A Darker Electricity

An army of insomniac, cyberpunk, DJs – bent on reclaiming the land and eco-revolution? A techno-pagan cult? Demons of chaos? Or just a bunch of rag-tag-chancers with big boots and bass bins? Whatever the perception, Spiral Tribe started out as a group of family and friends who felt that the constraints imposed on our community by the consumer-economy cartels (and their mates in government) were (and still are) stifling freedom of expression and stunting creativity.

At that time, the budding electronic dance music scene was energising everyone with a new optimism. Underground parties, pirate radio stations and the music produced in people’s bedrooms was far better than anything the establishment or corporate world could come up with. Pirate-style, originality and imagination, challenged the old, exploitative status quo.

In 1992, myself and others, were arrested and charged with organising the 50,000 strong, Castlemorton Common festival. The evidence against me was based on articles I’d written about the sound system. We may have freedom of speech – but, as I found out, what we say may be used to then take that freedom away!

As the founding member of the Spiral collective, I’d like to get our story down before it’s lost. There are many ways I could approach the project. From a dry, factual, analytical list of events to a deep wallowing in honeyed nostalgia. Or, as I’ve decided to do in A Darker Electricity, a creative re-enactment of the narrative threads that lead to us stuffing a massive sound system into a truck and heading out into the unknown – never to return…

On the following pages I’ve included a few snippets from the story so far. Check them out – your comments are very much appreciated.

I’m currently interviewing people who were there at the time. Get in touch if you like.

straydotwaywardatgmaildotcom (substitute . and @ where necessary)

25 responses

11 06 2011

‘An army of insomniac, cyberpunk, DJs bent on reclaiming the land and eco-revolution? A techno-pagan cult? Demons of chaos? Or just a bunch of rag-tag-chancers with big boots and bass bins?’

From what shreds of lucidity my memory has left – it was all of the above no?

12 06 2011

spiral parties especially twyford down brought together city kids(like me at the time) with new age travellers….as a result many more people started to live on the road…this is what CJB was about..travelling people are harder to control

13 06 2011

Yes, a very interesting point – the traveller is moving in a space outside of authoritarian society – you’re right, the authorities want control of everyone (and everything!) They may try to diplomatically give the impression of tolerance of other existing cultures (or not!), but in my experience they will not even pretend to tolerate new cultures that move into areas outside of their control. And by areas I mean geographical, psychological and philosophical.

13 06 2011

I am not sure you can imagine how anticipated this book is….. you have been deep underground for a while now, but I can assure you that there is an enormous amount of people that have been touched by this time in our lives that want to read what you have to say. You will also have to find some very good translators, because this is an important story for the whole of Europe….. and the rest of the world.

13 06 2011

Thanks for that. Yeah, translation is going to be an interesting challenge… Any recommendations greatly appreciated!

13 06 2011

Great snippets… really looking forward to the finished copy. If you are going to translate the book into Czech then I can help you with that as I’ve been based here for a long time now and know just the person for the job… who also went to many of the parties back then.

7 11 2011

reine (could) translate English –> French…..see u in z area!.

13 06 2011

Cheers Al, appreciated! Yeah I’m keen to follow up all possibilities. Perhaps you’d email me more details?

16 06 2011

… got my spiral tribe conect, in the early 90´ ees, in vienna. iwas i was fascinated of the massive sound power, the unknown music styles and all the very friendly members. u inspirated us to organize parties on our own, for years. me and my friends joined the free tekkno movement and had great times and instructive journeys. u changed my way of thinking and living. thank u

17 06 2011

Thanks for your comments – great to know the Spiral sound inspired so much – I’m sure your parties, in turn, inspired many others too!

24 06 2011

didn’t make castlemorton, but from early 92 onwards was totally spiraled by the spirit you as a crew embodied, it inspired me in the 2000’s… I still reflect on those times as an active part of my creative upbringing. can’t wait for the book.

13 07 2011

Hiya – used to set up the Torpedo Town free festy’s – where i saw some of the first cross-fertilisation of cultures! Be great to chat – gimme a shout!
Look forward to the book!


