Under the Volcano Festival Cates Park, Vancouver BC - August 10, 2003

Under the Volcano Festival Cates Park, Vancouver BC - August 10, 2003
"If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution," said the infamous anarchist activist, writer, feminist, jailbird and all-round rabble-rouser Emma Goldman. Well, all of Emma's fans present at this year's Under the Volcano Festival certainly weren't disappointed. Now in its 14th year, this annual festival, staged in a beautiful oceanfront park on Vancouver's North Shore, provides the chance for folks of all lefty stripes to come together for the day, share information, ideas and strategies, and dance. Billed as a festival of art and social change, the politics of this event are clear. The day is full of workshops on topics such as fighting oppression, sovereignty issues, resistance tactics and combating the imperialist war machine. A large part of the festival grounds are also set aside for information booths representing a diverse range of local community activist groups. All that said, however, the festival's musical line-up, featuring 50 artists on five stages, also shows that being activists and throwing a good party are not mutually exclusive. Throughout the day, hip-hop, drum & bass and trance beats overflowed from the Tribal Harmonix Collective DJ Stage hidden in amongst the woods, featuring well-known local DJs such as Jacob Cino (Third Eye Tribe). Meanwhile, politically-charged rock, folk, spoken word and grooves, showcasing the likes of Rae Spoon, Kathleen Yearwood and Threat from Outer Space, emanated from other side stages. While the lack of a well-known headliner may have resulted in this year's slightly smaller gate attendance, the main stage performances were nevertheless impressive. Many seemed there to see and hear David Hilliard, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, who spoke before introducing San Francisco area's the Black Panther Fugitives onto the stage. Likewise, Blackfire, a political punk trio from Diné (Navajo) Nation pulled no punches and had the crowd up and dancing into the early evening. When the festival began, no one imagined the successful annual event it would become. But it is an amazing thing what the collective energy of a small group of determined, creative, angry people can, and continues, to do.