Ravers chill out after party

Evening Post, 3 January 1997

Grazing sheep made way for raving humans in Nelson's Golden Bay this week. What the grazers would have made of the ravers and their trance, hardcore and drum-and-bass dub music is anyone's guess. The 48-hour dance party, called The Gathering, ended yesterday at Canaan Downs on Takaka Hill. Most of the crowd of about 5,000 were in their late teens or early 20s, although a few looked old enough to be Woodstock veterans.

Two hundred crew moved on to the site on Boxing Day to set up the event. After New Year's Eve chaos, when cars were bumper-to-bumper the entire way up the rough and narrow 8kn access road to the 17ha site, traffic was relatively clear on New Year's Day.

Central to the event has been the incessant pounding of the trance music from four large speaker stacks. For those not up with modern music, "trance" is a form of "techno" - electronically created music pared back to a series of repetitive beats with no lyrics apart from occasional voice samples. Organiser Tim Owens said trance was an uplifting version of techno.

Punters who wanted to party harder could opt for "hardcore" where the number of beats-per-minute would fuse anyone's pacemaker. The house funk and disco tent had dance music for those who like a bit of singing and melody. The ambient zone was set in a crater and played the only music without any beats for those wanting to "chill out". The tribe vibe zone was the place for people to make their own beats with drums and other acoustic instruments - such as an old log.

There was a noticeable absence of police on site. Mr Owens said police were quite happy for the organisers to provide their own security.

"It has been a peaceful event. The atmosphere is utterly positive."

There is an alcohol ban on the event and there were no obvious signs of its consumption yesterday afternoon. Mr Owens said the use of drugs was not encouraged but organisers could not prevent it. "The core of this thing is the dance music. They don't seem to be a bunch of drug-crazed loonies".

Evening Post, 3 January 1997

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