Spiral Tribe was a sound system collective that formed in 1990 and influenced a decade of culture and parties. Seana Gavin was heavily involved with the free party movement, living in nomadic communities and attending parties across Europe. She shares her personal archive of photographs, flyers and diary entries, all demonstrating the scene’s alternative and inclusive outlook on society and way of life.
Seana Gavin shares her personal stories from life with the sound system collective Spiral Tribe
I was heavily involved in the free party rave movement from 1993 until 2003. The majority of my mates at the time lived in squats and we were all into an alternative life style. I was only 15 when I started attending these parties in London. I regularly attended a club on Old Street called Whirl-y-gig. The night would finish at midnight, so a group of us would go to raves afterwards. I remember the first one, I danced non-stop all night and interacted with everyone in the room. We all felt connected somehow through the energy of the dance floor.
When I started attending these parties it was the year after the iconic Castlemorton week-long free festival, which took place in the British countryside. Before the days of mobile phones, 20,000 to 50,000 people attended the party via word of mouth. Spiral tribe was the main system that got penalised as they were the last sound system to keep the music playing when the authorities arrived. After violent attacks by the police at raves to follow, a two year court case, and the enactment of the draconian Criminal Justice Act in the UK, the collective decided to head to France to continue their mission of putting on free Tecknivals (techno festivals). Numerous sound systems stemmed from this subculture including Bedlam, DIY, Hekate and Desert Storm, who continued to put on illegal raves in warehouses, derelict factories and post offices across London and in fields and quarries beyond the city. These groups also joined the Spirals further afield across Europe.
I spent long periods of time travelling in friends’ mobile homes in convoy with the sound systems, living in these nomadic communities, attending raves and parties in France, Spain, Italy, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Berlin and Hungary. At that time the world and our values were so different from the current climate. We were unmaterialistic and survived with minimal funds without limitations. It felt as if this existence would last forever. The ethos was more than a night out. It was an alternative outlook to society, the world and a complete way of life.
Seana Gavin is a London based Artist who studied at Camberwell. In Summer 2019 she had a solo show at galeriepcp in Paris ‘Spiral Baby’ which included her archive of photographs, ephemera and diary entries.
A selection of her photographs were also included in group show ‘Sweet Harmony: Rave Today’ at The Saatchi Gallery London.