Definately the most memorable of the 4 Anoyo parties I've been to. We knew that typhoon was coming. Saw the satellite maps showing it making a beeline for Niijima, but for some reason it never sunk in for any of us that camping in a typhoon was a bad idea .........
Anoyo are a Japanese "collective consciousness" group who organise and promote trance parties all over Japan. Every year in Autumn they throw a big outdoor party somewhere in the wilds of Japan - usually an Island. I've been to four of these. The Great Sprayer in 1999 on Niijima - an Island around 300 Km Southeast of Tokyo. Then in 2003 I went to Rolling Thunder, which was held on Sadogashima - an Island famous for its Earth Festival and Taiko drumming, and also last year when the party returned to Niijima.
This year promised to be good. Darina and Masaki were over from Ireland, Andy was coming down from Sendai
and all the usual suspects were up for it. It was on a long weekend, so we caught the overnight ferry out on
Thursday night, along with 1400 other partygoers. The boat was the usual craic. Everyone getting pissed and having
a laugh except Dave who was fairly seasick despite his magic Chinese wristbands which were supposed to mitigate
the affects. Mini got her photo taken with System 7 which made her night, and it was all good.
We arrive into Niijima port early on Friday morning, and those of us still awake get the rest of them up - having the usual trouble
with John, who eventually stands up and stumbles of towards the toilet. A few of us manage to jump the queue, jump
into a taxi and are the first at the campsite so we mark out the best spot, stick up our tents, open a few beers and wait
for the rest to turn up.
Mini with System Seven
They arrive about an hour later, we look around and realise that John is nowhere to be seen. Feck ....... this is same the John, who for New Year on his way to see Basement Jaxx last year at Yokohama, managed to end up spending the night in a hotel at a Japanese wedding - dancing with the bride ............ Knowing John it didn't take a genius to figure out what happened. The boat had sailed merrily away, with John peacefully asleep in some corner, away from all us bad, loud people who were trying to wake him for some stupid reason. Man - he was so lucky ! The boat goes down to another Island and then comes back and docks again at Niijima, so a few of the lads head back to the dock to see if he's on it. The boat arrives back and there's John up on the upper deck leaning on the railing with not a care in the world. First words off the boat - "So I was supposed to get off the first time around ?" Fair play John ! - only you .........
John - in his socks strolls off the boat after missing his stop the first time around.
So with John safely back in the fold and the weather being lovely, the rest of the day was spent drinking beer, wine, sake and whatever
else was to hand and discussing and solving all the worlds problems. There was a bit of a discussion about the typhoon.
It was due to arrive early Saturday morning but no-one was taking it too seriously. I think maybe the reason for this is that when typhoons
hit Tokyo they're nothing - a bit of rain and some wind, but thats it.
Around 7pm music starts booming out from the main stage down beside the beach so we head down there. Wild Marmalade were playing. A digeridoo band from Byron Bay, Australia. Two drummers and a digeridoo player - absolutely brilliant. You really have to hear them live to get the full effect. Everyone was going stark raving mad.
A view of the main stage Friday evening shortly before it all kicked off.
I dropped a load of acid and all I can remember for the rest of the night is a series of snapshots
...... System 7 playing and the whole stage floating about 10 feet in the air ......... rain - heavy rain ....... meeting Dara, who
gives me a rain-poncho to wear, and getting completely lost trying to put it over my head .......... more rain, really heavy. I'm
convinced at this stage that the typhoon has arrived and that we're all going to die, and I'm completely baffled as to why no-one else
seems too bothered. I end up in some sort of a wigwam looking at what I thought was people making clothes with bright colors, but this doesn't ring any bells with anyone else who was in there. It was really windy at this stage as well, and the whole Island seemed to be rocking under my feet to the wind. This phenomenon stayed with me until we left the Island !
I finally started coming back to my senses around 5am, when it getting bright and made tracks back up to the campsite. Darina, Masaki, Andy and John were there so I sat in a tent with them out of the rain and drank wine for a while and tried to get my head back together .....
Dec turned up about an hour later, and tells us that the party was rocking down on the beach, so myself and John head down with him and join Denny who's loving it down there. The weather is really atrocious at this stage. You couldn't face into the rain it was so heavy and the wind was howling. There was maybe 150 people down there just loving it. It was brilliant - the weather just added to it. Masaki and Darina turned up a bit later. Masaki was funny. He's not too fond of getting wet, so he spent the morning crouched down behind the speakerstack and managed not to get a drop of rain on him. Darina stuck with him until the DJ announced that they were going to have to stop soon because the weather was just getting too bad, and when she heard that she couldn't control herself and plunged out dancing into the rain and got herelf completely soaked.
