***SPECIAL GUEST POST FROM ‘G’ – THE ORGANISER OF BIKE RAVE MELBOURNE***
NB. Technical difficulties mean I haven’t been able to edit my pics from the rave yet – check back this coming Sunday the 29th to check out my photos of the event.
I arrived with my housemates in tow, tugging a trailer just big enough for my speakers. My sound system was playing DJ Rashad’s album Double Cup as we flew towards The Angel statue at Birrarung Marr. The air was still, the sky cloudless.
But I was wrought with nerves. How many people are going to show up?
I rode along the Yarra and looked over my shoulder. A stream of lights hovered in the darkness. Techno music pumped and carried over the water. It was amazing.
A low rider was doing circles in the gravel. “Where the hell is this rave thing?” he asked. Within five minutes, there were 20 of us. Over the next hour 150 people arrived – 130 more than the first rave I held last year.
There were fixies, low riders, vintage, polo bikes, commuters, BMX. Everyone was decked out in glow sticks, EL Wire. Most had a beer in hand. The group of riders had come together and built some serious bike sound systems. I was amazed they would do this for a stranger’s event. My friend and co-organiser ‘A’ arrived with a gift in hand: a custom black hoodie covered in reflective triangles. You could see me rolling from a kilometer away.
As 7:30 approached, I gave a short speech, welcoming everybody, asking them not to be dicks to people or the police, to clean up after themselves and instructed people to cue up the track.
“5, 4, 3, 2, 1…PLAY.”
“So I took off on my bicycle, so I took off on my bicycle, so I took off on my bicycle…” It was the beginning of the three hour Bike Rave mix and FLIP3K had chosen the perfect vocal loop to open the event. The music murmured through the crowd. I rode along the Yarra and looked over my shoulder. A stream of lights hovered in the darkness. Techno music pumped and carried over the water. It was amazing.
We took a break to dance at Riverslide Skatepark. I made the mistake of riding into a wet paddock, everyone followed, but no one seemed to mind the mud. We parked our bikes and danced in the darkness. To the right of us, the city shone in all its glory. To the left, the Arts Centre loomed.
Along Southbank, three or four riders took to the front ringing their bells relentlessly to warn of our presence. The boulevard is meant to be a shared space, but no one moved an inch. So we did what bike riders do and 150 of us weaved through the endless mass of pedestrians. Phones and cameras snapped away, people from restaurants stopped talking and watched. Kids tugged on their parents’ hands. When we stopped at the lights, a bunch of men in suits started yelling abuse at us, obviously threatened by the spectacle.
Docklands was the next dance break: a good dry spot, walled off by tall apartment buildings, looking over the harbour with very few members of the public around. I had to fix my speaker as the wires had come loose and the amplifier had turned down from the vibrations in the road. Everyone was getting rowdy and a big mob of people formed a dance floor and got down. We were into hour two of the mix and Brisbane DJ, Sondrio, was doing well.
The final leg was straight up Latrobe St. I tried to keep a steady pace but people were impatient and went as they wanted. The ride drew the same smiles and interest as it did on Southbank, but there was no hostility, as we had our own bike lane. Further up towards Russell St a taxi parked bang in the middle of the bike lane, blocking the route and pushing us out into traffic. A vigilant rider stopped him and asked him to get out of the way as “there’s 100 fucking bike riders gonna run up your ass mate”. I pushed past the altercation and continued to Carlton Gardens.
15 of us were first to arrive at the museum. We did laps of the concrete blocks and a crew of skaters started hitching rides on the back of our bikes. They didn’t expect another 100 riders to come around the corner to the same spot. Everyone parked their rides and started to get their party on. The polo crew were knife fighting, the skaters ollied over piles of bikes. It was a blend of chaos and excitement, and everyone was involved. People danced for another hour until the three hour mix had exhausted itself. A massive round of applause erupted from the crowd. “Ladies and gentlemen, that was Bike Rave!” We closed the party with a thank-you to everyone who attended.
I went home and turned off the lights, turned off the music and lay in the silent darkness. My brain could finally rest. Bike Rave was a success.
Stay tuned for Bike Rave 2.0 in the summer.
PHOTOS: Claire Wilson + Wren