In the middle of this residential area of the 13th arrondissement of Paris, a gate left ajar. Behind, in the bowels of an old railway line, a huge, illegal and risky party offers 300 young people the mirage of a world without a pandemic. For a night.
The address was communicated by email at the last moment and the instructions are strict: arrive discreetly, alone or in very small groups, between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., with your reserved ticket.
The 300 sesames for this evening called “I want to break free” sold for 15 euros via an internet platform. The places left in a few hours.
“Close the door,” murmurs a cerberus lurking in the dark. You then have to go for a long time along the rails, in the only light of your cell phone, to arrive on a spectacular scene.
A concrete cathedral, 20 meters high, covered with light garlands, neon lights, psychedelic designs projected on the ceiling and which vibrate to the sound of powerful speakers. There is also a bar area, a dancefloor, a stage for DJs.
As techno music diffracts the dense air of the tunnel, hundreds of people in a trance trample the dusty ground or chat, drink or flirt in the corners.
“We decided to enter into resistance and to launch this call to hide together to celebrate because young people no longer have any space to exist together, they live in a terrible lack, we try to continue to bring them that , despite the risks, “the 27-year-old organizer Alexandre (first name changed) told AFP.
“We have this know-how now. We can, in less than two hours, set up anywhere and organize a very discreet evening like this one,” explains the organizer, founder of the young collective specializing in underground evenings and the “urbex” (exploration of industrial wasteland and abandoned places).
– “To forget everything” –
His collective works via a closed Facebook group, which works by co-option. Far from the circles of “free parties”, followers of squats and libertarian ideologies, or LGBT party circles, this community, the only one to maintain parties of this magnitude in full confinement, brings together a motley Parisian audience.
This Saturday evening, there are as many people in their forties who appear tidy as students, “fashionistas”, left-wing or LGBT activists and a few young people from the suburbs.
Sitting with his American girlfriend on the rails that vibrate under the power of the speakers, Ivan, 23, developer, watches the track gradually fill with revelers, mostly unmasked.
“Personally, I’m on a permanent contract, it’s my first job and I work a lot, I really need to decompress. With confinement, there is an imbalance in my life, I did not leave my apartment For a month now, this party has been a matter of mental health for me, “he said.
“There I feel pure euphoria, it’s the only moment that allows you to forget everything, to stop living over the numbers of deaths and entries into intensive care”.
While the state of health emergency prohibits any public gathering, all the more for commercial purposes, the organizers face a fine of 15,000 and one year in prison, for “endangering the lives of others”.
The previous weekend, a paying party bringing together 300 people in a house with a swimming pool in Joinville-le-Pont, near Paris, degenerated, resulting in two indictments.
This time, the police did not intervene and the party continued with impunity until dawn.
“Generally the police intervene on underground parties when requested by neighbors, in particular for noise. There was no intervention at this address,” a police source told AFP on Sunday morning.