The growing number of illegal raves sweeping the UK is down to young people feeling frustrated that nightclubs are still closed – despite lockdown lifting, a top DJ has told Sky News.
DJ Carl Cox says the illegal scene is thriving during the coronavirus crisis because there is still no timeline on clubs and festivals reopening.
He said that while he could understand the frustration, illegal partying is not the answer.
“These illegal parties are basically done out of frustration. Just done out of showing it’s our right to do what we want to do. It’s not the answer to this,” he said.
Police have been forced to shut down raves all over the country, including two in Manchester attended by 6,000 people, where there was an alleged drug death, rape and three stabbings.
Cox told Sky News social distancing means nightlife just cannot operate as normal, which “for the music scene – absolutely sucks”.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, he has been doing his sets online instead and is taking part in a virtual reality festival called Lost Horizon with Fatboy Slim this weekend.
But despite this “new way of doing things”, not everyone is content with virtual partying.
Sky News spoke to one raver, who calls herself Violet, not her real name, who has been to several illegal underground events in the past few weeks with between 40 and 200 people – events she says are nothing like the ones in Brixton and Manchester that have hit the headlines with hundreds, if not thousands, of people partying.
She said: “It’s exciting and adventurous and there is an element of freedom which you don’t find in a bar or a club.”
But she insisted they are “organised events” which are safe, with security and first aiders, while most attending are friends and the vibe is all about the music.
Violet says she does not see why she cannot go dancing outside, but is allowed to go to other places inside considered less safe.
She said: “If I can go to the cinema, a theme park, walk around Sainsbury’s, go back to work, go on public transport… why can’t I be in the same spatial awareness ratio doing something I want to do?”
Violet argues she is not being irresponsible by going to the raves, adding: “At the moment no one knows anything – no one knows – so I’m going to enjoy what I can with a safe distance with a respect to everyone around me and there is nothing wrong with that as long as it’s an educated informed choice I think. “
While a number of pubs and bars are reopening on 4 July, much of the nighttime economy will remain closed.
Festival promoter Grace Flynn has written to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden demanding more support for her sector, which she claims has been virtually ignored by the government.
“It’s completely shattered our industry. It’s a really terrifying time. We don’t know when the clubs will open – when festivals can go ahead,” she said.
Ms Flynn says the industry needs a roadmap for reopening, as well as more financial support to stop it collapsing completely before then.
She added: “There is so much uncertainty – people don’t know when they’re going to be able to go out again so they’re just saying ‘we’re going to do it anyway’ and that’s terrifying.”
The major concern, she said, is safety, describing illegal squat raves as “so scary, so unsafe and so unregulated”.
Michael Kill, chief executive of Night Time Industries Association, told Sky News the more legitimate venues that close, the more illegal raves that will happen.
He said the industry needs action from the government now, as well as clarity, otherwise many businesses will have to close in the next couple of months.