Eight people have been fined up to £10,000 after thousands descended on the Welsh village of Banwen over the bank holiday weekend
Back in June, experts predicted that the UK was set for a summer of illegal raves, with partygoers flooding to parks, forests, and motorway underpasses as clubs remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the government imposing restrictions on these events – namely a fine of up to £10,000 for organisers – thousands still descended on the Welsh village of Banwen over the bank holiday weekend for an illegal rave that’s been likened to a festival.
According to BBC News, 3,000 people attended the party on Saturday (August 29), with at least 400 people still on the site on Monday (August 31). The authorities believe that 22 people were involved in the planning of the rave, and eight have been hit with hefty fines.
Though the police were agitated by the ravers, one local elderly couple didn’t seem to be fazed. Speaking to BBC News, Banwen resident Mary Powell said she made the ravers “a cup of tea and filled their bottles of water for them”, adding it was “no problem”.
“We didn’t know until I got up in the morning,” Powell told the broadcaster, “and I looked out and I thought, ‘Well, where the heck have all these cars come from?’” The couple only realised what was going on when their son told them there was a rave happening in the mountain.
“There were only two drunks I have seen,” her husband Baden added, “and they were sensible. A red car pulled up, a little red car, two boys had been sleeping in that car, and they asked me if that’s alright. ‘Yes,’ I said.”
A number of ravers returned to the site on Tuesday (September 1) to clean up, after a removal truck that was booked to clear the mess didn’t take everything away. Residents – who were complaining that used toilet roll, face masks, clothing, and plastic bags were left at the site – praised those who returned to tidy up.
The police are reportedly using drone footage to identify organisers, but did arrest a few people on site, for offenses including urinating in the street and drug taking. Videos on social media show police clashing with partygoers as they attempt to break up the rave.
South Wales police assistant chief constable Dave Thorne criticised organisers and attendees. He said: “Local communities have been trying really hard to adhere to coronavirus rules, and to have 3,000 people come in and not adhere to it is really irresponsible.”
Cardiff student Niamh, who attended the rave, told BBC News that she understood why people would think the event was “selfish”, but asserted it was safe because she had a mask on, socially distanced, and used hand sanitiser.
“If older people are allowed to sit in their garden with friends, go for dinner, go into shops, where you’re still interacting with a lot of people, what’s the difference with people socially distancing and having a dance in a forest outdoors?” Niamh said. “There’s a lot of stigma around young people doing their version of socialising just because it’s not the same as you going for dinner or into the shops in town, where you’re around just as many people one metre apart. What’s the difference with doing that outdoors in the woods?”
Look back at Dazed’s feature exploring the future of partying in a post-pandemic world here.