RITE has all earthy about it, the grained barebrick surrounds of Islington Mill, the darkness of the night, the darkness of the interior and the effect like a warren of the mass of open-eyed inhabitants. There are things that pass by in the night, there are things which spark and burn and fade and things that lurch and all are exhibited here. They live.
Here is no gallery. We are not under glass. A musician/DJ stage/dance area is separated from the bulk of the room by a screen of cling film. By the night’s end, walls have become unnecessary and the film is torn out. The space breathes in, fills its lungs to accommodate the total will of the bodies here. The night is a night of bodies. We all have those in common. Every day is the end of someone’s world, somewhere. We knew this before there were seven billion of us on this rock. We knew it when we built calendars. We share the same Moon and Sun.
RITE is a night of live art, live music, interactive performance, DJs, dancing, drink n drugs. To the side of the bar and the stage, in a corner, is a giant-sized vulva. It is filled with red cushions, it is big enough to crawl inside. The air is softer in there. I have heard it is in the womb that we learn to dream. Crawling back out, into the press, is an an opportunity to be rebirthed, to think how we move from place to place.
There is no line between the places where we dream and wake. Here, tonight, it is often unclear who is performing and who audience. We are all equal part of the spectacle of our own habitation of the space. A town is not a pile of buildings, but the living things which move between them. A pair of human flowers stalk the floor, coaxing haikus from the people they encounter. I am handed a packet of glitter, a chocolate button, a tinsel garland. I am bought a drink. The colours and the people blur fantastically.
‘ATTENTION: Everyone has a right to feel safe. Here, everyone can dance how they want, dress how they want, kiss who they want and be who they want. Anyone spoiling this safe-space policy will kindly be asked to leave.‘
Ritual marks our lives. There is something deeply familiar in the way RITE deposes the normal rules of existence. The third of February is not an equinox or solstice but feels like it may well be. We draw and lay upon ourselves significance from the placement of the Sun, Moon and Earth. I feel lately I have only shortly come back to Manchester from the mental miasma that was Christmas and New Year. RITE has been a kind of remedy to me. This loose-edged event has brought me clarity.
Tthe whole creative act is a hauling out, surely. The world has no sense in it that doesn’t come from us. It feels liberating to be overwhelmed, overstimulated. I am not sold a point. In fact, I am told nothing from start to finish. I am shown a kind of world, which I am part of. I am hauled out of the usual world and reminded that any random loneliness is an illusion, the trick being where to look.
The trick worked by RITE is that I step back into Manchester feeling wholly unnatural. Steel and glass hundred metres high and metal tubes that carry me home to my brick house are just as natural as strapping a plastic baby to your hips, wearing fake antlers or covering my face in glitter. What is natural or not has always been up to us, all animals, after all. 24 years becomes a pitiful amount of time to have been on the Earth and altogether entirely sufficient. I wonder how many years in total we here have all shared this earth. Surely thousands.
If a statement could be teased from RITE, it would be on permission. It would be a reaction, maybe, to fear. For one night, in a mill, under drizzle, everything was allowed and nothing hurt.