Friday, 21 September 2007

Peace dance not peaceful for all

Have you met someone who you judge to be sensible, reasonable, thinks like you and then you find out their taste in music only to mutter to yourself "How can he (she) like that awful music (singer, player)". Yes music can lead to some very polarised views - one man's meat is another man's poison and all that. With me there is certainly some music I love and other music I abhor. So the tale I'm about to tell is a little difficult to relate objectively.

A few days ago, well last weekend Friday to Sunday to be precise, Powderham Castle on the west bank of the estuary of the River Exe staged a concert. Nothing remarkable about that: as a private estate they host many events from pop concerts to vintage rallies and by and large enjoy good relations with their neighbours such as the villages of Kenton and Starcross. But last weekend things went somewhat awry...

It was the weekend of 'The Wave Project'. To put ourselves in the picture (I didn't go) I'll quote from the special events listing on Powderham's website - "Award winning production company, Family Gathering Ltd will be bringing the UK's first 'green' dance music festival to the picturesque grounds at Powderham Castle. The 3 day event will bring together an exciting synergy of dance music, visionary art and environmental awareness". The cost by the way was £70. Go to Waveform Projects website and you can read a message from Sun Bird, Founding Director, Waveform Project: one sentence states "At midnight on Saturday 15th September over 1,000,000 people from over 300 events in 70 countries will dance together and invoke a prayer for peace."

The aims of the three day event might well have been laudable. What produced the biggest problem was the fact that a significant number of people had their peace disturbed. Reports say that there was an incessant bass sound carrying on through the night till not far short of daybreak the following morning. I think that this was the first event of its type at Powderham, locals are well used to concerts, etc finishing the right side of midnight so this greatly extended 'musical' event really caught residents by surprise. One organiser (I think it might actually have been Sun Bird) said that the music was on a reduced scale after midnight but of course those people have little perception of how very loud their offerings can appear to other people. I suspect that to some of those on the receiving end it must have seemed like some audio version of Chinese water torture. A lot of criticism came from residents of Lympstone which is just on the opposite bank of the Exe from Powderham and of course they would have been completely unaware of what was going to take place.

Now I don't want to sound like a killjoy and, to an extent, I agree with 'live and let live'. But in this case it appears that the music was unrelenting and was obviously hell for some. If one accepts the statement about 1,000,000 people dancing worldwide at midnight then I can accept music going on for ten minutes or so after that but continuing to say 5.30 in the morning which was the time mentioned by some - well no way!

Powderham is regarded as being pretty responsible but I think they have some fences to mend here.

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