The Gathering: The Documentary
Saturday August 15th, Silo Theatre, Auckland
Imagine a New Year's Eve in which you are surrounded by a huge crowd of ecstatic (but not intoxicated) people, an incredible variety of venues (oh alright, large tents and shallow craters on a hillside), food, drugs (the organisers are the first to admit it), live performers and non-stop music, yet with no aggression or violence, no hoons in cars, no ugly drunken scenes at midnight, no pointless damage done to property. No police. No shit (Portaloos excepted). That's The Gathering.
Of course, at the actual event there are certain discomforts. It's a long slow crawl up the dirt road to get to the site; there'll always be times when no-one's playing your tune; your small tent may close in on you; there are Portaloos.
No such discomforts are involved in watching The Gathering: The Documentary - in fact it's a joy. 19 hours of footage shot over 48 hours in 1997/98 has been edited down very neatly to capture all sides of this vibrant event. From the first days of setup to the last piece of rubbish being removed, most of The Gathering's memorable moments are represented, not least being the dance music - and the dancing crowds - at its heart.
Although most of the Saturday night audience for this screening were obviously Gathering converts reliving the moment, this short film deserves a wider audience. It would be great to see it on TV. The positivity of the event, and the organisers' philosophy of Harm Reduction (accepting that drug use is part of youth culture, and providing education, along with a safe environment for those who don't 'Just Say No') might act as an antidote to those grim drink-driving ads in which kids get pissed, pile into a car, and die.
There is another way, and it may be the way of the future.
You can contact The Gathering at: http://www.gathering.co.nz