Illegal party-business

takes over Amsterdam student life

By LUCA CARLESI | November 23, 2020

Cover: People at a gathering in an unspecified location. Alexander Popov / Unsplash

Disclaimer: The names in this article have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

Despite strict travel restrictions, thousands of students recently moved to Amsterdam for the new academic year, facing a situation completely different from their expectations. This, however, did not deter first year students.

The restrictions imposed by the pandemic have brought Amsterdam’s nightlife industry to a screeching halt but the regulations were not enough to deter the sentiment of nightlife. Illegal parties or gatherings have been thriving and spreading all over the city.

While the number of cases grow and the economy deteriorates, illegal gatherings multiply. To get the word out, the organizers use their social media accounts, from WhatsApp and Facebook groups to creating Instagram pages. For determined party-goers, it usually takes just one message to get the coordinates and a meeting time – and then their night is set.

For the organizers, these “raves,” or parties involving dancing and alcohol, are not a form of protest nor should they be criminalized for organizing such gatherings. They are funded by hundreds of students who are willing to financially contribute. “It’s the easiest money I have ever made,” said Jang, one of the organizers. “People choose what they want and we give them what they want.”

“They are being compared to us while doing completely the opposite,” said Alan, a student who had organized free parties for the past 15 years before the pandemic. “They’re asking money for putting people in danger, and most likely, in trouble. I supported this culture for years and I can’t stand to watch what’s happening.”

Organizing these illegal parties has been used as a source of revenue for some of the organizers. “I lost my job,” said Liam, another

organizer. “I’m not saying what I’m doing is right, but I have to look after myself and this is the easiest way.”

As the police is getting better at finding the parties, the ravers are simultaneously getting better at concealing them.

The popularity of these raves is rapidly increasing, which is partly attributed to the spread of misinformation among young people. Most of the party-goers are international students, who often don’t have any direct contact with their families.

“After months of lockdowns and restrictions it’s still common to underestimate what’s happening,” said Sarah, a student in Amsterdam, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. “This party business is just an example of how people are starting to take advantage of others’ superfluous needs and ingenuities.”

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