I have never really liked ABBA. I have always told myself that it is the band that I am forced to play the most when I DJ with my friend for his company. When it is a 40 to 50 year olds party, ABBA is usually asked to be played several times a night. When the younger generation want to listen to some Cheese ironically, ABBA is usually what they mean. I assumed my distaste of ABBA was simply over-saturation. However, I realised that I didn’t particularly like ABBA before I got involved with Mayhem Productions. That is when I recalled a memory, way back when I was only seventeen. The memory of the time I met an ABBA cult.
Like any good horror story, let’s start with the setting. Me and my family were moving to Devon, in the South West of England. For reasons I cannot remember there was a delay with the house, so we found ourselves homeless for the weekend. Not a problem. Me, my Dad and my two little brothers (Mum was working away at this point in time), grabbed ourselves a tent and went to a small camping site in the isolated town called Rattery. It is all back-roads and country, quite idyllic really. So yes, essentially the set to the Wrong Turn. Even the camping site was totally isolated and we were the only campers using this particular area. However, totally oblivious to our fate, we hunkered down quite happily, spent the day as a family and went to bed, totally content. Nothing was amiss and like all good horror movies, we had no idea that our life was about to be turned upside down.
Cue the morning. The sun shone through the tent, waking me up early due to the stifling heat. This is normal with camping, so I begrudgingly woke up at the early hours of 6AM. I left the tent and… The campsite was packed. I mean, every area for a campervan or tent was being used. I am talking dozens of people. They were all up and about, interacting with each other and totally ready to seize the day. I am going to highlight the two things that scared the hell out of my family. One was the fact that we went to bed quite late; as soon as it got too dark to do anything and this was during summer, so that could have been between 11PM or even midnight. I remember discussing this at the time with my brothers and I recall not actually getting to sleep until late. I was uncomfortable and couldn’t doze off; and I do not remember hearing any sounds while I was awake. Remember I woke up at 6AM too, so there is no conceivable timeline for these people to arrive and set up their tents, without waking anyone up. The second thing I want to highlight is that they were ‘interacting with each other’. Talking, joking, their children were playing. This wasn’t some bizarre coincidence; this was a planned invasion.
At this point in the story/horror movie we were living, we all laughed it off. It was creepy, but in a funny sort of way – like staying around a mate’s house, when he claims he has a ghost. We kept ourselves to ourselves; I might seem like a nice, sociable bloke, but I am an asshole in real life. I don’t want to talk to new people, unless they have a connection to my other friends or a wicked rack. However, my brothers, younger and more easily influenced than me, began playing with some of the younger kids. My Dad, feeling protective, introduced himself and I guess I ended up joining in, because I had nothing to do but play with the Rocky 3 DVD, that the youngest member of the family decided would be the ideal thing to bring on a camping trip. Without electricity. Or a DVD player. Or a TV. Anyway, we learned a little from the head of the group (later, we called him the Shaman). They were all a part of a massive family and every year, they met up here as a big unit and kept in touch. It was quite sweet, but what was even nicer is that they asked us to be a part of their annual barbeque, four complete strangers. In fact, they didn’t ask – they insisted.
That evening was really fun. We ate, we laughed, we all had a really good time. Nothing could go wrong. Then one of the family members stood up and demanded that we start the music. I was intrigued, always loving a good bit of tunes. However, the family were delirious with happiness; this was what they had been waiting for the entire evening. It was odd; but who was I to question family traditions? However, there was no music in the traditional sense; the family just sat up straight and starting singing ABBA. ABBA after ABBA after ABBA. They hit every note, didn’t miss a beat, didn’t trip up on a word. And I am not talking Dancing Queen or Mamma Mia. I am talking about the more obscure ones you have to really hunt around the internet for. They only seemed to be enjoying it partially; most of them were singing these songs out of duty. Even the three year old girl was singing these songs perfectly. What three year old knows every lyric to Name of the Game?! Me and my Dad decided there and then: we had to escape. Tonight!
When the cult finally went to sleep, me and my Dad woke up my little brothers. They wanted to stay, but we insisted that we had to find a new camping site. They were too young to understand the mental damage prolonged exposure to ABBA could cause. We packed everything into the car and drove off. We had to dump our keys behind a kiosk, so I jumped out of the car, while my Dad kept the engine running and I ran to the kiosk. Shaman was there, waiting for me. The following dialogue is paraphrasing, but it went a little like this!
Shaman: Where you off to, Luke?
Luke: Oh, we have to head off to another camp site. We are inching closer to home over the course of the weekend.
Shaman: Where are you going to find a camp site open this time of night, son?
I didn’t have an answer for that.
Shaman: It would be a real shame if you missed the big event tomorrow evening. We really wanted you to be there.
Luke: …We want to. W…we really do. But we have to go, you know?
Shaman: You didn’t even let us get to Waterloo.
I made my apologies and ran to the car. I have no idea what the big event was! I have no idea what happens during Waterloo. I just have a dreadful feeling that they found another unsuspecting camper to help them complete their traditions and every year, they come closer to finding their original intended victims.