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Bloc '16: A wonderful festival ruined by one of its founders

We had a great time. And then George Hull published a rant in The Spectator

  • Words: Patrick Hinton | Image: Jake Davis
  • 18 March 2016

It’s Thursday afternoon. I’ve just typed the final full stop on my glowing review of the last ever Bloc Weekender. I’ve missed my deadline by 24 hours and am way over the briefed word count, but I'm content with the fact that I’ve given the detailed account that this whirlwind, end-of-an-era festival deserved.

For it was full of thrills: Jane Fitz created a joyful, communal mood that set the tone for the whole event; The Egyptian Lover's beach party was a riot; Holly Herndon brought her stunning soundscapes and DJ Deeon delivered a ghetto house masterclass in the Butlins equivalent of a JD Wetherspoon. Then there was the people watching. Nina Kraviz got stuck into an arcade game while Kieran Hebden queued for fish and chips, all adding to the trippy holiday park experience.

But just as we’re preparing to publish the article on Friday morning, The Spectator drops an article written by Bloc. co-founder and organiser George Hull titled 'Dull hipsters in broad daylight – why I’m done with today’s dance music'.

The piece is astoundingly bitter, comprising sentences like “young people these days just don’t know how to rave. They are too safe and boring” and describes today's dance music scene as “a monstrous cabal of overpaid circuit DJs titillating a precious and unimaginative bunch of wimpy pseudo-hedonists at a carefully designed ‘safe space’.”

It's the first time I've ever had the warm afterglow of a great festival experience completely ruined by comments made by an organiser in the aftermath of an event. Reading back my pending review, the magic I attempted to describe now feels flat; I don’t want to praise the work of a man bearing such eye-roll inducing views.

This “things were better back in my day” worldview is a commonly trotted-out comment from cynical old blokes, to the extent that it’s basically become a slogan of the ‘disaffected veterans’. It may be true, I can’t counter from experience, but I know that many of the comments Hull makes in reference to today’s generation are light years out of touch, and downright dangerous.

Hull writes in The Spectator: "Perhaps the most depressing trend of all is the introduction of the ‘safe space’ policy. In a step borrowed from the earnest world of the university student union, the budding young promoter’s first task is to debate, draft and publish detailed rules to demonstrate that everyone at the party will be properly supported, represented and instructed. It’s the opposite of fun.

“Once, the rave was supposed to feel like a distinctly unsafe space, even if the danger was illusory. There were no rules — that’s why we enjoyed it.”

This is completely short sighted. For many people the danger of raves is never “illusory”. Listen to the marginalised voices telling you about the harassment they suffer in night clubs week in, week out and it's clear that not everyone has such a privileged experience of partying.

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