Mostly found in the UK, a free party is an illegal, outdoor rave, held in fields, under motorway bridges, etc. The free party culture is heavily influenced by Jamaican Soundsystems, and the format is roughly the same as in JA.

Usually the party crew (the organisers) will arrive at the site just after dark, and set up. At about 11, we record directions on a mobile phone voice mail, and people phone the number for directions. This keeps the police from getting to the party too soon. Although they have the power to shut down parties, they will usually not try once there are a hundred or so people.

For most people who attend free parties, they are part of a good night out, without the hassle of bouncers and dress codes. For some of us, however, the party follows several hours of running from police helicopters, setting up the rig, and hoping someone will turn up. A decent (10-20 KW) system is worth tens of thousands, and the owners are usually not well off, so a confiscated rig is a big problem. Given the potential financial and legal implications, it takes an insane commitment to making strangers happy to put on a rave, and this is why they are more than just a good time. A free party is an unconditional gift from the party crew, not just to their mates, or other heads like us. It is a totally unconditional gift, given to anyone who cares to turn up. Nothing can compare to the sight of 500 people from all walks of life dancing, sitting by the fire, doing whatever they want - thanks to you.

That's what a free party is.

A squat party is, predictably, a free party in a squat. Usually in a warehouse or office block, squat parties have a very different vibe to free parties. They are ususally more intense and "urban" than outdoor parties, and attract some people whose main aim is to write graffiti or wreck up an empty building. There is also much more risk in putting on a squat party, as if you are caught while opening the squat, you face prison.

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