Experts have warned that England could experience a wave of illegal raves over the summer as the coronavirus lockdown is eased.
Thousands of people attended two raves in Greater Manchester on Saturday (June 13), during which a 20-year-old man died from a suspected overdose, a woman was raped and three people were stabbed.
Read more: NME Investigates — the rise of illegal raves
Greater Manchester Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes subsequently explained why the raves weren’t stopped, saying: “It’s not about what we allow, it’s about how we respond to things that take place.”
There were also reports of illegal raves taking place in Leeds and Whittington in Staffordshire over the weekend. It’s been reported that such events are advertised to attendees on Snapchat and Instagram on the day, before their locations are revealed at the 11th hour through WhatsApp messages and Google Maps pins.
With the summer festival and live music season effectively wiped out by the coronavirus outbreak, it’s now feared that many young people will turn to these illegal mass gatherings throughout the summer.
Speaking to The Guardian, Night Time Industries Association chief executive Mike Kill said “the youth of today want to be out and want to be engaged”.
“There are a lot of people out there who are socially starved at the moment. And that’s why these illegal raves are starting to pop up because [people] have been trapped inside four walls for a long time now,” he said. “I don’t think there is anyone in our industry who couldn’t see this coming.”
Kill added: “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.”
James Morsh, a Nottingham club promoter who was one of the organisers of the UK’s first permitted socially distanced rave, said that the set-up at the two Manchester raves was “very, very basic”.
“They must have been a few lads, inviting a few hundred people down and then, boom, it’s on Snapchat, everyone’s like, ‘Where is it? Oh, Daisy Nook’. Boom, everyone goes there. That’s how these things spread.”
Morsh said that if more illegal raves continue to take place, then the summer of 2020 could mirror the ‘summers of rave’ that were seen in the late 1980s.
“You know the summer of 89? I think this is a new revolution on the scale of that,” he said. “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’.”
Police said that illegal raves have yet to pose a problem in Scotland and Wales, where the devolved governments have been more reluctant to ease the lockdown restrictions.