It’s going down: is the pandemic pushing the rave scene underground?

People are becoming increasingly concerned

Whether you’re a hardcore raver, sports fan or avid club-goer, it’s safe to say we’re all missing our (non socially-distanced) live events. After months of being deprived of our beloved clubs, pubs, venues, and everything in between, people are becoming increasingly worried, and some excited, that the underground club scene will return.

Cardiff isn’t exempt from these illegal raves

Just over the Channel, Halloween night saw a 700-person strong illegal rave being broken up by police, though there are accounts from Bristol students that invitations via text were received by thousands. Police intervention was reported to be met by violence and hostility, though this retaliation comes as no surprise, given the harsh lockdown restrictions imposed in England from 5th November.

We also saw an instance in Cardiff over the summer, where a gathering was broken up in Cardiff Bay in June. How long before people become increasingly fed up, and these gatherings start to become more frequent?

The underground scene of the 90s wasn’t that long ago – and people are anticipating its return

via Twitter (@solardomusic)

Upon logging on to Twitter and typing ‘underground rave’ into the search bar, you can expect to be met with an abundance of tweets related to the rebound of illegal raves. One user writes “COVID-19 is gonna bring back the underground #rave scene and immabout that life”, whilst another writes “Roll on the underground rave culture”.

Even popular tech DJ, Solardo, expressed his opinion, arguing that the restrictions brought about by the UK government will only lead to retaliation from partygoers. This is now a matter of public opinion; people are becoming increasingly convinced, and who’s to say that this is unlikely to happen?

One student told The Cardiff Tab, “I would definitely attend one of these raves, but I wouldn’t want my mum to find out, because I know deep down it’s wrong. If venues could maybe provide a temperature check, or ask you to prove that you’ve recently had a negative test, I’d feel one hundred percent okay about it.”

On the other end of the spectrum, another student told us, “I think it’s about weighing up risk to reward. There are some things that I would do during a pandemic that break the rules, such as seeing friends and family, but I feel like the risk of catching or spreading the virus in these environments are fairly low compared to going to a huge rave. I wouldn’t enjoy a rave enough to justify the risk of catching or spreading the virus.”

Music and the arts have been ignored, and people are losing faith in the government

After the government’s disastrous ‘Fatima’s next job could be in cyber‘ campaign, in addition to their reluctance to allow (socially-distanced!) theatre productions, concerts and raves, lovers of music and the arts are starting to lose faith in them. It’s only so long before the public take matters into their own hands, ignoring government guidance.

Cardiff’s rave scene is already in jeopardy

Early 2020 saw the shock closure of Cardiff’s beloved rave venue, Undertone, which was situated in the basement of popular bar, 10 Feet Tall. With Cardiff’s main rave-style events being relatively infrequent, such as Titan Warehouse’s events, many students tend to take the trip over to Bristol to enjoy the rave scene it has to offer.

However, with popular clubs, Lakota and Motion also being shut down to make way for flats and offices space, it seems as though ravers will be limited in choice, and may feel more inclined to attend illegal gatherings.

There are limited alternatives

We have our pubs and bars, which we can enjoy in groups of six, but where can we find the atmosphere? Where can we experience that combination of nerves, excitement and buzzing atmosphere, if not in raves themselves? Unfortunately, very few venues have the resources (and space) to put on socially-distanced events.

Though, if you’re hungry for that buzz, Depot Cardiff are pulling through with their socially-distanced events, such as Oktoberfest, and Walkabout are continuing with their silly events, such as Take Me Out Thursdays. It’s just a shame that not all of our beloved venues can afford to do the same.

Is there hope for the future?

It’s safe to say that, by this point, we’re all a little fed up. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, however, as November 9 sees Wales emerging from the ‘firebreak’ lockdown. Let’s hope that more and more venues can move towards a socially-distanced setting after lockdown – and that partygoers don’t feel the need to take the rave underground.

Related articles recommended by this writer:

• Rave to the Grave: Cardiff’s Dying Music Scene

• Cardiff Winter Wonderland will be replaced by ‘Christmas at the Castle’ for 2020

• Cardiff, Covid and mental health: How deep are the impacts of the pandemic?