England

'Why I want to go to lockdown raves'

Rave Image copyright Getty Images

Police forces across England continue to break up illegal lockdown raves and warn anyone going to them risks arrest and prosecution. But why do people want to go to raves during a pandemic?

The risk of serious illness from the spread of coronavirus was not enough to stop 6,000 people gathering at two raves in Manchester.

At these events one man died, three people were stabbed and a woman was raped.

Police forces across England have warned they will be using dogs and drones to find raves and anyone taking part risked being arrested.

'We know we're breaking rules'

Mass gatherings are illegal under new coronavirus laws but Jay, 22, has been going to warehouse parties.

"I live in a warehouse with five other people," he said. "We are part of a warehouse collective of creatives who are fashion designers, set designers, performance artists, dancers, photographers. There are about 50 people in our WhatsApp group who live in warehouses within our area.

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"In the beginning everyone was being very regimented and sticking with the rules. But as time went on every couple of weeks we would meet in one of the warehouses or studio spaces where we could set up the DJ decks. Sometimes it could go up to 30 people.

"We're not staying 2m apart so it's kind of like breaking the rules because we know we are taking a risk. But we would go away and spend two weeks quarantining with only the people we live with. We wouldn't see everyone again for another two weeks and everyone was doing the same.

"We won't let random people in. We would know if someone had been to another party because we are all part of the same network. No-one has had any symptoms or become unwell. None of us have been able to be in contact with any of our family members so we can't spread it to them.

"[It's] escapism from being trapped in this whole time which has been getting really daunting.

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"The rave community is such a community of misfits and people who don't fit into society, who may suffer from anxiety or other mental health issues. So there's this urge for them to want to be together, for them to have contact with other people so when we come out of this we aren't going to be socially inept. That's the excuse.

"If people can go to the park and sit close together then why can't we do this? We know it's breaking the rules, that's why we keep it so secret but there's no stopping us from doing it. People are having people over to their houses for drinks so it's hypocritical to say we can't do this.

"We've not been to any big organised raves but that's because we don't know of any. If I did then I would go."

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Media captionPolice took eight minutes to reach a teenager stabbed at a rave

The father of an 18-year-old who was stabbed at one of the illegal raves in Daisy Nook and Carrington in Greater Manchester said his son will regret attending "for the rest of his life".

The parent, who has asked not to be named, told BBC Radio Manchester his son was "dying in a field" as officers tried to find him.

"These events aren't safe, there's no cameras, no security because of where it was and the inaccessibility. They had to do amazing things just to get to him to save him."

'Everyone was going absolutely crazy'

Ollie, 21, was at the rave in Daisy Nook and said: "I would say to anyone thinking of going to a lockdown rave '100% don't go'."

He and his friends followed crowds to the rave out of curiosity but left after witnessing "horrific" violence and drug taking.

"We went for a walk around the student area and everybody was saying about this illegal rave going on," he said.

"You could hear the music booming so we followed the sound about 10 minutes out of the built up area through woods and land.

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Image caption Thousands of people went to an illegal rave in Greater Manchester last weekend

"I'm not even kidding there were thousands of people, it was unbelievable to see. It was really, really terrible. I go to normal raves all the time and this was like nothing else.

"Everyone was going absolutely crazy. Everyone was on drugs, there was no security or authority there. There was this tension in the air and so many really bad fights. I witnessed this man get absolutely beaten.

"You would hear screams all the time. People were sniffing coke, doing balloons, dropping pills. The people there were so rough and off their face they wouldn't be allowed into a normal festival or club. But here there's no-one to protect you.

"It seems all fun but it takes one little thing to start and it gets very nasty, very quickly. There's no social distancing, people were having sex and all sorts. It will have spread the virus definitely.

"We spent about half an hour watching from the sidelines and we thought 'let's go'. But getting out was a nightmare because people there were passed out everywhere or being sick, there was a guy having a fit on the floor."

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Media captionVolunteers have been clearing up a "sea of canisters" and other litter after two illegal raves.

Anyone attending an illegal rave risks being arrested and prosecuted, police forces have warned.

Supt Nick Rowe, from West Midlands Police, said: "Events like this are illegal. They are unacceptable at any time but even more so during a pandemic in which large gatherings are banned to help stop the spread of a killer virus."

It is still a crime to hold gatherings of more than six people from different households outdoors, under England's coronavirus legislation.

In England, two households of any size can meet indoors or outside and they can stay overnight.

Social distancing is important because the nearer you are to someone who is infected, the greater the risk of catching the virus.

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