Eviction - The Party
Picture a block of flats, early 1900s style. It was two stories tall and had six units. It must have been grand in its heyday and was just 5 minutes away from Strathfield station, on Albert St, the entrance road to the main shopping square of the suburb. I had moved in six months earlier with a mate as the place had two bedrooms. Between when we inspected the place until when we moved in someone had broken in and had burnt their initials into the carpet. Most normal people would have advised the real estate, but being ravers and young, it was easier to take the path of least resistance and do nothing. To be honest, it was sort of good not having to worry about the bond as it was gone before we started.
Months came and went and the place turned into a party house, as it does when you are young and living in a share house. My mate who originally moved in had moved out and a raver girl we had just met moved in. Her friends were always coming round and a few more moved onto the enclosed balcony. They separated it with a cupboard, making it two rooms. Before long there were always people about coming and going. We were the Strathfield ravers!
There was a big construction site across the road, and I mean big. They went down 3 or 4 levels and up about 30 floors or so. It is now the Russian club. I remember one Sunday morning climbing down to the bottom of the half completed basement through scaffolding and going exploring. Some of the scaffolding ended up in our lounge room and ended up being where the decks were set up. We had a permanent ‘rave’ set up in the lounge room.
We did not have Technics 1200s at that stage and had bought some $30 belt driven turntables from Cash Convertors in Burwood. It was 1994 and there were still plenty of second hand ones around and we were able to get ones with adjustable pitch. We learnt to mix on these things, and I tell you, once you learn to mix on a belt driven system, the magnetic direct drive of Technics are a synch. We also were able to acquire a few ‘heads’ of other turntables when the styluses wore away or broke. An un suspecting shop clerk and
before they knew it, the entire head unit was in our pockets. Not that we were thieves mind you, but there was no other way to get the needles. We did not even have a mixer, we used the balance of the amp to fade between decks. One turntable in left and the other in the right. It was hard to cue in the next track, you would have to get real close to the speaker with your ear and turn it up just a tad so it could be heard, but not interfere with the next track.
Life was grand. No one ever had much money, but no one seemed to mind. There was always a rave to attend on a Saturday night as well as a ‘night’ somewhere on a Friday and a recovery on Sunday if we wanted, but usually there was a recovery at our place anyway, most times with over twenty drop ins.
That’s when we got the letter.
It was an eviction notice. Not from anything we had done wrong but because the place was being demolished and like the flat next door and across the road, it was to be made into high rises. We had my 21st in our unit 5 months earlier. We had the decks set up on scaffolding then as well and was a smashing affair called ‘Section 5’ and it turned out to be a pre cursor for the final bash in Strathfield. Not long after getting the eviction notice we decided to look at the bright side and hold a final farewell. A few party names were thrown out there and when someone said ‘How about Eviction?’ That was it, everyone in the room knew then that was to be the name. The other tenants started to move out as our group grew. We were not thinking about where to go, but all our energy went into the party, without even a thought for what to do after. Soon all three of the units upstairs were vacant. As well as the two bedroom flat that I was renting, there were also some ravers that had squatted in the apartment opposite, and the fire exit doors were adjoining and became one big household.
My best mate Ryan did heaps of work for the party. He made up and photocopied a bunch of flyers and we were handing them out in weeks leading up to the event. He talked to a few DJs who we knew and soon we had a decent line up. Hi-Shock, Reaver, Akira and Subzero to name a few. As well as many respectable up and coming DJs. We were not charging money, just a $2 donation to cover sound costs. Ryan was doing some work experience at DMC, the sound and lighting company and we were able to rent some JBL speakers pretty cheap, I think he even worked for free for a while to pay for the rental costs.
The week before the Eviction party was a rave called EFTPOS which had Commander Tom playing at it who founded NOOM records in Germany. He goes via a few names including Nexus 6 and Mandala and is probably most famous for his song – ‘Are Am Eye?’
The EFTPOS rave was at Bankstown Basketball Stadium and the police shut it down. Ryan was at there promoting ‘Eviction’ and got to talking to Commander Tom. He was pretty bummed at having the party closed down. Ryan said ‘You can mix at our party if you want but you have to play for free, it’s a free party’ and Commander Tom replied ‘Underground…cool’. Simon (Hi Shock) sorted the rest, such as bringing him. So we managed to get an electronic music heavy weight playing at our underground, illegal rave. Kiel also did heaps for the party, another mate and DJ. He helped promote and organise things. It was a nice group effort from everyone involved.
Everyone had moved out of the flats except for us and an Indian family downstairs (I wonder what they must have thought of all this). We turned two of the flats into ‘rooms’ upstairs and the third was the chillout. We boarded up the windows and set up the scaffolding for the DJs. The chillout was prepared with some art and pillows. Downstairs we suspended a makeshift table from the roof out of some scaffolding running board that the workers would stand on. This was suspended with thick electrical cord and made a great set up for the decks.
The day of the party had arrived and the place was a hive of activity. Some of us picked up the speakers from the city, others decorated the place and some tried to source a third pair of technics turntables. We found someone and he was off to get them. While he was gone Commander Tom turned up. I was rushing around and I was introduced to him. We were talking for a few minutes and he said he talked German, so I said ‘Go get Shirly’ who could speak German, when Commander Tom said ‘I also speak English’. I had to laugh to myself as was just talking to him for minutes before hand in English. I showed him the room where he was mixing downstairs. He was full of questions and I finally showed him the suspended table for the decks and he relaxed a bit.
