The Future Sound of Aotearoa?

Real Groove, December 1997

What does New Year's Eve mean to you? You know, when Christmas has come and gone in a flurry of financial stress, extended-family dramas, dodgy religious telly programmes and rampant over-indulgence in soft food and hard liquor.... But it's still holiday time and there's a chance you can salvage something meaningful from the smoking remains of '97 before '98 kicks in.

Assuming you have the good sense to avoid the usual inner-city New Year's Eve mayhem (thousands of extra-drunk and socially-challenged revellers staggering out of overcrowded clubs and bars at midnight to fight, sing "Auld Lang Syne", harrass women and puke on the pavement, before driving into each other on the way home), then you have but one credible choice.

The Gathering, high atop Takaka Hill near Nelson, is the biggest dance event in the country. Two days celebrtating the good health of dance culture in Aotearoa as the New Year begins, with no drunken bogans, no angsty guitar bands, no big-city stress, just yourself and 8,000 others giving it up to booming beats and bass surrounded by beautiful alpine bush.

Whatever your tastes, from KRS One to King Tubby, from Grooverider to Gabba, from Carl Craig to Banco de Gaia, you'll be in dance heaven as The Gathering rejects the usual narrow stylistic boundaries and instead offers up true dancefloor diversity.

Five stages host over 200 of this country's finest DJs (we have that many? - Ed) [Yes I reckon we do - 'cept we've got just 100 of 'em - WebEd], plus guests from Germany, Japan and the UK, and dozens of live acts, all dropping everything from dub, hip hop and house to trance, hardcore and drum'n'bass on your thankful soul for 48 hours.

Face it.... rock'n'roll is on the wane and this is the Future Sound of Aotearoa! On-site food from souvlaki to sushi, live theatre and cinema tents, those ever-appealing Portaloos and tranquil beech forest for miles.

Yes, really. Those who didn't make the journey to last year's event are still kicking themselves, and, with no gate sales this year and pre-sale tickets limited to 8,000, it's time to seek out a ticket before the suckers sell out (and North Islanders, for god's sake book the ferry before it's too late!). This, not @#$%*@ Riverdance, will be the most splendid dance event this country has ever seen.... You have been warned!

Grant Smithies, Real Groove, December 1997

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