Spiral Tribe, also known as SP23, are a musical and arts collective and free party sound system that organised parties, festivals and raves in the UK and Europe in the 1990s. They were involved in the Castlemorton Common Festival.
|Genres||Free tekno, breakbeat hardcore|
|Labels||Network 23, Big Life Records, Rabbit City, Force Inc, LabWorks|
Between 1990 and 1992, Spiral Tribe organised or were involved in excess of 30 free parties, raves, and festivals in indoor and outdoor locations in the UK. From then on, the group travelled across Europe and had a huge influence on the emerging free tekno scene.
In May 1992, the free party circuit moved up a gear and attendances increased heavily. At the beginning of the month, Spiral Tribe joined DiY Sound System and Circus Warp at Lechlade, Gloucestershire. This would reach its peak by the end of May with what would become the most well known and largest party the group had involvement in, and also its most controversial.
The Castlemorton Common Festival would turn out to be an unintended consequence of Police preventing travellers heading for the annual Avon Free Festival. Thirteen members of Spiral Tribe were arrested immediately after the Castlemorton event and subsequently charged with public order offences. Their trial became one of the longest-running and most expensive cases in British legal history, lasting four months and costing the UK £4 million. Spiral Tribe first use the slogan "Make some fucking noise" on t-shirts which they wore in the court room. The judge ordered them to remove these garments. However, when the female defendants revealed that they wore nothing underneath their T-shirts, the judge reversed his instructions, something quite rare in UK courts. Regarding Castlemorton, Nigel South states that "the adverse publicity attending the event laid the groundwork for the Criminal Justice Act 1994". Low and Barnett opine in Spaces of Democracy that "Spiral Tribe, with their free and inclusive parties, succeeded in constituting an alternative public space, rather than just a secret one.".
After being acquitted of all charges relating to Castlemorton in March 1993, the group moved to Europe shortly after, doing parties in cities such as Rotterdam, Paris, and Berlin. Over the next few years, the collective organised parties and teknivals throughout Europe, then it slowly dispersed with some members taking up residence in Germany and the Netherlands and releasing work on Labworks and many other techno labels. Individual members of the collective joined other sound systems, did squat art events or pursued other interests.
Spiral Tribe also toured the United States towards the late 1990s.
The number 23, which is ubiquitously associated with Spiral Tribe, was introduced by Mark Harrison. Despite allusions to the number having been used by Psychic TV and Robert Anton Wilson, Harrison has stated that it "had nothing to do with any pre-existing individual, group or subculture".
Between 1990 and 1992, UK parties included:
- October 1990 - titled Detension, the Old School House, NW London - Mark and Debbie designed flyers and backdrops for Stika's party.
- February/March 1991 - Squat Parties, N London - Whole house decorated by Debbie.
- 21 April 1991 - Former Job Centre, Wimbledon, SW London- Spring Equinox party.
- May 1991 - Labour Party Social Club, Camberwell, SE London.
- 15 June 1991 - Cable Street, Wapping, E London - Took place in the loading bay of a large warehouse about 5 floors high and open to the sky.
- 20–25 June 1991 - Longstock, Wiltshire.
- 6–7 July 1991 - Mirage, Devils Punch Bowl, Winchester, Hants - Free party all weekend long; no problems from the police.
- 26–29 July 1991 - Happy Daze Free Festival, Bala, Wales.
- 9–12 August 1991 - Torpedo Town, Liphook, Hampshire.
- August 1991 - Chelmsford - Original site in an open mine (natural auditorium) was raided by police while setting up. Thousands of ravers waited patiently for hours until a new site was found; permission was given for use of a field on private land. In the morning spiral tribe members and friends all were arrested and locked up for 23 hours for a charge of suspected theft of a stolen generator from the Chelmsford festival.
- August 1991 - Horton-cum-Studley, Oxford - 2 day long party (on the way back from Chelmsford)
- August 1991 - Cissbury Ring festival, Sussex - Held at a picnic site near to Arundel Castle. Spiral tribe set up the decks on the back of a car transporter trailer unit.
- 30–31 August 1991 - The White Goddess Festival, Bodmin Moor, Camelford, Cornwall - Combined their sound system with Circus Normal (to achieve a sound system of over 25,000 watts RMS) receiving complaints from over 14 miles away. Despite police pressure they partied on until all of the partygoers went home. The event was attended along with a number of other sound systems including Circus Warp and DIY.
- September 1991 - The Arches, Deptford, SE London.
- October 1991 - The Green House Part, NW London.
- October 1991 - The Village Idiots Festival, Kent.
- November 1991 - Lewisham Library, SE London.
