Over the weekend around Nantes, the free party community held a series of festivities in reaction to the violent state repression of the scene. Friday commenced with a solidarity demo outside the central courthouse in Nantes. The demo was held in solidarity with a truck driver from a previous street party in memory of Steve, (a raver murdered by cops in Nantes). With symbolic lunacy, the court was accusing the driver of using a soundsystem as a weapon. The case made evident how much of a threat soundsystem culture is to state control. The driver was later found not guilty.
All through Friday, news was trickling through that emergency legal restrictions were being put in place all through the region exclusively for this weekend to put a stop to any kind of musical gathering. Groups of more than 6 people were made illegal, vehicles over 3 ½ tonnes carrying sound equipment banned and the sale of any off licence alcohol prohibited. As we entered the city we experienced this kind of hostile environment through heavy police presence. There were patrols searching and questioning any suspect vehicles.
The demo was followed by a moving street party in the evening accompanied by a portable sound system, instruments and an enthused crowd. The moving mass swept through the busy touristic area and attracted more to the procession. The central point held a sustained crowd, which was dispersed a few hours in, riot cops throwing tear gas and seizure of the trailer soundsystem. The riot cops continued to charge and fling tear gas grenades. In an area full of bars and restaurants, people unassocaited with the demo also had to flee for safety. People slowly disappated as the night went on, but the day’s events were not yet over as many headed straight to the party scheduled for the evening.
The conovy, hundreds long, left around half midnight with next to no police presence at the meeting point. After driving round multiple entry points, vehicles were efficiently escorted in to various parking fields. The gendarmerie were actually forced to help escort party goers on to the site due to the sheer numbers of vehicles so close to busy highways. The location was ideal, being so close to Nantes many people were cycling and taking public transport.
The party went strong over the weekend, with multiple crews coming together to build a heavy wall of sound. Despite the minimal police presence onsite, there was an attempted seizure. However, people power averted this as crowds managed to escort the police out. Around 2000 people attended and many remained on site in to Monday. The weekend sent out a clear message, our sound is stronger than their repression. There were frequent drones and low flying helicopters roaring over head but all drowned out by the thumping heart of the party. By Sunday, the police had gained controlled of the exits, searching some vehicles, testing drivers and asking for papers. On the whole though, it was fairly relaxed for party goers to vacate the area.
Despite state measures to prevent the weekend’s events, all were carried out confidently with mass attendence. Every act of defiance creates deeper cracks in their control. Free party for free people.