ARTS / Outside Edge: James Bloom on the new sound of political protest
Friday 14 October 1994
The walls of the Hacienda night-club in Manchester were covered with photographs of grey-faced policemen and angry yokels beating and harassing New Age travellers. Similar videos and film loops were projected on to giant puppets which walked among the crowd fighting and dancing, acting out the roles of favourite members of parliament. Circus Warp's hypnotic 'techno' shook the floors and walls. Billy Bragg sat in the Gay Traitor chill-out room, twanging a British version of 'This land Is Our Land', and expanded on the problems of living within a 10-mile radius of Paul Weller. The crowd, (painted, many of them, with UV-sensitive spirals) cheered him on and off the stage.
At midnight, the dance floor was invaded by truncheon-wielding 'riot police' who turned off the music and announced that the event had been sanctioned in accordance with Clause 58 of the Criminal Justice Bill and that everyone was under arrest. Within two minutes a woman had jumped on the stage and thrown a policeman off, declaring that the party would go on - and it did.
The Velvet Revolution has been sponsored by Activ88, the youth arm of Charter 88, which believes that it can use raves to pull together apathetic students to put pressure on Government and media. It aims to mobilise a community alienated by conservative values but singularly unimpressed by the conventional party political alternatives.
Ashok Viswanathan, a 20-year-old Activ88 spokesperson, says: 'I'm really not interested in boring political conferences and fat old men insulting each other. I reckon that kids in general prefer lively interaction that's both fun and informative, and spaces where they can express themselves freely through dancing and stuff, so we're putting our message out in a way that kids can hear, through a medium that they can relate to.' On the surface, the Velvet Revolution is more art than activism, but it owes its existence to an unusual combination of realism and commitment.
Velvet Revolution, touring to mid-November
Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boymusic
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 3 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 4 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Gaza Banksy mural sold to 'conman' for just $175
Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
Top Gear live to go ahead: Jeremy Clarkson to join Richard Hammond and James May... just don't call it Top Gear
James May hints he will not continue on Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans