In the first half of ’90s, english Rave Scene was fragmented into many realities that sanctioned the birth of the generation of great free outdoor parties, like “Biology”, “Genesis”, “Fantazia” and many more.
But it was “Castlemorton Common Festival” that changed the law and the course of Dance music history.
On a hot Bank Holiday weekend of May 1992, more than 40.000 people descended on land in the shadow of the Malvern Hills, in Worcestershire’s district. The invitation to the ravers was spread by an answering machine message:
“It’s happening now and for the rest of the weekend, so get yourself out of the house and on to Castlemorton Common… Be there, all weekend, hardcore!”.
The greatest free rave in the history of Great Britain began. An event that today, twenty-six years later, is remembered not only for the size of the public, but also for the legal and bureaucratic aftermath it caused.
In fact English Parliament, two years later, received the push to approve the famous “Criminal Justice and Public Order Act”, introduced by the Prime Minister of the Conservative Party, which restricted numerous rights in the organization of events defined as dangerous. Among the measures, the dissemination of music with “repetitive beats”, considered able to psychologically damage people. The beginning of the end of the British rave.
But, even before Castlemorton’s affair, the free parties had already attracted the attention of institutions.
The scene began to undergo a gradual transformation. Police began to break into the suburbs and city feasts, stopping any activity they consider suspicious. On one occasion, a helicopter and a forced squad were sent to stop a………. birthday party in a house outside the city.
Moral panic broke out and national press began an anti-Acid propaganda publishing stories related to Ecstacy, the new “horror drug”. This hit a big blow to the more commercial Acid scene that had emerged as a result of media attention and many of the new nights closed down while big nights had to lower their profiles and prove to the authorities that they had cleaned up their acts. At the same time this led to the emergence of numerous realities who returned into underground.
For “Castlemorton Common Festival” thousands of raver, clubbers, squatters, punks, casuals, DJs, black and white, the “new-age travelers”, came from all over England, to give life to one of the most influential events in the history of musical gatherings. The eight-day rave hosted the most popular sound systems of the period, like Spiral Tribe, Circus Warp, DiY, Circus Normal and the punk band Back to The Planet.
It was enough to have the number, listen to directions and travel. Hippie spirit, drugs, perdition and contact with nature were the watchwords of that English season. Which, after the Castlemorton, suffered the hardest blow.
The approval of the “Criminal Justice and Public Order Act” came on November 1994. The raver and the artists reacted to their right to the party. There were clashes and protests. More than 50.000 people took to the streets of London, from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square, to protest the “Criminal Justice Act”, and groups like Autechre, Orbital, The Prodigy released songs or even entire albums against this law. The English rave culture ended, leaving only some events, mostly paid and little, but in the rest of Europe many collective continued to organize large gatherings and events.
A new era of raves was coming…
“Say No To Drugs” capsule is inspired by this wave of prohibitionism from the public opinion that apparently threw down Rave Scene, and takes up this theme in a sarcastic way.
You can find below ten killer tracks that made kids dance in the hills of Castlemorton Common.