Golden Bay dance parties clash

Nelson Mail, 4 November 2000

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A backlash against higher ticket prices to this year's Gathering dance party in Golden Bay has prompted a Takaka man to hold his own much cheaper event at the same time a short distance away. Richard Lochner's plans have drawn criticism from the Gathering organisers, who are calling his event the Anti-Gathering.

The two events combined are expected to attract up to 20,000 extra people to Golden Bay over the New Year period and Gathering chief executive Murray Kingi said the region would not be able to cope. "There's only room for one large event at that time. There's room for many events in the area around these dates but not at that time."

However, Tasman district councillor Paul Sangster believes there will be no problems.

Mr Lochner said there was enormous support for the Vision Party, to be held in Hamama, 20km from the Gathering's Upper Takaka site. He was not prepared to change its dates. Both events are due to start on the December 31, with the Vision Party ending on January 2 and the Gathering finishing on January 3.

Mr Lochner said he decided to hold his event because of what he called the growing number of people getting fed up with paying for increasingly expensive Gathering tickets. Tickets to this year's Gathering cost $160 each for the four-day event after more than doubling in price since the event started five years ago.

Mr Lochner said tickets to the Vision Party would cost $65 each. He said 2000 tickets would go on sale next week throughout the country, with a further 3000 available if needed.

The Vision Party, like the Gathering, will be held on a farm with a river running through it. They both offered different dance zones, DJs, live entertainment and various food and craft stalls.

Mr Lochner said he was not competing with the Gathering but instead wanted to provide an alternative for people wanting a smaller event which focused on community-based principles. "There's a desire for a more sustainable event than the Gathering. I don't want to criticise the Gathering, we don't want to compete against it, we just want to do our own thing."

Mr Kingi said it was ludicrous to pretend the Vision Party was not competing with the Gathering. "It's happening at the same time just 20km away. It's completely and utterly in competition. There's no way it's not in competition."

He said he supported competition but having two large events in Golden Bay at the same time would put too much pressure on already stretched resources; such as emergency services.

Cr Sangster said he did not expect the Vision Party to cause a population problem in Golden Bay, believing it would only attract people who would otherwise have attended the Gathering. He instead praised the Vision Party for offering people a cheaper alternative to the Gathering.

Mr Lochner said the Vision Party was non-profit driven with all money raised to go towards community development in Golden Bay, such as an organic bakery with a community food outlet where people can trade or sell their homegrown goods. "We are really trying to have the event in a beautiful place and with natural decorating and not spend millions of dollars."

Meanwhile, 7000 of the 15,000 tickets available to this year's Gathering have already sold.

Mariam El Orfi, Nelson Mail, 4 November 2000

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