Spiral Tribe

Spiral Tribe

Spiral Tribe is a free party sound system which existed in the first half of the 1990s, and became active again in 2007 and continues to host clubnights and parties in the UK and across Europe. The collective originated in west London and later travelled across Europe and North America. According to one member, the name came to him when he was at work, staring at a poster of the interconnecting spirals in an ammonite shell.[1] The group had a huge influence on the emerging free tekno subculture. Members of the collective released seminal records on their label, Network 23.



From 1990 until 1992, Spiral Tribe were responsible for numerous parties, raves and festivals in indoor and outdoor locations. These mainly occurred in the south of England. The largest and most famous party the group organised was the Castlemorton Common Festival free party in May 1992.[2] Thirteen members of the group were arrested immediately after the Castlemorton event and were subsequently charged with public order offences.[3] Their trial became one of the longest running and most expensive cases in British legal history, lasting four months and costing the UK £4 million.[4] Regarding Castlemorton, Nigel South states that "the adverse publicity attending the event laid the groundwork for the Criminal Justice Act 1994".[5] Low and Barnett opine in Spaces of Democracy that "Spiral Tribe, with their free and inclusive parties, succeeded in constituting an alternative public space, rather than just a secret one.".[6] Between 1990 and 1992, parties included:


After being acquitted of all charges relating to Castlemorton in March 1993, shortly after the group moved to Europe, doing parties in cities such as Rotterdam, Paris and Berlin. Over the next few years, the collective organised parties and teknivals throughout Europe, then it slowly dispersed with some members taking up residence in Germany and the Netherlands and releasing work on Labworks and many other techno labels. Individual members of the collective joined other sound systems, did squat art events or pursued other interests.

From the summer of 1994 a number of free parties were organised by Spiral Tribe members throughout Europe. When the parties were large festivals with an open invitation to other sound systems and artists to participate, they came to be known as teknivals. In tribute to this collective, the type of music predominantly played at early teknivals came to be known as spiral tekno. Parties included the following:[7]


Chicago 1993 at Pulse - Ripe Productions. Three Castlemorton members play. Spiral Tribe also toured the United States of America in 1996 and were hosted by Pirate Audio and S.P.A.Z. Soundsystems on a coast-to-coast free tekno party tour.

In 1997, Spiral Tribe toured America with a rig and crew, joining forces once again with free party systems. They were instrumental in the initiation of the Autonomous Mutant Festival in July of that year, which continues to this day. The 16th Festival was held in 2012.

Rest of World

On New Year's Eve, December 1998, the Tribe hosted a party in Goa, India.

Spiral Tribe members

The notion of member of the tribe was informal; quickly numerous artists joined the initial four members, accompanying them on their trips, some for holidays only, others in a more long-lasting way. The public tended to consider every artist performing at one of their free parties a Spiral member.

Members of Spiral Tribe have included the following artists:[8] Sebastian (alias 69db), Mark Stormcore, Zander, Steve What's on, Lol Hammond, Simon (alias Crystal Distortion), Jeff 23 (alias DJ Tal), Ixindamix, MeltDown Mickey, kaos, MC Skallywag, Debbie (aka Pheen X), Timmy Tribe, Paula, Sally, Alex 65, Deano, Steve Bedlam, Orinoco (AKA DJNerate), James (alias Jack Acid), Stefnie, Little Ez, Nigel (alias Edge), DJ Crafty (T.C.), DJ Aztek, DJ Curiel DJ Manic Josh, DJ Renegad Sid, DJ Charlie Hall, DJ Mr K, DJ Dark, Hamish, Darren, Dougie, Sacha, Old Frank,Scouse, Paul, Sim Simmer, Joe, Sheba Luv (bathsh3ba), Tim Evans (Heathfield), Sancha, Sirius, Dom, Mitch, Terminator Chris, Roger Raver special K.

The number 23

The number 23, which is used in their record label name and in the title of several of their tracks, comes from the book The Cosmic Trigger by Robert Anton Wilson, which was read by several group members.


In 1992, some members of the collective signed to the major label Big Life, as a result of the publicity generated from their involvement in the organisation of the Castlemorton Common Festival. Three EPs were released and two albums, one merely a compilation of the tracks from the EPs, the other a full album entitled Tekno Terra. They also stole a Rig from Big Life records, along with other rigs that were leant to them.

Members of Spiral Tribe also released records on their own label Network 23.

In 1997, Techno Import, a French commercial distributor, compiled a CD entitled Spiral Tribe: The Sound of Teknival. The CD consisted of previously licensed material via Big Life Music, Rabbit City, Drop Bass Network and Force Inc. It was released without any consent from members of Spiral Tribe, was advertised on television and sold at least 30,000 copies. Spiral Tribe issued a statement against its release which began, "F**k Techno Import, Spiral Tribe Is Not For Sale", and had to take quick action to ensure the name Spiral Tribe was not copyrighted by Techno Import.


12" releases (in chronological order)

SP23 the music aint over

Note: They also released EP 23 No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 (World Domination Part 1, 2 and 3), as well as a few untitled promo CDs, but there is little documentation about these vinyls.



Tracks appeared on

Recent news

In 2011, several of the original members of Spiral Tribe launched the SP23 of today. A creative collective involved in a number of grass roots projects as well as major international parties, more information can be found on their website.[9]

See also


  1. Guest, Tim (11 July 2009). "Tim Guest tells the story of how the state crushed the early 90s free party scene". Thewguardian.com. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  2. Reynolds, S. (1999) Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture Routledge ISBN 0-415-92373-5
  3. Brewster B. & Broughton F., 1999, Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey, Grove Press, ISBN 0-8021-3688-5
  4. ed. South N., 1999, Drugs: Cultures, Controls and Everyday Life, SAGE Publications, ISBN 0-7619-5235-7
  5. ed. Low M. and Barnett C., 2004, Spaces of Democracy: Geographical Perspectives on Citizenship, Participation and Representation, SAGE Publications, ISBN 0-7619-4734-5
  6. "Spiral Tribe". Elektrokanibal.org. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  7. List of Spiral Tribe members compiled from various sources:
    • New Musical Express: 9 January 1993 & 8 May 1993,
    • I-D Magazine: April 1992,
    • Mixmag: 16 September 1992,
    • Max: N° 60 July 1994,
    • Muzik (USA): N° 28 September 1997,
    • Coda Magazine (France),
    • Technomad "global raving culture" Graham St John 2009 Equinox Publishing Ltd (UK) ISBN 978-1-84553-625-1
  8. "SP23 is a creative conspiracy of musicians, DJs and artists. The origins of the collaboration goes back twenty years when the crew began a nomadic journey across Europe and beyond with the Spiral Tribe Sound System.". Sp23.org. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
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