.

"The best way to describe the drug trade at squat parties is like a franchise," says Jon. "The organisers only allow their own people in. I don't know whether they take a cut or whether they own the drugs that are being sold. But that's how the money is made. The people at the top are the really shady ones and they are making a hell of a lot of money. That's why there are so many people trying to get in through the windows and stuff so they're not seen."

Avoiding the £5 cover fee is not the object of this subterfuge - it's all about trying to grab a share of the drugs money. Outside I watch amazed as a group of youths scale a tree, pull themselves onto a roof and slip through an open window. Inside, there are youths scouting around the building looking for a way to let in their mates without being spotted by the organisers. Simultaneously, the organisers carry around filing cabinets and desks to prop against the downstairs windows in a bid to keep out the uninvited dealers.

Unsurprisingly, all this activity leads to a highly charged atmosphere that means any intervention by police could be potentially explosive.

In Hackney, where a plethora of abandoned warehouses and office blocks leaves the borough open to parties almost every weekend, Chief Superintendent Derek Benson says there is little the police can do. "If you're on night duty with 30 officers and there are 500 people at a party you don't need me to tell you that the odds are really stacked against us," he said. "You've got to weigh up the risk to the people there and to the officersby going in. Once parties are under way, we'll tend to monitor them and deal with local complaints, but realistically it's a question of assessing what you can do. There's very little that can be done in terms of shutting them down."

But if the police feel helpless, that is nothing compared to how the owners of the building felt when faced with the aftermath of a party on Monday morning.

The Viacom building in Camden is currently offered for rent at £15 a square foot but it's going to be a long time before these offices are back in action.

"We are furious," says Viacom spokeswoman Jo Tomlin. "They've broken into our property and made a bloody great mess. It was completely trashed. There was a lot of graffiti, a lot of glass panels were smashed, there was no running water so the toilets were foul.

"There was not very much furniture left in there but what was there has been overturned and broken. Curtains have been torn, windows smashed. It was thoroughly looted."

Recently more than £80,000 worth of sofas were stolen from a warehouse in Hackney where revellers broke in, held a party and then scarpered, taking the contents of the venue with them.

Meanwhile, in a small room on the third floor of the Camden offices, the secret of the squat party's appeal - one extraordinary night of escapism - is revealed by a surprising source. Below a No Smoking sign, partially obscured by billowing clouds, another sign hinting at the office's previous use reads, "Abbey National: Because life's complicated enough."

Report by moneypenny: 02/11/02 11:08

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Last night I went to the Foundry, to see Bill Drummond launch his Silence (tm ) card game, his anti war protest idea gone commercial/arrt...[ yep I shall be silent as a protest, and to help I shall make some cards with the few essential phrases to man's survival... ie TEA COFFEE DONT BE STuPId(- you call tell he's a man, innit-) and I shall sell them, and use the money to feed and clothe my six children....] this was the nub of his presentation at the foundry, the squat like pub at old street.I like the foundry, it's bar is tended by the t total Mark.It's a good place to spot Shoreditch twats too...
So, there we were, I was miffed because getting dressed for the Foundry is difficult... if you try too hard, the local fashionistas will notice and smirk, and if you don't try at all the local fashionistas will notice and smirk worse.
When I got to the which hat stage, John smirked.Dunno why, it was only a swimming cap with rubber flowers.Green to match my coat.....
So we got there, listened to Bill... and got ready to watch the real main event which was the balloon launching.Yes, Bill got it together with Tracy the artist ( welsh Tracy, natch) who does balloon stuff, releases balloons with her mobile number and gets people to text her back when they find them... they combined forces, attaching a card from Silence the game to each of a reported 1000 balloons, along with an ickle bag with poppy seeds inside, and Tracy's number.When you text in your address you get sent a set of cards.... nice eh?
We waited with the hoxtonites outside.John went downstairs and came back with one of the cards.It read "Because I want to".After half an hour of exitement, the balloons were brought upstairs by young men, happy to hang on to another's great art idea, and put carefully into a great net, set above a bin, cunningly illuminated by white fairy lights which flashed.
It was nice, the release of 1000 pink and white balloons into the grey skies above old street was seminal.Like atoms drifting away to the greener plains of Leyton . Some balloons had less helium than others and drifted slowly towards the certain death of Old street roundabout.I rescued one.It read " I Love you" I kept it.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Last night I went to Camden Town, (meeting place of the damned, as I know it) to see a band called Electric Six.
They're from Detroit, formerly known as The Wild Bunch and are most famous over here for being sampled on the Soulwax cd... they play the one that sticks in your head " danger, high voltage"; it's thrashy American Rock meets fucked up disco.The crowd loved it.
The Monarch was packed out with those studenty rock kids, still going with the retro haircuts /parka look. We got there just in time to see 'The Black Madonnas' , who were four lads with great hair, having a lotta lotta fun . They made a Noise.
After that I forced myself to the toilet and waited in line behind four young girls with attitude.If you ever wonder what girls do in the loos, they go to revamp their slap on personalities.There wasn't really room.The loos in the Monarch are a pissed up disgrace.
So I squeezed my way back to where I'd left John.It had now become incredibly crowded, and I only just managed to balance my arse between my boyfriend and a total stranger... cheap thrills all round.Then some loser in a cotton jacket squeezed his way past."He's in the band " the guy to my left gushed by way of explanation.Oh goody.
Four other guys with big personalities and a crate of Stella pushed their way past the audience into the dressing room and then jumped up onto the tiny stage.
The Robert"lovecats" Cure lookalike on keyboards, a slaphead mirrored sunglasses wearer on guitar, a bass player who looked like Cazzas, that's a heavy drinker with lanky brown hair, sex appeal, ditto sunglasses, and another guitarrist who was bursting out of a buttoned up black shirt, and a midget drummer I only saw at the end, covered in rythm and sweat.
The pa guy put on the midnight cowboy theme....neh neh neh na neh neh neh nu nuuuhhhhhh
They were all smoking fags like their lives depended on it.The bass player shouted out "I need some Dick!" and on jumped loser guy, lead singer of the band, so uncool with his jacket and mousy curly thinning hair that he was cool.Like Beck's cooler brother.
Man they thrashed , and boy did Dick sing, in the old whitesnake proper rock badass way.The crowd kept asking for the hit song, and Dick kept sayin " In due time , momma".
In the meantime some of the kids got to pogo.I wanted to pogo but was prevented by my latent incontinence and the rock virgin in front of me who didn't go out to dance, oh no, gee and get all sweated up? Euww.
So that's how it was... loud and kickin and constricted.Not full power like Fisherspooner. Dick had a t shirt that read Rich and Sexy. Yup, they could do no wrong...
After the encore (Radio Goo Goo would ya believe the brass balls of these guys) there was a beautiful scene, there we were in the emptying black walled rock venue, bottles and glasses skidadling around the floor, and they've put some guitar classic on the sound system, and there's haircut guy from the Black Madonnas air guitarring away with his best friend in the middle of the floor.... but like he would've won a prize .... almost no embarrassment at all.Classic.