Rave new world: Britain's first cyberfestival imploded on the London club scene, less a night of virtual reality than virtual disaster. Sarah Lewis takes a trip

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The maiden voyage of Cyberseed, hyped as 'Britain's first cyberfestival', did not so much blast off as implode. Amid out-of-this-world claims by the organisers of a unique, futuristic schlep into virtual reality, the event, at The Fridge in Brixton, London, was less than thrilling - the terrestial equivalent of an abortive trip into space.

The event was described by one devotee as 'the nightmare of the future turned into entertainment', while Brian Davis, the self-styled 'Producer / Director', promised a night of 'mind- blasting cyberdelic bliss'. Nevertheless, the prevailing atmosphere was one of edginess and menace. A hint that things weren't going according to plan came when a gigantic bank of technical equipment went on the blink. After much probing and pressing of buttons a nasal South London voice emerged with a whining plea for a 13-amp fuse.

A swift surge of electricity wouldn't have done the punters much harm either. A weary collection of punks, waifs, skinheads and glam rockers, they were hardly infused with the techno vibe. After some aimless milling around the dancefloor, many holed up in the cafe, in search of a quick caffeine rush to keep themselves awake.

Talk about all dressed up and nowhere to go. Cyber schmutter, as translated into cheapo clubland combos, consists of shaven heads and black shredded punk garb cross-pollinated with accessories from the Gary Glitter school of haute couture. The few middle-aged enthusiasts with bald heads and paunches looked less like evacuees from Blade Runner than in need of a cup of tea and a rest.

Like the fashion, the music owed more to the past than the future. Blasts of Jean Michel Jarre were mixed with techno metal and assorted New Age blips and bleeps. The dancefloor, however, remained largely deserted save for a gaggle of hardcore Cyber punkettes head- banging around their handbags.

Away from the dancefloor, there was a vast array of alternative entertainment in the shape of fashion shows and cult films. For the more technically minded, there was plenty of techno wizardry (brain machines etc.) to dabble with in the 'Cyber Zones'. If the dancefloor was the clubland equivalent of behind the bicycle sheds, then this was the hang-out of the fifth-form science boffins. 'They'd be trainspotters if they weren't here,' remarked the coat-check man. It was enough to give a technophobe an anxiety attack.

Unfortunately, the unnerving motif of Brave New World and violent images were never far away, emerging during the fashion shows where the designs ranged from the fun and fetishistic to the unacceptable in the form of rapists' masks.

Brian Davis's vision of the Cyber phenomenon is one of beauty and harmony. But for that night at least he had created a monster. 'There was a negative atmosphere,' he says. 'It's hard to isolate exactly what happened. There was a predominance of boyztown / combat bands which could have contributed to it, plus some of the designers' stuff included violent images. I'm going to ensure that this doesn't happen in future venues.'

From the beginning of next year, Davis plans to hold Cyberseed both as a regular monthly club spot and as a roadshow in locations around the UK and Europe. Space cadets, beware.

For information about future Cyberseeds, contact Brian Davis (081-444 9600)

(Photographs omitted)

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