Tara Conlan: We didn't know back then that the era of big business was on its way

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The Independent Online

Castlemorton was the end of an era. We did not know it at the time, but as we danced through the night in the Worcestershire countryside in May 1992, the curtain was about to come down on the big free raves that had attracted not only travellers but university students like us.

Part of the attraction was the secrecy. It was in the days before widespread mobile phone usage so we had to listen to recorded messages or meet at service stations to find out where the raves were.

By 1992, the parties were getting bigger. One we went to at Lechlade in Gloucestershire had already made the papers for attracting 10,000 people.

Castlemorton was even bigger – word went round it was the biggest ever, to enormous cheers across the site – and there were more police than usual and attempts to block the roads. It was organised by Spiral Tribe who had put on lots of other free raves, though often a bucket went round for donations.

Castlemorton felt different though. It was bigger and there were signs of the pull between the camp that wanted to capitalise on rave music and those who harked back to the 1970s and wanted to keep commercialisation out.

In the end, some members of Spiral Tribe were arrested. Raves moved into clubs and into the mainstream, and the movement became a multimillion-pound industry.