Liverpool has become the envy of the UK’s nightlife scene after around 3,000 clubbers were given the green light to return to the dance floor.

Revellers, aged 18 to 20, all had to produce negative coronavirus tests but didn’t have to wear face coverings or maintain social distance as they partied at the First Dance event on Friday night.

It’s hoped the mass gathering – the first of two taking place on consecutive nights – will pave the way for clubs across the country to reopen their doors without enforcing tight Covid restrictions.

The city’s director of public health Matt Ashton hailed the experiment as a “glimpse of the future” post-lockdown, adding that it was “wonderful” to see the looks on people’s faces as they flocked to the Circus nightclub.

But while scenes of the festivities have been met with joy and jealousy from scores of social media users, others have lambasted the move as utter madness.

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Here’s a look at how Twitter users have reacted to footage and news of the first legal rave in more than a year.

There was plenty of delight, optimism... and envy:

But there was also an inevitable flood of scepticism and concern:

Still, the doubters did nothing to put off club-goers, who were seen hugging and kissing each other as they piled into the Bramley-Moore Dock warehouse for the night.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Saturday, DJ Marea Stamper, aka The Blessed Madonna, said that there had been an “incredible energy” at the event, and it had also been “incredibly emotional”.

She added: “I think we felt excited but also proud to be a part of creating the protocols that would lead to the reopening of all kinds of things, from football matches to any kind of event, it doesn’t have to be a big rave.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden described the event as a “huge moment on the journey back to normality” but stressed that further loosening of restrictions will be led by the data.

He said: “Although this may seem like life getting back to normal these are science-led events, gathering valuable research as we leave no stone unturned to help us get back to the things we love this summer.

“We’re testing a range of settings, event set-ups, and systems to find the safest way to welcome back crowds. We are making good progress but we have been clear that decisions on reopening will be led by the data.”

The line-up for Friday included Circus founder and DJ Yousef, Lewis Boardman and The Blessed Madonna.

Fatboy Slim is among the acts due to perform on Saturday.

Sam Newson, the event producer, said the pilot was “vital” after the events industry had been “decimated” over the last year.

He said: “For the last 12 months, it has been a disaster.

“People have moved on, I’ve got colleagues who have lost houses, it has been incredibly hard and so to try and get this back up and running is incredibly important.”

He added: “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.

“Any event is special but with the amount of work that has gone into this and to be the first in the country in over 12 months, it is very special.”

Revellers seen dressed up for the very special event

Scientists will be looking to see whether crowds mixing and dancing indoors increases the risk of transmission of Covid-19.

Air quality and movement was also being monitored as part of a Loughborough University-led study to create clear guidance on how to design and operate non-domestic buildings to minimise risk.

The night is part of the Events Research Programme, which will also see crowds return to events including the FA Cup final and a music festival held in Liverpool’s Sefton Park.

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