How London’s underground rave scene celebrated the Platinum Jubilee

A canal boat, MCs and DNB were a welcome diversion from the celebrations happening at the palace.

During the Jubilee celebrations, you probably came across a large number of people drowning in patriotism. Houses were obnoxiously covered in British flags, street parties galore and endless pints being poured. However, if you took a stroll down to Hackney Wick you would witness something at the complete opposite end of the scale…

Moored to the canal sat a boat containing a blaring sound system, some MCs and some decks upon the roof along with a couple of hundred people ready to celebrate the four-day weekend their way. Some ravers had heard about the event in advance and others could hear the throbbing base from seemingly all over London as they all flocked to the unconventional party spot. It’s a far cry from an army of people waving at a holographic Queen.

Photographer Ellie Rousseau (@ellierousseau) managed to capture the unconventional celebrations with her ‘Garms + Sets’ photo series which documents London rave subcultures. Speaking on her love for rave culture Rousseausaid: “British rave culture [and subculture] is my thing, it’s what gets me going. My roots are going out in Manchester in the late 2000s to dubstep and grime nights like Hit&Run at the Attic. I always loved going out and meeting people.”

Obviously, rave culture and the Queen don’t exactly go hand in hand (unless she MCs in her spare time). It’s no surprise that younger people have ditched the patriotic traditionalism of their elders and simply made their own fun. In fact, in 2021, it was revealed by YouGov that only 31% of 18-24-year-olds would like to see the monarchy continue. “Obviously, there’s currently a lot of push back to authorities; against the Monarchy with its colonialist past and the family member’s public affairs and against the government with all the corruption. Money is being spent in places that are already full of cash when we’re in a cost-of-living crisis” said Rousseau.

Of course, the rave in Hackney Wick was bound to garner attention from passers-by. When asked if she thought the event would be looked down upon by older generations Rousseau said “100%”. 

“There was a sound system rigged up on a canal boat blasting DnB onto a walkway with a few hundred people skanking on the canal side. Passers-by couldn’t get through and the MCs had to keep calling for the tunes to stop over a rewind, to prevent it from getting shut down. I can understand why some people would find it an intimidating environment but really it’s just some people partying.” she added.

At the end of the day, the Platinum Jubilee allowed everyone to celebrate a four-day weekend in their own way. There’s no right or wrong. If you wanted to commemorate the Queen’s 70 years of service, you can do that. If you prefer skanking on a boat, good for you. It was Rousseau who put it best herself, “Serve the nation a 4 day bank holiday weekend and there’s going to be all instances of celebrating, this one was simply more a celebration of community and UK sounds on a sunny day.”

WriterChris Saunders
Image CreditsEllie Rousseau