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Alive 13

Party Nostalgica

Part Two

        Last time, we got as far as the 2nd Error in Line party, held
        back in Easter of 2001. As I think I may have explained before,
        for some reason my memory of this party is hazy. I do recall the
        journey in the car heading down to Dresden, as it was infamous
        for the weather throwing the elements, literally, at us. First
        it was rain, then very heavy hail, followed shortly afterwards
        by sleet and then snow. Although this didn't hit us until we
        turned off the E30 and down towards Leipzig and Dresden on the
        south-bound road, when the strange weather came, it was a

        Finally, after having got there, we were helped to unpack the
        car by many willing hands. It didn't take us long to locate a
        place to put our stuff; we were in the same underground area as
        at the first EIL, so that was good. Due to the foot-and-mouth
        epidemic that was ongoing in UK, we'd still managed to smuggle
        some food in with us, most of which, I believe, got eaten with
        no side-effects whatsoever either by us or by any locally based
        farmyard animals !

        I recall taking quite a lot of stuff down with me that ended up
        not being used for one reason or another. That'll probably teach
        me not to overload the car too much !! Still, one area that I
        had been asked to be in control of was the video show on the
        bigscreen, having been requested by the organisers to take my
        video recorder down with us. This I promptly did, along with
        taking some of my weird & wonderful collection of films with me.

        The first one that people got started with was one of the
        'Police, Camera, Action' series from the UK. You'll all be
        familiar with the clips of bad driving that are now recorded
        routinely by all cops in their cars, the world over. However,
        there were some that I reckon some people hadn't seen before, so
        they got to see them. This was followed up with a showing of
        'Bride of Chucky' - that sent people into fits of laughter on
        some scenes. One particular scene I recall that got people going
        was when the book 'Voodoo for Dummies' turned up - that was
        hilarious. Other people had also brought in tapes from their
        respective countries and so were given a chance to play them. I
        also recall Paranoid playing a tape of C64 demos, this caused
        some consternation in some quarters but I gather that was sorted
        out in the end.

        The compos were fantastic. It was when quite a few good Falcon
        demos were released, this was also possibly when Underscore was
        also shown, but I'm not sure on that. The compos were well
        received and the music compos especially rocked, with MSG/RG
        releasing one of his best tunes to date. He's written a few more
        since then, I hasten to add :)

        On the way down, we'd pre-arranged to pick up Creature_XL at a
        location called Herrenhausen, in northwest Germany. That went
        fairly smoothly, we found the location pretty well, where he and
        his girlfriend were waiting. He got a lift back home with
        someone else, hopefully that wasn't because one of us was
        farting too loudly ?! Nut, however, did travel back with us and
        appreciated having more room in the car, as a result. I became
        aware that owning a Corsa at that time does have its drawbacks,
        despite the fact that, at that time, there was usually just me
        in the car in the first place, with passengers not being carried
        too frequently. You may be interested to note that I have since
        rectified this little worry, with the Astra that I bought back
        in Feb 2006.

        We had a rendezvous back at Havoc's place in Enschede on that
        Monday evening, even after having hit a rather unusual event on
        the autobahn, an M25-style queue that seemed to stretch on
        forever, with the traffic travelling at a very slow speed,
        almost nose to tail at times. We UK'ers are sadly used to that,
        just ask anyone who travels down by Heathrow Airport during the
        rush hour and more importantly on a Friday afternoon ! After
        sitting through this slow-moving traffic jam we were soon on the
        way back to Enschede and sanity, back at Havoc's place. An
        overnight stop later and we were back on the road again from
        noon onwards, heading back to the Hoek van Holland for our ferry
        back home to the UK.

        We now enter the year of 2002, where we start to enter a
        familiar pattern of parties, starting with January of that year,
        in Finland for the 3rd Alternative Party. This particular
        version of the party went through from Alt 3 till Alt 6 at the
        same time of year in the same location, that being the famous
        'Gloria' nightclub place. Gloria itself got cooler and cooler
        the more often we visited the location.

        Finland itself, specifically Helsinki, was becoming more and
        more familiar to us as we began a series of visits there over
        the years. We also got to meet even more people there, too, who
        became mainstays of the Alt party scene over the same period.
        People such as Nosfe, Windi and even Hiiop (Ravel's sister) come
        to mind, but there was also someone else, yep, the diminutive
        figure of Diamondie, who was quite friendly even though she'd
        not met us before. I recall having heard that she'd had some
        food stolen by some jerk or something, so Pahartik (our friend
        from Tampere) and I replenished her supplies by giving her some
        stuff from UK and Finland. I think she enjoyed the chocolates !