My girlfriend that I had met at Field of Dreams 3 while promoting this party told me to stand on the other side of the room where Commander Tom was going to play. Only me and her in the whole flat at that time and she raised a disposable camera to take my picture, but before she snapped the pic, she told me she loved me for the first time. Wow! I was already feeling waves of euphoria setting up and getting ready for the biggest party I had ever staged, and now this. I ran to her and hugged and kissed her. I was feeling great.
I had a call from Mach V on my ‘NEC sports’ mobile, asking if he could have a mix. I was stunned, Mach V was one of the biggest promoters of the time with parties such as Star Wars, Jurassic Rave and Roger Ramjet to name a few. I had been working out the set times all week and was a major pain. Three rooms and everyone wanting a mix, people wanting better times or longer and some people swapping a set for things, it was crazy. I ended up telling him to come down and we will see what we can do. Not sure if he came or had a mix as the party started to take on a life of its own.
People started arriving and there were three girls on the door collecting $2 per person. I think they got a few hundred dollars, but I never saw any of the money. Kudos to them though for sitting there and collecting the money. We had advertised ‘Free transport from Strathfield station every half an hour’ which consisted of one of us walking 3 minutes to the station and looking for any ravers and bringing them back. The place was awash with people. There must have been around 400 ravers there. Everywhere you went were more people enjoying the music. Of course many people outside as well. Of the three flats downstairs, one had Commander Tom in it, one had an Indian family and the last was still locked up. I had stored all my stuff in there. Bed, clothes, furniture, that sort of thing. I was the only one with access to it, and had left a window slightly ajar to gain entry. This was to become my own private chill out room, just me and my girlfriend, god knows where we found the time.
We had these fuck off JBL speakers that sounded fantastic. They were huge and way to loud for the space they were in. I could hear them at the service station down the road. There were people everywhere. Dancing, chatting, and laughing. The flat we had turned into a chillout had some trippy ambient sounds on loop from a computer. Someone decided to graffiti it all night and we ended up with some great art in there in the morning.
To be honest, I did not really know who Commander Tom was. I wish I had as I would have paid more attention when he was mixing, but do remember having a little boogie to him. I also would not have let him get kicked off the decks! That’s right, the owner of the 1200s that we had borrowed, which was a friend of a friend, wanted to have a mix. Well they were his decks and he insisted and basically kicked off Commander Tom after an hour or so. Sort of funny now, but rather silly at the time. We had told Commander Tom he could have the whole room to himself all night, but can’t remember talking to him again. He hung around though, but don’t think he got another mix.
The only lights we had was a strobe light in one of the rooms, but it didn’t seem to matter. The sound was enough to keep people rocking for hours. Basically we got evicted because the place was getting torn down for a massive skyscraper. The block of apartments was just too small for a growing city, and as well as an empty building we were in, the two next to us were also empty. We had a construction site across the road which backed onto the railway. This meant that there were no residents close by to complain about noise, which obviously worked to our advantage. The cops did turn up around 3 AM. I talked to them for a bit and then some punter decided to lean out of the window on the second floor and yell out ‘Party!’ which didn’t help the cause, but the police essentially said try to keep people inside and off the street, but let us continue. The downer side of that was when the cops rocked up, Ryan, who was taking pictures with our disposable camera thought he would destroy the evidence and broke it open exposing the film. It was not till a few years back on Facebook that I found some of the only images known to exist of the party. (Thanks Torsten).
I remember being in awe walking around the place looking at how much fun everyone was having. In the hardcore room DJ XS was playing, we had Subzero in the main room and Commander Tom spinning downstairs. It was fantastic. I tried to remember to have a good time as well, but most of the time I was running around trying to ensure everything ran smooth. The rest of the night is pretty much a blur.
Well the party was held on the last possible day before we had to evict, and was on a Friday night. We were all hanging out on the enclosed balcony upstairs about 9:30 AM on Saturday when someone poked their head in saying that a real estate lady was looking for me. ‘Shit’ I thought to myself and quickly left by the back door and went across the road. I watched from there as the Ryan who had got us the speakers tried very quickly to take them to his car before anything happened. The real estate lady was not very happy, telling people the place wasn’t to be knocked down and continued to look for me. Oops. Well she kicked out the last few remaining people and that was that. I was now officially homeless. All my effort and though had been organising the party and promoting it I had not really given any thought to where I was going to live, and thought I would have a few days at least to move out, not on the Saturday morning.
I crashed at my mums for a bit until I could find a new place. I did go back about a week later. I parked a council carpark that backed onto the units and jumped the fence. I was looking everywhere and paranoid I would be caught. The construction workers had turned my lounge room into their tea room and had set up my old wooden TV to watch. The window to the flat downstairs was still a bit open and I was able to rescue a few of my clothes and belongings. They did knock down the place not long after.
Luckily they had mis spelt my name on the lease and I never did get in any trouble because of it. One of the best nights of my life.