The Gathering

Lava 19 November - 3 December 1997

Once again, New Year's Eve looms large on the New Zealand dance scene's collective horizon, prompting the usual "where do we go and what do we do it on?" question.... "Where do we go?" is being addressed for the third year in a row [second, actually - WebEd] by The Gathering, firmly established along with vomitfests like The Mount or The Square as an icon-like Kiwi New Year's Eve option. "What do we do it on?" will probably fall between the lager lager lager and tingle token/disco biscuit camps, depending whether you like to spend the first hours of the year dancing your arse off or praying to the porcelain god....anyhoo.... According to Grant Smithies, one of the many organisers of The Gathering, the party starts at midday on December 31st and runs until midday on January 2nd, once again in the clearing at the top of Takaka Hill, outside Nelson. "What we're looking at is around 48 hours encompassing 200-plus DJs [make that 100-plus - WebEd] and a load of live acts spread across five marquees and stages and one main outdoor area," Grant says (in one breath).

The stages/marquees take in all the colours of the dance rainbow... hip-hop, dub, reggae, drum and bass, house, techno (hard), happy hardcore, gabba, ambient, techno (soft) and the inevitable Goa trance wobbly noises. Live acts include both arms of the now defunct Unitone HiFi, Short Fuse, the AK97 posse, Germany's Non Place Urban Field and Welli's Skankatronics crew [well represented by Isolation - WebEd]. "It's one of the most diverse and interesting get-togethers in New Zealand's dance scene. I think that's why so many people come and play for so little, 'cos all we usually pay is $50 plus a bit for travel. Raves, dance parties or whatever you want to call them are now firmly established as part of New Zealand's youth culture. It doesn't get much coverage in the mainstream media, but this whole scene that we're part of has been going quietly ballistic for nearly ten years now."

Along with the music, Grant promises this year there'll be a tent screening cult movies and NZ short films and an even bigger selection of food and cafe stalls, and an on-site radio station. "People got stuck on the road into the site for ages last year, so we thought our own radio station would be good this time". The Gathering is aiming to cater for over 10,000 people this year [make that 8,000 - WebEd] up again on the 6,000 who went hard last NYE, and at present the local authorities are all smiles. "We don't allow any alcohol on site so they just love us, they're still amazed that we can have a couple of thousand people from a massive range of backgrounds and not have any trouble or violence." Although this is the third [second! - WebEd] time NYE on Takaka Hill has been called The Gathering, parties have been taking place there for over five years now, initially run by Goa terrorists Entrain. If you're keen and not in the South Island already, make your ferry booking now.

Jason Harding, Lava, 19 November - 3 December 1997

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