This weekend, an army of UK-based Insane Clown Posse fans descended on sunny Southport for the seventh incarnation of the unofficial British juggalo festival, the UK Juggalo Weekender.
Unlike its infamous US counterpart, the Gathering of the Juggalos, the Weekender doesn't get a huge amount of attention. For a start, ICP don't actually play there (although you can catch them in London this November if you're so inclined – whoop whoop). It's also a lot smaller, typically attracting a small hardcore of around 100 fans, rather than the festival-sized crowds you find in the States. Oh, and it takes place at a humble Pontins holiday camp, rather than in the great American outdoors.
But what the UK Gathering lacks in size, it makes up for in gusto. Because if there's one thing that juggalos know (and it certainly isn't how magnets work), it's how to throw a party. Fans come adorned with Hatchet-man tattoos, baggy hoodies, wallet chains and ICP clown make-up, sometimes applied with actual spray paint. There are makeshift sound systems pumping out all your favourite horrorcore, and at the UK Gathering they even import crates of Faygo – the American equivalent of Panda Pops, which functions as a sort of communion wine for ICP fans.
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This year, just under 70 juggalos arrived at Pontins in Southport on Friday afternoon, fully down to clown with the rest of their juggalo fam. However, when the group went to pick up the keys for the 11 chalets they had booked, they realised that something was up.
"Rather than putting us all together, like in previous years, they split us up so we were dotted in little sets around the campsite," says Josh Steadman, a Nuneaton-based juggalo who works as a reptile handler. "In previous years we had complaints with noise, but we always made sure it was contained, taking the party inside after 9PM and that. Sometimes, we even had other guests come and join in the party."
So far, so sensible – but at around 3AM on Saturday morning things took a turn for the worse, when Pontins management made the sudden decision to expel the drunken juggalos from the camp site. According to Josh and various juggalo Facebook posts, they dispatched a troop of security guards, presumably with the intention of politely asking the group to leave.
What happened next is unclear. Josh admits there was a small scuffle between the juggalos and security, but maintains that Pontins' finest are to blame for what followed.
"When the security came, they were just pure violent," says Josh.
In a series of angry Facebook posts, the juggalos have accused Pontins security of heavy-handed tactics and "roughing up" party-goers. One female juggalo says security turned a blind eye when she was punched in the face by a male holidaymaker.
Pontins have not replied to repeated requests for comment.
It was around this time that the juggalos called the cops – not that it helped all that much. In a Facebook post, one attendee claims that Merseyside Police completely blanked the juggalos, instead choosing to side with the security guards and facilitate the eviction.
Having already been branded a criminal gang by the FBI, it was a new low for relations between law enforcement and the juggalo community.
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