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Mayday 2002, Mayday Festival of Alternatives
Mayday 2002, Mayday Festival of Alternatives

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Press release from, April 2002, 2nd April 2002

Wednesday May 1st 1pm - Multiple Independent Meet-up Points

This year sees us return to the traditional place of Mayday celebrations - Mayfair in London. Mayfair is the area bounded on the north by Oxford Street, on the east by Regent Street, on the south by Piccadilly & on the west by Park Lane.

Now one of the most opulent and cloistered areas in the capital, full of luxury pads, exclusive shops, fancy hotels and national embassies, it takes its name from the fair which was held every year from 1 May for 15 days until its suppression in the mid-18th century.

Mayfair was once a teeming hotbed of fun, frolics and freedom for the working masses, in what is now Shepherds Market. Circus performers, magicians, pagan priestesses, vagabonds, alchemists, nomads, witches and outlaws made merry in the mossy lanes and shacks to celebrate the over-turning of the elitist and prohibitive class system they were increasingly subject to - if only for a short time.


After having been transferred from Haymarket in 1686-8 the May Fayre soon became notorious for riotous and disorderly behaviour and in 1708 it was abolished, only to be revived again with similar results.

Building on the site was probably the most effective way of permanently suppressing the fair and by the mid-18th century almost the whole of modern Mayfair was covered with houses.

Mayday falls slap-bang in the middle of the week, so make sure you have the day off work, school, college or university. Call a strike (you know it makes sense), phone in sick (or well!), bunk off, but do whatever it takes to be on the streets of Mayfair on Wednesday 1st May.

Mayday in Mayfair

Mayday in Mayfair will be a fluid, spontaneous and exciting return to the Mayfayre, happening everywhere at once, without a fixed starting point or finish.

Four separate but intertwined elements of Ye Olde May Day will take place. There is no advertised starting point to the celebrations due to police tactics of containing movement by violently imposing cordons for hours on end, which resulted in the entrapment of thousands in Oxford Circus last year. We can't allow this to happen again! We all need to take the initiative in Mayfair.

So create your own fun events, play your own games, come with friends, join with others, generate your own street party/performance/pavement picnic, everyday-reality-subverting-situation - above all KEEP MOVING AND DON'T LET THE COPS TRAP AND SURROUND YOU! This way our festivities will not be crushed.


The 4 Elements:

The Travelling Circus

A mobile, spontaneous, and collective performance full of jesters, jugglers, minstrels, show girls, gypsies, pagan sorcerers, ring masters, ring mistresses and clowns - reclaiming the roots and culture of mayday! Fancy dress, a sense of humour and the guts to shake lose and inhabit new characters and roles; the true spirit of circus culture - is the order of the day.

The Wake for Capitalism

A vibrant and luminous celebration of the imminent death of capitalism; a celebration of the new world waiting to be born; a resistance in remembrance of those incarcerated and murdered by capitalism; and a manifestation of our defiance as a movement to be labelled 'dead' by the state, media and politicians the world over post September 11.

Following the tragedy in New York and continuing daily tragedies inflicted by the war on terrorism the world over, many people, resident citizens and "aliens" have been terrorised and attacked - the state whipping up a climate of fear to justify its new racist and authoritarian legislation and actions.

We say: DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED. Bring your fear, bring your terror and exorcise it on the streets of Mayfair. Dress all in black or white. Don the mantle of death with skeleton or ghost masks. Coffins, tombstones - fluorescent a la the Mexican day of the Dead or blacker than black props and garb - you chose.



A rambling, co-operative gigantic game with balls that reclaims the UK's precursor to football - gameball - in a carnivalesque way. Gameball was a mass multi-sided festival of play, enjoyed in villages throughout the country in the 15th and 16th century.

The objective of gameball was to keep the ball (or pigs bladder as it was then) moving from one end of town to the other. In the 17th and 18th centuries, people often called gameball get-togethers with the aim of pulling down the fences around enclosed land - common land 'privatised' by the gentry, the state and private landlords.

This year's version of gameball has many balls and inflatables (bring them with you), with the main goal being to keep co-operating, moving and having a jolly good time. Handballs and bounces allowed. Anything goes! Our goal is a new world!


Critical Mass

Mass bicycle (or wheel barrow/horse and cart) rides are a traditional part of mayday celebrations today as much as they were in the past. Villagers and townsfolk often took to the streets and lanes, together, in a show of leisurely strength and solidarity.

Got a pair of wheels? - be it a bicycle, rollerskates, a wheelchair, a shopping trolley, or a skateboard - join in!

Get Prepared! For Mayday in Mayfair to be a huge success we all need to prepare. Make costumes, banners, flags, placards, whistles, claxons and musical instruments. Get hold of inflatables, balls, nets and other props. Make food and bring it to share. Look at a map of Mayfair and consider the possibilities. Contact us for leaflets and stickers or produce your own. Spread the word. Get together with your friends and form an affinity group - a group of people you know and trust who will look out for each other on the day. Above all get planning as Mayday is fast approaching! There will be many other autonomously organised actions taking place on Wednesday May 1st.

Note: Social centre used by the London Mayday Collective for the Festival of Alternatives is located at:
10 Great Eastern Street,
London EC2A 3NT
tel: 07786 716 335 or 07960 973 847
(The building is decorated pink/purple and is an ex-Tapas bar. It is about 10 minutes walk from Liverpool Street station; Old Street or Shoreditch tubes are also close by).

> Full timetable of events on site

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