Underground Conference is a somewhat satirical open air demo party organized by a bunch of old farts famous for organizing german demo parties including Mekka, Breakpoint and Revision, who enjoy disorganizing this weird event from time to time.
In 2020 we have proven that a demoparty can be done safely during the pandemic, if it is outside.
In 2021, we for the third (and final) time will be returning to the Genheimer Weiher, a party location that can simply be described with a single word: Paradise.
UC is aimed at active demosceners and artists only.
Not everyone is able to code, compose music or create graphics - but we have plenty of other options to create art or take part in fun competitions. You will only be admitted to UC if you plan to do something actively.
There is a mandatory registration process where you be will vetted for the above.
The party starts Sunday, July 4th 2021, 16:00.
Arriving for setting up your tent or caravan is possible from 12:00. However, you will not be admitted into the main party grounds before 16:00 earliest. You are invited to offer help settings things up or to start decorating things.
The party ends Sunday, July 11th 2021, 14:00.
The entrance fee is 180 Euros for the whole week, or 125 Euros if you only arrive for the weekend (Thursday to Sunday).
The ticket includes camping via tent, car or caravan.
When entering, you'll receive a RULE-card, which is a digital party currency (existing and backward-compatible since 1999!), which you can then charge and use to buy food and drinks, which will be really cheap.
WHAT TO BRING?
This is not a bird-watching event. You are expected to bring your computer and all gear you need to create art.
You are most welcome to bring electronics and toys that can be used to decorate the area.
You obviously should bring your tent or caravan.
Also, due to our anti-Corona security concept, it will be cold inside the non-hall during the night. Bring warm clothes and blankets.
Underground Conference is a hardcore open-air demoscene party. Running since back in 1995 on a not-so-regular basis, UC is seen by many as a great diversion compared to "usual" demoparties. Back when the party was started, many major demo party events turned into commercial events. UC was designed as a big "fuck you" to those events, claiming to be "Elite only" to scare off unwanted people. Over time those who ran UC became major organizers of events like Mekka, Breakpoint and Revision. By those organizers UC was often seen as a retreat from "serious" organizing, basically now doing a parody on their own work. UC has taken place at all kind of weird locations, everything from military depots up to an underground copper mine. For UC9 in 2019, we've found the best possible location on earth, which has also been proven to be perfect for a Corona-safe event. This is why we are going to use it a third (and final) time for UC11.
Check out the history written by Underground Conference's main organizer scamp. The text has been contionued over the years, so reading it might be a bumpy ride.
It all started back in 1994. After attending THE PARTY 4, some german sceners were pretty pissed about current partys. Today we can say that TP4 was the beginning of those "commercial" styled partys like most are today. Members of PURGE decided to do just the opposite and organized the Underground Conference in early 1995. It was a very small party held in an old youth club near Stuttgart. It was small, but the feeling was great. It was planned as a one-time party.
In 1996 I (scamp/vacuum) decided to do another Underground Conference, this time in Bingen/Germany (where I live). I changed a few things. The biggest change was that the second Underground Conference (called ucIIe, like Deluxe Paint II enhanced) was going to be an Open-Air-Party. PURGE and KLF (Keen like Frogs) joined the organizing team, and together we made this party a very nice event. At UCIIe there was one hard thing we had to fight against: The weather. The Party was held in May 1996, and unlike other years that years may was extremely cold. Good we had that huge campfire, else we all would have died ;)
To understand the history of the UC, I have to tell you a bit about my personal past so you understand. Skip this part if you don't care ;) Because of the bad weather, a lot of ppl who announced they would come to uc2e didn't. After the party I had huge bills to pay. Back then I didn't have an income and was still going to school. It took me half a year to pay all those bills. After that and some personal trouble I left the scene for organizing my own future (which was very dark back then). I lost contact to most of my scene friends. That's why there wasn't a Underground Conference in 1997 and 1998. During 1998 I finally had my own business running, and I decided to get back into the scene. I joined the United Cracking Force (UCF) as a coder and also re-formed my own group VACUUM a bit later. In early 1999 I got back in contact with the german demoscene. I was very happy to see that many of my friends of the past were still active. But I also noticed that the partys across europe I loved so much either died (Wired) or got even more commercial. So it was time for an Underground Conference.
In June 1999 (I learned not to risk bad weather in May again ;) the third Underground Conference (UC3d) took place, again with a different, improved location. As quite some time had passed by since UCIIe, for many visitors this was a "new" party. But also quite a few dudes from back UC95 and UCIIe showed up. Smash Designs and (the rest of the dead) Purge joined the organizing team. UC3d was a great success. Again it was small, again less ppl appeared than planned, but we had tons of fun. It again had this unique feeling only the Underground Conference has. If you ever attended one, you know what I mean. If you didn't, you now have the possibility to find out. Since the ending of uc3d I got lots of requests for a another Underground Conference. Some ppl even bugged me several times a week ;). As my own business is now running well and growing, my main problem about the Underground Conference is fixed now: The unpayed bills after each Party ;)
For 2000's Underground Conference (uc4gw) I decided to go international. Not because I wanted a much bigger party (I did't). UC always has been and will be a party for the "real" sceners, for the hardcore freaks nobody understands in the "normal" world out there. But those ppl do not only exist in Germany, they exist all over Europe (and the rest of the World). Unlike the past, I now was also able to let the party grow a bit as a lot of people were willing to help and my personal situation was much better. At this point I want to thank all the helpers of the UC's in the past and the future.