We headed back up to the tents and the weather started to improve a little, so we were all convinced that the typhoon was over. Then some emergency rescue lads come into the campsite with loudhailers and tell us that we're going to have to evacuate the campsite, and the rest of the weekend party was cancelled. The typhoon was still way south of us, was stronger than anyone thought, and was due to arrive that afternoon. The bad weather that we'd had, was just a mild precursor. All bad ..........
There was a lot of discussion and vacillation at this stage. Some people were dubious about the whole thing and wanted to stay in the campsite. I was still under the partial influence of a head full of acid, and was imagining worst case scenarios similar to Karina. In the end an Anoyo guy came, and told us that he had organised with the Island council that we could stay in two High school gyms for the night and that there would be buses shuttling people there for the next few hours.
So the tents came down, we packed up and headed to the school, and spent the rest of the day sitting around drinking, waiting for typhoon and trying to make up excuses for why we wouldn't make work on the Monday - All boats were cancelled until early Monday morning so no-one was going to make work until Tuesday. The typhoon still hadn't arrived by 11pm, by which time most of us had conked out in the gym.
The weather was really nice next morning. Still really windy but very sunny. The typhoon had arrived around 6am in the morning apparently and had woken up a lot of people trying to tear the roof off the building. Even Masaki and Darina - the two who thought staying up in the campsite for the typhoon was a good idea, were glad they ended up in the gym. I didn't hear a thing. John - predictably - was the other one who slept peacefully through it all.
It was Sunday morning at this stage and there were no boats leaving until Monday morning so we still had another day on Niijima. Anoyo people came in and told us that we had to be out of the gym by 3pm and that there was no party planned for that night - the whole thing was cancelled, which pissed a lot of us off. A lot of the DJ's had to be stuck on the island along with the rest of us - fair enough all the sound and lighting equipment was taken down, but they didn't have to put the whole extravaganza up again - we would have been happy enough with a gettoblaster if that was all they could do. Lots of bitching going on about Anoyo at this stage.
The rest of the day was spent down in the onsen, then bringing all our gear back up to the campsite and putting the tents back up again. There was only maybe 600 people left at this stage - a lot of people saw the writing on the wall early Sat morning while we were busy dancing in the howling gale, and had caught the boat to Tokyo that morning. This included 4 of our gang - pussies !!
Rumours started flying around the campsite at this stage about a DJ rebellion within Anoyo. Some of the DJ's and Wild Marmalade were willing to play, and eventually Anoyo were pressured to organise some sort of a party for that night. This really lifted everyone and everyone started to wake up a bit.
I'm not sure how much of these rumours are true, but if its true that Anoyo had to be pressured into setting the party up, it really reflects badly on them. They already had all the necessary planning permissions, the DJs were there, we had all paid a lot of money to be there, and the only reason for not doing something would have been pure laziness.
Anyway ........ everyone was happy now. Wild Marmalade (fair play to them) confirmed that they would play at 8pm and there was a slew of DJs lined up after that to take us to 7am next morning - perfect. The weather was playing its part as well - still very windy, but the skies were clear, which was all we needed.
So Wild Marmalade played at 8pm. The whole thing was on a much smaller scale than what was on Friday night but it was perfect for the number of people there. We were all dancing right up against the little platform they were playing on - brilliant ........ The rest of the night was excellent. Everyone was in top form, releasing the pent up tension of the last two days. The music was really good - a lot less trancey and more technoey than what what you'd expect at an Anoyo gig, but that suited me better - I prefer techno. We met this English dude at one stage, who'd been camping beside us - he told us that he'd spent the typhoon down in the onsen off his head on acid !! Jesus !! - An onsen is an outdoor natural hot water spring bath. The onsens on Niijima were right down in the rocks beside the sea ............. and the sea which is pretty wild around Niijima at the best of times had been raging all weekend. Thats a good recipe for a bad trip if you ask me, but different folks - different strokes.
That roman looking ruin you can see is the onsen where that crazy fool spent the typhoon !!
And that was it for another year. We staggered up to the campsite, brought down the tents wh hadn't actually slept in, hopped onto the boat and slept all the way to Tokyo and reality .......
Sunrise on Sunday morning.