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Nico Moreno-Illegal Rave-Barcelona-Coronavirus

Spanish electronic music outrage at an illegal rave in the midst of a pandemic

Outrage and indignation among the electronic community in Spain after the French DJ Nico Moreno published yesterday three videos of a party showcasing people raving and sweating like in the old days (together with the best wishes for a merry Christmas), opening up lots of questions about the current status of the industry and what’s behind the scenes

“This is disrespectful to the whole fucking scene and population”, reads the Instagram stories of a young techno DJ from Barcelona. The story linked to a recent post by French DJ Nico Moreno. It was Wednesday 23rd December and it was approximately 7pm.

Story linking to the original post by Nico Moreno.

The post by Nico Moreno that triggered the controversy

The carousel, of three short videos, had barely been published for half an hour. Two of those videos, shot from the backstage (right behind the DJ), showed several dozen people crowded over the fence separating the booth from the dance floor. No distance, no masks, dancing with energy, sweating in a seemingly poorly ventilated interior space, judging by its industrial appearance. The third video, recorded from the first rows of the dance floor, gives a glimpse of an imposing sound tower, as well as a visual projection worthy of any festival. The carousel reads:

What a crazy party, @unlocked_bcn. A huge thank’s, it was good to see you happy, guys! Take care of yourself and merry Christmas! Crédit: @danielnovoaa

The fuse was lit. The madness was unleashed. The first reactions came in the comments of the same post, where one user commented sarcastically “take care of yourself… (laughter) SHAMELESS…” and another one reflected on how unfair it is that some people make money during the covid-19 pandemic while the rest of the scene has not worked since March, following health recommendations and restrictions.

But this was not all. Other workers in the scene, even more outraged, chose to publish their own posts on their Facebook profiles. For example, one user showed a capital anger, calling the alleged perpetrators of the event “basura”, which means “trash”.

Reaction of a user.

Two other professionals from the Barcelona scene, promoters and party organizers who have been unemployed since March, also expressed their anger. One of them followed the thread of the initial comments and used the adjective “miserable” to refer to those responsible.

Reaction of another user.

Others went even further by tagging the Mossos d’Esquadra (the Catalan autonomous police) and giving rise to an intense discussion in the comments, where some users defended the organizers of the event and predicted that the rest of the scene would be doing the same in a matter of months.

Reaction of a third user.

But did the rave really happen?

After the avalanche of reactions, we went back to Nico Moreno‘s original post to watch the videos again. Not even an hour had passed, but the post had already been deleted. In it, two accounts were mentioned: @unlocked_bcn and @danielnovoaa.

Instagram Profile-Unlocked Barcelona
Instagram profile of Unlocked.

The first one, is the one of the supposed promoter who has organized the event. In other words, the name of the party. Unlocked is a name that has gained popularity in the Barcelona techno scene during the current quarantine. While browsing Instagram, we came across Isma Cano, a young man, also from Barcelona, whose profile stated that he is a co-founder of Unlocked.

We contacted him via Instagram Direct to try to clarify what happened. Unlocked was being attacked on social networks for allegedly organizing an illegal rave, and we thought it was only fair that its co-founder could provide the relevant explanations or deny the facts. Isma clarified that he did not know what we were talking about:

The truth is that I don’t know what you’re talking about, or what I should defend myself against, the truth.

At the same time, we also went to the other profile involved in Nico Moreno’s original post, that of @danielnovoaa, d a n i in his account name and promoter of the Blackworks Club party in Madrid. We remember: Dani was recorded as the author of the videos originally posted by Nico Moreno. We also wrote to Dani to ask him to confirm or deny whether those videos were, as it seemed, from the past December 19th or 20th, 2020, or if, on the contrary, they were old videos, perhaps even from before the pandemic, which Nico Moreno could have posted now by mistake. So far we haven’t received a reply from him. At the same time, a collaborator from this medium tells us that he did manage to talk to him on the night of Wednesday 23: He says he’s going to deny everything.”

Several collaborators, unrelated to each other, coincide in telling us that Dani was, by chance, the person responsible for the Blackworks party (remember, the promoter that appears in his profile) last September 19, 2020 in La Riviera de Madrid, a party that ended two hours earlier than planned when the Municipal Police burst in and verified that the health regulations imposed by the authorities were not being respected.