13 07 2011

Can’t wait for the read! If you want any help for translation to french. Y’a pas de pb!

2 09 2011
Ian Rushton

Hi Mark,
Great work, I look forward to reading more and learning about the whole story!!

10 09 2011

You don’t remember? You weren’t there?

25 09 2011

Many thx !!! Never ending !!!

6 10 2011
Fred Bton

Excellent. That should finally put some ends to so many stories told or written by peoples who seem to need their claim to fame. nice one Invisible SP.

21 10 2011
Crazy Horse

Indeed Monsieur !

10 10 2011

hi mark,

i just want to ask, if your book is already alviable and where to get

greetings from vienna, arnold 🙂

10 10 2011
Stray Wayward

Hi Arnold – thanks for your interest. I hope to have the book finished next year. Not sure on the exact date of publication but will let you know…

7 11 2011

Hi Stray Wayward Mark.
I have to give my support too ! for giving to people (again) and to real future the-your-our experience of the autonomy zone.
I write it somewhere here, I have to still learning english but there is some good lessons.

14 11 2011
Marc Kushin / Ely Muff


I’m currently writing my BA dissertation on ‘the geography of ideological expectations’ (resistance through mobility etc) using the free party and travelling movement as my case study so will be keeping tabs on your writing. Good luck!!!

Have you looked at any books by Tim Cresswell? Recommended if you’re going on an academic tip. Check:

In Place/Out of Place:Geography, Ideology and Transgression


On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World

Big ups and Good luck!!!


12 03 2012

hi mark
1st let me say that i think this book will be very welcome to all that was there or who is doing what the tribe did back then, today, and as this is coming from a trusted source then i think it is double important to get it right.
on your home page you write

“The history I learnt from books at school was mostly about power and control. The history of rulers: their victories, their champions, their empires.”

in the case of this history i would think that it would be fair to say that the spirals would be considered as one of the leading forces/ rulers/ champions, amoungst others.

my query is. will the details in this book be all factual from your own memories or will you be seeking knowledge / stories from others (inside / outside) of spiral tribe to corroborate your own memories.

maybe in your blog you could post some of your more vague memories / accounts and maybe others can help you to remember what happened from their view..
i just think that this book will be looked at in the future as a reference tool and having the facts as right as possible can only be a good thing..

i am greatly awaiting having this book in my hands and having a good read / flashback.

good on you mark


12 03 2012
Stray Wayward

Thanks for your comments Dave. Yes a good point. I’m interviewing many of the people that were there as well as using my own recollections and notes written at the time. Non fiction can be a dry style but I hope my approach – an accurate re-enactment, told as a non-fiction narrative – will allow my readers to relive what I, and others, actually experienced. Not just a calendar of events, more than just a history – a living, breathing, walking, talking account.

1 11 2012

Great turn of phrase. Looking forward to reading the book.

Proud to say I was there. 92 moved to Leiden with a suitcase and dream, 95 I left Montpellier in a van with Seb and Simon well and truly spiralled. Meet the guys at the PTT. A couple of weeks after I left I’m hitching a lift to Berlin Knocking at Edge’s caravan door looking somewhere to dump my sleeping bag. Three days later I collected it on the way home. This is story that needs to be told … if only for my mates Alien Karl, Curley and all the crew that aren’t around today. SP23 and the tribe were about the music. The likes of Karl and myself were the groupies. The good uns I hope. The ones that would stalk for venues, build up the vibe, bring the crowd and then hope that Seb, Simon, Ixy or any of the crew would show. When they did it was pure magic, because the music the vibe…,,,, thats what I hope the book captures.

If you want I can tell a few stories. About the squats, the lifestyle, what it meant and why it’s still important and why it must be recorded.

Me I’ve two kids a wife, a house, a job and a computer. The last time I saw Simon and Seb I left their flat in Paris with a bag of clothes not realising I would see the tribe for two more decades. But once your spiralled it’s there for life

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