To make it short: uc4gw was a huge success. The location was just perfect, the weather fine, the mood perfect. IMHO it was one of the best UC's, maybe THE best.
That's why we decided to stick with the uc4gw location for uc5.25". Again it was a success and we had lots of fun and crazy releases.
At beginning of 2002 it became clear that it was impossible to get the location in worms again, as it already was booked out for several months. We took the challenge, and a long journey began - we travelled a few hundred km's and visited more than 20 possible party locations, but none was perfect. While driving through some forest near Bingen, searching for a possible location, I noticed an old military base, which looked like it had been abandonded. It looked fucking cool, so I decided to give it a try. After several days of phone calls, I managed to speak to all the officials I needed permissions from.
UC6.22 turned out to be pretty cool, although I really missed the meadows we had at previous UCs. As you may remember, back in 2003 the Mekka&Symposium party series died. Together with my friends from the M&S team, I decided to teamed up to create the Breakpoint party as a replacement. As you hopefully also know, the UC6 location, the military depot in Bingen, then also got re-used for Breakpoint 2003.
Organizing Breakpoint was a MASSIVE work. It meant that for about 3 months/year I couldn't work in the company I own. Meaning high financial losses to me. After each Breakpoint, I had to work hard for months to recover. So, each summer when it was time for another Underground Conference, I didn't have the money and nerves to organize a second party.
During 2005, things changed - the new Breakpoint location (Rundsporthalle) made things much easier, and also the team was highly experienced already. Since 2005 also my company situation had been constantly improving. Organizing Breakpoint 2006 was really a breeze compared to previous parties - everything worked nicely, and I was able to minimize the work losses for my company. So, after 3 years without an Underground Conference, I now felt ready again to organize the party that I really love - Underground Conference. I had been looking forward to doing this for a hell long time, and I know lots of sceners had missed Underground Conference just as I did.
The location of Underground Conference 7 blew away each and every previous location we had - a HUGE meadow located in the deep forests near Bingen, with a breath-taking view over the rhine valley.
With the party located very deep in the forest, next town Kilometers away, we regarded it as impossible that even with the gigantic audio volume that we produced anyone would notice us. But once again, we managed to set a world record in the demo scene: With the location being located in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz, police got complains in the state of Hesse, on the other side of the rhine. And after a long bureaucratic journey finally the police services managed to interact across states, and police showed up at the location to complain about the volume.
After UC7, for 11 years I was completely focussed on building my commercial empire. When it came to demoscene, the only things I found time for was sponsoring various partys and providing Internet access for them, plus running the untergrund.net scene hosting services.
Every year people were bugging me to do another UC, and multiple times I promised to try, but never made it. In 2013 someone even released a fake invitation intro for "Underground Conference 2014".
Sometime in 2016 I had decided that I was seriously missing actually DOING something inside and for the scene, and made the promise to myself to finally put priority on this. UC8 was not scheduled to be a one-off, and not meant as a retro event. I had decided that depending on the outcome of UC8, I wanted to start doing the event on a more regular basis again.
Underground Conference took place at the weirdest party location ever: Inside a historic copper mine, and on a huge and cozy meadow next to it. The location did justice to the "Underground" in Underground Conference.
The copper mine enabled us to create the so far weirdest demoscene competition: The "Hacking" compo. UC actually in the past did have a couple of compos aimed at hackers and crackers, including a crackme challenge and the "pr0n leech" compo, which involved sabotaging other peoples network. But this time it was a different kind of hacking: Go deep inside the copper mine with a hammer, and try to find shiny minerals.
Also, the opening ceremony was held inside the copper mine with a live music performance and some seriously weird acting.
It was huge fun, and it reminded me how much I had enjoyed organizing the party in the past. The event made me rethink priorities in my life.
While UC8 had been great fun, and the copper mine location exceptionally weird, I wasn't sure about returning to it. It was a fun location, but there were limits on what you could do inside a copper mine. The meadow also was a little bit on the small side, and most importantly, it was home to a gigantic amount of killer horse flies. Four weeks after the event, I still had bleeding wound from a horse fly bite.
So the search for a now location began, visiting all kinds of strange places in my home region. It took two years to finally find a location that was so hidden, that even with me having driven by it for 20 years again and again, I hadn't discovered it.
A nearby underground mine one day was closed for good, and some of the tunnels were meant to be blown up. Something went wrong, creating a huge sink hole. This sink hole turned into a pond, up to 15 meters deep. That pond was hidden behind a lot of trees, and lay on private grounds closed to the public. Visiting the location for the first time was jaw-dropping. The location had been in use semi-officially both as a helicopter landing place for a famous German cook, and also for offroad buggy driving from a corporate incentive event company. That already appeared to be quite extreme for such a hidden beauty, but it was clear from the beginning that we could take it to even more extreme levels.
And boy, did we go extreme, with two of the craziest competitions ever: Offroad live shader coding and Seaworld Graphics.
After 2019, it was absolutely clear that I wanted to return to the location for at least a second time. We had plans to make things even bigger and stranger than before. Then came Corona, with all scene events getting cancelled (or moved online). For months it wasn't clear if UC could happen. We got legal clearance quite early on in May, but the big unknowns had been: Will it be actually safe for participants, and will people be in the mood to leave their houses?
The priority for 2020 therefore shifted a lot. Now the goal wasn't anymore to make the event bigger or weirder, now it was about providing a safe space to demosceners to finally be able to meet in 2020. The extensive Corona security concept turned out to work out really good, with the exception of a couple of lapses, most importantly during the Opening Ceremony. In the end, nobody returned home infected, so all was good.