Big Brother Is Trying To Outlaw Fun, Dancing Is Revolutionary
Posted by Molli Fire on Wednesday, 2May07
While the RIAA and CRB are working diligently to eliminate public access to music and radio online, politicians and police are dredging up ways to prevent people from making music and dancing.
I’m about to show you the different ways that NYC groups are working to open the possibilities for live music and dance events in a city that is clamping down on music venues. Here you will find fun parties to go to, a review of the Mayday celebration, and the historical significance of how our access to social gatherings is being eroded.
The current prohibition atmosphere of certain major cities from SF to NYC, the actions of the RIAA and CRB towards university students and webcasters during the last few years, and the FCC’s increased licensing “laws” and gestapo raids on micro-powered radio broadcasters a few years before that, mirror the conflicted relationship between legislative bodies and community supported channels of entertainment in nearly every medium, in every modern nation. Today, the headlines are focused on the censorship of live music and the act of dancing to live music, but the struggle remains the same as the days of prohibition. Here is what made headlines today….
NYC Cabaret Laws Are Destroying The Music Scene
New York City has been severely deprived of live entertainment because of tight restrictions that make it difficult to obtain and maintain cabaret licenses. Similar in spirit to crackhouse laws in the Southern states and the Criminal Justice Act created by the UK Parliament in 1994 to prevent large music festivals and the public performance of music with a repeating sequence of beats.
Big Brother is trying to outlaw fun. And what’s worse, is that it’s being done with laws that are incredibly prejudiced – these laws were written and passed to prevent interracial socializing (cabaret laws), to profile music enthusiasts as drug users (crackhouse laws), and to limit the free assembly of low-income people (any law that forces you to get a permit to use public land). Basically, these laws are designed to keep the people complacent through homogenized outlets of safe entertainment, and restrict the channels that provide an opportunity for revolt. Even though most of these channels are not trying to revolt against anything, they are trying to provide opportunities to relax and have a good time. Different people prefer different forms of relaxation, but all should have equal access to methods that are widely enjoyed, no? Not all will feel relaxed at the opera, or a Gwen Stefani concert, but I think all people should be encouraged to enjoy the performance of music and dancing.
“Three years ago, there were 300 cabaret licenses,” Miller said. “Every three months the number drops by 15. It’s so hard not only to get a new cabaret license, but to get one renewed because of building codes.”
“there are 148 cabaret licenses and that includes adult entertainment, hotels and restaurants”
What happens when a vibrant city like NYC has trouble finding legal venues to socialize in? Music venues are dropping like flies in the Big Apple – just 2 weeks ago, the closing of the Tonic and subsequent arrests made headlines, while many readers may not have noticed the FOR SALE sign on the building that houses the Knitting Factory. The Knitting Factory is not in immediate danger of closing. Despite a sale of the building, the venue will continue to operate through their 2009 lease. After this date however: “there has been no decision as to the future of the venue.” In NYC, 5 venues a month lose their cabaret license… What is there to do then, in the nightlife capital of the world?
Dancing In The Streets Of New York
What happens when there is no legal venue to party in? The party people take to the streets! The next opportunity to meet up with New York City’s finest revelers for a day of Dancing In The Streets will arrive on May 19th. That’s the day for the first annual Dance Parade with thousands of dancers – including YOU – and top djs Kool Herc, Danny Tenaglia, John Jellybean Benitez. There will also be performances from many dance groups representing different styles, from breakdancing to ballet, with whirling and wild styles. The Dance Parade is organized to raise awareness about the cabaret law as well as NYC’s dance history.
Dance Parade’s president Greg Miller is not new to events in public space. This past Saturday found him at the 9th Annual Blackkat Mayday party, which itself faced permit issues for the first time ever. Instead of the community gathering being held in Tompkins Square Park, the event site for the last 8 years, the organizers had to choose another location when unable to obtain permits required in a timely manner. Jason BK told the metro that the Blackkat artist collective had applied for the permits in January, and had not received permission by May 1st!
9th Annual NYC Blackkat Mayday Party
In the tradition of International Workers’ Day, the crew of artists and musicians known as Blackkat hosted their 9th annual Mayday Party in NYC this past Sunday. Blackkat has organized free and low-cost community events in NYC for over a decade, such as Party 4 Freedom and Justice in 2002, and the Biotour Benefit in 2005. The Indypendent newspaper reported from the 2007 Mayday party, quoting Jason BK, Amok, and Chrome, who supply and maintain the sound for these events- from the speakers to the noise :
“We live in a city where money and getting your name out there is more important than actual content that’s provided,” said Amok, a musician and two year Blackkat collective member. “This is what makes Blackkat so very different, it puts content first always … which is something that other crews unfortunately forget to do.”
In the past, Blackkat has joined forces with other groups including Dance Parade New York, the Madagascar Institute, The Danger, DanceSafe, Renegade Virus and Havoc Sound. Events have included a fundraiser for the 2005 Biotour benefit, numerous festivals and parties in various warehouses such as 3rd Ward and the now closed Lunatarium and 38Nine (in Queens).
“The main point is that it is vital that people come together in a creative community and we hope that these events can be part of that community,” said Chrome. BK added, “They have to be fun to be effective.”
Guest speakers this year included Norman Siegel, a civil rights attorney, and Missy Galore of the NYC Dance Parade. Information tables were hosted by DanceSafe, IndyMedia, Metro In Motion TriState Biodiesel and more. The sound stage was provided by MadAro, Anthony, and Disorient with maestro Daniel.
