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Story last updated: 19 Mar 2004 1655 GMT Printable version of this page
No dance stage at Ashton Court 2004
Crowd in front of dance tent

Have you heard that there will be no dance stage at this year's Ashton Court festival?

Fights which erupted in the dance arena at last year's event are being blamed for the decision.

A badly behaved minority is spoiling everyone else's fun

We want to know what you think and to kick off this is what a few of the DJs and promoters have said to us:

"It's a complete kick in the face to everyone, in particular the people who work in the local dance scene," said Stuart Wilkinson of Empathy.

"The festival is a great way of letting many local djs play in front of thousands of people in their home town, at the same time though I think we were lucky to have something like this in Bristol!"

When Locus took to the stage at 6.20 pm on the Saturday there had already been a number of fights which the police broke up.

Real shame

"The whole club stage area was stupidly busy when we were playing," said Ritesh Patel of Locus and Metric. "It had really good vibes though."

"This comes as a bit of sad news but I guess on reflection not too much of a surprise," writes Jay of Chunk@phunk.

"It's a case of the badly behaved minority spoiling everyone else's fun.

"Its a real shame it has come to the point where a whole genre of music will not be getting the representation it deserves at a so called "music festival".

"No doubt this will encourage further the doom mongers who are talking about the "death" of dance music, " sent on behalf of Crofty, Jay & Neil The Chunkaphunk Boyz @bs1.

"It's awful, so many people love that stage and when the sun goes down people like to dance to keep warm - I know a lot of people do go just for that," said Ross Chester of the Detectives of Perspective.

"It's not that eveything's been lost but it means some people can't get involved. I don't think (not having it will ) it'll solve any problems as it's always tucked away at the top of the hill.

"If the authorities put their minds to it they could sort it but they just don't want to apply what they know from other events."

We want to hear what you think of the decision - get in touch by emailing us click here


Responses:-

"I read with disbelief the news that there will be no Dance tent at Ashton Court this year," said Kiaora.

"To alienate such a large section of the community seems a short- sighted solution for a festival that has been fighting for survival over the last few years.

"I have no doubt that attendance will fall dramatically, which in turn will put even more pressure on the existence of the festival.

"To ban an entire genre of music that is so integral to the culture of a whole generation seems to be giving in to the minority that caused all the trouble last year – surely there must be another solution? "

"It's supposed to be a community festival, did they see how many people were at the dance stage last year? " emailed Mat.

"How can they ignore an entire genre of music that the community they are supposed to be serving wants to hear?

"It's a sad loss and I for one won't go because of this. It'll be the first time in many years that I'll be missing the festival," one gutted Bristolian, Mat.

"I am gutted that there is no dance stage planned for Ashton Court this year.

" I'm sure for many festival-goers, including myself, the dance area is what really held the festival together.

"It's the beats from that stage pumping over the hill that always made me run the final stretch of the journey to the festival!" wrote Joey.

"Aren't there ways to prevent fights, other than removing a whole stage from the festival? What about a call for voluntary community policing?

"People have been raising concerns about the community aspect of the festival for a few years now, first when a compulsory fee was introduced, and second when it accepted sponsorship from Orange.

"Many believe the festival should solve its problems through the community, not through external aid," Joey continued.

"It was probably the thing that I enjoyed most about the festival," emails Kerry.

"I certainly wont be going this year now and doubt a lot of people will bother.

"I dont think it is as much a case of 'the death of dance music' but 'the death of Ashton Court Festival' which is such a shame!!

"The people who attend to genuinely hear and appreciate the dance music are not the ones causing the fights."

"What's the point!!!" says Robert.

"How does banning the dance stage solve the problem of unnecessary violence?

"As it is the minority of idiots causing the hassle surely removing this element will enable everyone else to have a good time. It's not like we want them there!

"I appreciate that violence is general unwelcome but I don't see the authorities banning football being played whenever there is fighting before or after a game. I would imagine that proportionately there is far less trouble at Ashton Court than before/after the average football match.

