‘This is the first of many’: Behind Manchester’s illegal raves

'I was at the one where someone died': Behind Manchester’s illegal raves

On Saturday 13th June, thousands of people joined together to attend an illegal rave at Daisy Nook Farm in Oldham. Manchester Evening News noted that “Greater Manchester Police confirmed a man was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of criminal damage and public nuisance”.

These raves are cropping up around the country, endangering lives and enacting devastation on the NHS’s already stretched resources. Whilst everyone is wanting to dance to some live music, the illegal raves are clearly a huge risk, impacting the population in ways that may not become clear until the upcoming days.

A man, age 20, died of a drug overdose after attending the Daisy Nook Rave and other raves have been organised elsewhere in the UK with devastating effects. In Carrington, three people were stabbed, with one stabbing leaving an 18-year-old man with life threatening injuries. The police are also investigating the rape of an 18-year-old woman who attended the same rave.

Horrific incidents could have been avoided if the rebel ravers had followed government advice and stayed indoors. But what is making people break the rules?

The deterioration of the Manchester rave scene

For many, Manchester is the rave capital of the country. Warehouse Project is one of the leading UK indoor festivals that frequently holds events during the September to December months. Its primary location, The Mayfield Depot, a converted disused railway, is one of Warehouse Project’s biggest venues. The concept of attending this year seems, needless to say, far from every individual’s grasp. 

Such losses to the Manchester music scene are no stranger to students and adults alike; even before COVID-19. Other infamous venues such as Antwerp Mansion shut its doors to Manchester’s dedicated ravers last year, causing a catastrophic loss to Manchester’s established music culture. Many other venues are under threat due to COVID-19 losses.

The deteriorating music scene is rife. But people want to party, and it seems no virus is going to stop them. Regardless of your rave withdrawal symptoms, this is not an excuse.

Now that we are in phase 4 of COVID-19 rehabilitation, the risk of more events such as this from reoccurring is only going to worsen. ‘The world is healing’ but now is no time to become complacent. Lives are under threat and joining together to go against pandemic restrictions, is, to say the least, a selfish endeavour.

I spoke to an anonymous raver to find out a bit more. Why are people partying in the middle of a pandemic? Are we able to judge people for going? If a bird is locked in a cage for six months they might want to stretch their wings a bit. But at what cost? By becoming numb to the rules, lives are under threat.

Coronavirus raver in conversation with Isabel Armitage

Where did you find out about the rave?

I got invited via Snapchat by my friend. I also heard about it through Instagram. Bring a bin bag, bring snacks.

What made you want to go?

It has been a minute since everyone has been out.  I saw loads of people going. A flat was having a pres for it. I had three people messaging me an hour before saying ‘Are you coming? Are you coming?’. So that’s why I went.

What was it like when you were there?

[There were] too many people. Everyone was two stepping, doing balloons, littering everywhere. It got dark and there were more and more people coming down the hill. I got so anxious because there were so many people there.

What was quite scary was when I was leaving, the hill that you had to go up was really steep. Already, that hill to get out was turning into a mudslide and it was super steep so that was making me even more anxious. I was at the one where someone died, which is terrifying.

How do you feel about it now after it has been portrayed in the media?

First of all, my Dad found out that I went and gave me so much sh**. I actually thought there wouldn’t be as many people going as I thought. In terms of everything that is going on with COVID I guess it is bad. I do take responsibility for that.

The fact that this story is hot in the media doesn’t surprise me. Firstly, it’s something for the media to talk about and whilst it makes me feel bad, at the same time, it was an experience.

What did you see while you were there?

I saw one guy in front of me collapse to the floor. They had a tent that acted as a bar, behind this tent I saw someone having a fit. There were so many people surrounding this boy, hopefully he is okay. I didn’t see any violence.

I personally think this is the first of many, especially if no one is going on holiday for summer. I actually already know about some others that are going to happen. Do I feel bad about going? Yeah. Would I go again? No. I have never felt so anxious in my life.

Is this the first of many?

When attending any festival, there is an extensive risk assessment that takes place. Marshalls and security are there for everyone’s protection, bags are checked on arrival, you are patted down, checked for weapons and then you can enter.

In a short-sighted fashion, it is as though individuals who attended had forgotten the dangers of an illegal rave regardless of this risks of COVID-19.

Everyone is craving some live music, but these raves are not safe. Despite this, weather permitting, the Daisy Nook rave seems to be the first of many planned, even in the midst of a pandemic.