        The Reservoir Gods also joined us for this particular Alt party
        and were noticed more for the fact that they didn't go into the
        sauna at the afterparty, which didn't impress the Finns too
        much. This was not the first time that had happened either, as
        they had also refused to go in on the very first Altparty, when
        the afterparty sauna was held back at Wiztom's place, back in
        Easter of 1998.

        From recollections, the party went well - and it was also the
        time when we first realised that we do get drunken and noisy
        people in Finland as well. Happily though, even though that was
        going on, no offence was caused to me personally nor any of our
        travelling companions. Q-Funk (Martin-Eric Racine, Canadian-born
        Finn) sat with Pahartik upstairs in a rather useful private
        area, as it gave the rest of us somewhere nice to sleep, where
        others would not be stepping over us too much. I don't even
        recall too many people complaining, even about CiH's snoring at
        times. I recall Asteroid having been woken at one point by
        someone playing 'Mr Do' at a very high beepy volume. That didn't
        disturb me personally nor Chris as far as I know, which was
        good. Maybe it stopped the people around from having to hear
        Asteroid's loud farting ...

        The Easter of 2002 was something that, even now, I'd rather
        forget. It was the time when nothing seemed to go right, even
        though we got over to Germany and attended the Mekka Symposium
        2k2, as there was no separate Atari party that year.
        Understandably, the EIL guys wanted a break, whilst there was
        nothing else going on apart from MS2k2. However, as we found
        out, it wasn't the best journey we made and the party itself
        (although in no way was any trouble caused by Lotek Style, the
        organiser of the Atari section where we were) was also quite
        shitty too. The one bright spark that I recall was the fact that
        we got to meet Nerve for the first time. He was there with an
        Amiga-based friend of his, Frequent, who was a nice guy to talk
        to - and apart from both of these guys and us from the Atari
        scene there, no one else was that friendly, in fact, quite the

        We had one particular dipstick who was sitting a few rows down
        from us and off to the right, who kept using his megaphone at
        totally inappropriate times during the party, sounding almost
        like Adolf Hitler, ranting and raving as he was always portrayed
        in so doing before the recently-released movie, Downfall. He
        ruined quite a lot of the demo compo showings, including the
        Atari demo show, so much so that the impression was gained that
        there would have been some serious ass-kicking later on had we
        got hold of the guy. Behaviour like this is not tolerated
        generally at the Atari parties we've been to over the years, at
        MS2k2 it seemed like there were a lot of kiddies there who were
        away for a weekend without their parents, hence they had the
        idea to get very drunk and start playing up.

        This was, in the end, one of the worst big parties that we'd
        attended. The sleeping area was a big tent with piped heating,
        the only major problem with that was that where our sleeping
        bags were was where the heat itself wasn't reaching ! It ended
        up being rather cold in there as a result and a bit damp. People
        running in and out of the sleeping tent didn't help either, as
        the floor was constantly moving up and down, giving the
        impression of being on a very bad boat trip. Q-Funk had joined
        the travelling party of Finns and Estonians to come to this
        particular party, and he also introduced me to Hop, one of his
        Austrian Linux pals (HopthrisC was his full nick on IRC). Hop
        was one of the few nice guys there at the party. Anyway, getting
        back to the sleeping tent shenanigans, it appeared as though
        quite a few people were suffering with a cold when they got
        there and were passing it round to everyone else. I recall one
        night when I managed to get a space next to where Q-Funk was
        sleeping - and this was the first and so far, * only * time when
        I have heard him snoring. However, I also was feeling a bit
        stuffed up as well, so I guess if I was then I wasn't the only
        one snoring in the tent ! It led to some slight feelings of a
        weak stomach most mornings after all that, fortunately no
        sickness though, and the stomach issues cleared a bit later on.
        The food presented at the party itself wasn't too bad, although
        I personally quite enjoyed the Bratwurst mix that was made
        available. Several party goers had located what turned out to be
        a rather nice Chinese restaurant a short walk away from the
        party & I recall attending that with Q-Funk, Hop and a number of
        other guys. It was quite a mix of different nationalities at the
        table, although fortunately all of us could speak English, even
        the foreigners too. I don't recall the meal itself being that
        expensive, either, which was a help. It was one of the best
        meals we'd eaten in Germany so far, during the odd times that we
        have used restaurants or eating facilities beside the autobahn.

