Your Questions: Should I Throw Free Parties To Play The Music I Love?

Phil Morse | Read time: 2 mins
free parties Pro
Last updated 24 March, 2018


This is the infamous Castle Morton free party in the UK that, um, got a bit out of control, back in 1992, leading to a change in the law banning “repetitive beats in gatherings of six or more people…”

Digital DJ Tips forum member Rob S writes: “All I want to do is play techno every weekend. I’ve hosted the odd thing (alone and with friends), played the odd night here and there, but ultimately I just want to play out every week, and play the music I like. I’m not interested in the money or anything other than playing.

“I can’t seem to find any kind of venue that works for me for a regular thing, so I’m wondering if a way around it might be to rent a commercial unit and host private parties. No charging admission, no selling drinks, just invite only where we party and play music however we want.

“Some obvious pitfalls: Expensive, location dependent, someone would take notice and potentially call the police, safety/security. However, if you could find the right location to be left alone, invite only the right people, encourage ‘donations to pay the rent/rates’, you’re not technically doing anything wrong, are you?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

The “free party” scene has always bubbled away under the mainstream in all places where dance music and DJs exist, in my experience. It was where it all started in the UK, and it indeed took a while for clubland to catch up with what was going on in fields all over our green and pleasant land back in the late 80s and early 90s. (Listen to the opening few seconds of The Orb’s first album for a spoken narrative on the same…)

However, do you think that even if you threw a free party you’d be able to attract people week in, week out? It certainly wouldn’t be free for you: It would cost you time, effort and money to do. I think you have spotted some obvious drawbacks yourself. Here in the UK there is an infamous law that in certain circumstances bans “repetitive beats” in public, for instance. No idea what the technicalities are in the States, to look at another market (maybe someone can help), but – again, in my experience – if the police want to shut you down, they will.

Why not try throwing monthly parties, in a venue that you can at least tolerate? When you build up momentum, then you could think about going weekly. There’s nothing wrong for charging money for what you do, and it means you’d not be effectively “paying to play”, and so over time, it’s far more likely you’d continue. And when it comes to promoting, consistency really is the key.

Have you ever decided to throw free parties just so you can play the music you love with no compromises? How did it go? Let us know your thoughts and experience in the comments…

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