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We Spoke to the 19-Year-Old Behind Some Insane Parties in New Zealand

When Olly de Salis' parents went away for six months he started having parties, which somehow created an underground rave scene.
June 5, 2016, 12:00am

"I throw house partys". Photo by Nick Little.

This article originally appeared on VICE Australia/New Zealand

What happens when your parents leave their Wellington house to you and four mates for six months? Throw some parties, naturally. And what do you do when those parties outgrow the house? For Olly de Salis, 19, the answer was to set up 121, the outfit behind some of Wellington's most insane events.

When the messiest of those parties ended with fire trucks outside, big fines, a massive hole in the floor, pissed off landlords, and all the chaos caught on CCTV, the only option, really, was to collaborate with a mate to put together a zine, 21 Eviction, available at the Subject stand at Wellington Zinefest this weekend, documenting the process of being kicked out of the flat.

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VICE caught up with Olly to talk about shitty flats, wrangling with officialdom, and the very cool things happening in Wellington.

Olly's parties turned into house gigs. Photo by Toby Kepes.

VICE: Hi Olly, how did 121 get started?
Olly: 121 is the street address for my family home. Effectively my parents went on holiday so while they were travelling around Europe we started throwing big parties, and they turned into house gigs, and they turned into these mass multimedia art exhibitions. We got people painting murals on the walls and bringing in TV installations, and acts were performing on the kitchen bench. I saw the potential of it so I just took the name 121 from the street address and started doing events in official venues.

How did you parents take it?
When I was calling them the way I framed it was slightly more innocent than what was actually going on, but they were ok with it. They've always been pretty cool parents in the way that they're supportive, and they 1) realised they had no choice of whether it was going to happen or not and 2) I suppose they realised it's actually pretty cool. I think my dad is jealous he didn't do the same sort of stuff when he was a kid, to be honest. They definitely weren't happy, but when they came back they said it was a lot better than they expected. I'm still repainting the walls to this day.

How did it turn into something bigger than your average house party?
Basically I have a shit-ton of mates who are really good musicians and really talented artists and they didn't have anywhere to play, anywhere to do their art, and I was like, holy shit, I've got a massive house and it's perfect for a gig and we can probably paint on the walls . After doing this massive party, and there were like 300 people there, it meant 300 people saw these artists, 300 people listened to these musicians. It's just about getting artists who are up-and-coming some exposure. That's my biggest drive.

Photo by Marcus Seumanu

What's coming up?
The last event I did was an underground rave in an underground car park, maybe like 1200 people were there, just house and techno so I'm carrying on that theme with my next big event, and that's an office-block rave [August 6]. I've managed to source a location which is three storeys up in an office block and it's gonna be a mass multimedia art exhibition with house and techno.

What's been your craziest event?
It was at our flat warming [at 21 Marion St, after moving out of my parents']. There is this common area in the middle that looks like a boxing ring—there used to be organised fights, like illegal fights there—and they've since put in CCTV cameras. All the flats come off this boxing ring so when a party happens everyone just merges into the middle. A photographer who takes photos of all my events got egged on by his friends to jump from the second floor and he actually went straight through and made a big hole. No injuries, though, everyone was fine.

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We had a knock on our door on Sunday morning from our landlords, saying we've never seen as much damage as we have last night, I'm pretty sure you guys are gonna get kicked out . And then they were threatening to take us to the Tenancy Tribunal and they sent us all the CCTV footage and all the evidence and stuff like that.

A spread from Olly's zine showing the boxing ring. Photo by Subject.

What happened?
We ended up actually getting our bond back because the whole building is completely illegal, an old candle factory that was turned into a brothel which is now apartments, which is like one-percent earthquake proof. We were there for three weeks, had our flat warming, and were probably there for another four weeks. It wasn't long.

How did the zine come about?
We got all this CCTV footage and it was rare footage, it was so sick. I really wanted to do something with it. Roydon who runs Subject is a really good mate of mine, he's done heaps of visuals and art for my events. We had maybe like 100 pages of footage and photographs from the night so we thought putting a zine together would be cool.

Another zine spread. Photo by Subject.

And was it all worth it?
It actually was because 21 Marion was just the biggest piece of shit. In a massive warehouse they had just put up little box rooms and dodgy staircases and our front door didn't even lock. We just wanted to get out of that place.

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