I was a teenager in the early 90s, at a time when the UK's rave culture was still alive and kicking, though on the wane. In those days, after police crackdowns and legal changes to suppress the culture, raves were often held at secret locations.
Sometimes, for the good ones, the location would be a warehouse, or an aircraft hangar or a farmer's barn. Often, though, the location would be a rented marquee in a muddy field two miles down a dirt road, where the best you could fervently hope for was that someone had at least made a makeshift dancefloor from stolen forklift pallets. Sometimes ravers would end up dancing in mud, soaking wet from a leaky marquee, off their tits on some random pill they'd been handed by a complete stranger in exchange for most of their money. And people, generally, lapped it up.
To get to these parties, you'd be handed, perhaps at a previous rave, or at a club, or even just in the street, a flyer on which was written a location and a time, often a carpark, layby or other anonymous spot with enough space to park a lot of cars. You'd turn up in your car, find the organiser(s) and at this point you'd either drive in convoy or be handed directions to get to the actual location of the rave. Generally, you'd hand over some cash for the privilege before leaving. As a teenager with a car in a peer group mostly without, I was drafted in for driving duty more than once*.
The idea, of course, would be that if the police didn't know where the rave was happening, they wouldn't be able to get to it and shut it down. In practical terms, the police would usually find out about it, but after a short time delay.
They would then turn up and shut the party down - usually killing the generators first, leaving ravers quite literally in the dark. Of course, by this time the money would have been collected and spirited away, the drugs would have all been taken and the organisers would be anonymised in a crowd of drug-addled dancers in a darkened tent in the middle of nowhere. A cooldown in the cells would be the most the organisers got, and when they got home, they'd have the cash. An attendee could expect similar, but without the benefit of full pockets. Usually, though, it'd just be a caution, in the name of Michael Mouse Esq, yes officer, that's really my name officer. I know, it's unusual, I always got teased at school officer. It was terrible, officer. Thank you officer, I won't do it again.
Additional benefits for the organisers, of course, included the fact that while the police had no idea where the venue was, they generally knew where the meeting place was, so no raver with half an ounce of common sense would turn up to the meetup with pre-bought drugs or anything else vaguely illegal. The chance of being searched was too high, and to take the drugs before arriving could mean they'd be worn off by the time you got to the party - which could be in another county. Ravers would have to buy their drugs at the party, meaning a captive market, hiked-up prices and a virtally guaranteed sales quota for the night. Dealers unknown to the organisers were summarily dealt with, tightening the monopoly further still. It's like a modern festival's security guards taking all food and drinks off you on entry. You have to buy warm bottled water and salmonellous felafel at mark-up prices or starve and dehydrate.
This persisted, with dodgier and dodgier operators getting in on the act, for years. Ravers were fleeced, ripped off, robbed, beaten, overdosed and abandoned in the street outside hospitals, and things looked pretty grim. People stopped attending these raves and moved back to the clubs where it was safer. Eventually, mobile phones became commonplace enough that directions could be disseminated by SMS or phone call, and a small resurgence seemed to occur as the secrecy started to break down, but the culture itself fell apart. For a while, though, there was a repeatable, reliable method of hosting a party that could get a few hundred young people reliably off their faces for a night, and put several thousand quid in the pockets of the operators, all illegally but with a surprisingly small risk.
Aaaah. Special times.
So, imagine my surprise when I saw some of the same organisational strategies emerging in the anti-vaccination movement.
Yeah, that's right, folks. The flyer above, for an anti-vaccination seminar given by Stephanie "Marvellous Measles" Messenger. They're charging $20 per couple or $15 for a single for a talk at an undisclosed venue, the location of which will be sent out by SMS the night before. It's all very underground, don'tcherknow.
I have to wonder if there'll be loud music and flashing lights too. I don't have to wonder how many people will be completely off their heads.
There's another, similar event, likewise with the cloak-and-dagger announcement style for the venue, slated to take place in the Blue Mountains, most likely in Leura, in the next few weeks. So it's not merely a co-incidence that no venue has been specified. This is a deliberate effort, in fine early-nineties style, to evade something that might shut the event down and cost the organisers a few bucks.
And that something? Well, in part it's Stop The AVN, who have been successful in the past in shutting down these lie-fests before they even got off the ground - but it's also the local health authorities from which the antivaxers are trying to hide. Public health authorities don't generally like untrained, unqualified and unregistered practitioners giving out medical advice, especially when that advice is demonstrably false.
All of the questions on the left of the flyer have been "answered" on the AVN's facebook page in recent weeks. Every time the answer has appeared, it's been wrong. This event is nothing more than an attempt to lie unchallenged.
But I find the parallel too delicious to resist posting about it. The antivaxers are raving. Just like we always said they are.
UPDATE: Does the concept of aesthetics not penetrate the minds of these idiots?
* usually, events we tried to attend fizzled out before even getting to the end destination, but every so often...
posted @ Thursday, February 16, 2012 4:35 PM