As the pandemic wears on and mass gatherings fade further and further into the distance, a whole lot of people are missing the experience enough to throw big parties anyway. Right now, the organizers of FuckJerry’s JAJA tequila are under investigation for putting on a Chainsmokers concert in the Hamptons, and things like that are happening on smaller levels too. Late on Saturday night, as Gothamist reports, hundreds of New York partygoers went to a park under the Kosciuszko Bridge in Brooklyn for a secret rave that got out of control.
In videos of the party, which was put on by a group called Renegade, hundreds of people were in a penned-in area, and most of them not social distancing and some not wearing masks. This was an outdoor open-air area, and many people were wearing masks, which makes the whole thing slightly less scary. But it’s all still pretty clearly a bad idea. Police broke the party up around 4AM, after it had been raging for a few hours.
Travis Egedy, the producer and DJ known as Pictureplane, was one of the DJs for the event. (The other was DJ Mazurbate.) In an email to Pitchfork, Egedy says that DJing the party “felt incredible” but that he now regrets taking the booking:
i had never worked with those promoters before.
when we spoke on the phone the day before the event, i expressed reservations and told them i was nervous about DJing it.. and that i was aware of backlash from a previous rave that happened a few weeks ago.
they told me that this one would be super safe, and that masks and sanitizer and water would be provided to everyone who entered.
and when i saw video of the location, it looked enormous. i figured that it was a large enough space that people would have tons of room. and wouldnt be any different than going to like rockaway beach on a saturday.
i was pretty surprised at the crowd. and of course everyone just crowded around the sound system.
it felt incredible to DJ after being alone in my house for basically 6 months ! and im sure a lot of people there felt the same.
but i dont think it was worth the risk looking back on it now.
i definitely wont be going to any events like that again while covid is still happening.
and i really hope that no one gets sick after this event.
One of the party’s anonymous organizers spoke to Gothamist, defending the intentions behind it:
If you think people aren’t going to gather, you’re a fool — there’s no stopping that. The event got out of control because people wanted to come, people wanted to be out. People have been cooped up for so long. The pressure is building, and people need a release. It’s already happening. We can do it more safely, or we can pretend it isn’t happening…
My friends are being forced to go back to work with thousands of employees. New York is back open. Stores are open, the subway is open, the parks are open, people are trying to go back to normal. Look at the beaches, look at the playgrounds. Riis Beach is packed, the parks are full of people hanging out, remembering they’re alive. At least we’re telling people to wear a mask.
On Monday morning, New York governor Andrew Cuomo mentioned the rave during a press conference, saying, “It’s disrespectful. It’s illegal. It violates common decency. look at all the people you endangered. What if one of the people gets sick and dies?… We need better enforcement all across the state.”
Like a lot of other subcultures based in music, rave has its roots as an outlaw phenomenon, a whole world built out of illegal parties in warehouses and lofts. The UK basically made raves illegal in the ’90s; it’s part of the romance behind the thing. But there’s a difference between being defiant against oppressive authorities and running the risk of spreading a highly communicable and dangerous disease. You’re not being brave by risking getting sick; you’re being selfish by risking making other people sick.
Many of us miss parties, concerts, basement shows, and mass gatherings of all sorts. It sucks that they’re not happening. That doesn’t mean that they should be happening.
UPDATE: Pictureplane has issued a statement reiterating what he said in his earlier email. “I take responsibility for my misguided decision to DJ and i will certainly not be doing that again until it is 100% safe to do so,” it reads. “I’m sorry for letting you down.”