Hundreds of thousands of people have gathered this past Saturday and Sunday in London to unite for the ‘Freedom to Dance’ march. The demonstration took place on Saturday June 26th and Sunday June 27th to draw attention to the negative impact the current restrictions have had on the events and nightlife industries. DJ’s played and ravers united! Large crowds walked through London in hopes to give the government a wake-up call. The events and nightlife industry have spent the last 15 months following the rules, but enough is enough and many companies simply cannot handle being closed any longer!
Marching from Regent Street towards Parliament square, everyone danced along to the sound systems that were strapped to the top of cars. Cardboard signs were held in the air and everyone cheered in high spirits. Organized by Save Our Scene, this demonstration was described as “largest creative industry demonstration ever in the UK” (lbc.co.uk). This peaceful protest saw “thousands of people get involved to raise support for the music industry that has been forgotten and left behind.
Mix Mag shared that “75% of UK clubs, bars and music venues face bankruptcy” (MixMag.net). Everything was meant to reopen June 21st until it was delayed by four weeks, potentially even longer. We continue to wait for updates from the new health secretary, Said Javid, but despite July 5th being floated around, Javid’s announcement on June 28th confirmed July 19th still remains the target to reopen. With many test events already proving that the music industry can open again safely, proves that the decision to delay was a political decision not data driven.
With two main stages and two smaller stages, the lineup reflected that of a festival. Big names joined and showed their support by playing sets. Seb Zito and East End Dubs played a b2b set, as well as Alan Fitzpatrick and Eats Everything. Hannah Wants joined as well and she tweeted, “Today we protest with a festival kinda line up through London”. The amount of support that shone through from the industry was overwhelming .
Many people have complained about the Euros football going ahead yet still delayed reopening the UK by four weeks. With the government supporting the football but not the nightlife industries, we see a huge bias towards the governments reasons for these restrictions. Many people have begun renaming the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to just the Department of Sport.
Following the media of the latest protest, the silence from the mainstream media outlets speak volumes. Despite this being held all across London and taking over the city for the day, the media coverage was small. Publications like the Independent and the Telegraph wrote articles on the Distinction Rebellion protest that happened the same weekend, but excluded any information on the Freedom to Dance Protest. The closest we came to an informed article in the mainstream UK media was an article by the Guardian leading up to the protest. However, even that was more of a behavior warning from the police. With the government and media against us, we will just have to be louder! Our freedom to protest has given us the freedom to dance for just one day. London is clearly shouting and begging for dance floors to reopen.
Words by Gabrielle Runzer
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