The party goes on for French ravers

PARIS Summertime is rave time in France, but this year battle lines have been drawn between authorities alarmed at the risk of coronavirus and serious party-goers determined to dance on.

Ravers, called “teufeurs” in French back slang, speak of “resistance” against a crackdown by security forces encouraged by locals to restore order.

“The more they stop us from partying, the more we party,” said “teufeur” and activist Gregoire aka Pontu, who uses an alias to protect himself against the authorities.

France’s “free party” movement has since the 1990s brought together techno music lovers who follow a nomadic lifestyle, often living in small communities with libertarian or anarchist ideology.

“Because of the pandemic, there have been fewer events this year than previous years,” free party organiser Robin told AFP, asking not to use his full name.

“But a lot of attention has been focused on those events and the crackdown has been much tougher.”

He works for the Sound Fund, an association that offers legal support for rave organisers who face fines or have equipment confiscated by the police.

The association has been called on to help in 22 confiscation cases this year, including four over the Aug 15 bank holiday weekend. The number is twice as high as in 2019, Robin noted.

The national gendarmerie police force said it would not respond to AFP’s questions on the situation.

However, one regional official said that the latest national strategy was to try to restrict the size of gatherings once they get started by blocking all access roads. The official added that site evacuations remained a rarety.

“We cannot allow 5,000, 6,000 people to get together, without shirts, masks or any respect for virus rules,” said Junior Interior Minister Marlene Schiappa in July at the site of a rave that drew 4,000 people to the Nievre department in central France.

Police in the southern Lozere region-blocked off a plateau in the Cevennes national park where 7,000 people, including small children, attended an illegal three-day festival in mid-August. — AFP