A co-production of VICE News, Locked Off investigates the rave party scene in the United Kingdom, its evolution since the 1980s, and its chances of survival in the coming years in the face of constrictive government regulations.
Fearful over increased drug abuse and public disturbances, new laws have successfully shuttered half of the clubs in England over the last decade. This has had a profound impact on the country's nightlife scene, but it's also gave birth to an underground movement of rabid rave enthusiasts.
The filmmakers travel inside the secretive, yet thriving rave culture to uncover its mode of operation. Organizers get the word out through social media platforms, and invade any abandoned space that can house them without drawing too much attention. They are ever watchful of law enforcement, but often unsuccessful in evading them entirely. Arrests and fines ensue. During one high profile case covered in the film, police arrive in riot gear and violence erupts.
What's the big deal about the youth's desire to party into the night? Are the regulations and anti-rave enforcements causing more trouble than they're worth? Those are the central concerns addressed in the film.
For their part, police claim their actions are a necessary step in curbing the scourge of illegal drugs, property damages and general disruption of the peace. The ravers feel that law enforcement goes too far in their policing methods with the intent of painting them in a negative light; their aggressive presence incites the very incidents they claim to be guarding against.
The well of paranoia runs so deep that the filmmakers themselves become targets of the police during the course of their investigation as they're warned to steer clear of the party scene. A few ravers and party organizers also come to resent their coverage as they feel it draws unwanted attention and scrutiny to their activities.
Locked Off is a fascinating portrait of a youth culture driven by many of the same instincts that defined previous generations, including care-free hedonism, a need to socialize and connect without inhibition, and the desire to revolt against the squandering of their freedoms.