The Foam Party

Tactics for Entry, jb124127

When I was under 18 (the legal drinking age in the UK) coming up with ways to get booze or get into spaces which we weren’t supposed to be in was usually more fun than the actual party. Our motley crew of The Clash-and-Dizzy Rascal-listening, white-cider-and-vodka-drinking boys had many different methods. For getting spirits we would recruit our oldest looking member (he already had stubble) to do this particular performance. Firstly he would take his mum’s car keys, the legal driving age was 17 but a car lent you a certain air of maturity. He would then go to the counter with some inconspicuous items, maybe some bread and eggs and ask for a bottle of whisky and some cigars, you know, all things that older people were sure to be buying for a Friday night in. This was just before the “if you look under 25 we will ask you for id” campaign, but if they did happen to see through the ingenious disguise, this was the plan: swing your mum’s car key around on your finger, and exclaim “damn, I left my ID in my car”. More often than not at this point the cashier would give up and let you purchase the items. I think it was more a case of acknowledgement of effort than an actual belief we were of legal drinking age.

When it came to getting into spaces we couldn’t rely on performance alone, our props had to get a bit more serious. There were some simple gate crashing operations, which involved smuggling a crate of beer over the back gate of what turned out to be the DJ Pete Tong’s house. Then there were venues which increasingly demanded more sophisticated ID. At first a photocopy of a passport was enough. I had recently got hold of a copy of Photoshop so this was no problem. Finally I could put that clone tool to better use than transferring animal heads onto my class photo.

For most music venues we could get in by stamp-faking. To go and see bands you would go up to town with a red, blue and black pen. After hanging around outside for a bit you could see what stamp people had on their wrist. If you knew someone in the place already or you were bold enough to ask a stranger to lick their wrist you could make a crude transfer of the stamp. If not you would pick the appropriate coloured pen and make a makeshift copy in an alleyway, give it a bit of a smudge and then the rest was up to your doorway performance. To be honest this tactic is still useful for venues when you’re feeling skint. The next level up of this is printing a wristband.

But for some venues this just wouldn’t cut it. You needed a drivers license. One summer when I was 16 or 17 there was word spreading around of a foam party. We had heard stories of foam parties. A hot summer's evening, a room full of foam, music and “well if there is foam? surely everyone would be wearing swimming costumes?”...our teenage minds ran wild. This was definitely worth breaking the law for. It was at a venue called The Watershed, where some older brother’s bands and DJs had played before, we knew you needed a driver's license to get in. This was to be our most elaborate forgery yet. By this time I had been using Fireworks, a kind of photoshop, illustrator hybrid by Macromedia, it was time to put my new skills to the test.

How to make a provisional driver's license circa 2006:

Step 1:
Take an old plastic mobile phone top-up card (these were lying around a lot at this time) and sand off the graphic till you are left with a white surface.

Step 2:
Recreate the design of the provisional driving license in your preferred software. Make sure the date of birth is realistic but not too close to turning 18.

Step 3:
Print the design onto transparent acetate (mirror the design so that the ink is on the inside)

Step 4:
Spray-mount the sheets to both side of the prepaid top-up card

Step 5: Using a scalpel carefully cut around the outline of the card

Step 6: Empty a gold gel pen. Cut a DVLA stencil from acetate and using a small brush dab the gold liquid through the stencil. Repeat to form DVLA pattern. (this is as close as you're going to get to a hologram)

By the time we got to the venue each of us with the license in our pockets, the glue had barely dried. We were nervous and it was exhilarating. One by one all of us got let in. Again, I’m not sure how much the bouncers believed the IDs or just thought that it was good enough to give them probable cause for letting us in but that’s all we needed. The foam party was ok; red raw eyes from the chemicals, half naked school mates, teenage-dancefloor-debauchery but the real thrill was that we had made it in. The IDs bought us a few months of access to various venues until a bouncer peeled one in half and I watched my mate pegging it off into the streets of central London.


Although he wasn’t strictly talking about gaining access to foam parties I think this is what Michel de Certeau in The Practice of Everyday Life would call “tactics”. De Certeau defines “strategies” as the hidden means in which institutions and structures of power, or “producers”, circumscribe a place as proper and generate relations with targeted individuals, or “consumers”, who consequently enact “tactics” in order to unsettle or diverge from the prescribed conventions of such environments.”

I think I found it so exciting because I was using design to gain some autonomy for myself and my friends – I am still searching for ways to do this now. I’m sure my interest in radio stems from the same desire. Pirating, bootlegging, hacking, forgery, knockoffs, Sports Banger, Tom Sachs, Adolf Kaminsky, there is too much to talk about in this already long newsletter! I think it would make a great graphic design module or an exhibition, if any of our readers have it within their power to commission such a thing…or maybe I should fake my way into a meeting to present the idea or just start putting up posters publicising the exhibition that doesn’t exist yet?

This topic came to my mind again recently as Gijs was suggesting we make a reader as part of our newsletter, a sharing or resources. We have a new printer/scanner in the XP studio and so the ability to make copies of such things activates some excitement of this part of my youth. Certeau talks of “la perruque” or “the wig” as a kind of disguise for subversion. He uses the office photocopier as an example of subverting the institution's resources to produce your own magazine. In our case we are both the 'institution' and our own subverters. Anyway attached is a pirated reader of stuff from XP for you, we hope you enjoy. I have included the amazing story of Adolf Kaminsky, a life long forger, with a much more noble causes than getting in to foam parties.

To print download the print booklet version and print double sided (flip on short edge). Better on A3 but possible with good eyesight on A4. Use the link below to evade paywalls on chrome ;)


Emma has a new work up in MU’s 25-year-anniversary-exhibition Hybrid Tales For Hybrid Times. The installation titled United Mental States is based on the mental-health-inspired islands she made with teenagers in workshops over the last year, and features a 30min video with personal interviews about the state of their mental health, with those self-imagined ‘mental landscapes’ as backdrops. On show for a month at MU Hybrid Art House in Eindhoven Strijp-S

Kirsten is cooking up a presentation moment on 26th May for her project How to Save Time so save the date and watch this space and probably instagram for more details soon.

Tiana Dueck's Volox Observer is organising True Self Film Fest and submissions are still open. Check it out here:
Send your submission to with the subject "true self", include a brief artist's statement and the category of your film (see guidelines) for a chance to be featured in the fest.

Jack will be going back to Topolò, Italy for the month of June to work on a radio project with Robida Collective about broadcasting and bellringing. You can follow the scraps of research and ideas emerging here:

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