Friday and Saturday night in Liverpool witnessed the rebirth of freedom for many, with thousands partying unmasked and unrestricted.
As part of a government sanctioned pilot test to map how the reopening of major hospitality events may affect the spread of COVID this coming summer, 6,000 young ravers were legally allowed to congregate in a dockside warehouse in Liverpool.
The aptly termed ‘first dance’, which is run by the events company ‘Circus’ was headlined by artists from across the globe, including the events founder DJ Youseph and some of the industry’s biggest names including Fatboy Slim. The event’s only nod to coronavirus was the prerequisite of a negative lateral flow test, with no masks or social distancing being required by attendees. For many, such an experience was overwhelmingly emotional following the previous year’s isolation and anxiety, with the events main demographic being students.
Indeed, the pandemic has arguably affected the younger demographic in a unique way, with university and schooling being forced online, compromising the quality and interactivity of education. In tandem with this, studies have shown the impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health with suicide rates rising considerably throughout the previous year. Raver’s waiting in the queue shared how the last year had been ‘hard, been boring, a bit sad and depressing’, with this year’s university freshers’ calendar being ‘the worst ever’ due to heavy covid-restrictions. As such, an event of this scale seemed almost ‘needed’ by those who attended, and by those who watched on from home who were able to view the event as a promising taste of what is to come this summer.
It is notable that the hospitality sector is the one of the hardest hit by the financial implications of the pandemic, with mass gatherings being halted since March 2020. Boris Johnson’s ‘road map’ hopes to alleviate any restrictions by the 21st of June, with the pilot programme aiming to test the functionality of various large scale live events, both indoors and outdoors. The Carabo Cup Final the week before was another example of the Events Reach Programme’s work, with many more events scheduled for those who live within the Liverpool postcode region in the coming weeks.
The transition back to normal life may be awkward and feel unnatural to many after the past year. Those who attended the rave admitted that they didn’t know how to act in such a foreign environment after being confined to their homes through multiple lockdowns. Regardless of this, the event marks an opportunity to ‘take back life’ after losing two years of teenage life to the pandemic. The events organiser Yousef also recognised the bittersweet nature of the event, with its necessity being derived from the thousands who lost their lives to the pandemic. He asserted that “It’s been a terrible year for a lot of people … the fact that so many people have suffered is at the back of my mind when I’m playing. It’s going to be emotional for a lot of people”.
As we move closer to the greatly anticipated June 21st finish line, restrictions are being slowly lifted across the UK. The Liverpool pilot is arguably one of the pivotal moments in the fight back against coronavirus, as we await the nature of the scientific evidence it collects.