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Michael Kill, CEO of Night Time Industries Association, says the surge in illegal raves is frustrating to watch for a paralysed event industry that is expert at keeping people safe. However, it illustrates the pent-up demand for events and could mirror the 1980s rave scene, and spark a new era of creativity.


Anger and frustration have driven the socially starved to seek alternative social experiences. With an escalation in illegal raves across the country, it’s difficult to imagine that at this time, thousands of people would have been attending festivals across the UK.

It’s very hard to sit by and watch as these unregulated events take place, increasing in popularity, becoming more frequent and presenting new challenges for police and regulators.

Most of the events sector is left in limbo, without a timeline for viable market re-engagement and no additional Government financial support while events are unable to take place.

I am not sure we have reached the dizzy heights of the late 1980s, and the Acid House raves which brought a revolution on the dance floor. This is not about revolution, this is about survival. If you mention “illegal raves” to anyone over 45, they’ll tell you about their UK beginnings in the 1980s. Back when Acid House arrived on the scene, and a new cultural movement spread across the country.

In 1994, the government passed legislation banning large events featuring music “characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats”. Raves were officially illegal but it didn’t stop them happening, and they continue today.

So, what has fueled the revival, are we experiencing a new rave era? Is this a form of expression or protest?

Many see their events as a way of reclaiming their cities, at a time when so many young people want to push back against the establishment. But there can be higher risks due to the fact they’re unregulated. Not every rave will have appropriate security or first aid, meaning there can be a real chance of something going seriously wrong.

We cannot ignore the fact that some of the people that now occupy the festival and events sector have been inspired by the original rave scene and continue to aspire to achieve that renaissance feel of the past.

It has been 30 years, but the spirit of the 1988 Summer of Love is still alive. There are obvious differences, but the desire to party illegally is clearly not going away. The question is how can we harness the creative energy from these parties, make them safe but inspire people at the same time?

Events and festivals have become a vital part of British heritage, generating millions of pounds in revenue for the economy. We know the demand for events and festivals is there, but under current restrictions the sector is fighting for survival.

We must utilise our expertise alongside Government, to find ways to reopen safely and viably. We can come together once again, remembering the importance of our past, but protecting our future.