A few weeks ago, I put out a challenge to the plague rave DJs to defend their practices. The way the likes of Dubfire, Sven Väth, Peggy Gou and the rest have been accepting such gigs and then refusing to post about them made the practice look all the more suspect.
As time went on, no one responded. But during the week, I got a reply from one. They agreed to speak to me on condition of anonymity. And as much as that irks me, if it’s the only way to get them talking, I’ll accept that. Here was his email almost in its entirety – two pieces of identifiable information were removed by me, but it’s otherwise entirely his words.
Over to you, Anonymous DJ…
I’m a DJ who has been working professionally in house music since the late 1990s in some form. I’ve been advised by my manager not to speak to you, but I strongly feel this is the right thing to do.
So I started doing plague raves, as you call them, last summer. When the pandemic started, I stopped doing gigs – infact in April, I got a job working in a supermarket. I have bills to pay like everyone else and I like being busy. But from around June, the phone started ringing again.
I refused at first, because I’d never worked with these guys before. But when they made their offer, I just couldn’t turn it down. It was for a rave in a warehouse in east London – some criminal gang was running it. The place got raided, but the cops didn’t catch me.
And to be fair, I did get paid. They sent some guy round to my house to give me the whole thing in cash. After that, I started accepting quite a few gigs at illegal raves. I made a lot of money out of them, although I did worry sometimes about the lack of precautions in place.
Later in the year, phone calls started coming in from abroad. USA, Mexico, India, Dubai – places like that. My management urged me to accept them. When I asked them what precautions against Covid were in place, they were reluctant to make enquiries at first. A less than friendly reminder of who pays their bills changed their minds!
I can’t say too much about specific gigs I’ve done because you’ll be able to identify who I am. But you might be surprised to find out that these events were more Covid safe than was made out. Most demanded a negative test as condition of entry. The majority also had hand washing stations, contactless payment for stuff and so on.
Some places insisted on face masks. Enforcement varied from country to country – the Mexicans tended to be quite strict, the Indians not so much. It was awful to see what those countries went through later, but I don’t think I helped contribute to that. I always tried to do the safer events.
I took a break over Christmas and was out of action for longer than anticipated. I started feeling really unwell a few days after the big day – really high temperature, the most horrid dry cough – and I got a test. There’s a walk-in place near my house where I had it done.
I had it confirmed the next day. I was positive. I was stuck in my house for the next 2 weeks. Coronavirus just completely knocked me out. It’s the most horrible thing I’ve ever gone through. One night, I woke up struggling to breathe. I was so close to calling an ambulance – it was absolutely terrifying.
I did a few more gigs from early February onwards, mostly in Dubai. I couldn’t face doing anything in January. I was exhausted from doing even the most basic activities. I had to lie down for half an hour after putting the bin out one collection.
But now that the prospect of legal gigs coming back soon is on the table, I’m keeping my distance from these sorts of gigs. I did them mostly to put bread on the table. I’m not some sort of careless b*****d who’s happy to see people die.
In conclusion? I don’t regret doing what I did, but I probably wouldn’t do it again. Legal gigs can’t return soon enough.
Coming up tomorrow – I put my questions to the anonymous DJ. Some of his answers may surprise you…