Tears of joy as hot and sweaty clubbers rave about finally getting back on the dancefloor

It’s official – a year of not going out has finally got to me.

With music thumping, the DJ fires a confetti cannon above the heaving dance floor.

And my very first instinct isn’t to leap up in wonder at the long-absent spectacle.

It’s to duck.

Maybe it’s time this ageing clubber cleared the dancefloor.

Luckily, there are plenty of others here to take my place. In this cavernous warehouse in Liverpool, 3,000 people are getting hot and sweaty and dancing like no-one is watching.

Even as the doors opened at 2pm, we watched one young woman running, full pelt, towards the on-stage DJ.

She had one hand in the air, the other clutched a bottle of rose wine, and on her face was a look of sheer joy as she started jumping to the music.

"You should have seen me, I was shaking as I walked in," student Ashleigh, 19, told me. "I just felt so excited to be back at a big music event. I’ve missed it so, so much. It’s brilliant."

To say the crowd here was excited would be an understatement.

After playing the first song of her set, DJ Lauren Lo Sung buried her face in her hands, unable to hold back tears.

"My friend cried last night just thinking about being here today," Ben, 20, a student nurse said.

"It’s been such a hard year, especially for students in their first year that have moved to a new city and not been able to really get out and meet people. So to be here now, yeah it feels quite surreal."

Surreal sums it up.

It is a young crowd, many are students, and after being told for so long to stay apart, it feels plain weird to see everyone unmasked, dancing and hugging.

And for some, at first, it felt even a little frightening.

"I was really overwhelmed to be honest when I walked in," student Adawa Awamayah told me.

"I was like ‘oh my days, what have I got myself into!’ – but then I got chatting to people and I’ve now been in the middle of the crowd, dancing away and it’s been amazing."

Everyone here, including our team, has taken a COVID test within the past 24 hours.

A negative result is a condition of entry. Yes, this is a party – but it’s also a petri-dish.

Everyone will be asked to take another COVID test in five in days’ time, and those results will inform a "safety blueprint" to guide events and hospitality reopening post-lockdown.

"I feel really safe," Emma, 20, said. "The organisers have done a proper job. It feels normal again, I hope we can do it again soon."

But outside of the venue’s perimeter, things aren’t normal just yet. By the exit, as bleary-eyed clubbers head home, there’s a sign that says "Rule of 6 applies now".

It’s a stark reminder that the liberty enjoyed within the rave’s four walls remains, for now, on the dancefloor.

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