The Christchurch Gathering

The Christchurch Gathering

Open-air dance party.

Working dates: October 1997

Event dates: 11-12 October 1997

Vital statistics: 21 hours, 250 crew, 900 Gatherers

My first experience of The Gathering in its own environment, The Christchurch Gathering was held at John and Deirdre Grenell's Whitecliffs venue in October 1997 as a warmup to the main Gathering at New Year, and lasted for 21 hours.

This was my chance to find out about stage managing and to be a member of the crew before, during and after the party. We drew a crowd of 900 Gatherers from all over the country, and it was a great beginning to The Gathering season.

My roles included:

  • Stage manager of the Trance zone
  • Crew member

My responsibilities included:

  • General crew member during the party setup (2 days) - everything from marquee raising to making decorations and roadying
  • Sole stage manager for the Trance zone (one of three zones at the event) - a full dance party in its own right. This consisted of 21 hours of zone management, including:
    • checking DJs and live acts on and off-stage
    • maintaining the functionality of sound and lighting systems (with tech support when needed)
    • ensuring the safety, well-being and general good vibe of the Gatherers
  • General crew member during the packdown (1 day).

Although financially not a huge success (our headline act in the drum&bass arena blew 13 of our bass bins, which blew our budget!), The Christchurch Gathering was an excellent party, which gave me another insight into the way The Gathering crew operated, and fired me up for the main party 2 months later.

It was an exhausting event - 21 hours non-stop, with the packdown beginning the moment the party was over. It taught me a lot about working under pressure, with very little sleep, but the whole event was a joy. I met many DJs and live acts from around the country, and took pride in the fact that I kept the performers in my zone on-time throughout the event.