The dirty world of promoting

By - Friday 22nd August, 2014

After an illegal rave at the former East Croydon post office, Anthony Miller tries to understand why the authorities are powerless

Shut the doors of a train when a young girl might be liable to fall underneath because she’s out of her head on MCat, like train guard Christopher McGee, and the judge will send you away for five years for manslaughter. Help organise an illegal rave where someone dies from a ketamine laced beer… no one person gets convicted because the gig was run by a “collective”.

If Rum and Bass was run by an individual, their ass (forgive my street slang) would be in jail or they’d be sued to penury but it seems this cannot happen to a collective. Such is legal jurisprudence. Yes, like any good dictatorship Rum and Bass avoids direct or personal responsibility by seeming to have a very complicated organisation full of people with duplicated jobs. While idiotic above board promoters worry about trivia like getting sued by the punters, mild fracases breaking out, venues losing their licence or the local BID increasing business rates… this worries not Rum and Bass a jot for no one is “in charge”.

Many in the Rum and Bass collective probably do indeed believe that responsibility is shared out equally

I have to admit that I do kind of admire the Rum and Bass collective for the sheer audacity of its statement to the Croydon Advertiser that “Promoters Rum and Bass told the Advertiser they encourage people who attend not to take drugs” and will now be introducing an “age limit” for their gigs.

On their still existent Facebook page they continue to boast that “We organise and promote some of the best and safest raves in London”. A genius advertising slogan as it is true, but it is not the whole truth. Some of their raves may have been very safe, others…

Many in the Rum and Bass collective probably do indeed believe that responsibility is shared out as equally as possible in a variety of directions, however I think if we were to ‘follow the money’ we might find that the organisation is not quite as egalitarian as it would like to pretend. The influence vs authority matrix shows only a few people of influence and importance at the top right manipulating a large number of bystanders of low importance and influence at the bottom left. Or, as Met Police Commander Dave Musker told the Croydon Guardian, “They’re gone, they’ve trousered the £30,000 to £40,000 in cash – even though we took a substantial amount of money off them – and they’ve buggered off”.

There’s far more money to be made and less stress in the black economy

Still Rum and Bass said (and the Advertiser printed with little irony): “We would like to stress, however, that other events such as these will still continue and very few will take the precautions we do. Few will even have security let alone medics”. The if-we-didn’t-do-it-someone-else-would excuse.

Well, I hate to admit it, but they’ve got a point.

In 2010 Toby Hadoke, a comedy promoter in Manchester, spent a lot of time arguing with the local licensing panel over the closure of the venue where he held his multiple award night. He accused the quasi-judicial committee of holding the pub responsible even for altercations that took place hours after they had closed. A parade of comedians was pushed in front of some bored councillors but it was all to no avail because what the council really didn’t like about the venue is that it had a licence to open to 3am. One of Tony Blair’s great ideas. Councils who had to clean up the mess were not so keen. So Toby moved to another venue and then to another venue and I’ve lost count now but it’s not for want of punters but seemingly for want of venues that don’t go bust inside a year. It’s hardly surprising they go bust though, is it? When there’s far more money to be made and less stress in the black economy, where you simply find an empty building and fill it will drugged sprogs?

If you want to flyer you either can’t – full stop – or you have to apply for a punitively expensive licence

Councillor Tony Newman encouraged everyone to report illegal posters and flyers for raves. Well, leaving aside the fact that no one will ever catch Bill Stickers despite the fact that his venue addresses are on all posters because it’ll never be a policing priority… err… no one promotes that way anymore? Why?

As well as introducing stiffer penalties for flyposting, the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 Section 23 inserted a section into the Environmental Protection Act 1990 section of the EPA 1990 94B and schedule 3A gave the power to local authorities to fine promoters for littering before it happens. This means that in many areas, if you want to flyer you either can’t – full stop – or you have to apply for a punitively expensive licence to do so from the council in advance. Smaller promoters have two alternatives:

  1. As you feel increasingly criminalised, go all the way and become an actual criminal
  2. Use the internet and social media to advertise better

The Rum and Bass collective seems to have done 1 & 2. I’ve only done 2. But I do sometimes wonder why I don’t just disappear into the black economy too. After all, it is more profitable.

Anthony Miller

Anthony Miller

Anthony is the Managing Director of London's 2nd worst comedy club, Pear Shaped.

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  • Anne Giles

    Excellent article and how true.