Millennium'1901 Demoparty: Inside Out
Sergei Dubarev AKA Heaven Aeroplane
This article describes Millennium'1901 Demoparty events. The party itself took place in Tunnel Club, Minsk, Belarus, on 5th and 6th of May, 2001. The "1901" suffix in the party name means overflow, Y2K problem and everything else of this kind, I think. :-)
Oh, and sorry for a little bit clumsy English. I successfully forgot the grammar as soon as I graduated from school seven years ago. :-D
Well, the first thing I should say is that it was much easier for me to describe the previous Millennium'1900 Demoparty from a viewpoint of just an ordinary visitor. At Millennium'1901 I was among the organizers. I've seen "the other side of the Moon", "the inside out", hidden from the rest of the party visitors and sometimes even participants. The whole party was hard work, an instant fight against bugs and other circumstances of this kind. Millennium'1901 wasn't 100% pure success but, at least, I think, the organization level was rather high. We've even got some official sponsors this time. :)
I didn't know what sort of start the party would have. DJ Psych (one of the organizers) was ill and did no pre-selection. We got problems with hardware: the people who had offered us iP-III-800 had disappeared one or two days before the party along with the subject of their offers and we had to hold the event on Cooler's K6-2-450 and my "modern typewriter" MII-300. ;-( We received lots of works via e-mail and ftp but we hardly realized how many of them would be brought directly to the party...
A group of organizers rushed to my house through the silent street on Beard's old car. (By the way, they had a delay of 15 minutes. :-)) As soon as my hardware and me myself, of course, ;) had got into the car, we continued our trip to the Tunnel Club.
When we arrived at the partyplace, we discovered that there was no club DJ at his working place. This meant no electricity at all... And we couldn't turn on the PCs, tune them and do a kind of pre-selection. On the other hand, we managed to arrange (and count) the seats in the hall. The multimedia projector also arrived later.
At about ten o'clock in the morning the club DJ appeared and we tried to turn on our hardware. And, what was this??? Oh... The installation of the net card drivers caused Windows to crash. Great, isn't it?! Ok, to tell you the truth, Windows could boot after that but it reported lost DLLs and VXDs every minute... Then, the club administration left us without a telephone line, i. e. without dial-up Internet access... The first visitors and participants began to enter the hall...
Closer to eleven o'clock the total nightmare started: people brought lots of compo works on floppies (even on 5.25" ones), CDs and hard drives. I had to disassemble my PC partially and start the "Copy-copy compo". At the moment of disassembly I hurt my hand and, thus, shed my blood for the demoscene. Cooler/Psycho and the other organizer, Igor Lobanchikov, did the same copying along with solving a thousand other problems. The ill DJ Psych was instantly talking into the microphone to entertain the party visitors and hide the "global catastrophe". The demonstration of the best scene works via projector served the same purpose.
Some "strange people for a strange reason" brought ten works from the author (party rules allowed two ones) causing us to do "an on-line pre-selection". Lots of archives contained no descriptions and no "file_id.diz" files... Other "strange persons" gave their works awful names (like "--=+'H@ll0'+=--"), so, it was impossible to copy them by means of Windows. What a happy chance that Linus Torvalds had had the idea to create Linux! I booted to it, copied the strange files with Midnight Commander, and renamed them in the proper way. All these problems took two hours of the party time.
Twelve o'clock, at last. And the compos started, at last! Four-channel music, PC/Ammy graphics, Animations, etc... All this stuff passed aside of my attention because I felt myself like C.C. Capwell while he was unconscious within 200 episodes of the Santa-Barbara "soap series". Some people said that the party sound was awful, the rest said it was great... Hmmm... I was sitting in front of the sound system (2 meters maximum) and my left ear became almost deaf for two days... But it seems to me that "day one's" sound was worse than "day two's"...
During the breaks between compos people communicated with each other and left their signatures on the large A1-size paper sheet. For example, Snake/PHD left the ad for his "fenzin.ru" library and Mentat added the word "pirates" to this advertisement. ;-) Phrases like "DJ Psych must die" could also be read there. ;-)
Around 17:00 the first day was over... At last, we decided to hold all the ZX Spectrum compos tomorrow. DJ Psych invited everybody to the so-called "hidden party", which is usually held in the forest. For those people who doesn't know what the hidden party is, I must tell that it's a kind of picnic... with lots of vodka bottles... ;-) Party visitors from other cities and countries received a list of Minsk hotels with prices and phone numbers, so they could spend a night in a calm and safe place... :-)
Cooler/Psycho, Igor Lobanchikov, Hammer, me and our hardware with the help of Snake/PHD and his old good Peugeot ;-) went to Cooler's home where we started trying to tune all this scraps of silicon and code... And again, problems with Windows, net cards and other things. At last, we tuned a usual serial connection via COM-ports. Around midnight we left Cooler and went home to have a rest...
When I arrived at Cooler's house at half past seven in the morning, he was busy printing the first day winners' names into diplomas. Soon the rest of our team arrived, we reserved a taxi and went to the club.
Like yesterday, we had no electricity in the party hall. Thanks to Hammer, his Amiga 1200 and its small size and weight we easily brought a computer to the ground floor of the club where the electricity was on. So, we managed to copy some party works before the party itself started. The other surprise was prepared "by us and for us": we'd forgotten to take ALL THE VOTE LISTS! Thanks to Cooler/Psycho's mother for her real heroism! She brought the forgotten lists to the party and helped much while counting the final scores.
Personally I think, that the ZX Spectrum compos were held at a very high level (anyway, I can't say this about some PC compos) although all the works were presented using the Z80Stealth emulator and not on the real Speccy. At the time when the PC MP3 compo was held, we arranged the works into different floppy disk image files to simplify their handling. The sound system tuning within the ZX Spectrum compos was incredible! There were NO PEOPLE saying "Oh, again these old-schoolers with their 3-channel blips and blops and 16-color graphics!" These compos were held along with Paul Pavlov, the owner of the Virtual TR-DOS site. He brought almost all of the ZX Spectrum compo works that were sent to him and a 5.25 inch floppy drive, which was wet because of the beer. :-)
Then the rest of the PC compos were held bringing us several minor problems like an intro hanging the K6-2-based PC... We ran it on my old Cyrix and it looked like good although it was black & white because of the old VESA BIOS in my Matrox Millennium video card .
The party final was rather clumsy because there was no time to count votes properly. So, we got a kind of Belarusian version of the "American comedy" when the votes were counted again and again to get the president elections result but in our case the final scores differed greatly from the first results... Anyway, the winners had got their prizes - diplomas, PC games on CDs, T-shirts, etc...
The Final Words of Wisdom
In spite of all the troubles we had on our way during the party, personally I enjoyed these two days greatly! It's hard to hold the party "properly" but... in the end I've got only pleasure and nothing more!
We would have never coped with this work without the help of B-Reeze/FishBone, Hans/Psycho, Kaz/Psycho, Hammer, Beard, Snake/PHD, DJ Freax/Psycho and many, many other people. Thank you all, folks!
Links of Interest
Belarusian Demoscene and Millennium Demoparty
FishBone - Belarusian Demoscene Group
Fenzin - Science Fiction and Fantasy Books in Russian
FreeArt - The ZX Spectrum and GameBoy Color Development
Virtual TR-DOS - The Great ZX Spectrum File Archive
The Psycho Team
Sergei Dubarev AKA Heaven Aeroplane