Thousands of clubbers were able to return to the dance floor for the first major club event since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Around 3,000 night owls attended The First Dance event at the Circus in Liverpool on Friday night, where they had to take negative coronavirus tests and, for the first time since the lockdown began, no longer had to wear face coverings or social distance.
It is hoped that the pilot event, the first of two consecutive evenings, will pave the way for clubs across the country to reopen their doors.
At the Bramley Moore Dock warehouse, crowds packed the floor to dance shoulder to shoulder for the first time in more than a year.
Club goers were seen hugging and kissing, with some sitting on the shoulders of others for a better view of the stage.
In line at the venue, 20 year old Liverpool University student Elliott Cause said, “I think this is a big moment for the UK.
“I have a feeling that college students struggled without this. I have a feeling this will go a long way.
“You can already see that the people are so ready, the energy is great.”
Belfast-based Sam Murphy, 20, said he had “the worst freshers ever” after starting Liverpool Hope University last September due to coronavirus restrictions.
He said even a torn ligament in his foot and wearing a protective boot didn’t stop him from attending the first club night since March 2020.
He said, “No way – the first thing I said was give me a boot and let me out.”
Belfast-based Mr Murphy said he had a coronavirus test Thursday and again Friday morning and will do another one in five days.
His friend Aodghan Fegan, 21, said, “I hope everything goes well and I hope the Covid levels still stay low so there can be more events like this one.”
18-year-old Leah Lawless said she and her friends had been waiting to return to clubs for about a year.
She said, “We are very excited. It was hard, it was boring, a little sad, depressing, and not the best. “
The line-up for Friday included Circus founder and DJ Yousef, Lewis Boardman and The Blessed Madonna.
Fatboy Slim is one of the acts that will be performing on Saturday.
Sam Newson, the event producer, said the pilot was “vital” after the events industry was “decimated” last year.
He said, “It has been a disaster in the past 12 months.
“People have moved on, I have colleagues who have lost houses, it’s been incredibly difficult, so it’s incredibly important to try and get this back on track.”
He added, “I got up on stage early and had a little tears in my eyes. I’m not going to lie, it’s very emotional.”
“Every event is special, but with the amount of work that has gone into this event, and to be the first in the country in over 12 months, it is special.”
Scientists will investigate whether crowds mixing and dancing indoors increase the risk of transmitting Covid-19.
Air quality and movement were also monitored as part of a study carried out by Loughborough University to provide clear guidance on how to design and operate non-residential buildings to minimize risk.
The night is part of the events research program, which also sees viewers returning to events such as the FA Cup Final and a music festival in Liverpool’s Sefton Park.