Thousands hit dancefloor in UK pilot party

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Thousands of people have partied through the night in Liverpool, in what was Britain's first legal club night without masks and social distancing since the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns.

About 3000 party-goers hit the dancefloor at a warehouse in the northwestern English city on Friday night.

The party is part of a pilot program by the British government to test whether large events can be staged safely during the coronavirus pandemic. A second event will take place on Saturday.

All attending had to present a negative coronavirus test result no older than 24 hours and have to take another test five days after the event. No masks and social distancing were required at the venue, however.

"We are very excited," said 18-year-old Leah Lawless, one of the lucky ticketholders.

Club-goers were seen hugging and kissing each other, with some sitting on others' shoulders for a better view of the stage.

Event producer Sam Newson stressed that the project was urgently needed in the industry which has been hard hit by coronavirus restrictions.

"I stood on stage early on and I had a little bit of a teary eye, I'm not going to lie, it is very emotional," Newson said.

Liverpool director of public health Matt Ashton said it was "wonderful" to see the looks on people's faces at The First Dance, hosted by club night Circus, in the city.

"It just gives a glimpse of what think we think the future might hold," he said.

Ashton said those who test positive following the pilot party would have to self-isolate.

"We would follow them up and ask them where they have been and who they have been in contact with," he said.

However, he didn't expect anyone to test positive as a result of the project.