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Claus Sterneck / Claus in Iceland
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Wolfgang Sterneck
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Wolfgang Sterneck


The new tribes

The vision of the cybertribes links the understanding of old cultures with the knowledge of today. It links the experiences of witches, resistance fighters and reality hackers to use them for our age now and develop them for the future. Personal development and social change merge into a new unity.

The cybertribe vision neither stands for a determined principle of organisation, nor for dogmatic ideologies. And even the projects don’t have to call themselves cybertribe to realise certain elements of their vision. It is more about tribes in the sense of gatherings, projects and communities, using contemporary technologies for interaction, symbolised and summarised in the “cyber” concept.

These post-modern tribes, in all their different focuses, set flexible networks, based on self-determination and equality, against the predominant authoritarian structures. They emerge wherever there is a new consciousness against manipulation, solidarity against competition and a politics of resistance against the process of destruction.

You find elements of the cybertribe vision in many fields. For example, urban political activists in the Australian outback joining groups of Aborigines to fight against the destruction of the environment through the mining of uranium. They use traditional rituals such as electronic music and modern media. The psychonauts of today use both plant entheogens and relatively new psychedelic substances for their trips into the inner cosmos. As an ideal, Techno or Goa parties are consistent with these original trance rituals where today’s electronic instruments are being played instead of wooden drums.

The individual cybertribes in their many shapes are an outcry and an uprising against the omnipresent exploitation of man and nature. They can also be regarded as a kind of escape or the proverbial dance on the volcano with regard to the current ecological and social developments.

It seems very unlikely in the current structures of power to achieve sustainable changes. But every single person is responsible for making change possible, by being the spanner in the works and not the grease that keeps the destructive process alive. Many projects that act in the spirit of the cybertribe vision show the necessity and concrete possibilities to react and develop free spaces, where at least a rudimentary but different life is possible.

Music, Mind and Politics

The cybertribe vision finds analogy in some underground culture projects such as Techno or in the Goa Psytrance culture. In the 90s the attitude towards life for a huge part of the younger generation was reflected in those scenes and parties. New musical forms of expression and a certain feeling of community shaped the cultural evolution in those days as did the Trance experience, dancing for hours and using psychoactive substances.

The Psytrance scene opened up an even wider understanding of partying that was originally based on a holistic concept. The scene contributed important impetuses for alternative cultural developments and personal self-fulfilment. Unfortunately, the Goa scene, after some inspiring years, has meanwhile passed its peak and is now entangled in a mesh of clichés, consumerism and commerce.

With this background in mind, reflective discussions about these developments are necessary – and they have to go far beyond the discussions about new trends in music evolution. Another option is to intensify the development of networks so as to promote exchange and a synergetic concentration of energy. An example of this is the trance scene, “Sonic Cybertribe Network”, putting alternative and idealistic projects that originate in the party culture into practice. The crucial essence is the constant development of an understanding that combines cultural and political aspects.

This understanding can be found in the “Connecta” concept which is based on the linkage of music, mind and politics. Besides the music programme, many more elements are incorporated in this concept such as workshops, sessions, discussions and cinema shows and also political information and actions. This concept breaks the predominant consumerist attitude by offering chances for active participation. It fosters reflective disputes and critical engagement and offers a wide space for hedonist and creative development.

The Connecta concept is reflected in the “Gathering of the Tribes” festivals that look back on a manifold tradition. The idea of the gathering of tribes is like a red line in history – from the gatherings of indigenous tribes to the psychedelic gatherings of the Hippies to the counter-cultural events of the cybertribes.

We are able to reach the stars

The “Gathering of the Tribes” in Frankfurt started in 2005 as an annual Goa festival and represented not only the creative aspects of this scene but its stagnation as well. After two years, the festival opened itself up and hooked up with the “Join the Cybertribe” festivals that had taken place years before in the Signalwerk in Mainz in keeping with the “Connecta” concept. With regard to its development, this gathering is exemplary for an innovative perspective of the Psytrance scene.

Integral parts of those gatherings were panel discussions about the roots of the psychedelic culture and the relation between party and politics. People were led to become involved in important discussions that usually only very rarely happens in alternative party scenes. Other crucial elements that broke with the usual focus on the DJs were the children’s parties in the afternoon and the presentation of different cybertribe projects.

The music programme, mostly designed by Space Frogz, was put together to include not only Psytrance DJs and Electro acts but also political Rock bands and experimental Ambient projects. The playground offered the chance to participate in open drum as well as juggling sessions under the motto be-your-own-live-act. Exhibitions showed pictures of the reclaim-the-streets actions. Video documentaries gave information on squats and the resistance movement against neo-liberal globalisation. You could have attended workshops for Trance-dance and meditation. What is more, the Alice project led coordinated sessions on mature use of drugs.

The concept of music, mind and politics was completed with a spontaneous night-dance demonstration parade with mobile sound systems in Frankfurt’s inner city area. By using the motto “Free Tibet - No Gods, No Masters!“ the action was just as equally against dictatorial regimes and feudal-religious views of the world.

The “Gathering of the Tribes” events make clear what is possible when free spaces are created that are not only restricted to a single scene but see themselves as an expression of a multifarious culture of change. The symbol-like stars will become reality when we manage to live the visions of a different world in the reality of the present.

Published in:
Tom Rom and Pascal Querner (Ed).:
GOA – 20 Years of Psychedelic Trance

Wolfgang Sterneck:
Subversive Beats and Copied Spirits
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