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The morality of raving discussed in new BBC podcast: Listen

The discussion, which involved a number of philosophers, took place on BBC Radio 4's Moral Maze

The return of clubs and nightlife to the UK following last month's so-called 'Freedom Day' was the subject of a recent discussion on BBC Radio 4's 'Moral Maze' show.

Last week, a panel of philosophers and writers gathered on the live debating programme to discuss clubs and, specifically, the morality of partying. 

The panel was made up of Novara Media journalist Ash Sarkar, The Times columnist Melanie Phillips, historian Tim Stanley and priest Giles Fraser. "There’s a balance to be struck between freedom and responsibility," said Michael Buerk, who chaired the discussion, in the programme’s introduction, where he set out the discussion as forming around "the moral value of revelry".

The debate lasted around 40 minutes, and saw the panellists, as well as a number of additional figures, touch on various current talking points amid the COVID-19 pandemic, such as vaccine passports and other clubbing restrictions, clubbers' lost raving time, and the morals of partying post-pandemic.

Ash Sarkar, setting herself out as "part of the party hard left," said: "I cannot stand that strand of intellectualism which looks at people having fun and decided that sneering at them is the best way to prove how clever and worldly you are. I personally believe that there’s beauty in a crowd and, what’s more, in a nightclub it’s not about individualism or atomisation, it’s a collective experience reaching beyond yourself and creating something; a vibe, a wave of joy with other people."

Sarkar also batted away comments from others on the panel comparing classical musicians such as Beethoven to current electronic music, saying: "Listen to Floorplan and then tell me that there’s nothing in there which is moving, transcendent or indeed even sublime."

Approaching the debate from an opposing angle, Tim Stanley said: "I wouldn’t shut nightclubs because I think you have a right to be silly, but I am generally suspicious of fun. I’m suspicious of other people having fun, because in my experience it usually leads to noise and criminal damage. But, I’m also suspicious in my own case because I think partying is about being mindless – I don’t see how you can be both mindless and moral."

You can listen to the full debate via BBC Sounds.

Read DJ Mag's recent feature on how UK clubs and promoters are approaching a safe return to dancefloors following the lifting of restrictions here.