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Rave diaries

Written by Tim Knight

PLUMPTON

Took Stuart up to Oxford to see what was going on. 227 was empty so we went round to see Sarah, who had just moved into a huge new house with some of her student friends. She was there with her new boyfriend, who just happened to be Lol, a prime mover from Spiral Tribe. He informed us that the Spirals were not putting on any sort of party this weekend after the fallout from Castlemorton, but he knew that DiY, a far more laid back assemblage of travellers and DJ's than Spiral Tribe, were having some sort of do down near Brighton. With an insatiable appetite for hardcore I was unconvinced, but Lol assured us that they knew how to party, so after a few quick phone calls we got the directions and left Oxford behind.

I decided to start the night off with an entire pack of Gaurana tablets. I had never tried them before, but as they were legal I paid them no mind and swallowed the lot. Waves of sickness followed hereafter for several hours, but I didn't really notice much of a buzz, probably because at the time I was used to drugs of a much less subtle nature.

Before long we were on an empty M25, the streetlights casting a garish orange glow. Soon we found ourselves on the way to Brighton and nearing Plumpton, the nearest town to the party. The directions we had turned out to be spot on, so without too much trouble we discovered the tell tale long-line-of-badly-parked-cars and joined them. Following the general direction of the people we walked along a narrow path up a steep hill. As we left the houses behind us we were plunged into darkness. It can't have been much after 2am so it was still very much night. The darkness was slightly disorientating, and by this time Stuart and I had no idea where we were going, all we knew was that we were following a bunch of dodgy geezers up a hill and across some fields in pitch black into the middle of nowhere.

Around this point we bumped into Tara, a friend from back home in Witney, who had just recently moved to Brighton with her dealer-boyfriend. After the initial hello's I managed to procure myself a nice little stack of E's from said boyfriend, although he warned me of their considerable potency. A positive bonus, I thought to myself, licking my lips.

Eventually we found a gathering somewhere on top of the hill. There were camp fires, people sitting around smoking spliffs and dub reggae blasting from ghetto blasters. Please tell me we haven't driven all this way for this, I hoped. We kept telling each other that any minute now top house music was going to burst from hitherto unseen enormous speakers, while fluorescent lights would blaze from the surrounding trees, but it wasn't looking good. Stalling our drug taking, we hung around for a while until we eventually deduced that there was a real party going on already, just a little further over the other side of the hill. A short walk and we found it.

Fortunately, it was all we had hoped. By this time it was light enough to see exactly what was going on. The party was centred around a rather worn looking marquee which housed the decks. It probably would have looked great in the dark, lit only by whatever party-style lights the crew had at the time, but growing daylight exposed it as a little battle scarred. This, however, was part and parcel of these traveller-raves and I wouldn't have liked it any other way. Behind this tent the ground rose up gently and became the back of the hill we had climbed earlier. Trees, vans and people loosely framed the scene, and undulating fields drifted off into the distance, with not a house or road in sight. Perfect.

There were several familiar faces there, Ness the half blind horse drawn traveller, my old friend Steve and his purple ambulance, some of the Oxford boys, but the whole atmosphere was more laid back than a Spiral do, and the clientele a little less teenage. Coming up like a bastard on the E's I had just bought I listened with interest to the garage beats that I normally never had any time for. Instead of the mental mayhem of Spiral's terra-tech we had smooth deep house, which undoubtedly created a more user friendly, relaxed vibe. I made a mental note to explore this new musical avenue when I got home.

I hammered home another E and rapidly became very fucked. Although my whole body was buzzing, I didn't feel like dancing, it seemed like too much work. I just wanted to relax and bask in these enveloping, enormous sensations. So we joined a bunch of people sitting a little way up the hill. The ground spread around the party in a kind of C shape, providing a perfect place to chill out and look down on the decks and people still dancing. Stuart became convinced he could see himself still down there having a dance, and I got all exited as I met up with a couple of friends I hadn't seen since school days. Put off a little by discovering that they never took drugs, I dragged Stuart off and before long made deep passionate friends with a saxophone player from London, called Fibi.

The three of us wondered off someway into the countryside talking shit while the drugs coursed through our bodies, creating a fizzing ball of pleasure deep in our bellies. Fibi stopped to take a piss behind a tree, unaware her bare white arse was as clear as day. Unsure of whether this was funny, erotic or sad, me and Stuart thought it best not to let her know and had forgotten about it by the time she came back anyway.

We returned to the party and I decided to try and score another E, but one which wasn't quite as heavy as what we had already ingested. I fancied a lighter, bouncier buzz to go with the music, and found myself relaying this to a lanky, dreaded traveller who introduced himself as Moffball. It turned out he was part of the DIY ensemble so I made sure he was aware I was most impressed by the happy-vibe party they had put on. Smiling, he produced a matchbox full of small white pills - jackpot! - and ensured me that all those lot ( he gestured in the direction of the group still going for it dancefloor ) were more than happy with them. Without further ado me and Stuart were on E number three or four - it's difficult to remember - and memory gets even hazier.

A few moments emerge from the bliss that carried us through the rest of the day. Meeting a bloke in a similar state with the same coat as me, which felt like meeting a long lost favourite brother. Sitting in Steve's ambulance drinking coffee, the drink's heat and caffeine increasing the rush with every sip. The best was probably meeting a couple sitting on their own high up on the hill with a soda siphon full of laughing gas. They generously let me and Stuart have a pull on it, and for a few moments we soared at a million miles an hour up through the astral plane and to a place far, far more beautiful than anywhere you could imagine. On top of the chemicals already in our system the gas erased all perception of our physical existence.

I decided to leave while we were still pretty out of it. I liked leaving places while still on a high rather than wait for than wait for the comedown. I actually found it easier to drive while still buzzing as it keeps you alert, once you start to come down tiredness sets in and can make you a bit sloppy. Besides, it's nice leaving while your senses are still shot, keeping any memories you have of the place distorted and more magical. I offered a lift to Tim, a friend from Oxford. He was ready to go so we floated back to the car and drove back.

I have vague memories of being stuck in traffic on the M25 for ages ! but even that seemed like fun.

Read on...

TUBNEY WOODS | CHOBHAM COMMON | RHYADER | CASTLEMORTON COMMON
CLEEVE HILL | PLUMPTON | BATH - NEW YEARS EVE 1992
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