Saturday, 28 February 2009

Corsas and Corpses

Corsas & Corpses

I am writing in response to the recent article in the Mourne Observer “Newcastle park venue for major music festival.”

In recent weeks councilors have been tossing this issue about like excitable children playing pass the parcel. Some of their language and views expressed in the article shows at best, severe naivety, and at worse, blinkered vision on behalf of the councilors involved.

Let’s get a few things straight.

This is not a “Cultural” event.

The adjective “Cultural” as outlined in is, ‘of or pertaining to culture or cultivation.’

Having attended similar events myself, I know at first hand that there is nothing enriching or nourishing that goes on at such parties. This is not to say that they are not a knee knockingly good fun, they are, but attempting to cast up sugar coated images in order to gain the publics' acquiescence is not fair game.

We have all been teenagers, and we can all remember attempting to feel our way into a world full of apprehension and giddy childishness. Cllr Jim Wells stated:

”There are fringe events that go on at these raves and these are the things we have to think about. There are all sorts of extra curricular activities and I don’t know if we should be encouraging this in Newcastle.”

Euphemistic statements like these say everything and nothing all at once. Statements do not need to be coded to protect us from harsh reality, unless there are ulterior motives by those with decision making power. We can say it out loud that “Fringe events” such as vandalism, violence and drug abuse would occur on a large scale. Not very curricular I think you will agree.

Let’s not collectively paper over the real issues, blinded by corporate benefits. It is an insult to our intelligence as a people,

For those who have not danced until sunrise in a field before, let me let you into a few home truths.

1. The only thing pertaining to Irish culture surrounding this event is the fact that it would be hosted in Newcastle, which in turn, happens to be in Ireland.

This is the only cultural connection I can find.

This corporate event would be nothing more, nothing less. Let’s not kid ourselves.

2. Drug taking on a massive scale WILL take place. I am not saying if this is right or wrong, only that its presence is not beneficial to Newcastle’s tourist industry, nor is it an opportunity for cultural celebration. We all (some more than others) know how drug (including alcohol) use in Newcastle has exploded in the last ten years, with participants getting ridiculously younger.

Does Newcastle really need a celebration of cheap chemicals and even cheaper booze on its golden shores?

Cllr Willie Clarke stated, “Unsavory events take place in Newcastle already, and therefore this aspect could not be held against the festival.”

Which unsavory events is Cllr Clarke referring to exactly?

Double parking?

Doing 36 mph, inside the 30 limit?

I find this statement very confusing. It’s like saying, “For sure there are pedophiles in our community, but its fine to have the National Pedophile Convention in the Slieve Donard Hotel.

Cllr Clarke also went on to say that the event would be a “Good economic opportunity” for the town as “hotels and guest houses would be booked for miles around.” As I said before, I have attended events like this and a very small percentage of protagonists stay in rented accommodation. Most people dance, drink, take drugs then sleep in their cars, or drive home.

Now, I am only surmising here, obviously there are exceptions, albeit a handful.

On this basis local hotels and guest houses will not fair so well, although off licenses and drug dealers will have a cash bonanza. Not quite the “good economic opportunity” talked about by Cllr Clarke.

The words of Cllr Eamonn O’Neil provided particular pertinence in shaping my attitude to the matter in hand. He stated “Tourism is what Newcastle is all about. We should be seen to be attracting events to the town.”

There is nothing wrong with what he said per se, indeed, Newcastle does need to attract tourism, but what price?

Public funded parks taken over by big business?

Erosion of loyal rate payers rights to peace and quiet in the face of private enterprise?

I understand the need for councilors to try and drum up support for business in the town and also how economically attractive such an event must look with its flashy PR and corporate backing, but is this really a worthwhile concession to make in the face of public distaste?

I fear not.

Newcastle, with its new promenade now looks like a tourist destination to be reckoned with. Whether you call It the ‘pearl of Down’, ‘the diamond on the Mournes’, or simply ‘home,’ there is no doubt, its special.

Is the council really going to tacitly consent to mass illegal drug use, whilst hiding behind a flag of cultural modernity?

I suppose only they can answer the question.

Pikey (Newcastle resident of sorts)


Anonymous said...

Hey Pikey how goes it.

Some good comments there, but i think you have also misinterpreted a lot of what is going on with this so called festival.

There has never been any mention of this being an Irish cultural event. The culture they are talking about is the 'dance culture'.

With regards to the local economy, there will be a set up time for the festival of 9 days. 5 before and 4 after. This set up will be done by up to 700 employees of the firm staging the event. In turn these 700 people need to stay in the town, eat in the town, drink in the town etc. This will be great for the local business. Also a great amount of people at the event will probably just make a weekend of it and stay in the town.

And as i agree with you that drug abuse will take place on a massive scale, and by people maybe too young or not mentally strong enough to partake in such activities, the event is going to be policed by the PSNI at the cost of the promoter. So maybe it is a good chance to see if they can do the job we expect them to do.

As for the corporate side of things, I wouldn't exactly call former central park DJ Eddie Wray's promotional company a major corporate strength. This is more for the music than anything.

Depending on your view or taste the public park here is misused a number of times during the year. Be it for the pipe band competition or the circus, there will always be things going on in the park that aren't to peoples tastes.

With regards this particular event, it really isnt up my street. I like the Prodigy and have seen them live and thier music doesn't translate well from studio to stage, plus the other acts are shite. But this could be a good test for further events to happen that would be to mine and others liking. It could pave the way for local stars to play there. imagine the answer playing a homecoming gig.

Yes with the new promenade Newcastle does look like a tourist destination to be reckoned with, but what do they do after a walk on the prom? They go home.

People need a reason to stay in the town, and events like this could be the answer.

Give it a chance.

mikethepikey said...


A fair collection of opinions and thats for your comment.

I must say since I heard that the line up with the prodigy headlining, I feel that the events had a little more credibility. First I thought that the event in Newcastle was going to be akin to the like of Planet Love since it was the same promotions company but I am glad to see that the events will be not just hard house, trance and NRG.

I still fell that the vast majority of the Newcastle population has been left out of the decision making process on this one in favour of the minority business community, but this is what has happened. People like the O'Hares Etc in Newcastle have a lot of sway, and the correct arms have been twisted. No doubt the event will be good for them and some other businesses as a result.

When I referred to 'Corporate' interests, I was talking about the inevitable 'Harp' or 'Smirnoff' tents that pop up at these events. Instead of handing over a monopoly to these companies, why not give the rights for alcohol to small local bars, or outside events companies based in Northern Ireland, this way the money stays in the country instead of going to Russia or where ever.

I agree with you that this could prove to be a useful platform for local talent, whether this happens it remains to be seen.

Thank you for you time