Sunday, December 02, 2007

1996: chronology of parties and police

Following the recent 1997 chronology we go back another year to 1996, a time of Reclaim the Streets parties, police raids on gay clubs and, in Algeria, the killing of rai performers . All events below from UK unless otherwise stated. As always I'd be interested in any recollections or reflections on these events


100 police raid Hollywoods club in Romford, Essex. As well as arresting some people for drugs, two women are arrested for assaulting a police officer.

Police bust a Vox Pop/Virus squat party in South London, and people move up to a Hackney venue. When they get there the police steam in making arrests and beating people up.

Police confiscate rig at Immersion Sound System party on the site of the Newbury road protest in Berkshire.

Gay rubber night GUMMI at Club 180 in London is stopped after a visit from the Met’s Vice Squad.

Local council take out injunction against four members of the Exodus Collective in Luton, forbidding them to hold free parties


200 police in riot gear raid the Coliseum nightclub near Stockton-on-Tees, arresting 35 people

On Valentine’s Day hundreds of people dance, drum and bounce on Brighton’s North Street. Police pile in at end of the Reclaim the Streets party and arrest 43 people.

Three people from Black Moon Sound System arrested in Corby at the prevous July’s attempted Mother festival found guilty under Section 63 of the Criminal Justice Act and their £6000 rig confiscated.


Police raid a party at the A.R.T.L.A.B. in Preston with an Environmental Health Officer who removes equipment under noise pollution regulations [Dream Creation, 1996]

Police set up road blocks to search people going to Lost in Paradise at Fantasy Island, Skegness. 11 arrests.

Jury throw out disorderly house charges against Club Whiplash in London, raided by sixty police with dogs in 1994.

Sex Maniacs Ball at the Fridge in Brixton cancelled at the last minute after police pressure. The tenth annual Ball, a charity event, was to be held at Brixton Academy, but they cancelled the booking after the police threatened a raid. Bagley’s at Kings Cross did the same. [Pink Paper 29/3/86] In response the Sexual Freedom Coalition was set up to “combat police inteference in clubs and with publications”, and on April 20th 200 people danced through Soho to Downing Street in protest at police action.

“Four people were arrested on drug possession and sale charges after police crashed a ‘rave’' party at a local nightclub in Danbury [USA]. More than 600 people ranging in age from about 14 to 21 attended the party, staged by an out-of-state production company at the Subzero nightclub on Elm Street”. [News Times, Danbury, March 25, 1996]


Police in Essex board a privately-hired coach taking people clubbing in London and search everybody on board. Several arrests for drugs offences.


Sussex police seize a sound system at a warehouse party in Bevendean.

Mounted police move in at the end of a Leeds Reclaim the Streets party; 12 people arrested

Tribal Gathering festival, Britain’s largest dance event, cancelled after authorities in Oxfordshire refuse it a licence following police objections - despite a successful event last year, months of preparation, and advance ticket sales of 25,000.

50 people arrested in dawn raids on two gay clubs in Santiago, Chile [Pink Paper, 24 May 1996]


100 riot police raid the Zoom Bar in Halle, Germany on the day before the city’s first ever gay pride event. 70 people inside the gay bar are handcuffed and made to lie on the floor during searches for drugs. Some are clubbed to the floor, others strip searched [Pink Paper, 4 July 1996].

On June 9th, several hundred people block the main A6 road into Leicester city centre for a Reclaim the Streets party, with sound system, comfy chairs, children’s paddling pool and fire jugglers. After three hours the police force people off the road, making six arrests.

A woman in Melbourne, Australia, wins compensation from the police after being stripsearched in a raid on the city’s Tasty nightclub in 1994. During the drugs raid, 465 were stripsearched, many of whom now claim compensation [Pink Paper14 June 1996]

The Tunnel and Limelight clubs in New York are raided and closed down, and the owners charged with conspiracy to sell ecstasy.


On the biggest Reclaim the Streets action so far, 8000 people party on the M41 motorway in West London. There are no arrests on the day, although in the aftermath police raid the RTS office and an activist’s home and charge one person with conspiracy to cause criminal damage to the M41, parts of which were dug up during the party.

Royal Ulster Constabulary and British Army crack down on Irish nationalists in Derry (N.Ireland), blocking off the streets in the city centre as people leave pubs and clubs. 900 plastic bullets are fired. 41 people suffer injuries including a fractured skull, broken jaw, and a broken leg. 18-year-old Michael McEleny, on the way home from Henry J’s disco with his sister, is hit in the face with a plastic bullet which tears away his cheek leaving him with a broken palate and cheekbone. According to his sister “Bullets just flew everywhere. Every two seconds there was another one. You couldn’t stand up. Every time I tired to get up and run, another bullet was fired. Anyone who stood up was hit”. 16 year-old Kevin McCafferty is left unconscious and critically injured after being shot in the chest and head with plastic bullets on the way home from Squires disco. Rioting spreads throughout Derry in the following days, and Dermot McShane iss killed after being run over by a British army vehicle. [An Phoblact/Republican News, 18 July 1996].

