I Gatecrashed A Political Street Rave
Crying toddlers are dragged along the cold grey paving by frustrated mothers, swarms of teenagers drift in and out of the 2000 seater McDonald's, and, of course, that man with the plastic microphone and never-tuned ukulele is performing a belter.
On a typical Saturday afternoon in the epicentre of Liverpool, England, Not-So-United Kingdom, Church Street is a wall of noise. Crying toddlers are dragged along the cold grey paving by frustrated mothers, swarms of teenagers drift in and out of the 2000 seater McDonald's, and, of course, that man with the plastic microphone and never-tuned ukulele is performing a belter. You can’t ever tell what song it is, but blimey, you know it’s a good one anyway.
It was the 4th of January 2020. I was waning off that glorious post-Christmas diet of leftover cheese and had scarcely left the house in a week when I heard about a rave happening in the heart of L1. Though this scarcely sounds enticing, rave culture was actually something I'd been thinking about.
Over the Christmas holidays, my father sat the Saunderson household down and made us all watch ‘Everybody In The Place - An Incomplete History of Britain 1984 -1992' by Jeremy Deller. It's a documentary that delves into the deep intricacies of rave culture and house music's origins, many of which are rooted in protest, whether it be from young black youths, who used the underground sound systems as a way to form community, or people in the north using it to unite against a hostile Conservative government. So when an ad for an anti-Tory street rave appeared on my Insta, I had little choice but to get on the bus and head on down...
Church Street is a wall of sound.
Screaming toddlers. Screaming teenagers. That man with his wee plastic microphone, Party City tux and out of tune ukulele. And of course, that infamous, bastardized melody sprawled over three words: “Oh Jeremy Corbyn…”
The rave hasn’t really gotten off the ground yet, and despite the starting time on the Facebook page being 1PM, I’ve arrived at quarter to three and am not surprised to see a gathering of around fifteen people surrounding the DJ. A prominent sign hangs behind the frantic dancers, stating a very familiar statement, titled with a single syllable expletive.
“It says E-uck the Tories,” a man only identifiable by his bright yellow corduroys informs me later, after I’ve settled into the whole interviewer-interviewee thing, “The police didn’t like what it said before, but we drew a line on it, and now they’ll leave us alone. They’re shutting us down in half an hour though." I was there until early evening, the police never came.
It’s nearly three now and Abi, a photographer I enlisted through social media, is still yet to show, so I decide get a feel of the type of people in the ten metre proximity of the DJ, whose set his system up on a well-used ironing board. I realise that those in attendance can easily be split up into three sub-groups:
1. The Shopper. The typical Saturday afternoon Church Street attendee. Had no idea this would be happening today, just wanted to get some nice towels in the New Year’s sale. Have stopped to observe the spectacle. The younger ones in this group often have their phone cameras on the dancing crowd, ready to post on a Snapchat story with the witty caption of “Only in Liverpool” followed by a few of those rather annoying emojis that can’t decide if they’re happy or not.
2. The Liverpool Uni Student. I have an completely unwarranted bias against Liverpool University students. I never found that deep-rooted hatred of EU citizens or refugees within myself that abides within many a British citizen these days, but I got a discounted version of this pure unjustified hatred in my feeling towards Southern people who come up to Liverpool for a three year education and flaunt down Bold Street like they own the place. The ones that become avid Labourites just to annoy Mummy and Daddy are all in attendance at this rave, smoking hand rolled cigarettes, and will be living this oh-so-very alternative lifestyle they have curated for themselves until they realise they won’t get as quite a big portion of Grandad Santander’s fortune if they don’t pledge their unborn children to the same boarding school they, and six generations before them, attended. The Liverpool Uni Student is a champagne socialist who stands a rebellious but safe five metres away from the ironing board.
3. The Irony Bro. Is dancing to the shoddy Stormzy remixes. Is now starting chants about Boris Johnson’s mother. Has, with 100% certainty, bought their whole outfit from the Urban Outfitters Discount Bin.
Though I have strong disagreements with the Conservative government, I am perhaps guilty of hypocrisy. Whilst I stand there judging others with their questionable dance moves and neon bucket hats, I'm wearing a new Columbia jacket that my dad bought for me in the Christmas sales. Who am I to judge any of these people who have set out only to express their beliefs and fight a thousand injustices that we all know are virulent in this country? Despite the somewhat shambolic outward appearance of the rave, and despite the curious glances we drew from passers-by, there is a genuine anger here, and an anger that deserves to be voiced.
The sad truth is, for many people UK Party Politics is excruciatingly boring. The repetition of the same messages every news hour, every day even makes me wish I was living under Big Brother. All in all, if people want to take to the streets and make politics a bit more edgy, why stop them?
One thing that struck me was the multitude of teenagers at the event. Teenagers, in a public and safe environment, uniting with others over a topic they were passionate about. If us youth continue to be passionate about the anti-progressive environment our government continues to re-establish for us, no incompetent government really stands a chance.
I looked, at half five, at my friends around me. They joined me earlier on the insistence that I watch the awful monstrosity that is the Cats movie, and obviously, I could not resist. But the film's at five, and we’ve still got time. The festive lights shine above Church Street and we dance among the ravers.
I, at one point, grab the microphone on the ironing board and start a chant about Boris Johnson’s mother. It’s euphoria.
And euphoria is hard to come by these days.