Weekly illegal raves in Paris draw crowds of up to a THOUSAND young people while nightclubs are unable to reopen amid the coronavirus outbreak
- Bois de Vincennes, a park with lakes and woods, is at epicentre of phenomenon
- The response from law enforcement has been ambiguous, according to reports
- Licensed nightclubs closed in France since March due to Covid-19 restrictions
Illegal raves in Paris have been drawing crowds of up to a thousand young people every week after nightclubs were forced to shut amid the coronavirus outbreak.
‘Free parties’ have sprung up around the French capital as young people, even those unfamiliar with the underground techno dance scene, look for a chance to let their hair down.
The Bois de Vincennes, an expansive park with lakes, woods and open green spaces in the southeast of Paris, is at the epicentre of the phenomenon.
Licensed nightclubs have been closed in France since March under measures to contain the epidemic.
It has prompted dozens of DJs, who claim their sector risks extinction, to launch an urgent appeal to the government last month for the authorisation of ’emergency party areas’.
Illegal raves in Paris have been drawing crowds of up to a thousand young people every week after nightclubs were forced to shut amid the coronavirus outbreak. Pictured: Attendees at an unauthorised party in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, last week
In July, ‘free parties’ in the park attracted as many as a thousand people every week, many flouting guidelines to wear face masks and keep a safe distance from others to avoid contracting the coronavirus.
Speaking about one of the raves, Illa Giannotti, cofounder of the Soeurs Malsaines party-planning collective, said: ‘I had never seen anything like it, it was completely crazy.’
Raves first appeared in France in the 1990s and were popular until a law introduced in 2001 forced organisers to register with the police beforehand, pushing a large, rebel section of the scene underground.
But now the pandemic has made clandestine ‘free parties’ popular again after licensed nightclubs were ordered to remain shuttered throughout the summer due to the high infection risk they posed to revellers in an enclosed space.
The locations for each rave are not widely disclosed ahead of time. Pictured: Man entering an illegal party located in an abandoned warehouse in Gennevilliers, north of Paris, last week
The response from law enforcement has been ambiguous. Pictured: Security officer checking bags as people arrived to attend an illegal party in Gennevilliers, north of Paris, last week
‘When lockdown ended, there was a lot of pressure [to organise parties],’ said Antoine Calvino, DJ and head of the collective Microclimat, which began hosting parties in the Bois de Vincennes in May after France’s strict stay-at-home rules were eased.
He added: ‘The nightclubs and even bars were still closed and there weren’t many alternatives to see friends again and party.
‘Partying is vital. For some people, it’s a parallel way of life, a moment to let off steam and meet up. It’s a pressure outlet and a zone of tolerance without equal.’
The locations for each rave are not widely disclosed ahead of time.
For one recent clandestine gathering, called Trance Ta Race, prospective partygoers had to phone a number and listen to a voicemail message in order to find out the address.
Then, to get in, they had to climb over a wall, put on a mask and disinfect their hands with gel before paying a 10-euro ($11.80) entry fee to cover the costs of the organisation – as well as any potential fine.
The Paris municipality said it was taken by surprise ‘by the scale of the phenomenon’ of the underground parties. Pictured: Attendees at an unauthorised party in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, last week
French police have recently begun to crackdown on the illegal gatherings and, since mid-July, have conducted busts to disperse revellers and seize party equipment.
But the response from law enforcement has been ambiguous, with some authorities shutting the raves down and others allowing them to continue, according to the Liberation newspaper.
During the rave at Trance Ta Race five police officers reportedly ambled through the crowd to speak to partygoers and confiscate a handful of drugs but left shortly after.
The Paris municipality said it was taken by surprise ‘by the scale of the phenomenon’ of the underground parties.
‘There’s a real cultural and social phenomenon going on at the moment. And at town hall, we don’t want to send in the police, we want to make things possible,’ said councillor Frederic Hocquard.
‘Our approach is to come up with a plan, with authorised places where we know what is going on, where parties are registered beforehand and where we warn people of the risks, whether it be the usual risks (alcohol, drugs or STDs) or those linked to the epidemic,’ he added.
But it is not just France who have seen a rise in such gatherings in recent months with police being forced to intervene in both London and New York.
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