New southern dance cult

New southern dance cult

These last few summers, the trendiest place to head for dance parties has been the South Island. Andrew Penman from Christchurch's Curious Records explained what the new southern dance cult is all about.

I think the dance scene in the South Island has maintained such a healthy existence because true to rave culture, most promoters have sought out interesting and varied methods, and underground methods of promotions. In most cases promotors have not gained inflated egos like in other centres.

The southern scene grabbed national attention during the summer of '93/'94, when small outdoor techno/trance parties like 'En-Train' were organised in Golden Bay and Nelson. In Christchurch Mat O'Brian, aka DJ Slipmat/Obi-wan, began assembling a crew of hardcore techno DJs to put on all-age raves in vacant inner city theatres and warehouses. In the beginning, things didn't go so smoothly. The 'Surge' party in 1994 made national news when it was closed down. Promoters had to be more innovative. More parties were put on in outdoor settings. Parties like the '$6 Million Rave' on the Port Hills and 'Lost in Space' at QEII Park were regularly drawing crowds of 800 or more.

The '96 New Year's party 'En-Train' drew a crowd of 4,000+. Groups like Matipo Pyramid, Salmonella Dub, Rotor and Nilstate were beginning to experiment live with variations on dance music. Raves in Dunedin were starting to take off.

Gradually, the scene started to split. House music slotted into yuppy bars. Trance raves drifted further and further into the mountains. Hardcore and techno DJs used inner city clubs like Ministry and Quadrophenia. Drum 'n' bass stormed the scene bringing with it a more punk attitude and probably the weirdest dancing moves to date. And eventually more and more promoters were bringing DJs and live acts from overseas.

At this New year's Eve party 'The Gathering', trance, techno, drum 'n' bass, hardcore techno, house, ambient and acoustic dance music was celebrated by 6,500 people for 48 hours on the top of Takaka Hill. There was no expense spared, there was no violence. People from all over New Zealand partied non stop without inhibitions.

What more could a raver wish for?

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