‘I could get a 10 grand fine but it’s worth it’: Inside Sheffield’s illegal Halloween rave

Over 300 people squeezed into the abandoned building in Kelham Island

Hundreds of young revellers were busted by police and one was arrested last night after a “Statement: Fuck Lockdown” rave in Sheffield.

At 18:49 Boris Johnson (belatedly) addressed the nation, confirming the inevitable and plunging us into a second national lockdown.

Meanwhile, at a disused building on Nursery Lane, Kelham Island, preparations were being made for the Audio Halloween Spook-tacular, presented by Save the Dolphins (STD) Audio. And I was getting ready to attend.

These free parties have been widely reported on due to breaking Covid restrictions, but the restrictions themselves are held responsible for the resurgence of raves in recent times. To make sense of the hearsay from the hysteria, I decided to attend the Sheffield Halloween mass gathering to see what these “Covid raves” are really like.

The night began in true illegal rave (or free party) fashion when the location was disclosed at the last minute via a party line. By half past midnight, well over 300 people had covertly filtered into the venue.

The doors had only just edged open but proceedings were well underway. One partier was already slumped beside his own pool of vomit whilst a couple stood groping one another beside him.

Its organiser, who wishes to go under the pseudonym of Gabriel Rupertson, was at the fore blasting bassline for attendees who he insisted “needed the party”.

“I could get a £10k fine but it’s worth it,” he told me in-between mixing. “It’s a lot of money and there’s a good chance that I wouldn’t get it back, but I’m here to put a party on for people.

“When Boris took away people’s right to club, he took away a place for people to have experiences, to make memories.”

Describing his reasoning for the rave as a “statement fuck lockdown”, Rupertson complained to me that he was “fed up” with restrictions. He revealed that his frustrations began to build with the Government after seeing their “shortcomings” in tackling coronavirus while working three separate jobs for them via private firms over lockdown.

“I didn’t want to hold this rave. I decided to go legit and go to college to study music but now the Government are telling people in the industry to retrain (referring to the controversial Cyber First campaign).”

“They violated me so I see this as violating them,” he said.

As I spoke to Rupertson behind a DJ barricade in lieu of a stage, I watched the ravers. On the other side of the ever-rattling metal fence stood hundreds of them, some were hugging, others wide-eyed with their middle and forefingers fused.

Two things they shared were want of a good time, but also a lack of social distancing. Sardines would be an understatement.

When I asked if he’d feel at all guilty for potentially helping spread the virus, Rupertson replied: “Not really, I believe it’s just up to the individual. People wouldn’t be attending these raves if they were scared of Covid.”

Amongst the crowd were revelers just “looking for a party”. One of these party-seekers told me: “I heard there was a rave and thought ‘why not?’ It’s the only one I’ve been to since lockdown, I’ve just been so bored.”

He said he was doing his best to keep at a distance from others, but confessed it was highly likely that he could catch the virus.

“If anyone comes here not accepting that they’re probably going to get Covid, they’re kidding themselves,” he added.

When I asked another three attendees how their night was going, one responded “tremendous”, another “magical”, and the third simply stated “leaning”.

Ravers seemed broadly unafraid of getting caught. That was until 1.30am, when word spread that police had arrived.

As the organisers had promised beforehand, a barricade, which comprised of numerous radiators and a door, was put in place to hold off officers.

Admiring the blockade, one participant laughed “they’re not getting through that”. Less than a minute later police came slamming against the door, breaking the barricade and leaving ravers no choice but to swarm to the exit.

Most managed to spill out onto the streets and disappear into the night. However, some became caught up with the awaiting officers.

This included one man, who after a lengthy tussle with police was taken into custody.

At least one riot van and two cars were present at the scene. One policeman used a truncheon to control the crowd.

Speaking to me after his escape, Rupertson, who admitted he was “100 percent” worried about being caught, had no regrets. “People really turned out; they’re telling me it’s the wickedest party they’ve been to. I reckon a lot of people will be critical. To them people I say, suck your mum”.

South Yorkshire Police has been contacted for comment.

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