On April 29, French President Emmanuel Macron said he hoped to lift most of the country’s restrictions on June 30, but nightclubs would remain closed.
Many DJs wanted the clubs to reopen as soon as possible, and not just because of their work. Clubbing wasn’t just about music, said Marea Stamper, a DJ better known as Blessed Madonna, after playing a set at the Liverpool event. “We come to raves to dance, drink, fall in love, meet our friends,” she said. Nightclubs create communities, she added, “and cutting that off is horrible.”
“It’s not just a party,” she added. “It’s never just a party.”
This sense of community was evident in Liverpool at 7:30 p.m. when Yousef Zahar, DJ and co-owner of Circus, the organizer of the event, took the stage. For his first track, he put on an emotional house tune called “When We Were Free” that he played in the middle of Britain’s third lockdown last year.
It seemed like an odd choice for an event celebrating the club’s return, but as it came to an end he began to rehearse a rehearsal of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to play “I Have a Dream”. “Finally free, finally free; Thank God Almighty, we are finally free, ”said Dr. King and his voice boomed through the warehouse.
Then, as green lights flashed over the crowd, Zahar dropped Ultra Naté’s “Free,” a 90s dance hit. As soon as it reached its euphoric chorus – “You are free to do what you want” – confetti cannons went off and sprayed paper all over the crowd, and the ravers began to sing along. For the rest of the night they would follow the advice of the song.