- November 1991 - Staravia Factory, Ascot, Berks.
- December 1991 - Brewery Road, N London.
- 31 December 1991 – 5 January 1992 - The Roundhouse, Camden, N London - The power was stolen from a light socket owned by British Rail at the back of the building and the system went off at 6:30 in the morning when they turned the lights off. An alternative power source was found. Continued for one week.
- January 1992 - Blackwall tunnel, London - Held in conjunction with Circus Normal.
- February 1992 - York Road, King's Cross, London.
- February 1992 - Numbers Farm, Kings Langley, Herts - The old ovaltine Dairy farm.
- March 1992 - Tubney Woods, Abingdon, Oxford - In conjunction with Bedlam Sound System.
- March 1992 - Swindon.
- 19 April 1992 - Acton Lane, W London - Ended up in a major stand-off with police.
- 26 April 1992 - Chobham Common, Surrey.
- 2–4 May 1992 - Lechlade, Gloucestershire - 25,000 people.
- 9 May 1992 - Selsey Common, Stroud, Gloucestershire.
- 16 May 1992 - Black Mountains, Rhayader, Wales - In conjunction with Bedlam Sound System,
- 22–29 May 1992 - Castlemorton Common Festival, Malvern, Worcestershire - The largest free party/festival to have been staged in the UK with Bedlam Sound System, Circus Warp, Circus Normal, DiY Sound System, Adrenalin.
- 4 June 1992 - Canada Square/Canary Wharf, London - About 1,000 people managed to dance for a little over an hour before 300 police sealed off roads and moved in to make arrests.
- 20 June 1992 - Isle of Dogs, London. 20 June 1992 - With Ruff Crew, Dog Posse. Possibly broke up by the police.
- 26–28 June 1992 - Smeatharpe Airfield, Devon - In conjunction with Bedlam Sound System, Circus Warp, Circus Normal, DiY Sound System.
- 7–10 August 1992 - Torpedo Town, Romsey, Hampshire.
- 21–23 August 1992 - Cissbury Ring Festival, Sussex - The police allowed the party to go on over three different sites. The system was supplied by Big Life; it also got split up, and at the end of the parties it was misplaced by a number of different tribe members, to resurface in Europe and around London.
- August 31, 1992 - Notting Hill, W London - With Lunarci, Earth Leakage Trip and Xenophobia.
- 31 December 1992 – 1 January 1993- Uxbridge, W London.
- 23 January 1993 - Brent Cross, NW London.
- 10 April 1993 - Uxbridge, W London.
Parties across Europe included:
- October/November 1992 - Hellfire (Montpelier Hill), Dublin, Ireland.
- 1 May 1993 - Montpellier, France.
- 19 June 1993 - Paris, France.
- 26 June 1993 - Berlin, Germany.
- 31 December 1993 - Berlin, Germany - 'Blast Off' at the Tacheles squat.
- 28 July 1994 - Hostomice, Czech Republic. 28 July 1994 - First year of Free festival, later known as CzechTek.
- 27 August 1994 - Vienna, Austria.
- 31 December 1994 - Vienna, Austria.
- 4–6 March 1995 - Vienna, Austria.
- 26 July 1995 - Hostomice Teknival, Hostomice, Czech Republic.
- 31 December 1995 - Rome, Italy.
- 11 May 1996 - Milan, Italy.
- 26 July 1996 - Teknival, Hostomice, Czech Republic.
- 4 September 1996 - Vienna, Austria.
- 30 November 1996 - Prague, Czech Republic - At the Cibulka squat.
- 11 April 1998 - Vienna, Austria.
The three founding members of Spiral Tribe/SP23 are Mark Harrison, Debbie Griffith and Simone Feeney. As the notion of being a member of the collective has always been a largely informal one, it has regularly changed throughout time and place.
The current members of SP23 are: Mark (a.k.a. Stray Wayward), Debbie (a.k.a. Feenix13), Simone (a.k.a. Sim Simmer), Meltdown Mickey, Simon (a.k.a. Crystal Distortion), Sebastian (a.k.a. 69db), Ixindamix, Jeff 23, Max Volume and Charlie Kane.
SP23 (2011 reforming)Edit
In 2011, several of the original members of Spiral Tribe reformed as 'SP23', a creative collective involved in a number of grassroots and community projects as well as still hosting legal parties. A return party was held in London's Shoreditch in April 2013 at the Village Underground club. Since then, SP23 have hosted nights in London, Rotterdam, Berlin, Paris, Bristol and Milan amongst many others.
