No ordinary party

The Guardian - 10 February 2000

Guardian staff members Brendon Jarvis and Sonya Governor took a trip to The Gathering 2000. This is what they found.

Why do people do it? What makes The Gathering so special? What's the big attraction? These questions I pondered as we sat, stranded amongst bumper-to-bumper traffic, on a packed bus in stinking hot temperatures, at the bottom of Takaka Hill near Nelson.

The Gathering has become something of a cultural icon in New Zealand, with people coming from all over the country and the world, to enjoy 48 hours of uninhibited dance party. It is a showcase for New Zealand's best live electronica artists/DJs/VJs and performers, who are right up there with the world's best.

What really makes The Gathering so special is the people. Everyone is so friendly and caring towards each other and the environment, that one couldn't help but enjoy themselves, even if it was raining.

There is only one way in and out of The Gathering and it is via an 8km single-track dirt road with sheer cliffs on one side and steep limestone scarps on the other. There is no room for two vehicles to pass. Problems with this transport system were inevitable. However, if you forget about the access, the setting for this event is perfect. The beech forest created a natural amphitheatre for the main techno-trance zone, and fire-dancers performed in a large sinkhole.

Scattered amongst the venue you could find all sorts of wonders to gaze upon. Weird and wonderful scultptures wuld appear suddenly in the forest, performers dressed like Elvis at a disco would suddenly burst into song on the walkway and you may have found yourself dancing next to mud people, you never knew what could pop up next.

The location for this event is nothing short of spectacular. Stark alpine scenery suddenly gives way to a lush, green, hidden valley in the middle of nowhere.

Around 12,000 people attended The Gathering 2000. Sonya met the lead singer of Skunk Anansie, Skin, who partied the night away with her and her friends. She even helped out Sonya's friend Ruth who fractured her wrist in the fire pit when she slipped down the muddy bank. What a legend! You rock, girl!

So many things to do and explore, you were completely lost in a wonderland, and had there been a Y2K disaster happening around New Zealand, the people at The Gathering wouldn't even know about it. We were totally self-sufficient, and the outside world ceased to exist.

There were a few other famous faces at The Gathering, but all were one and one were all, and it must be such a neat feeling for celebs to know that they can come here to little ol' New Zealand and party away with us without fear of being mobbed or hassled.

As the day turned into night, and the night turned into day, it was all over and off to our lives we went. Driving out took five hours. As we drove off, I wondered how I could ever beat such a warm and fuzzie feeling I got from The Gathering. Organiser Alison Green was at the gate to wave goodbye to each and every Gatherer. I can honestly say that it was the best time of my life and I hope to be a part of many more to come.

Brendon Jarvis and Sonya Governor, The Guardian, 10 February 2000

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