        The journey too and from MS2k2 was another one that is best
        forgotten about too ! Having booked the 10.40 am Stena Discovery
        ferry as usual, a pea soup of fog on the day we were due to
        travel out put paid to us catching that in time. Fortunately we
        were able to adjust our tickets for no extra charge - although
        we spent quite a strange day in and around Harwich - which, to
        be frank, didn't have a lot doing except for seeing quite a few
        chavvy type people around, the younger the scarier, with their
        babies, even when they themselves only looked to be around the
        age of 14 or so, with their differing morals. We had a
        reasonable meal in a little greasy spoon place there, not
        brilliant but it did the job, considering there wasn't even a
        Burger King or McDonalds there. Not even a Hesburger either,
        which did not go down too well !

        The final day before our original time of travelling back also
        didn't go to plan, with CiH managing to lose his passport after
        we'd both split up for a while to wander our separate ways
        around Amsterdam city centre. So, after an aborted metro trip
        back to the car park (where it took us a while to work out how
        to work the pay-machines out) we arrived too late for the ferry
        at the Hook of Holland. We got some advice from the very helpful
        Dutch customs guys, who wouldn't have had any problem with us
        boarding the ferry had it been there as they could see we were
        trustworthy. Later on that day, we managed to get in touch with
        Havoc and travelled back to Enschede for one more night. The
        next day, we visited the local police station, where CiH
        reported his passport having gone missing, so he was given some
        authorisation to enable him to leave the Netherlands with no
        problem. The ferry trip back, luckily, was relaxing and we also
        got through customs at Harwich without too many problems.

        Fortunately, Easter 2002 was a learning curve as well, with many
        hard lessons learnt, certainly in the case of CiH :)

        Forward now to the year 2003 and January has us back in Finland
        for what must be, on reflection, the most rocking Alternative
        Party to date. Alt Party IV was the official name of this one,
        and it was held at Gloria, Helsinki, as usual. There was an
        extra special guest flown in from the UK for this one, in the
        shape of the legendary Llamasoft owner and programmer, Jeff
        Minter. His presence alone was not what made the party so
        memorable, although it helped by a long way.

        Diamondie and the others who we'd met back in 2002 were there as
        normal; we also made contact for the first time with a team
        known as the 'ByteRapers', a Finnish coding crew who were also
        seen to be writing some code of some description on an ST. I
        don't, however, recall seeing any of it in a demo - even in a
        dentro, as I recall something about a demo being presented but
        the ST being used had no power cord with it or something weird
        like that. Maybe it's just me getting a bit confused.

        Alt Party IV had a rather clever compo in it though, featuring
        rather a lot of entries from previous parties (and not just Alt
        parties either) that had been disqualified for various reasons.
        One of these in particular was by a UK group called 'Milk Gods'
        - and this one had Jeff in stitches, so much so that he could
        not stop falling off his chair, he was laughing so much. Mind
        you, so were the rest of us, and there was a lot of rolling
        around on the floor for some time afterwards.

        The afterparty this year at Rantasauna in Espoo was also Jeff's
        first sauna experience - and I think he enjoyed it ! The famous
        cries of 'Sheepies!' was heard to be uttered seconds before he
        was carried in by Setok or Twilighte, not quite sure if that did
        actually happen but I'd had a bit to drink by then, so that's up
        for question.

        Easter 2003 saw us making a welcome return back to Dresden, this
        time in a new location, for the third in the series of Error in
        Line parties. Asteroid also joined us for this one, travelling
        down in the car with us. We picked up a stray Earx along the way
        as well, as we'd agreed to travel in convoy down from Enschede
        to Dresden. This worked well for 3/4 of the journey, then we
        seemed to lose them. The journey was quite uneventful on the way
        down, apart from the time when we realised that we'd run out of
        cat's eyes on the road. As a consequence of this, I realised
        just how dirty my headlights were, but we got there in the end,
        a bit later than scheduled. Dresden itself was quite unfamiliar
        at night, but we soon got our bearings, after heading for the
        Hauptbahnhof (central station).

        The new venue was above ground and was very spacious. This was a
        real improvement on the previous partyplace (of course, there
        was nothing wrong with it anyway), with high ceilings and huge
        rooms, mainly divided into smoking and non-smoking rooms. Most
        people in the Atari scene were there, with the unfortunate
        exception of Grey / Mystic Bytes, due to some passport
        irregularity or other. There were some great entries at this
        party in terms of the compos, particularly the music & graphics
        compos, although the demos which were released were also good.

