The French dance music community is reacting to a new bill that targets raves.
The proposed "anti-rave" legislation was approved by the French Senate in late October and next will be reviewed by the National Assembly as the final step before potentially becoming law. (It's currently unknown when this will happen.) The bill aims to "strengthen the supervision of rave parties and sanctions against their organizers," and involves increasing paperwork and raising fines on promoters, as well as threatening the seizure of equipment.
French DJ Jennifer Cardini called the bill "unrealistic" and "dangerous," as this move comes after rising tensions between French authorities and clubs and promoters. In recent years, French police have been responding to drug deaths by putting pressure on clubs and forcing them to close, as they did with Dehors Brut earlier in September. "After the incidents and deaths in the last year, every time the response has been repression instead of meeting with club owners, party promoters and the different organizations fighting for more prevention and dialogues," Cardini said in an interview with Resident Advisor. "We don't get a chance to have a say in this."
In statements to RA, here's what other prominent members of the French music community are saying about the 'anti-rave' bill.
François X, DJ and producer:
Anne-Claire Gallet (AKA Dactylo), DJ and Possession collective:
"France, my beloved country is, let's face it, an overly conservative country—even if we are perceived to be tremendous protesters—so this anti-rave act is no surprise for me.
Every government in place since the '80s has seen electronic culture and hip-hop culture as an odd thing, if not a threat. Free parties, raves and clubs represent the kind of events that inspire fear for people, and it's a fact that public opinion still tends to make the link between drug abuse, outlaw behavior and dance music culture. They don't perceive what beneath it: a culture, a state of mind, an area of freedom and sometimes, like Hakim Bey described
it, a TAZ (Temporary Autonomous Zone).
Clearly, it's standard to be preoccupied by people—a safe, ecological environment and many things. But restriction and punishment (promoters can face jail time for not registering their events) are not the solution. It always leads to a totalitarian state, people's rebellion and countries' revolution. Dialogue is always the best solution create collaboration. We have to operate hand-in-hand and must establish a common goal.
I will never understand this lack of understanding, but one thing I'm reasonably convinced is the voice of the tribe is inevitably the strongest."
"It's important to notice that the law has a small chance of being adopted because it was voted at Sénat by a conservative part of Les Républicains. LR has not majority at Assemblée Nationale.
These mayors do not want undeclared events in their communes, and they put forward respectable arguments: noise nuisance, environmental nuisance, risks for the public. But the problem is that these mayors will very rarely accept authorizations—even to projects that meet the security standards in force to accommodate the public. This lack of authorization and the non-dialogue between town halls, prefecture and promoters could weaken events organizations and push them towards illegality.
There are several cases in the last two years of well-mounted security files that have been rejected (sometimes at the last minute); free party organizations or other types of events, including festivals, that were denied their permits or proposed venues and had to change at the last minute or cancel to advance together. It would be necessary for the municipalities to propose calls for projects for open lands to gather the necessary security features and accompany the promoters to build legal projects. It's what promoters would all like.
I would also like to remind you that next year it is the municipal elections and that the youth must mobilize. Our generation represents a great electoral force, and we must take the opportunity to advance on these issues and vote massively."Bruits de la Passion, Paris-based collective:
Eric Labbé, DJ and Paris en Commun member:
"This bill is part of a wider movement of restriction of liberty and of a security ideal where any private party becomes suspect. It is quite simply a tendency of the state to want to regulate more and more, us to submit to its good will and to prevent any autonomous social life.
To take this in a more global context, we see that since roughly one year ago and the beginning of the movement of gilets jaunes
, there is a certain authoritarian drift in power. With the death of Steve [Cancio], killed [in a clash with] the police at [a music festival in] Nantes
, we may wonder if there is not a desire to 'punish' the movement of the free parties or to stifle it in order to preempt any possible future contestation, since traditionally these are circles that challenge the order in place. (It is doubtful that this law will not be used to penalize the organization of bourgeois festivals.)
More practically, it is a law which makes it possible to enlarge the judicial repressive arsenal of the state and the prefecture. And, by the vagueness of its intention, [it] will be probably used wrongly and often, as often with security laws that are diverted from their original purpose (see the recent state of emergency
) against any gathering considered undesirable.
Obviously, it will not prevent us from continuing to party as we see fit—apart from the nails and constraints so narrow delimited by the public authorities."
"This bill passed in the Senate has no chance of being approved by the National Assembly because it's so counterproductive that even the government doesn't want it! So my reaction is less anxiety than a big weariness ...
For the 30 years that techno and festivals have existed, the subject of their prohibition returns very regularly in the intentions of the French legislators. But the only effect of these successive layers of legislation is to push the organizers more and more into hiding.
In 1995, the administrative circular Pascua wanted to fight raves (with identified organizers), and it had the direct result of the end of the rave and the emergence of the free party. In 2001, the Mariani amendment, which required a "prior declaration" for events of more than 250 people, resulted in all the authorizations filed leading to bans, so the organizers preferred to make smaller events completely secret.
What is annoying is that associative actors federating soundsystems, such as Freeform Association, are in a process of mediation with the authorities since the early 2000s. But these good practices with the ministries stop often as soon as we approach elected officials and local authorities (prefects), especially in the south of France where these events are more frequent. In these regions, the efficiency of the prefects is measured by the number of forbidden events. It is hopeless.
Once again, this law will not pass. But the fact remains that between this bill and the recent administrative closures of Parisian clubs, we can be globally worried about the imbalance between the obsessive security and repression on one hand and the defense of culture and of our freedoms on the other hand."Brice Coudert, Concrete Music and Dehors Brut:
"I think this project of law is completely wobbly and only directed against our culture. Will other gatherings of less than 500 people such as weddings, kermesses, ferias or even a simple 'boom' be concerned? No.
Raves do not do more damage or noise than any other popular gathering. And if the excuse is the consumption of alcohol and drugs, we will also have to go on the side of large mainstream gatherings where the problem is exactly the same, but on volumes of public really more important.
I do not see how such a law can be accepted, but the intention alone is demoralizing and sends us directly 20 years back. And we must remember that the raves exist by rejection of the legislation. Is even tougher legislation really the answer?"Charles Di Falco and Antoine Hernadez, Positive Education:
"This law will prevent initiatives, reduce freedom of expression and, by extension, the premises of the potential emergence of a new scene. It is an aberration and an amputation in the circuit of electronic music that allows us all to exist today."Zaltan, DJ and founder of Antinote:
"For me it's a step backwards, it's obvious. The nightlife in France was starting to be a little more relaxed and less marginalized. And then no, a good shitty repressive law... to avoid [another] Steve [Canico]?
In short, we will all agree that it sucks. I was born in 1985, with raves are everywhere around me since I was a teenager, and I think the repression is not very constructive for the state and the community. It will continue forever and in anarchy and violence if necessary, if that's what they want. They tried everything but it does not work. And if they were a bit clever there is even a way to relax the laws and tax developers raves!
As far as I'm concerned, I like the idea of parallel activity in society. The music I love and the atmosphere that makes me really like it have nothing to do with some controls and legislation. I am also convinced that art has never been stronger than during periods of repression."Androgyne, Nantes-based collective and artistic director of Macadam:
"This anti-rave law calls into question the ecosystem of the party by destroying the freedom of initiative of spontaneous gatherings. Access to clubs, such as ours, and other legal places requires a certain base and structuring of people and collectives.
The fact that everyone has to exist officially to spread a vision of the party and express oneself goes against the creativity and the expansion of electronic music that we encourage."
Statements have been edited for clarity.