The Gathering 2000

The Gathering 2000

Open-air dance festival to celebrate the millennium.

Working dates: June 1999 - January 2000

Event dates: 31 December 1999 - 2 January 2000

Vital statistics: 48 hours, 1,500 crew, 15,000 Gatherers

After time-out and a reassessment at the beginning of 1999, I chose to concentrate on publicity and promotion, as I felt I had not done it justice the previous year. This meant that my job was considerably less stressful, and it allowed me to play a strongly supportive role onsite during the party, as well as focus on the needs of the 100 media representatives at the event.

The Gathering has become something of a cultural icon in New Zealand, with people coming from all over the country and the world, to enjoy 48 hours of uninhibited dance party. It is a showcase for New Zealand's best live electronica artists/DJs/VJs and performers, who are right up there with the world's best.

What really makes The Gathering so special is the people. Everyone is so friendly and caring towards each other and the environment, that one couldn't help but enjoy themselves, even if it was raining.

Scattered amongst the venue you could find all sorts of wonders to gaze upon. Weird and wonderful scultptures wuld appear suddenly in the forest, performers dressed like Elvis at a disco would suddenly burst into song on the walkway and you may have found yourself dancing next to mud people, you never knew what could pop up next.

The location for this event is nothing short of spectacular. Stark alpine scenery suddenly gives way to a lush, green, hidden valley in the middle of nowhere.

So many things to do and explore, you were completely lost in a wonderland, and had there been a Y2K disaster happening around New Zealand, the people at The Gathering wouldn't even know about it. We were totally self-sufficient, and the outside world ceased to exist.

As the day turned into night, and the night turned into day, it was all over and off to our lives we went. Driving out took five hours. As we drove off, I wondered how I could ever beat such a warm and fuzzie feeling I got from The Gathering. Organiser Alison Green was at the gate to wave goodbye to each and every Gatherer. I can honestly say that it was the best time of my life and I hope to be a part of many more to come.

Brendon Jarvis and Sonya Governor, The Guardian, 10 February 2000

My roles included:

  • Media liaison & publicity co-ordinator
  • DJ/live act liaison
  • Management of the call for mixtapes
  • Website designer
  • Producer of The Gathering 2000 documentary

As it turned out, this change in role was vital, as The Gathering received a huge amount of national and international media interest, with many rumours and dramas of all kinds. My onsite role developed into one of crisis management and team support, as we experienced severe weather conditions, which stretched our crew and resources to the limit, and made this Gathering the most stressful of the four.

My responsibilities included:

  • All publicity and promotion leading up to and after the event, including planning and timelines, creating our media info pack, and utilisation of the documentary as a promotional tool
  • Development of my role as the "public face" of The Gathering including a large number of interviews and features on TV, radio, magazines, online publications and newspapers
  • Writing content for and overseeing production of some of our promotional material - namely the CD and Gathering info booklet and development of The Gathering website. Find out more about The Gathering website
  • Liaison with the Ministry of Health in their development of Guidelines for Safe Dance Parties, and broadening my role as a spokesperson for Harm Reduction within the dance movement
  • Production of The Gathering 2000 documentary. Find out more about The Gathering 2000 documentary
  • Moderator and "voice" of The Gathering on the 1000-member Gathering mailing list
  • Onsite liaison with 100 representatives of national and international media
  • Onsite crisis management, supporting other team members, getting enough sleep, not losing the plot, and helping to keep the team calm and focused.

It was a fascinating year. I dealt with the wildfire Chinese Whisper which became the dreaded "Skinhead Rumour of 1999". My job included liaising with the police and calming Gatherers who had heard (and mistakenly believed) the rumours that a gang of skinheads was planning to cause mayhem at the event. Of course the skinheads never came.

For G2000, my media strategy worked - maybe a little too well - with an estimated 15,000 onsite it was pretty full-on. The unprecedented level of public interest had seen all 8,000 of our tickets sold out 3 months before the event, when many other "grown-up" millennium events were being cancelled across the country. The Gathering had become The Place To Be to celebrate the millennium.

In November we discovered forged tickets in circulation - a professional job of such high quality that we estimate up to 5,000 extra Gatherers came through the gate. During the event the police instructed us to let everyone in without fully testing their tickets (as the traffic queues up Takaka Hill needed to be cleared), so our onsite resources were stretched to the absolute limit during the event.

Three days of torrential rain made it.... interesting. The first drops of rain started to fall as the first beats rang out across the site - and the rain continued to fall until well after the party was over. A situation that in any other hands (and I mean both crew and Gatherers) could have been a disaster was turned around, made safe, and was voted by many "the best ever".

Awards and other stuff

Listed as one of the 100 best millennium parties on the planet by Mixmag (UK) magazine.

Rumoured to be no. 7 on Oprah's top ten places to spend the millennium in October 1999.

Nominated as Best Live Event at the NZ Music Awards 2000.