Simon Slieker’s Outdoor Party Field Guide: Knowing When To Scatter Or Cluster When Things Go Wrong


It’s inevitable in these times of terror and destruction that something will go down at your local festival. So when it does it’s important you and your friends are prepared. First know how to identify the danger, then know when to Scatter or Cluster. Not so sure? Then this manual is for you.

Part A

Safe Outdoor Parties: Myth or Misnoma?

Raves and outdoor parties used to be places of fun and distraction. Well those days are over. There is no time for fun and we can’t afford to be distracted. If the establishment and authorities are to be believed we must come to recognise the imminent and prevailing threat of terrorist attack…and or a host of other disastrous states.

Whether it’s threat from your local terrorist cell, an embedded flying disc assassin (see Appendix 2), chai tent brawl, bad driver, bush fire or trainwreck DJ; it can no longer be accepted that outdoor parties are safe. Whether myth or misnoma is of little consequence, as both indicate flaws in our common reality. Such assertions must now be denied, and with the denial must come a new common sense approach to remaining safe this summer.

Knowing whether to Scatter or Cluster when disaster strikes

Broken down, it’s like this: Sometimes when disaster strikes it’s a good idea to run away. In such an eventuality there are various Scatter patterns one may follow to add some order to the chaos. These different scatter patterns vary according to the type of disaster and how many people will be scattering. Alternatively it’s sometimes safer given the disaster, to enact an organised Cluster.

In such situations consult the Scatter Patterns and Cluster Plans for Disatrous Situations Matrix (below). You’ll need to cross check the disaster type with the population density and track across to the corresponding scatter/cluster result. Each result is explained in detail in the Explanation and Definitions Index beneath the table.

As an example take the Hoddle st massacre. The disaster type would fall into the category of “Rampant gunman” and the population density would fall into: “Difficult to discern, but more than 20”. On the basis of this it’s easy to ascertain that Scatter Plan 2.1 is the appropriate response: “Just get the hell out of there, most direct route, fast as possible.”

There are other occasions where Clustering is the more efficacious response to the disaster at hand. An example is disaster type: Random Blizzard. Population density 5. Track across and see the response is Cluster Plan C.1: Group Hug and Pray.

Eg. A friend recently explained to me the power of the group hug combined with prayer to god in leading them to victory in their local Ultimate competition. Whilst it’s arguable whether prayer for safety is as legitimate a call for divine intervention as the need to win at sport, it’s certainly worth a try.

In Conclusion

The most important consideration when preparing for your next outdoor party is not whether you’ve packed the Mortein, it’s the “Knowing when to Scatter or Cluster plan”. Photocopy it and make sure each of your friends has one at hand. That way not only will you be safe this summer, you’ll be making an active contribution to the safety of your friends.

Scatter Patterns and Cluster Plans for Disastrous Situations Matrix

Disaster situations table

Scatter Patterns and Cluster Plans for Disastrous Situations Explanation and Definitions Index


Cluster Plans


Cluster A

The trees are no longer your friends. Move away from them. Stand in the dam, river or fall-out shelter and wait for the front to pass.

Cluster B

Ok there are enough of you to surround the disaster and neutralise it. If the disaster is human, the application of persuasion, or at last resort, physical containment is necessary. If the disaster is environmental, your sheer weight of numbers in this situation should enable the group to prevail, (some casualties may be expected).

Cluster C

The trees are your friends again. So is anything else resembling shelter: ie. The Chai Tent, the Dj booth, tee pee, igloo, or anything else you can hide in til the front passes.

Cluster C.1

As in C above find whatever shelter you can but also employ the group hug and pray additions. Ie. Hug whoever is with you, it’s good for: getting to know your disaster companions, for warmth and it’s been proven to improve morale… along with praying, which you should have a stab at as well.

Cluster D

This is a universal invitation for heroic excellence. Everyone has a piece of Spider Man inside them, waiting for a moment like this. In a year’s time you could be receiving an “Order of Australia” medal for uncommon bravery. But first you’ll have to overcome this disaster and it looks like you’ll have to do it single handedly as events are moving too fast to devise an action plan with others. So breathe deep and seize the day: this is your time! (If this is beyond your heroic capabilities please move on to Cluster P,below).

(We’re currently conducting a survey of survivors of Cluster Plan D. Entitled “Against the Odds- tales of survival”, it calls for real life accounts of Cluster Plan D action. If you or someone you know has been through Plan D please call the publisher.)


Cluster P
P is for pray, which is what you must resort to in this situation. You are by yourself and the disaster is human. Sometimes humans respond to obsequious behaviour even when god doesn’t, so praying might help.

