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French Teknival Crackdown Sparks Protests

Author: Jonty Adderley @ SKRUFF
Friday, June 1, 2001
New French laws making organisers of unlicensed raves liable to up to 3 years in prison prompted thousands of demonstrators to take to the streets last week, to protest for their right to party. Over 2,000 people attended a silent sit-in outside Paris Town Hall, while in Toulouse (Southern France) hundreds fought with police after cops tried to break up a demonstration in the town centre. The French authorities' crackdown followed huge publicity given to a 5 day long teknival held at Marigny in April, which attracted over 25,000 revellers.

France's free party scene first emerged in the early 90s when British travellers exiled from Britain by the Criminal Justice Act relocated to mainland Europe and took their sound systems with them. Throughout the last decade the free party scene continued to expand across Europe, with teknivals becoming annual events in places including Czech Republic, Holland and France. These days, the British presence has been overwhelmed by locals, though links with the old UK crews remain. The French movement's motto, the Guardian reported this week, is: "Do it yourself and make some fucking noise", a phrase first coined by Spiral Tribe in 1991 (the Spirals were themselves heavily vilified after being accused of organising Britain's most notorious rave at Castlemorton). However, unlike in Britain ten years ago, this time French intellectuals are supporting the right to rave.

"Raves are "jubilatory, primeval dance occasions; guerrilla operations that liberate a temporary zone of anarchy and then dissolve before they can be crushed by the state, only to reform elsewhere in time and space," French philosopher Hakim Bey said recently. Michel Maffesoli agreed, describing them as fulfilling an ancestral function."

The French authorities' assault on their free party scene comes as the country's dance production community appears to have over-reached itself, following disappointing albums from both Daft Punk and Air's soon-to-be-released 2nd album ('the sound of a band trying to lose their fanbase in 60 minutes'-The Guardian). "Even pretend Frenchies are giving up the game," they continued. "Reading's Jacques Lu Cont (of Les Rhythm Digitales ) changed his name back to Stuart Price and landed a tour slot with Madonna."
Jonty Adderley