Current: Plague Ravers, Right or Wrong?

By Resonate | November 13, 2020
Words by Ruby Lawrence

Once upon time in a land without Covid-19, our summers consisted of festivals, gigs, pubs and clubs. These events were the driving force of what unites our community and without them, many people’s place and purpose has been chipped away. The lack of our beloved festival season has given way to the rise of free parties, which through the tabloid press have been brought into the public’s consciousness this summer, the most recent of which was held in Yate, near Bristol on Halloween. With free parties representing the only chance to dance at the moment, it was perhaps inevitable there were more attendees and attention on the event than was anticipated, the degradation of the party in question at one point trending as the top story on BBC News.

“Illegal raves have never stopped since the 90s, but because there are no festivals the free parties are just much more visible now,” said an anonymous raver. Although the raves haven’t changed, the regulations regarding them have. Due to the pandemic a party organiser can now be fined a whopping £10,000 on top of their sound system being seized. Yet in some ways, creating laws in an attempt to stop these parties only reinforces their ungovernable characteristics. “Free parties are a statement against authority,” another anonymous attendee stated, “We aren’t all sheep in a system and there will always be a way around the rules.

To keep these parties going until morning, the soundsystem owners need to be one step ahead. Looking deeper into their motives, it’s far more than just a group of irresponsible ravers. “The free party scene has an unbreakable sense of community, we are all in it together and we respect our surroundings. Come Monday there is always a clear up crew,” we were told by an attendee.

“There’s no better feeling than being off-grid in the beautiful countryside when the sun comes up, listening to some south-west stompers! Surrounded by like-minded, free-spirited party goers, there’s a really strong sense of community that I don’t feel anywhere else,” said an anonymous raver. It seems that for many, free parties give the opportunity to escape from the mundane world and archaic authority. “It makes me feel alive, especially in a time when we aren’t living just existing”.  

Gentrification has been a hugely controversial topic in the UK for a while now. Recently, one of Bristol’s treasures, Blue Mountain nightclub, has been sold and will be knocked-down and transformed into student flats. However, it’s far more than just nightclubs, gentrification forces people out of areas in which they have lived for generations. There is an argument that pristine new builds eat away at our nightlife sector and encourage people to party where they can in order get their kicks from nightlife. 

Whilst acknowledging that the act of a free-party could be seen as irresponsible, the more important question to consider is, why did it take place?

An anonymous raver spoke to me about why free parties meant so much to them.“For me the real reason I fell in love with parties is the whole adventure side of things. There is nothing more exciting than being with a group of mates, following vague instructions and travelling the country in the dead of night. All we know is there are tons of like-minded people willing to travel anywhere for the love of underground dance music”

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