Thousands of clubbers descended on Liverpool docks for Britain’s first legal rave in more than a year. The pilot event, The First Dance, does not require social distancing or face coverings, though attendees will need to have a negative Covid test result before entry.
Hosts, clubbing company Circus, expect to see some 6,000 ravers return to the dancefloor over two days. The event will inform how venues operate after lockdown restrictions end, with night clubs being among the last businesses allowed to reopen.
Doors first opened at 2pm yesterday but ravers had been queueing excitedly outside for some time before.
While waiting with friends, Leah Lawless said: “We are very excited. It’s been hard, it’s been boring, a bit sad, depressing and not the best.”
Sam Murphy, who started at Liverpool Hope University in September, said he had the “worst freshers ever” due to Covid restrictions. He could have missed yesterday’s event after tearing ligaments in his foot. “No chance. First thing I said was give me a boot and let me out,” he said.
Liverpool University student Elliott Cause said while waiting: “I feel like this is a big moment for the UK. “I feel like uni students have been struggling without this, I feel like this will do a lot.”
Inside, event producer Sam Newson was teary-eyed as he stood on the stage. He said the pilot was “vital” after the events industry had been “decimated” over the last year.
He said: “For the last 12 months, it has been a disaster. People have moved on, I’ve got colleagues who have lost houses, it has been incredibly hard and so to try and get this back up and running is incredibly important.” Any event is special but with the amount of work that has gone into this and to be the first in the country in over 12 months, it is very special.”
Yesterday’s line-up included DJ Yousef, Lewis Boardman and The Blessed Madonna. Fatboy Slim will headline today. Tickets were available only to residents of the Liverpool City Region, where several trial events are being held.
The First Dance is a trial from the government’s Events Research Programme, which has been examining the risk of coronavirus transmission at mass gatherings. The Carabao Cup Final at Wembley last Sunday was another such event.
Liverpudlians have been spoilt for choice by the programme, with an outdoor music event hosted by Festival Republic set to take place tomorrow in Sefton Park and an outdoor cinema trial coming on 14 May.