'I'm Learning My Lesson the Hard Way' – Speaking to the People Who Partied On New Year's Eve

From illegal raves and house parties to "we meant to play board games but ended up buying loads of gear", here's how people broke the rules and why.
JG
London, GB
January 4, 2021, 5:20pm
party-nye
Screenshots via Twitter

In the UK, there are now more people in hospital with coronavirus than at the highest point of the peak in April of 2020. Depressingly, this increase reflects a rise in cases after harsher restrictions were introduced across much of the country, which could suggest the boom is a result of non-compliance over the festive period.

Following New Year’s Eve, a load of footage emerged of parties flouting the ban on large gatherings – most notably an illegal rave at a church in Essex, and a Chingsford function that looks laughably boring, complete with a waiter in a bow tie and a DIY bottle service set-up. Those who thought it was a good idea to post videos of what they were up to online likely represent just the tip of the iceberg.

I spoke to some people who partied on New Year’s Eve, to find out why they decided to go out – and whether, in light of the pandemic reaching graver proportions than ever, they’re experiencing any regret.

SAM

I went to a house party with about 20 to 30 people there throughout the night. It felt like any other house party I’ve been to, and was as messy as any other NYE. Everyone at the party was getting loose. It was one of the brighter moments in the last few months. The police didn’t show up.

The decision to party was definitely impromptu. I had a plan to stay with my girlfriend at her house for the evening, but her plans changed and I ended up seeing some friends, and one thing led to another. In retrospect, I can see it was definitely selfish, but I just didn’t think of it as an issue at the time. The rules haven’t really been enforced or made clear for the majority of the pandemic, and the lack of oversight has made people really lazy with following the rules for months. Especially in London. Not that it justifies my actions – but that mentality is the reasoning behind it.

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I feel both guilt and regret for attending the party now. A few days after NYE, I found out that someone had gone to the party despite having had a positive corona test. Since then, two of my friends who were there have tested positive, and I’m waiting for my result – which is most likely positive. I’ve been in contact with some friends who are taking the rules very seriously, and have had to stay at my girlfriend’s flat, who I’ve most likely passed the virus on to as well. I said to myself I would take everything more seriously after New Year’s. Now, I’m learning my lesson the hard way.

JOHN

I was meant to be going to one specific rave, but it got shut down before it even started, at 8PM. I managed to find something else, though, as I’m in a private verified group [where party locations are posted]. I ended up going to a smallish rave, with 300 people – it went on until about 6AM. I wouldn’t say it was any wilder than normal, but it was really fun.

We didn’t have any noise complaints or anything. I won’t say where it was, but it wasn’t close to any residential properties. The police actually did turn up and stop people from coming in, but most people were already inside by that point and the police didn’t come inside.

Why did I do it? I just wanted to go for a rave. I’ve been to three since lockdown started. I live alone, so I won’t spread it to anyone high-risk [note: it’s still possible to spread COVID even if you live alone.] To be honest, I don’t really give a shit: lockdowns and restrictions won’t work and never will [note: the first UK national lockdown was followed by a sharp decrease in deaths]. The virus is going to go through most of the population and some will die – that’s just life.

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I don’t feel guilty at all. The vast majority of the infections are happening elsewhere, not illegal raves. I think it’s important for mental health to go out and party.

TYRONE

I went to a friend’s house with six others, did some edibles, smoked weed and drank all night long, until people were throwing up everywhere. It started out quiet but ended up pretty loud, with music and stuff. It was decent, but I would’ve rather a night out with more people. At one point, police officers walked past our house and told us to split up while we were standing outside, but after that we were fine.

Why did I do it? Well, the lockdown restrictions seemed to be worsening by the day, and I thought we should do something before everything was locked off completely. My response is the government doesn’t really know what they’re doing with the restrictions at the moment, so I’ve stopped listening to the majority of the rules. I’m making the best out of a shit situation by just going out with my mates as much as possible. Life will not return back to normal until a vaccine has been sorted out, so I might as well go out while there’s still time.

I don’t really feel any guilt. We just made sure no one posted about it on social media, knowing that would piss people off. No regrets.

ANTHONY

I went to my friend’s canal boat for what was supposed to be a board games and pizza night. There were eight of us in total, from two households. We all live locally and pretty much spent the whole of the pandemic together in a bubble. The night started off quite tame, but my friend started playing disco music and we ended up ordering a shit load of gear, then staying up for 36 hours.

In our defence, we never mix outside of our bubble and we’d all received a negative test prior to the party. I do feel awful that so many people spent NYE alone or working to fight the pandemic. When I first woke up I felt full of guilt and shame – which wasn’t helped by the realisation I’d spent a fortune staying up for two days – but after thinking about it, I decided we were as responsible as we could be. It’s not like we attended an illegal rave.

But if the government continue to fail us in their handling of this pandemic, through their utter fucking incompetence, I’m concerned that, by summer, people’s attitudes to illegal parties and mixing bubbles will change.