On April 29, President Emmanuel Macron of France said he hoped to remove most restrictions in the country on June 30, but nightclubs would remain shut.
Many D.J.s said they wanted clubs to reopen soon as possible, and not just for the sake of their work. Clubbing wasn’t just about music, said Marea Stamper, a D.J. better known as the Blessed Madonna, after performing a set at the Liverpool event. “We come to raves to dance, to drink, to fall in love, to meet our friends,” she said. Nightclubs create communities, she added, “and to have that cut off is dreadful.”
“It’s not just a party,” she added. “It’s never just a party.”
In Liverpool, that sense of community was evident at 7:30 p.m. when Yousef Zahar, a D.J. and co-owner of Circus, the event’s organizer, took to the stage. For his first track, he put on an emotional house tune called “When We Were Free,” which he had made last year in the middle of Britain’s third lockdown.
It seemed an odd choice for an event celebrating clubbing’s return, but as it was finishing, he started to play a sample of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “Free at last, free at last; thank God Almighty, we are free at last,” Dr. King said, his voice booming around 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’re free, to do what you want to do” — confetti cannons went off, spraying paper all over the crowd, and the ravers began to sing along. For the rest of the night they were going to follow the song’s advice.