Scatter Patterns


Scatter 1

It would seem necessary to vacate the area. The disaster is not life threatening so your scatter mode in this instance is based more on your personal reaction to the disaster at hand. Some people will react more strongly than others to differing disasters: thus the magnitude has a personal variable. Scatter at leisure, using the method, out of all those described below, that is most pertinent to you right now.

Scatter 2

Facing the disaster move away at a controlled pace. Remain in visual contact in order to dodge, duck, weave and illude the threat.

Scatter 2.1

Just get the hell out of there, most direct route, fast as possible.

Scatter 3

You run that way, I’ll run this way. To nearest cover then consult table again. Godspeed.

Scatter 4

Peace symbol pattern break. Follow the spokes of the universal peace symbol. Invoke the power of peace whilst doing this and your combined positive thought will attract the right outcome.

Scatter 5

Quadrant break. North, east, south, west. Designate your direction as soon as you realise you’re a group of four. This is where your disaster prep comes in handy.

Scatter 6

There are enough of you to really confuse the disaster. Run wild, run free. Zig zags, dives and summersaults are useful in the implementation of Scatter Plan 6.

Appendix 1- The Flying Disc

It’s not unusual to encounter a flying disc at your typical outdoor party. Whether hoisted by children or nerds, they commonly take up residence at some centralized public tract; not quite out of the way enough to be out of the way, yet out of the way enough to appear benign. Be warned, the Flying Disc in the right hand (or left) can be a devastating weapon.

Frisbee or Date Rape Drug?

Such is the discreet charm of the Frisbee (sic) (latter term for the flying disc, currently the brand name owned by Whamo Inc. Beware of this when bandying the appellation for the flying disc. You are publicizing a brand. Just like Roller Blades to Inline Skates so to is Frisbee to the Flying Disc.) that when in striking range, passers by remain blissfully unaware of the danger they are in. Should one of these discs happen to “take you out” you will not wake up from the date.

Reading the Danger

The strike range of a flying disc is dependent on its weight and shape. Characteristics such as concentric circles molded into the upper side of the disc and the curve and depth of the lip dramatically affect its flight and aerodynamic behaviour. The better the design of the disc the more functional it is in the air…the more precise.

So as a good starting point in gauging the danger in which you and your party friends may find yourselves, first assess the disc in play. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is the disc holding its line of flight?
  2. Is the disc lighter than 175g?

That’s a pretty good starting point. If it isn’t holding it’s flight and it’s lighter than 175, then it’s one of those abominations you can buy from the newsagent on the foreshore at Lorne in the Christmas holidays. No more a weapon than a tennis ball is next to a grenade. Walk on by, sure in your judgement, you and your friends will not be harmed.

If on the other hand it’s heavier and seems to be holding flight (subject to a decent throw) then you may be observing something like a Discraft Ultrastar, or even worse (if it’s narrow in diameter) it may be a Disc Golf Driver. If either of these is the case you’re in trouble.

I’m in Trouble! What Next?

Try not to alarm your friends; keep an eye on the disc in play and if you can, read where it’s headed, then make a quick assessment of that player. If they at all resemble a Flying Disc Assassin then you must act quickly. See Appendix 2 for more detail on Flying Disc Assassins.

In a calm voice, with your eye on the assassin say this to your crew:

“Listen to me everyone: I don’t mean to alarm you, but we’re in the strike zone of a flying disc assassin. Ok, on my mark, I want you to follow scatter plan A.” (For more information on designing scatter plans for party problems go back to the top because you seem to have failed to read the article).

Then when your team is ready to move and you are in an intercept position call out: “MARK!” If you are concerned about people operating under the name Mark, then you should really use an alternative signifier like: “Engage”, or something else Captain Jean Luc Picard would say.

Ok now you know how to identify the danger of a game of “Frisbee” and how to get away from it.

Next time we’ll look at the role of Flying Discs in dance culture: From Weapon to Ambassador of Peace. We’ll examine the humble beauty of the Flying Disc and look at why they are so important to modern DJ’s.

Appendix 2 – How to identify a Flying Disc Assassin

FDA’s usually embed themselves into groups of people hanging out in party environs. When engaged in conversation they are easily detected, as they can’t help themselves from using such terms as: target, collateral damage and night vision goggles. If you hear any of these words, look for these other tell tale signs: FDA’s commonly have a languor to their gait uncommon amongst non FDA combatants. They wear comfortable, unrestrictive clothes and aren’t afraid of bright colours. If you want to trick one try talking to them about obscure subjects only they will understand, ie. Ultimate and Flying Disc Golf. Here’s an example:

“Hey mate, did you check out any of the World Ultimate Teams Championships in Perth last month?”

Finally, when all others signs indicate a positive ID, see whether your suspect has a black rectangle over his/her eyes. This is often the final and deciding clue in identifying a FDA.

Flying Disc Assasin
(Flying Disc Assassin at work)

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