Raving Against Rationality - The Malta Problem
It is safe to say that the event scene in the UK is well and truly (and sadly so) on ice, with the effects being felt from coast to coast and genre to genre. Live experience forms an integral part of not just our perception of music and musicians, but also our social cohesion and our ability to meet like minded people and form meaningful connections. In 1982, Indeep released an iconic track that told the story of a woman who’s life was saved by a DJ, now I can’t relate entirely, but I certainly know that Maneki as an organisation, would not exist were it not for the privilege I had to rave. I probably would have never cultivated a love for Drum & Bass and I certainly would not have met Faris that faithful May evening back in 2012 on a South Eastern train to my first free party, which set us on a path of friendship that would lead us here. The point being, raving in the flesh is the epicentre of UK Bass culture, and its absence (to quote a few BBC journalists) is ‘Unprecedented’.
This desire to rave once more meant that once the live-streams lost their novelty, the UK rave scene was looking for the next big thing to fill a void that was burning a hole in our souls. So when a small island off the coast of Italy decided to open up its borders for holiday makers again, promoters frothed at the mouth and we were able to take a collective sigh of relief at the prospect of being able to get in at least one knee drop before a virtually cancelled festival season, could wave us goodbye in September. Escape 2 The Island, Rhythm + Waves, BPM Festival: Malta and Mi Casa Festival all exploded onto social media promising lineups that would absolutely make up for months of cancelled events. Unless you haven’t been paying attention to the news recently though, you’d know that as it stands...all four have been cancelled in the wake of a spike in COVID-19 cases on the island, which led healthcare workers on a bid to threaten to go on strike if major gatherings of people go ahead. Currently, only Back In The Future festival remains on and we are not holding out much hope at this stage.
The hysteria and ultimately despair of these events however, suggests an important question that I think we all need to consider, if we have any hope of things going back to the way they once were. To what degree are we as party goers, willing to take risk in order to fulfil our desire to rave? I am the first to admit I have been guilty of rolling the dice a few times. Leaving work with the flu and pulling myself together with a mix of alcohol and personal pep talks in order to make Fabric the same night, sneaking out on a school night with a fake ID to see Noisia for the first time etc. Now though, the risk affects everyone and the cost is too high for us to mess things up. I personally would say at this point that I would rather not see a live set until August 2021, than see one in September, with the risk of not seeing one again until 2023. The Malta problem, and the enthusiasm of British holidaymakers desperate to get a tan and eat some seasoned cuisine, should tell us that we can’t afford to play fast and loose with international health anymore, not when the future of rave itself hangs in the balance.
There is also a question being raised about the motives of the promoters involved and stories of refund policies that don’t fully cover cancellation as a result of COVID-19, can certainly serve to paint large promoters as people who have done their very utmost to put themselves in a ‘win win’ situation. However, the willingness to go to that kind of effort to organise parties of this kind of scale, at such short notice and with such risk involved, could also be a hand played by people who literally have nothing left to lose. If there is anything that watching 5G protests and Black Lives Matter marches in the same week has taught me, it is that recklessness and desperation can look very similar when the full context isn’t known.
One thing is for certain though, the scene is in dire straits and it is up to us to do all that we can to ensure its continued existence without risking a second wave. Be that through downloading and sharing music, buying merch, liking posts, sharing content or supporting artists. That way we will be doing our very best to protect what remains of UK Bass Music and allow it to flourish once more when we rave again….whenever that may be.
The last image in this article was of the initiative '#WEMAKEEVENTS' an initiative set up to help advocate for government relief for the events industry. Please tap/click the picture to find out how you can get involved.