I didn't get to Manchester until Saturday afternoon, but from what I heard Friday involved busting some badly co-ordinated moves at a local hard and deep techno outlet, 'Havok'. It sounds like *the* place for frenzied acid techno in the Manchester area. Unfortunately I was at London 2600 trying to convince the bar staff to microwave a glass of coke because they didn't have any hot drinks. And they say Londoners don't know how to party. I take it most people had a wild time, in fact the first words I heard from a certain manchester haxxor when I arrived were "I've been up for three days you know". There were reports of a few casualties along the way, but apparently after a few days calming out they are back to their former k0de crunching, DNS hacking selves.
By the time me and my compatriot reached the venue (pity you can't hack the trains) the network was virtually set up and it looked like the Manchester crew had sorted out a very classy establishment for the evenings entertainment. Haxxor parties aren't know for their high level of class or sophistication, but it was good to know we can cut it where it cuts. At least long enough for the management to work out they didn't want spaced out, shifty looking deviants in their bar ("We have a dress code you know, some of your friends have hair out here !"). So we get moved up to the upstairs flat, which came complete with a black and white tiger print bedroom, which was nice.
The usual suspects started rolling in about 7 and the party kicked off in earnest. There were a good few people there, and finding floor space wasn't easy. However, we managed and everything was going more or less to plan. It seemed the bar we were in previously had turned into a over twenty fives cheese out night club, so we kinda kept to ourselves and did what we did best. Several trashing expeditions were executed with I am told, the appropriate amount of stealth for a large group of inebriated hackers in a city they'd never seen before. However, with a few expert hands available they managed to arrive back with large black bags full of random k0des and a large metal box which turned out to be a AUI hub.
At this time, I'm kicking back and enjoying myself when one of the staff members from down stairs come's up and asks someone if it's OK if his girlfriend can use the toilet. Seems fine to us but why can't she use the toilet down stairs. "Oh because the bar has been totalled in huge brawl and there are twenty police vans outside". This was the point were things became slightly less chilled.
Events from now on are in a slightly more random order. I shall try and summarize. The management decide it would be best if we were to leave. The organiser decides it would be best if he didn't pay the management their money, as we were being kicked out several hours early. The management decide that they now owned all of our computer equipment. After some 'lively debate' some rather good points were made by both sides, I was especially persuaded by the argument that if we didn't leave the bouncers would kick the shit out of us. The organiser wasn't quite so persuaded by this because a fair slice of the budget was invested in a bung for one of the bouncers. Unfortunately he had left, strangely just before the bar got trashed. The result of the negotiations were that we left with our hardware and ourselves intact. Despite the successful outcome I shan't be recommending any of our crack negotiators for further work in the field.
Taxi's proved to be the next hurdle. Strangely taxi drivers didn't seem to keen on transporting 50 of britains least employed computer experts to deepest moss side. Especially as they looked to be carrying the contents of Dixons christmas window display with them. Eventually we found people who would, and after enough danger money, we all managed to get to our no star accomodation intact. By the time I got their it was decked out with all latest in home comforts. Apparently Friday's guests didn't experience the wonders of the light bulb until late in the evening.
After cramming into a room the size of a server cupboard and some general narkiness, we settled down to the business of chilling out. Which was badly needed. I drifted off to sleep as the dawn was breaking.
Apart from a few notable exceptions there was a good spread of the UK crew there. It's always good to see old and new faces and get the gossip from the people who count. There was a slightly more narky atmosphere than at some previous gatherings, but I put this down to partying on comedowns and the natural cycle of creative communities. Come Sunday morning, the same hands were shaken and calm descended on our haxxor brains. The train journey back was mercifully comfortable and I spent the time happily discussing the world and its warez with some of the chilled out hardcore.
Manchester crew: Damn good work.
Rabid haxxors: Good to see you as always. You know who you are.