Gathering festival faces competition from cheaper rival

The Dominion, 5 January 2002

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ORGANISERS of the Gathering dance party in Golden Bay are confident it can survive competition from another party in the area.

A second Vision New Year's party at Pakawau was proclaimed a success by its organisers, and some patrons said that the Vision party was "in", while the Gathering, near Upper Takaka, was "out".

The Vision party attracted about 1600 people, three times more than last year. The Gathering this year attracted about 6000, compared with about 10,000 last year.

Tickets for the Gathering cost $130 for the four-day event, rising to $160 for later ticket purchase, while Vision tickets cost up to $90 and day passes were available.

Gathering marketing manager Danny O'Donnell said the two parties could co- exist.

The Vision party did not come close to the Gathering in terms of organisation and safety and it had less variety in its music, Mr O'Donnell said.

"There is a place for the Vision. They play high trance, psychedelic, trippy music. We don't have a zone doing that."

The Gathering also faces competition from a dance party called Alpine Unity, which was held near Castle Hill in Canterbury.

Tickets for Alpine Unity cost up to $100 for two days of dance music and it attracted a crowd of about 3000.

"It's a huge mission to come from Christchurch to the Gathering. It's a five- hour trip, versus half-an-hour down the road (for Alpine Unity)," Mr O'Donnell said.

Alpine Unity also had a bar, which would attract a wider range of people, but the Gathering would not change its alcohol-free policy, he said.

In future, there would be eight zones at the Gathering and the ticket price would remain about the same.

"People will come to the Gathering if they want to and that's all we want," Mr O'Donnell said.

Up to 800 people were involved in running this year's Gathering and they would hold a debriefing session in the next week to address any problems.

Gathering organisers confirmed that they closed a stall where Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party president Dave Moore was offering a drug-testing service.

However, Mr Moore was not evicted and stayed on for the rest of the party. There was no conflict, Mr O'Donnell said.

Mr Moore said the party had not set out to upset Gathering organisers.

"It's more a misunderstanding than anything.

"Our point was about reducing harm and allowing people the opportunity to see what they were using."

The test identified a drug rather than making an analysis of its purity. The party stall also provided information and counselling on the effects of drugs.

Eighteen people had drugs tested during the day the service was offered and Ecstasy was the main drug tested, Mr Moore said. -- NZPA

The Dominion, 5 January 2002

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