350 CRS police close down the Bordeaux Arts Festival in France, searching 600 people and making 23 arrests. Although the dance music festival had the permission of the landowner, the French Interior Minister Jean-Louis Debre declared it an illegal event. [Wax, August 1996, Muzik September 1996]


Big police operation against Smokey Bears legalise cannabis picnic in Portsmouth - sound systems stopped from entering the area

Riot police baton charge revellers at Maidstone River Festival in Kent.

10 people arrested at Reclaim the Streets party in Birmingham on.17 August. On the same day there is a five hour RTS party in Bath. The following week, 80 people are arrested as police mobilise to stop a Brighton Reclaim the Streets party.

Sussex police use a helicopter to break up a party near Brighton.


95 police raid the Living Room club, the Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead. 250 clubbers are evacuated, and 18 arrested, mostly on drugs charges.

100 police stage a drugs raid on I Spy, a gay night at Leeds club Nato. 19 people arrested. Police clear the club with people being met on the streets by at least 25 vans of police [Mixmag, Nov 1996]

Reclaim the Streets activists take part in the Reclaim the Future events in Liverpool in support of striking dockers. A march of 10,000 people is livened up with sound system, and a docks building squatted for a free party. On the Monday 600 people picket the docks and there are 44 arrests.

In Barnsley a planned gay night at the local Hedon Rock bar is blocked after a local hompohopic campiagn by the so-called Campaign Against Homosexual Equality [Pink Paper27/9/96]

The popular Rai singer Boudjema Bechiri, 28 (known as Cheb Aziz) is killed by Islamic militants. He is the fourth Rai star to be killed, since Rai songs which are often about sex and drink have been declared blashpemous and banned in areas dominated by Islamic fundamentalists [Observer, 22 Sept 1996]


Police raid on Love Muscle gay club at the Fridge, Brixton, London.

Reclaim the Streets Halloween Party in Oxford- over a thousand people dance on the road and on bus shelters with music from Virus Sound System, Desert Storm, Rinky Dink and some bagpipers. Police escort sound systems out of Oxford as they attempt to set up an after party-party. There is also an RTS party in Cambridge.

Reclaim the Streets party in Manchester with free music and free food. No arrests, but one van is impounded

Taliban seize power in Afghanistan: “Women are barred from work, men ordered to grow beards... They snatch music cassettes from cars and smash them with rocks by the roadside” [Guardian 9.10.96]

Riot cops evict squatted social centres in Madrid and Barcelona. Armed riot cops storm a squatted cinema firing hundreds of rubber bullets. Riots follow as people marched on the police station to demand the freeing of the 48 people nicked. The centre has been used for films, gigs, exhibitions and debates as well as huge parties to raise money for the Zapatistas and other causes.


100 police raid Jubilee pub in Camden, north London and arrest 23 people

Riot police with dogs bust a party in a tunnel in Beddgelert, North Wales


Adrenalin Village, London fined for opening beyond their 2 am limit [South London Press, 13.12.96]

London gay sex pub/club the Anvil loses its licence; police had raided the pub (also known as the Shipwright’s Arms) in Tooley Street following reports of sex in the upstairs bar [Pink Paper, 29.11.96]

Heaven events in Motherwell cancelled after police pressure


bob said...

The M41 RTS: that was a good one. For me, it was symbolically the high point of the Reclaim The Streets - actually taking a motorway, planting trees on it. But the space was the wrong shape for it to work as a party, and so it lacked the energy of the other big events. It also exposed one of the real weeknesses of the RTS methodology: the party was right next to a massive council estate, where the residents' lives are blighted by the motorway, but there was no way of connecting with the residents, a few of whom (kids) joined in, but most seemed pissed off, especially as their communal gardens were the only place for the ravers to relieve themselves...

Anonymous said...

was part of the virus rig for all those incidents,am i the only one who thinks everything is all rather tame,or am i just to old

Anonymous said...

no mate but I remember starting the jack hammer

Anonymous said...

especially this year (1996) and what has been going on in the uk has been a great influence in starting with the RTS (party) concept in "our" circles (anti motorway protest camp > as well, the first BLOCKADES have been very successfull, but after some repetition they just ended in mass arrests. still was fun to just watch them cops helpless standing around tripods, less so watching them torture the fellows on the barrel lock-ons until they "let go". and almost 200 arrests in a rather small town, with a lots of minors in jail was just a stupid move....but that was 1998. now the motorway is build, everything runs as planned.