For the last ten days, a pair of ravers have been squatting in a forest in Lincolnshire to protest against the police allegedly seizing all of their rave equipment. Gareth Davidson from the Homegrown Sounds crew, and his friend from Crank Sounds, claim that the cops confiscated thousands of pounds of equipment from them after a rave on the last May bank holiday weekend. They're refusing to move until they get it back, instead living in a shelter made out of rave-detritus, surviving off handouts from the party community and washing in a nearby service station.
They're pretty much like the Brian Haw of rave.
When the dust had finally settled on the 2015 edition of UK Tek, 43 party-goers had been arrested and 21 cops had been injured. The rave turned into a riot when police showed up to shut it down. Videos show hundreds of heads squaring up to cops in full riot gear, throwing missiles and shouting, "Oi, fucking oiiii!" at them.
When everyone else had gone home, Gareth and his mate, who's from Wales, were stranded – the police had taken their equipment and van. Gareth has been posting videos and pictures on Facebook. These show how the pair have made themselves a makeshift camp using tarpaulins complete with a fire and beds. It's a bit like The Island with Bear Grylls , except they've been getting deliveries of weed and Burger King instead of heatstroke and severe dehydration.
"We're not going nowhere 'til we get our van and our rig back. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you," says Gareth in one video.
"It's been over a week now. We're still up here, we're still strong, we're still loving it, we're still smiling and we want our fucking rig back – Homegrown and Crank," says Gareth in another. There used to be another friend with them, but he had to leave – "Roughneck went home, 'cos he's a jibber," explains Gareth.
I called Gareth to ask about the police's actions, whether they were having it large under the tarpaulin in the forest and why Roughneck is a jibber.
VICE: Hi Gareth. How did this start?
Gareth: Well, we were hired out by a group of DJs on Facebook to come up to this event last weekend. We couldn't get into the main site where everything else was being set up, so we set up in the farmer's field near to the woods and then the police came up on the Sunday afternoon and they as good as stole the generators and the van. They haven't left us with any paper work or documentation. They just took it off us with brute force and came back early on the Monday morning, took the sound system off us and pushed us all out onto the road.
There was about 20 of us camping around the fire, and they came up and gave us orders to leave the area in ten minutes. There were three of us from west Wales and they kicked us offsite with nothing, just the clothes we had on. So we doubled back on them and then came back and pitched up camp, and we're just going to wait around until they release our stuff.
A video showing the confrontations with the police at UK Tek
Are you refusing to leave in protest, or is it that you can't go anywhere because you don't have your stuff?
It's both. The police left us with nothing, and there's nothing else we could have done to get back to Wales. We've had to fend for ourselves in the woods, and that is the truth of the matter.
What's it been like?
To be honest, mate, we've made the best of a bad situation. We're from villages anyway – we do this for fun. It's a nasty situation to be left in if you're not prepared. If you haven't got the right spirit, you couldn't handle it. One of us had to go home because he has a job that he needs to go to.
So there are two of you left now?
Yeah, there are two of us left.
One of the videos you posted shows a few people staying in your camp. Who are they?
That's our friends from Lincoln. It was a friend's birthday so they camped out and joined us.
What are you doing to keep yourself entertained?
Collecting wood, going up to the services to get charge on my phone and get a wash in. The party people have been so helpful by getting us food every few days. Everyone's chipping in and really supporting us, to be honest.
So that's how you're surviving? With the help of the rave community?
Yeah, and we've kept the fire going for the last nine days, 24/7. We've got loads of tents and tarpaulins from the party site. We've got a tidy little camp up here. We're pretty safe, to be honest. But that isn't the point at all. The point is: we've been left stranded.
Do you know what the value of the stuff they took was?
Between me and the group from Stroud, there were two sound systems, so I would have said probably close to 20 grand's worth of kit. But the equipment isn't the important bit – it's the hire stuff. [I took] contracts out from hire companies for generators and vans, and my faith to them was to look after their equipment. Now it's all been stolen off me and I'm here standing my ground, waiting to get it back. I can't afford to pay all the excess on it. This is my way to show some effort, because thousands of people have left. I can't afford to do that. I have to wait for my equipment.
Whose land are you on now?
I couldn't tell you, to be honest. We're on the outskirts of some woods.
Feasibly, how long can you stay there for?
I've explained to my boss and he's understanding, so we're both good to stay until we get the stuff back.
What do you do for work?
I'm a landscape gardener by trade.
Okay. Maybe you could start another rave on the weekend as some kind of protest?
Possibly, but that might give our area away and the owners will kick us offsite.
So the owners don't know where you are?
No, we're deep in the woods away from the party site, and any communications with people are outside via phone.
And is that the same with the police?
Right. How are you going to convince the police to give your stuff back if you're not communicating with them and they don't know where you are?
My solicitor's in communication with them, and some people have been told to collect their sound system today, but they're from Stroud and they all have to work so they've missed the opening times for the compound. But as soon as they collect their stuff they're going to drop me the word and then I'll meet my driver to come back from Wales, and hopefully we can collect the stuff. But they're charging £590 to release the vehicle, so I don't know how we're going to pull that one off. Hopefully the fact we're in the woods and the whole situation might help us out a bit.
Would this kind of thing ever dissuade you from raving in the future?
No, of course not. I don't do as many raves as I used to, but we wanted to attend this one as it was going to be one of the biggest of the year in the UK. It was supposed to be a special occasion and [the police] ruined it. They created the violence. We're fun-loving people, we didn't want to create violence or have to fight with them. They didn't give us an opportunity. But I'm glad you heard our side of the story.
Okay. Cheers, Gareth.
VICE have reached out to Lincolnshire police for comment.
More raving on VICE: