Global Street Party, 16 May 1998 - report


Hi there - here, just popped by the cafe on Glebe Point Rd that we staged the web connection from yesterday, to see if there's been any news from anywhere else yet... As you've probably seen the Party here went off like a dream, cops were almost totally chilled, despite a few attempts from some of the lower rank to assert their authority on people drinking in the streets and so on. No arrests, no hassles, smooth pack down, Council guys (with noise monitors!) were happy when we turned the volume down a bit (esp the bass on the hip-hop/reggae/dub stage!) and a fantastic, packed dance your tits off afterparty too!! So if the coppers try and bring the batons out on you, why not ask them why our pommie police Commissioner Peter Ryan doesn't see it necessary to do it over here?

Will send a more detailed rant soon

Party hard - B.

The vibe here has been sensational beyond words

Sydney Reclaim the Streets Rocks!

Sydney RTS III has gone off like we can scarcely believe, a resounding success that everyone (well, almost everyone) is describing as the best party ever! With rain periods forecast, and a steady downpour over most of the morning, a wash-out was definitely on the cards, but aside from a few sprinkles, the gods smiled and the moisture stayed in the clouds.

As the crowd gathered from 1pm in Belmore Park opposite Central station, entertainment was provided by a diverse crew of drummers, the Solidarity Choir and the amazing MC Joel Salom - speakers gave updates on the burning issues of the NSW Forests Campaign, Jabiluka Uranium Mine, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment and the global dimensions of the RTS movement - and the RTS Art Department festooned the crowd with a colorful array of banners, placards and assorted adornments.

More videocameras than you could shake a stick at, and commercial TV crews, swarmed around throughout the event. With a Web Cam and spotlights mounted on a bright yellow fire helmet, James the WebCam man circulated throughout the entire day feeding sound and images onto the hard drive of a laptop for regular uploads onto the net - check it out - there were over 1700 hits on the site within 24 hours of the party.

No authorities had been notified, but having experienced two RTS parties (and looked up the websites), the Police this time had some idea of what was likely to happen, and about ten turned up to greet us. Admitting that the tolerance displayed towards us on the previous occasions was mainly due to their unpreparedness, they said this time they were fully ready to move us if they weren't happy with our proposed location. Although it went unstated, it's a pretty sure bet the Tactical Response Group had their kit out of the closet, and were getting warmed up at the Surrey Hills Police Center. But having informed us that we were an "unlawful assembly" and liable to be arrested, Inspector Sutton said they were very keen to negotiate an acceptable location, and do everything they could to help the event proceed with no dramas.

Relieved that we didn't intend to block a major thoroughfare, the Police demanded to be informed of the site before we left. After taking this request back to the group, Police Liaison spilled the beans - Glebe Point Road! There was no real chance that they could object to this being closed, as more legitimate events are carried out there annually, but duty bound to inform his colleagues in the Glebe Local Area Command, the Inspector took our number and left the park to confer...

Some time later, with no word back from the Police, it was getting time to head off and folks just wanted to go - there was no stopping it. Frantic attempts to contact the Glebe Station continued as the crowd spilled out of the park onto Broadway, and about forty coppers appeared from waiting wagons to try and keep things 'in control'. A quick check with the leading car revealed that they weren't going to try and stop us, and the word went out on the radios to proceed.

Estimates of our numbers on the 2km march to the site range from 2000 to 4000, but suffice to say there were shitloads, by far the biggest RTS/climate/globalisation protest seen in Sydney. In a futile, misguided and potentially hazardous attempt to maintain some sense of self-worth and authority, the coppers tried to keep us to one of the three lanes, but gave up on this idea before too long, and the parade went on.

Surmounting a little organisational chaos, the Logistics Crew erected signage diverting traffic around the site, installed the Rock Stage, Central Techno Sound Tower and Hip-Hop/Reggae/Dub sound stages, strung up two huge sails across the street for shelter and visual effects, and the party began in earnest. Orange and Black bamboo tripods marked out each end of the reclaimed space, the massive main one reaching up to a height of at least 8 metres flying the Eureka Stockade flag.

Out spread the carpets and sofas in the lounge space, three chai stalls, food fundraiser, skateboard skate rail, a five terminal sidewalk Internet station, two sandstone sculptors, poets, fire twirlers, street gardeners, recycling and rubbish bins and loads of mayhem and frivolity.

With systems plugged in and power on, the glorious beats rang out across the site and the throngs milled and gyrated into the night in a wondrous celebratory protest. DJs Nick, Vic, Gemma, Majic, Zeitgeist, Ju Ju Space Jazz and Sub Bass Snarl starred at the smokin', flashin' Techno scaffold tower; Nick Toth, Yug Yug, Nasty Tech, DJ Blaze, MC Trey, Taro, Brethren and local Koori youth hip-hop duo 2 Indij grooved at the Hip-Hop/Reggae stage; and Killah International, Good Buddha, Quadbox, Tug Dumley, KZ5, Professor Itchy's Kitchen and Monster Monster Monster (from Tassie) and more rocked the Rock Stage, MCed by the incredible Joel. Fourplay, a stunning electric String Quartet left jaws hanging in the wind with their rendition of the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage".

"The English Judges have smiled upon you," said Peter, a visiting RTS devotee. "9.9's across the board, absolutely the best, most culturally diverse and interesting party I've ever seen!"

Council noise officers measured us at 94 decibels, and were happy as each stage was turned down a bit as the night advanced, and the generally the Police behaved themselves well, aside from a few tough nuts barking at people drinking openly in the street, in spite of the generous tolerance of their superiors. Apart from an exceedingly irate restaurateur who closed down and roamed around for over an hour and a half looking for something to hit (while other establishments enjoyed one of their best nights of the year), everything was cool, smooth and unfolded as envisioned. An ambulance passed through the emergency access lane through the site late in the piece, people melting quickly to the sides.

Clean-up and pack out to the street front storage space at the Youth Center proceeded from 9pm, the main stage shut down by 10:30, and everything was wrapped up just after our intended street closure time at 11:00, whereupon the hardcore party crew of around 300 rocked on at the Duke of Cornwall "Afterparty" until 4am. Long let the RTS spirit thrive and grow!

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