One of the most political things you could do in the late eighties was to dance all night. And up to ten thousand people a week would head off after 2am in convoys to a field in Blackburn or a freshly opened closed down warehouse in the middle of nowhere for what was called an `illegal rave'.
Just looking at a trailer of Piers Sanderson's documentary of the times, High On Hope, gets the adrenaline going even if you weren't around at the time. The sub heading to the film's title says it all about the times... `Acid House in the disused mills of Thatcher's Britain'.
This was about how fun became political...
First there was the bravado of the organisers, wiring sound systems up from lamp posts and such (shown in all its animated graphic splendour in the doc); then there was their attitude… "make sure it happened…make sure it happened all night long…make sure it happened free or as cheap as possible"…
And then there was the establishment reaction… "For people involved in the parties they were something beautiful, they were something special but on the outside it was not seen like that at all - they were viewed with a mixture of incomprehension and fear…"
The politicians dreamed up one of their `moral panics', and passed laws including five mile exclusion zones, giving police the power to confiscate equipment and break up convoys of six or more vehicles. Shortly after, police with dogs, body armour and truncheons broke up one such party, arresting 836 people - the largest peace-time arrest in British history.
It's staggering to think about the lengths the British establishment went to to stop people having fun. Now, dancing to 6am is the norm in many clubs. But back then, only 23 years ago, it was dangerous and political…
"For a large proportion of partygoers it was much more than dancing, it was about trying to change the status quo" says documentary director Piers Sanderson "Young people with no jobs and no future began to take control of their lives, and, despite the vilification from the some quarters of the press, a sense of community and possibility began to form…"
Piers' documentary film features actual footage of the parties, news archive, interviews and animation, and has already won the audience award at The Leeds Film Festival, as well as best international film in Barcelona. Indeed, it's been shown all over the world, but not in Blackburn, Manchester or Salford, until now.
High On Hope is having a small scale screening at Islington Mill next Saturday, 27th October 7pm as a fundraiser to help pay for the music rights needed to put the film on general release. If you fancy a sniff of freedom, don't miss!
High On Hope fundraising screening
Saturday 27th October 7pm £7.50
For tickets – click here
For loads of details on the film and the trailer see www.highonhope.com