Nightlife: Warehouse ravers beat the ban

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A loophole in the law is allowing London ravers to carry on the tradition of underground warehouse parties despite the hated Criminal Justice Act.

Promoters of parties in vacant warehouses and offices are able to bypass the CJA by sending themselves mail to the address where the party is planned.

When the police arrive the promoters can use the mail to claim to be squatting the property, thereby making it a legal, private party.

The CJA, which expressly prohibits unlicensed pay parties which include music "characterised by a series of repetitive beats", was brought in by the Conservative government after a panic in middle England about the massive outdoor raves of the late Eighties and early Nineties.

But a small dedicated band of promoters, known only by names like Sonic the Hedgehog and Neuter, are still holding parties for up to 4,000 people at a time in secret venues around London. "We're doing it under the police's nose most of the time," said Sonic yesterday. "You just have to make sure they think you're squatting there by getting a bill sent or a letter. You also make sure not too many people complain about the noise through good sound-proofing."

Sonic's other tip for dealing with the police is less sophisticated: "You have to be very, very polite to them. Be nice to them and they'll be nice to you."

Promoters like Sonic are dedicated to warehouse parties because, since the CJA, dance music has been taken over by the commercial mainstream.

Rave music has become big business, with clubs like the Ministry of Sound releasing albums, clothing ranges and magazines, while dance music has become the backing track to television adverts for everything from gin to cars.