The Joy of Reclaiming Streets

"Singing and dancing, man expresses himself as a member of a higher unity. He has forgotten how to walk and talk and is on the verge of flying up into the air as he dances."
The Birth of Tragedy, F. Nietzsche.

The first feeling at any Reclaim The Streets is a strange one for someone accustomed to the plodding, predictability of your usual lefty "protest". It's that unsettling feeling of not knowing:
a) where we are going and
b) what is going to happen over the next few hours.

Strangely-dressed people look for a sign or signal, a few paper-sellers hawk their wares somewhat warily. A signal goes up - the bikes head off and then, suddenly, we're moving and moving quite quickly! The next emotion is a tingle of expectation. As the motley group begins to coalesce and swell in numbers a sense of purpose emerges, the crowd quickens its pace. When it hits a certain size a spontaneous roar surges up from nowhere, it begins to sense its own size and capacity for adventure. And suddenly we're there.

There's usually a brief moment of excitement and complete chaos as the sound gear sets up - often followed by a long period of frustration as the generator fails to fire, some one has forgotten one of the unbalanced mono leads, the police are already in the van and are turning it over for evidence of hidden wombles. But pretty shortly something approaching a crackly cough of sound emerges. And the crowd go wild. It switches off again.

A few bongo players try and keep some sort of noise going. Oh no! Someone is in possession of an acoustic guitar with intent to play. But, eventually, it's on! Never since, maybe, the drugged-up days of the really, really, really early rave scene will you see a crowd more enthusiastic, more creative, more "up for it" and more willing to move. Despite the fact that the DJs can't mix, one deck is broken and the sound is like a broken walkman being peed on at the bottom of a toilet, everybody seems to be having a good time.

A strange collection of hippies, crusties, passing kids, homeless people, full time hedonists (just outa the scratcher), students, freaks and ordinary "professionals" meld into one motley whole and swirl around on a street that just previously hosted nothing more than an anonymous traffic queue. The day goes on - the drink flows, the organisers begin to worry, the cops look grim, another sound system unloads, a few conscientious heads start filling black bags with cans. What will happen next? - Will everyone get home OK? Will the party ever end? Will it wander off somewhere else?

The interesting thing is you really can't be completely sure just what will happen - it's up to you!

by Krossphader

see also


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This edition is No82 published in September 2004