Charity begins in clubland

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Club culture promotes a very hedonistic lifestyle, and its followers are often accused of being self-centred and ignorant of "important" social issues. Yet, far from being apathetic, clubbers traditionally respond well to a wide range of charities, from HIV/Aids awareness to Cancer Research campaigns.

With this in mind, on Monday, Amnesty International begins a week-long series of events, "Right Vibes", intended to focus on worldwide human rights issues. Faithless, Santa Cruz, Headrillaz Sound System, DJ Punk- Roc (right), D'Influence, Stereo MCs and Dreem Teem are just some of the artists who have pledged their support to Amnesty's "Get Up Sign Up" campaign marking the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"Right Vibes" kicks off at the Mean Fiddler on Monday night, when Truce, Celetia and Structure Rize headline the night's performances. By Friday night, the Mean Fiddler will have hosted a further four events featuring the above DJs/sound systems, as well as live performances by Alisha's Attic, Olive, Tanita Tikaram, Matt "Jam" Lamont and Carl "Tuff Enuff" Brown.

"This is the first time that Amnesty have ever done something like this," says Amnesty spokesperson Susan Kobrin. "We'll be celebrating the 37th birthday of Amnesty International, and even though we're focusing on human rights across the world, it's going to be an incredible week of celebration.

"The Declaration of Human Rights is something that too few people seem to know about. We're trying to bring it out into the open so that everyone can understand the rights that they are born with."

From creative artists to DJs and clubbers, the medium of song allows people to express their emotions. Many musical tracks make pledges for love, tolerance and unity, but when a young Tibetan Buddhist nun, Ngawang Sangdrol, wrote and recorded freedom songs, she earned herself an 18-year jail sentence from the ruling Chinese government.

Ngawang Sangdrol's plight is one of many cases that Amnesty has highlighted over the last four decades. It is the charity's history of providing such support that has encouraged so many artists and DJs to give their time (free of charge) for human rights issues.

Alisha's Attic's motivation for performing is typical of the artists on show. "This is a unique opportunity to reclaim our rights, to learn what they are and to tell the world's governments that we know our rights and will keep on shouting until they listen and respect them."

These festivities may carry a serious message, but each event is worth checking out on the merits of its line-up. In addition to some of the best DJs, fire-eaters, jugglers and projections will make this a week to remember... and all proceeds go to Amnesty.

"If young people see Amnesty as a middle-aged movement stuck in the 1950s, then we want to show them that we can appeal to their generation," says Susan Kobrin. "If someone on the street thinks that the Dreem Teem are great, then they might consider why they're supporting Amnesty.

"We have so many success stories - people around the world who have been released and then write to Amnesty members saying that your letter improved my prison conditions. You can make a real difference in this world."

25-28 May: Mean Fiddler, 22-28A High Street, Harlesden, NW10, pounds 7 adv/pounds 8 on door.

29 May: The Forum, 9-17 Highgate Road, Kentish Town, NW5, pounds 12 in advance/pounds 15 on door.

Box office: 0171-344 0044

Info: 0181-963 0940 (both venues)