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international news _ 17th January, 2007

Ravers Banned From King’s Forest

Text by Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)

Five revellers who hosted an outdoor party in woodland near Elveden, Suffolk have been banned from entering Thetford Forest for a year, after pleading guilty to ‘carrying on an unauthorised licensable activity’ in Bury St Edmunds magistrates' court.

The five young men (aged between 17 and 26) admitted hosting a rave in Thetford Forest (also known as the King’s Forest) last year, and were also banned from attending any other unlicensed music events for 12 months,

“This is extreme thoughtlessness,” district judge David Cooper said on passing sentence, “It causes sheer misery to a large number of people who live in dread of just these sorts of events, which ruins their peace of mind) and tranquil lives.” (Norfolk news website EDP24

The Judge’s contempt for raves reflected the analysis of acclaimed US author Barbara Ehrenreich, who appeared on US radio station NPR.org this week chatting about her new book 'Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy.’

The radio station described the book as ‘a history lesson on why humanity engages in large, ceremonial celebrations and why the upper classes have tried — and often still try — to suppress it (collective ecstasy)” encapsulating neatly rave’s continuing outlaw status.

“When the phenomenon of collective ecstasy entered the colonialist European mind, it was stained with feelings of hostility, contempt, and fear. Group ecstasy was something "others" experienced — savages or lower-class Europeans,” Ms Ehrenreich explained in a detailed analysis of traditional partying.

“The essence of the Western mind, and particularly the Western male, upper-class mind, was its ability to resist the contagious rhythm of the drums, to wall itself up in a fortress of ego and rationality against the seductive wildness of the world,” she said.

“In fact, the capacity for abandonment, for self-loss in the rhythms and emotions of the group, was a defining feature of ‘savagery’ or otherness generally, signalling some fatal weakness of mind.”

The lower order roots of revelling were also addressed in the Guardian this week, in a feature examining modern binge drinking which quoted Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky’s recollections of witnessing Londoners partying on Saturday nights 150 years ago.

“They stuff themselves and drink like animals ... They all race against time to drink themselves insensate. The wives do not lag behind their husbands but get drunk with them; the children run and crawl among them,” he wrote.

“It is like a biblical picture, something out of Babylon, a prophecy from the Apocalypse coming to pass before your eyes."

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