Blackkat And Friends
Check out the official Blackkat website, where you can see more pix from the event, download super tight dj mixes by the Blackkat noise bringers, and choose your own adventure from there, it’s a mad mad jungle what this fella get up to when he gets together with some friends! It reminds me of a quote about Spiral Tribe, another music and art based soundsystem unorganization who were participated in events around the UK countryside from dusk til dawn til dusk and dawn again for days. The quote is from Spaces of Democracy :
“Spiral Tribe, with their free and inclusive parties, succeeded in constituting an alternative public space, rather than just a secret one. Though no one could say how many lives were touched in their three year tour of duty”.
Props to the Blackkat population for bringing it for more than 10 years! The roots run deep, the branches have touched many, many people.
The Rest Is History…
Blackkat, HavocSound, soFat! Sound, and Renegade Virus joined forces during 2001-2004, hauling speakers, generators, records or synths throughout NYC plus occasional road trips to other parts of the US and Canada. These soundsystem collaborations earned much respect and no money for providing nonstop music at the Annual Blackkat Mayday Party, Swamptek, Autonomous Mutant Festival, Monsters of Love 1-4, renegade outdoor free parties across the NYC/SF/US, and underground warehouse events in NYC and SF, all while supporting and spreading the DIY free party culture and direct action for sustainable technology. Since 2004, Blackkat and Jungle Terror Krew have continued the mischief with Renegade Virus and TBI25 in NYC … while 5lowershop, HavocSound, and soFat! have been raging in SF with S.P.A.Z. and Army of Love – constructing walls of sound and yards of power cable at AMF, Monsters of Love, Unchained Reaction, Fuck Parade, renegade outdoor, indoor, mobile, and underground free parties all over SF/NYC/USA. These non-profit crews have sustained where many other well-funded businesses have come and gone as a result of their experiments in alternative technologies. The consistent message of building a more concious culture is further demonstrated by the work these people have done in the science of sustainable living on this planet and grassroots outreach and education in the community. All the crews mentioned have been in involved with converting all their tour buses and generators to run on straight vegetable oil, teaching workshops in biofuel systems and sustainability skills, mobile microbroadcasting, and a weekly internet broadcast with FM radio rebroadcast in England and Europe.
BIG UPS TO THE NY MASSIVE!! MUCH LOVE TO THE 5LOWERSHOP EXTENDED NETWORK!!
Thank you for everything you have already done and much luck to all your future projects!
Spiral Tribe vs. the Public Order
Free parties became a big issue in the UK and Europe during the early 90’s when large gatherings of people would assemble with concert speakers and have a free dance party. To outlaw this type of noncommercial music festival (there were no camping fees, or tickets sold, you just had to be able to get there, and feed yourself for the duration), the Parliament of the UK created the Criminal Justice Act in 1994. Ironically, the main focus of this Act was to restrict and prohibit “anti-social” behaviors, including organizing and attending huge gatherings centered around a common interest in popular music. It even included a section based on the type of music considered anti-social – repetitive beats – and used a precise definition of how many bars of music had to pass without a beat looping and/or repeating! Spiral Tribe challenged the Act and held massive outdoor events with live performances of hypnotically repetitive beats. The UK punk band, Crass, contributed their social commentary with a furious double kick drum beat that repeated until you thought your heart might collapse. The wall of speakers that Spiral Tribe carried to these events was the length and height of 3-4 city bus coaches long and tall. When Crass played, the drums would be a barrage of punches shooting out of that wall. 13 members of Spiral Tribe were arrested immediately following the Castlemorton Common Festival in May 1992 for public order offenses. The techno-punk crew seemed to be having a blast doing as much damage to the legal system as possible. The courtroom became a circus. The defendants, and their supporters in the benches, wore Tshirts to their court appearances with the message “Breach The Peace” written in large letters. The message was seen in every photograph and television news coverage of the case. Especially handy if you released a record with the same name, which Spiral Tribe had. They released albums of fantastic techno, with deejays chatting over some tracks. Forward The Revolution blends the steady beat of Native American drumming with the excited heart beat of their drummachines and the Native Am. singing with Simone’s flawless humanoid rapping about the future of the free party system. She defiantly repeats, “You might stop the party, But you can’t stop the future.” At the end of the 4 month long case, it was calculated that this was the longest running and most expensive case in British legal history. Just to stop the music.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. If you would like to do more in your community to add your strength to the resistance, either contact the people mentioned in this article, or start your own crew – the more the merrier, and the stronger we all are. Feel free to comment and discuss any point mentioned here in the comments section.
The rest is just a disclaimer about the copy and publishing rights pertaining to this article….
With the exception of quotes that are clearly labeled, i wrote every word of this, and if you copy it or reprint it in any way with giving credit, i will get very nasty. I only mention this because of the huge problem i am having with online content aggregators, and in no way in reference to grassroots education. If you would like to copy or print it and share it with others, please just give the proper credit. The creative commons license that protects this work is clearly stated and linked in the sidebar and in the page titled disclaimer.
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This entry was posted on Wednesday, 2May07 at 4:58 and is filed under +Greatest Hits+, activism, bass, breakcore, CRB, dancehall, DIY, dj, dub, electronica, experimental, festivals, free, jungle, legal, music, music tech, news, noise, NYC, piracy, punk, radio, RIAA, SF, shows, social, street art, writ. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.