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20 iconic illegal rave photos

Nostalgia ultra

  • 7 January 2022

Illegal raves represent some of the most thrilling, debauched parties in dance music history. From chaotic disused warehouse bashes to otherworldly trips into the depths of forests, partying enthusiasts have searched high and low for prime dancing locations over the years - and they never let a silly old thing like the law get in the way.

At times, these parties also represent more than just a good time. They can be defiant, political acts, that channel the raging energy of oppressed youth.

See the gallery of images below for some of our favourite illegal rave shots.

Ravers get down and dirty in Bagley's warehouse, King's Cross, June 1985 [Credit: Dave Swindells]

Paul “Trouble” Anderson on deck at a Zoom warehouse night in Covent Garden, September 1985 [Credit: Dave Swindells]

A former paratrooper captures hoards descending on Brighton for debauchery [Credit for this image and article header: Stuart Griffiths]

A vast industrial setting packed to the rafters in France, 1992 [Credit: P'tit Fred]

Cardboard city, a community of homeless people below London's Waterloo station, threw a final party before being turfed out by developers who turned the area into an IMAX Cinema [Credit: Molly Macindoe]

Castlemorton Common is the rave that changed the law. 20,000 rocked up to party in the West Country hills after an answer machine invite spiralled out of control. A £4 million trial and government crackdown, including the passing of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, followed.

Dancers get hot and sweaty at Dune 4 in the Californian desert, 1997 [Credit: Michael Tullberg]

Where better to spend your New Year's Eve than a disused meat factory in Tottenham Hale? 1997/98 [Credit: Molly Macindoe]

Police in Melbourne shut down a Vibe Tribe event

Zebra crossing dancefloor at the Cars My Arse event held by environmentalists protesting mass automobile use, 1998 [Credit: Molly Macindoe]

Ravers invade a vacant office block in the heart of north London, 1999 [Credit: Molly Macindoe]

A woman looks over a sea of ravers at a Badalona New Year's event in Spain, 2000/01 [Credit: Molly Macindoe]

Proudly holding aloft a Section 63 police notice demanding a rave site is evacuated in Hampshire, 2001 [Credit: Molly Macindoe]

The fun police, Bristol, 2003 [Credit: Molly Macindoe]

You don't see many legal raves with fridge swings, hey? Middlesex University, London, 2004 [Credit: Molly Macindoe]

Dancing defiantly under threat of police water cannons at Czechtek, Czech Republic, 2005 [Credit: Molly Macindoe]

An impromptu party breaks out in Brixton following the death of Margaret Thatcher, April 2013 [Credit: Danny E. Martindale]

Geordies take to the sewers to blast some filthy beats, Newcastle, 2017

A message is branded on the walls of a disused B&Q during a police stand-off in Bristol, 2017

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