Experts predict a summer of illegal raves, despite coronavirus concerns

Police forces have been responding to large events in parks, forests, industrial estates, and motorway underpasses

Clubbing experts are predicting a rise in illegal raves over the summer, despite concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

A new report in The Guardian highlights how police forces in England have been responding to large events in parks, forests, industrial estates, and motorway underpasses. The parties have been organised secretly and advertised over Snapchat and Instagram, their locations only revealed by organisers at the last minute and shared among revellers over WhatsApp pins.

This weekend, police broke up a party of 1,000 people in Whittington, while in Leeds, police shut down an illegal rave held in an M1 underpass, dispersing up to 600 people. Other such events have been occurring since at least May.

While the raves have broken physical distancing guidelines, they’ve generally been peaceful. However, thousands of people recently attended two raves in Greater Manchester, which ended with one man dead from a suspected drug overdose, one woman reporting a rape, and three reported stabbings.

One of those raves, taking place in Carrington, Trafford, charged £30 for a wristband for entry, and attracted 2,000 people, with some travelling from as far away as Birmingham (a 90-mile drive) to get there. “There had been a certain amount of set-up on Facebook and social media beforehand, but there was no confirmation of the location until an hour before,” Trafford councillor Andrew Western told The Guardian. Attendees of another ‘Quarantine Rave’ held in Daisy Nook Park were criticised on social media for putting people at risk in a large gathering.

Established free party crews, who have been abiding by the coronavirus guidance, have criticised these lockdown-breaking raves. “The people putting on parties during lockdown are generally not part of the established UK free party scene,” a member of large free party crew recently told Mixmag. “Generally, these parties are being put on by groups of very young people who haven’t thought through the consequences of their actions or complete idiots who have access to small sound systems and want to make some fast money.”

James Morsh, a promoter who recently organised what was reported to be the first socially distanced rave in a forest in Nottingham, said that this is just the start of a summer of rave. “You know the summer of 89? I think this is a new revolution on the scale of that,” he told The Guardian. “All the clubs are shut, everyone is at home, people have been cooped up at home for three months. As soon as they catch wind of anything, on Snapchat, Instagram stories or whatever, they’re like, ‘Where’s that? WhatsApp me the pin’.”

Mike Kill, the chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, also told the newspaper that the government’s lack of timeline for the reopening of nightlife will lead to more raves. “Without very clear timelines there’s a lot of people looking at creating their own opportunities, socially, and putting on raves – almost like the 80s in some respects.”