        One of the ladies organised a walk around Dresden city centre,
        which I took part in, along with quite a few of the others. The
        walk was very interesting, with a wander across to the historic
        Frauenkirche and other historic parts of the city centre area.
        However, the walk made us realise just how hungry we were when
        we got back, so pizzas were promptly ordered.

        We also had the third in the infamous series of the game 'Whip-
        Pong' - although most of you reading this will know what that
        is. It was the best yet, with ST Ghost winning, if I recall
        correctly. Although all of the Atari-related parties have
        generally been quite relaxing, this was the best yet, with a
        bar-type area in one of the front rooms. The ladies there did a
        superb job of running the said bar and I don't think they ran
        out of food or drink the whole time we were there ! There was
        also plenty of space there to chat, move around and just
        generally chill out.

        There was certainly an amusing journey back from Dresden at this
        point. Whilst the car itself was fine and got us back without
        too many problems, we had some amusement with Asteroid, who
        decided to eat a meal at one of the service stations, consisting
        of a Sauerkraut & Currywurst combination. He felt fine after we
        left the service station, although I wonder if he had a bad
        stomach or something, as he was farting, extremely loudly &
        making the car stink like crazy. I don't know how often the
        windows were lowered, every time a loud fart was heard from the
        back of the car ! And it wasn't even me either, which makes a
        change !

        We jump to the year 2004 now, with our now regular trip over to
        Finland for another Alternative Party. Now, even though the
        party itself was good, there appeared to be an ever so slightly
        downbeat mood to it, as though the previous year's party with
        Jeff Minter couldn't be bettered. However, this was the year
        that the afterparty sauna came into being also one of the items
        to look forward to.

        As time gets on and life also catches up with some of us, even
        geeks like ourselves end up mixing with the opposite sex, even
        if that does happen later to us than non-sceners. A few females,
        who we didn't know much about before, presented themselves both
        at the party itself and then at the afterparty. Yes, all of them
        were attractive, it has to be said, although we were not
        prepared initially for what turned out be a brave move on some
        of their parts.

        The saunaparty had, for the last few years, been largely
        restricted to a male sauna, not that this was a problem for any
        of us. However, this time, quite a few of the ladies who were
        with us for the entire night decided to join all of us in the
        sauna - which was amusing, apart from the obvious. Most of us
        managed to keep our feelings hidden quite well, apart from a
        French guy, Nystep, who was with us at the time. He confessed
        that he'd got a hard-on when Marycloud stepped into the sauna.
        Fortunately she was ok about that, but she was flattered. You
        can see why when you check out her page on IRC-Galleria. As you
        can see, this particular afterparty went down a scream ! It was
        a night when quite a lot was drunk for all of us and, due to CiH
        and myself having booked our flights for more sensible times, we
        were able to stay with this one for the entire duration. Other
        notable ladies that also enjoyed the saunaparty were Osyn and
        Hiiop, although Hiiop herself didn't go in as far as I recall.
        Osyn, however, was exactly the opposite, it only took someone to
        say the magic word 'sauna' and, almost in a flash, she was half-
        nude from the waist down. I swear some wizard must have appeared
        by magic, debagged her, then disappeared again just as quickly !
        To give an example, see the Japanese 'Shuri' DVD's, available
        from allabout or

        This was, in our opinion, certainly my best time yet in Finland,
        and it confirmed the afterparty as being something definite to
        look forward to, even if the parties themselves were getting a
        little long in the tooth. The time was still enjoyable, no
        worries about that.

        As there were to be no more Error in Line parties, at least for
        the time being (and at the time of writing), the Dutch guys,
        namely Havoc, Earx, D-Force and TheMatch, came up with a party
        which was to be held in The Netherlands, for a change. This
        meant that myself and CiH didn't have to spend a long time
        driving in the car (even though the trips into Germany were
        never boring at all), but had around a hour and a half's travel
        from each of the ports at either end, both from home in UK and
        to get to the party location in The Netherlands itself.