"I can only hope that this is a one-off situation and that all will be resumed in 2005."

"It’s rubbish, Ashton Court has been running for years, the first year they have a bit of trouble (ignoring the year at Hengrove Park!) the Police take the easy option," fumes Piers.

"Not having dance music represented in Bristol is like not having Reggae in Jamaica.

"For a lot of people there is going to be no reason for going, therefore bringing the amount of money raised by donation down which could threaten the entire festival."

"Shame, first time in five years I wont be there," emails Jon from Cambridge.

"I saw the fights and understand why but there must be another way to keep the dance tent going. Shame and I hope the Festival doesnt get hurt to badly from it."

"The organisers have got that whole dance area so horribly wrong for the past few years, I think maybe the fighting is being unfairly blamed for the lack of a 'dance' stage this year," says R.Thomas.

"The dance area acts should be split over two days, with the different genres on different days.

"Jungle music fans and house music fans rarely mix well - as anyone who witnessed the heady days of Lakota and the main/back room rivalry on Friday nights would testify.

"So - one day for the house/hard house/trance brigade, the other for drum and bass, jungle, hip hop etc. Hence - no fights. The problem has been in the organisation. I, for one, won't be attending this year."

"It's unfortunate as Ashton Court Festival numbers will be down and ,as a result, so will the amount of money they make at the festival which suffers a struggle for cash to keep it running on a yearly basis," writes Dan.

"I fear that unless they pull off a major coup by having one really big band on each day (someone the size of Massive Attack for example) they won't make enough cash to keep it running.

"Dance music fans usually have a large presence at the festival and tend to be blinkered to other genres so will probably boycott the festival as a result of this decision."

"On Sunday afternoon last year the dance was a sea of drunken louts, the ground was a disgusting mess of discarded bottles and cans," says Billy.

"Drugs were changing hands openly and the whole area was ready to blow. I am surprised that the trouble was not worse.

"The contrast with the live music area was stunning, around the main stages people were quietly enjoying real musicianship, drunkenness and litter were all but absent.

"I hope that this year the area will be used for live local bands. This may show some people how music is really made."

"I moved to Bristol in 1999 due to going to the Ashton Court Festival and have been each year since," says Jon from Cambridge.

"I cant go this year due to travelling but all of my good friends cannot believe it has been stopped.

"I witnessed some of the fights going on and it was easy to 'class' these type of festival goers and I would say it is this bunch that have caused it to be cancelled.

"A great shame for Bristol and maybe a very heavy financial loss for the festival organisers."

"I've been Attending the Ashton Court Festival for many years and the dance tent is always my first stop," Tracey emails.

"I find it sad that it will no longer be there because of a few stupid people spoiling it for everyone. The decision needs to be reconsidered or they will lose a lot of trade from avid revellers."

"As it is my birthday around the festival time, I look forward to going every year," says Sandra.

"It is celebrated as a birthday party but also an great opportunity to catch up with people who I haven't seen over the year.

"Not having a dance stage is a great loss to our generation as it is our culture, but, with all the violence I witnessed last year, action must be taken.

"I will not stop going to Ashton Court but will feel a void in its place and sympathise with the DJ's who enjoy playing every year but drastic action must be taken to not only combat violence but the crime at our local Festival."

"The dance stage has been the only area with inherent organisational problems, which construed as social problems at the festival," writes Nick.

"It's just too expensive to maintain the necessary safety aspects for that genre of music, so we may aswell drop it.

"I'll miss the music, and the atmosphere, but it's a community festival - not a commercial one.

"It's worth remembering that we need to attract top quality acts to perform for free, and therefore removing susceptibility to a few troublemakers attached to a certain scene will remove the temptation for trouble.

"As the dance genre is one of the most well-funded and supported mainstream areas of commercial music these days (check the figures) it's no real loss anyway. It's hardly art is it? "

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Ashton Court Festival website

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