Paris party scene goes underground in effort to sidestep lockdown rules
Last Saturday, while the rest of France stayed home in accordance with the latest Covid regulations, 300 people packed into an abandoned train tunnel under Paris for an illegal rave party.
The 15 euro tickets for the Saturday soirée, baptised "I Want to Break Free," were sold to members of a private Facebook group, and snapped up within hours.
The address in the 13th district of the French capital was kept secret until the last minute, and the rules were strict: arrive alone or in groups of two or three maximum, between 8:00 and 9:00 pm. No crowding, no queuing, and don't bring your boyfriend if he's a police officer.
Pulsing techno music beckoned from a vast underground cavern some 20 metres high, festooned with lights and neon that framed the psychedelic images being projected on the walls.
Dancers swarmed the dusty floor of the impromptu venue, complete with a DJ stage and a bar. Don't mention the virus.
A gesture of resistance
"We decided to mount a resistance and issue this call to hide together and party because there's no longer any place for young people to be together," said the 27-year-old organiser, who declined to give his real name but asked to be called "Alexandre".
"We know how to do this now -- In less than two hours we can set up anywhere and have a very private party like this," he said.
If caught, Alexandre could be fined up to 15,000 euros on charges of reckless endangerment.
Mental health issues
Seated on tracks that vibrated from the blaring speakers, Ivan and his girlfriend watched as people poured in, the majority without face masks.
"I just got my first job, a permanent contract, and I've been working a lot so I really needed to blow off some steam," he said.
"The lockdown has knocked my life out of balance, I haven't left my apartment in a month -- this party is necessary for my mental health."
The sentiment is apparently widespread, since French police have had to crack down on dozens of illegal parties since the partial lockdown was announced in October to combat a new surge in the number of coronavirus cases.
There has been no reaction from the Paris police to the Saturday night underground rave, but Alexandre might need to find a different address if he wants to try again next weekend.
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