In 1992, some members of the collective signed to the major label Big Life Records, as a result of the publicity generated from their involvement in the organisation of the Castlemorton Common Festival. Three EPs were released with them enjoying short crossover success with Forward the Revolution and Breach the Peace, an album Tekno Terra, as well as a compilation.
Members of Spiral Tribe also released records on their own label Network 23, as well as Rabbit City, Music Inc, and LabWorks.
In 1997, Techno Import, a French commercial distributor, compiled a CD entitled Spiral Tribe: The Sound of Teknival. The CD consisted of previously licensed material via Big Life, Rabbit City, and Force Inc. It was released without any consent from members of Spiral Tribe, was advertised on television and sold at least 30,000 copies. Spiral Tribe issued a statement against its release which began, "F**k Techno Import, Spiral Tribe Is Not for Sale", and had to take quick action to ensure the name Spiral Tribe was not copyrighted by Techno Import.
- Tecno Terra (Big Life Records, 1993)
- Spiral Tribe Sound System (The Album) (Big Life, 1993)
- U Make Me Feel So Good (self-released, 1992)
- Spiral Tribe EP (a.k.a. Breach the Peace) (Big Life, 1992)
- Spiral Tribe EP 2 (a.k.a. Forward the Revolution) (Big Life, 1992)
- SP 23 (Rabbit City, 1992)
- Sirius 23 (Big Life, 1993)
- Verdict Not Guilty EP (a.k.a. Black Plastik) (self-released, 1992)
- Don't Take the Piss (Network 23, 1994)
- Definitely Taking Drugs (Network 23, 1994)
- Expekt the Unxpekted (Network 23, 1994)
- This Is Trance (Force Inc, 1994)
- Panasonic (Network 23, 1994)
- Probably Taking Drugs (Network 23, 1994)
- LSP 23 (Network 23, 1994)
- Spiral Tribe 1 (Network 23, 1994)
- Spiral Tribe 2 (Network 23, 1994)
- Spiral Tribe 3 (Network 23, 1994)
- Spiral Tribe 4 (Network 23, 1995)
- Spiral Tribe 5 (Network 23, 1995)
- Power House (Network 23, 1995)
- Power House 02 (Network 23, 1995)
- Full Fill Fromage (Network 23, 1996)
- Strange Breaks (Network 23, 1996)
- Fac'em If They Can't Take a Joke (Facom Unit, 1997)
- Killing Joke - "Change" (Spiral Tribe mixes) (Virgin, 1992)
- "About - sp23infoblip". Sp23.org. Archived from the original on 3 May 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
- Tim Guest (11 July 2009). "Fight for the right to party". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 20 September 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
- Shaw, William. "Earthcore: The Chaotic Rise of Spiral Tribe". Select Magazine: August 1992. pp. 24–30.
- Leanne Griffin. "It was like something out of Mad Max: Spiral Tribe's Week Long Rave". Roundhouse 50. Archived from the original on 29 September 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
- "2nd May 1992: Circus Warp, Spirals etc. at Lechlade festival, Gloucestershire". Freepartypeople.wordpress.com. 13 May 2011. Archived from the original on 3 June 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
- Reynolds S, 1998, Energy Flash, Picador, ISBN 0-5712-8914-2
- "22nd-29th May 1992: Spiral Tribe, Bedlam, Techno Travellers, Circus Warp, Circus Normal, Adrenalin DiY, and LSdiezel at Castlemorton Common Free Festival, Worcestershire". Freepartypeople.wordpress.com. 5 October 2012. Archived from the original on 3 June 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
- Brewster B. & Broughton F., 1999, Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey, Grove Press, ISBN 0-8021-3688-5
- Skeet, Jason. "<makesomefuckingnoise>". www.academia.edu. Academia. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
- ed. South N., 1999, Drugs: Cultures, Controls and Everyday Life, SAGE Publications, ISBN 0-7619-5235-7
- ed. Low M. and Barnett C., 2004, Spaces of Democracy: Geographical Perspectives on Citizenship, Participation and Representation, SAGE Publications, ISBN 0-7619-4734-5
- "Uncivilized World - World Traveller Adventures". uncivilizedworld.com. Archived from the original on 26 November 2005. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
- "Spiral Tribe Interview". Datacide. 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 2 May 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
- Collin, Matthew (2009). Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House. Profile Books. p. 214. ISBN 9781846687136. Archived from the original on 2 July 2019. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
- "Crew - sp23infoblip". Sp23.org. Archived from the original on 18 March 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
- Dan Prince. "SP23". DMC World Magazine.
- "SP23 (formerly Spiral Tribe) back in London". History Is Made at Night. 30 March 2013.
- "Events - sp23infoblip". Sp23.org. Retrieved 13 August 2017.