Although no one at Unlocked has defended that these images are from before the coronavirus, at Xceed we wish to believe that all this was a misunderstanding. However, when we went to Dani’s profile, we came across his most recent post: a photo published “2 days ago” at the time of the capture shown here, that is, on Monday 21/12, in which Dani appears with the other two protagonists of this story: Isma and Nico Moreno. Much to our regret, Nico Moreno wears the same sweater and the same cap as in the videos in which he was seen in the cabin.

Nico Romero-Illegal Rave-Barcelona
Post by Dani published in visible mode to everyone on Monday 21/12/2020.

All this succession of events leads us to two possible hypotheses: either Nico Moreno and Dani have agreed to remember glorious times in the past almost simultaneously, or Nico Moreno, from France, and Dani, from Madrid, travelled to Barcelona this past weekend to attend an illegal party organized by Unlocked, a new techno promoter from Barcelona co-founded by Isma.

Possible reasons, possible consequences

As for facts merely said, this is what went down, having made pure journalistic exercise, having given possibility to everybody to have a voice in this story and having remained always faithful to the good faith. Now, it is time to reflect.

The first thing that we should always respect is the presumption of innocence. It is precisely for that reason that we gave the option to three of those involved to defend themselves from the attacks received in the networks. Their apparent disbelief or ignorance, together with the coincidences in different publications shown above, show, however, that everything is, at least, suspicious.

What could have led these young people from Barcelona to organize an event of this caliber in the middle of the third wave of infections and on the eve of Christmas? To think that the virus doesn’t exist? To consider that its lethality -not very high, according to many- doesn’t justify the magnitude of the restrictions imposed? To take the risk, both of a fine and of an outbreak of covid-19, to take advantage of this historic moment to get an economic advantage and/or brand publicity?

In this type of case, the organizer is usually pointed out, but it is also evident that the illegal events would not exist without the public that attends them. Why do so many young people prioritize dance and leisure over the health of their fellow citizens? Are we paying the consequences of the egocentrism established in the new generations of Western society? Do not attitudes of this type go against the initiatory message of electronic music, which calls for safe and inclusive dance floors?

Xceed is a ticketing platform that creates clubbers communities around the world and connects them with clubs and venues. Under that condition, we could not help but notice the link to Resident Advisor in the profile of @unlocked_bcn at the time of our screenshot. The event, on sale in RA, is configured for 24/1, although, in the description and in the image, it is called for 2/1/2021.

Resident Advisor-Unlocked Barcelona-Event
Unlocked Bcn event in Resident Advisor that was in the link of the Unlocked Bcn profile on Instagram.

What role should each of us play in this? Whose responsibility is it? Can we wash our hands of ticketing platforms by being open to anyone to access, create and sell their own event?

On December 10, the French police broke into a party of more than 800 people outside Paris, arresting one of the organizers and identifying as many as possible, as well as the manager of Shotgun, the platform through which the tickets were sold. All of them were summoned to testify and the organization is now exposed to sanctions of up to 15,000 euros and one year in prison. You can read more about it (in French) in this article from Le Point.

The same day 24/12/2020, we contacted Resident Advisor to send them this article and ask them if they would like to contribute their impressions or opinions. The UK platform simply stated that the event shown above is one of “many events listed on RA that have needed to be rescheduled” due to the pandemic, that (as always in these cases) “all ticket buyers are given the option for a refund” and that “all ticketed events on RA must comply with regional event guidelines to ensure public safety”:

We always seek confirmation that the event can take place legally and operational procedures adhere to local guidelines.

It has been more than nine months without dancing freely, without getting together, without hugging each other and without seeing our older relatives. More and more people are becoming aware of the coronavirus and, on Christmas Eve, extreme caution. But, at the same time, more and more people, especially young people, give up, get fed up and decide to reveal themselves in the face of restrictions, returning to the old normality. And, all this with the vaccination process just around the corner. For some, the door to hope. For others, one more imposition they do not intend to obey.


(Cover Image: cut from the video posted by Nico Moreno)