Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic it has been obvious to event and festival lovers that we will be unable to feel the buzz of live music again for a long, long time. Clearly aware of this, DJs and promoters have rushed to think of innovative ways that allow ravers to still enjoy the scene whilst adhering to government advice.
As anyone could guess, these modified events will never be the same as the original pre-
corona rave scene, but does this mean we shouldn’t bother with the alternative in the
meantime? The month of May saw many unique experiences, throughout Europe, that gave ravers a taste of what they have been missing.
The UK’s first legal socially distanced rave was put on just outside Nottingham on May 30th, hosted by a label called Nitty. Obviously, this event was hugely oversubscribed, with hundreds signing up to their mailing list, although only 40 were actually allowed to attend. In some ways this rave couldn’t be further from the real thing: it ended at 10pm, everyone had to wear a mask, use hand sanitiser regularly, and the small number of people there made the place feel pretty empty. Although I can’t speak from experience, having not been to the event, I can imagine the atmosphere didn't capture the thrill of a full crowd dancing tightly packed together.
Around the same time as Nitty’s event, a video of a rave in Slovakia swept through social
media. It showed people dancing under a bridge in squares cordoned off by tape to keep
them 2m apart, all facing the decks at the front of the small crowd. Although we will never
know how many illegal raves have gone on around the world since the pandemic began, this Slovakian knees up was one of the first known to use actual tape as a means of separating people. Imagining being there, you must have felt slightly awkward dancing so isolated from the people around you.
Gerd Janson played a legal socially-distant rave at Germany’s Coconut Beach Club on May
21st , giving 100 people access to the 2000 person capacity venue. Having seen Janson before I know he will have delivered a great set, but would it have felt anywhere near like the full experience? Take his Lost Village 2019 set for example: hundreds of people packed into the trees without having to distance themselves from others around them – pure good vibes. See a short clip of Janson’s socially distant set below.
More recently, Bristol put on a drive-in rave housing Kings of the Rollers and Eats Everything, amongst others. What I found really odd about this one is that the music from the decks played through your car radio rather than out of a sound system that everyone listened to together. This could feel like you paid £45 (per car) just to drive somewhere and plug your aux into the vehicle stereo. Despite this, the event sold out, so for some people it might have been all they needed to feel a tiny bit closer to normality.
A huge part of festivals and events is being able to dance with the people around you, those you’ve never met before and those you’ve known for years. Some of the best conversations happen when you’re shouting over the music to someone you met 5 minutes ago. With social distancing, shouting in someone’s ear would not be possible, nor would the elated feeling you get being surrounded by likeminded people, who are enjoying the same musical experience.
Some young people might dismiss these new ways of raving purely because they don’t compare to past experiences, and perhaps it is better to hold off and save the rave until it can be enjoyed to the max again. For now though, is it important to just make do?
WRITTEN BY MILLIE WARD