        The 1st of these parties stuck with the name of Outline - and
        even though it was a bit smaller than the successful Error in
        Line parties, most of the Atari scene guys turned up for this.
        It was quite compact, but the building at Beusink, where the
        party was held, was a cool Dutch camping building. Some fun and
        games were had with the beds there, with quite a few of them
        getting accidentally broken. Too much bouncing around? Well, not
        quite, apart from the usual sleeping motions. And yes, even
        though some people were snoring a bit, it wasn't impossible to
        get some sleep, even through that and the inevitable farting
        noises which tend to accompany a load of guys sleeping in a hall
        in a group (separately in sleeping bags too, nothing weird going
        on hopefully) :)

        We had a good turnout for the party, with one of the largest
        turnouts from the UK to be seen for a few years, in the shape of
        at least four of the Reservoir Gods; Mr Pink, MSG, Damo & SH3 (I
        think he was there), along with myself and CiH. There was also a
        visit made by members of Aggression (Setok, Lance, Wiztom). Not
        sure if MSK was there, perhaps not. They were apparently working
        on what looked suspiciously like a new demo. So far, nothing has
        been seen of a release, but watch this space!

        Quite a few older Dutch Atari-sceners also visited the party,
        some of whom I hadn't seen since the first ever party I went to,
        Symposium 96. An appearance was made by Rich Karsmakers (editor,
        ST News) was very welcome as we hadn't seen him for a while.
        Also, Bonus & Wingleader attended too, with some other Dutch
        sceners whose names I forget, but who I recognised from
        Symposium '96 too. It was great to chat with them for a while
        and catch up with what each other had been doing over the years
        and made this particular party just that little bit special.

        It was also a good party for compo entries. Even Twilighte (Oric
        coder, Defence Force) made it to the party as well, he enjoyed
        the relaxed atmosphere to get on and work on some code for
        future releases. He ended up travelling back with us in the car
        in the end, at least as far as Harwich, following his discovery
        that his previously booked BA flight would have meant his
        needing to be at Schiphol by 3 in the morning on the Monday.
        Now, public transport in the Netherlands generally is good; but
        from where we were there would have been a problem. Apart from a
        little deviation to sort out a flat tyre on my car, the journey
        back went without too many problems. Twilighte had himself just
        attended Alt parties in Finland before this & we'd got to know
        him at these events as a result.

        The year 2005 followed a similar pattern again, with an
        Alternative Party in Finland at the usual time-slot in January.
        This particular one was for some reason the quietest Alt party
        so far, but was still cool though, the theme being big business.
        On the main stage was a rather good act called 'David Hasselhoff
        Big Band' - featuring Basscadet and other guys from Finland.
        They played an excellent set and we hope to see them again at
        some point in the near future. The afterparty was the main
        highlight this time, although it was rather odd to be with a
        very quiet Nosfe. He'd lost his bounce for whatever reason and I
        honestly hope he locates where he put it ! Even though he has
        had a tendency to bounce around, he's never been offensive in
        any way - far from it, talking to him generally he's a good

        For the second time in a row in Finland, the sauna afterparty
        was slightly better than the altparty for that year. Athough
        we've enjoyed visiting Alt over the years, there was an
        impression that the format or something had got rather stale.
        Still, it is hoped that this kind of thing can be rejuvenated in
        another way. Anyway, back to the afterparty, this went very well
        and included another mixed sauna too. As well as the usual crop
        of guys at the place, Marycloud and some others also joined us,
        while not all of the ladies joined us in the sauna, Marycloud
        certainly did along with one or two others. Osyn, of course,
        also joined us in the sauna too. Osyn herself was even more
        friendly than before, having got used to us and a small group of
        us, namely myself, CiH and Twilighte and her were talking for a
        little while in the sauna itself. She's a great girl. It's
        really great to see that these particular ladies can trust us in
        these situations, as it is understood that mixed saunas are not
        a common occurrence, even in Finland and when it does occur it
        tends to be members of a family group.

        Easter, in 2005, saw us travelling for a second time to the 2nd
        in the series of Outline parties, held in the Netherlands.
        Whilst this particular party was a fair bit smaller than the
        previous year, it was held at a cool camping place just outside
        the small Dutch village of Braamt. Almost a chocolate-box type
        of village, beautifully swept and clean, Braamt was not too hard
        to find from the main road & the location itself was easy to

        The usual Atari crowd was there, in slightly smaller numbers but
        the party itself didn't, I feel, suffer despite this. Quite a
        lot of people were missing, but those that were there were cool
        - including 505, Paranoid, Mr Pink, Partycle, Baggio & Deez, the
        Nature brothers, the cool Frenchies including Chuck & Dma-Sc,
        along with others. I got a chance to play with a GP32 handheld
        console there too and was quite impressed by that.

        It's been fun, trawling through those party memories. I just
        hope that you all enjoyed reading them, as much as I enjoyed
        writing them.

        Now, it'll be interesting to hear someone else's, I think :)

                                                  Felice for Alive, 2006

Alive 13