Ever since photos and videos of mass gatherings on Steinway Street in Astoria spread a few weeks ago, a task force created by Governor Andrew Cuomo has been cracking down on restaurants and bars violating the state's COVID-19 guidelines. But that hasn't stopped the proliferation of illicit pandemic parties.

The latest included a "secret" rave that drew hundreds of people to a small park under the Kosciuszko Bridge on the border of Brooklyn and Queens on Saturday night. It took police until 4 a.m. to break up the festivities, which is at least several hours after the event began. You can see a few videos of it below (and more here).

The event was organized by a group called Renegade, which previously threw another rave at the same location on July 4th (billed as Black Lives Matter party). Organizers for the event acknowledged to Gothamist that this weekend's party got out of hand, but also defended the intentions behind it.

"If you think people aren't going to gather, you're a fool—there's no stopping that," said one of the organizers, a South Brooklyn native who asked to be anonymous so the blowback from the event doesn't affect his day-to-day life. "The event got out of control because people wanted to come, people wanted to be out. People have been cooped up for so long. The pressure is building, and people need a release. It's already happening. We can do it more safely, or we can pretend it isn't happening."

The organizer stressed that bottles of water, masks and hand sanitizer were given out to revelers for free. There were signs up telling people to wear the masks, and they tried to remind people with announcements during the party as well. He estimated that 70-80% of attendees wore masks.

A photo of the mask and donation set up at the bridge rave

The mask and donation set up at the rave

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The mask and donation set up at the rave
Gothamist

The organizer, whose group has provided power and sound for various Black Lives Matter marches around the city over the last two months, argued that people will be going out one way or another, so it's better to create spaces that encourage safety.

"My friends are being forced to go back to work with thousands of employees," he told Gothamist. "New York is back open. Stores are open, the subway is open, the parks are open, people are trying to go back to normal. Look at the beaches, look at the playgrounds. Riis Beach is packed, the parks are full of people hanging out, remembering they're alive. At least we're telling people to wear a mask."

The group also asked attendees to donate to Legal Aid Society, although the organizer isn't sure how much was donated at this point. "My only regret is that [the donation signage] got pushed to the side because of masks. Because that mattered to me. You know how this city has been? We are Rome, excess and hedonism. But maybe if it meant something, if we pushed the partying toward a good cause, it'd be worth it. I don't want people to go back to putting their heads in the sand. We need to stay on top of this and keep marching and keep protesting."

He added that organizers didn't make any money, they paid DJs out of pocket, and there were separate people selling nutcrackers.

Seb, an attendee who agreed to speak if we withheld his last name, told Gothamist that people seemed to be wearing masks when he got there just before midnight, but as the night progressed and people got tipsy, it became a "huge rave dance party" with no social distancing and not as many masks.

"My friends and I stayed on the outskirts of the party, I definitely didn't feel safe going into the pit," he told Gothamist. "I would not do that again. All the friends I went with said we're going to self-quarantine for a week or two, it was too soon for way too many people in one spot."

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Governor Andrew Cuomo brought up the bridge rave, as well as the illegal East River boat party that was busted this weekend, during a press conference on Monday morning. “It’s disrespectful. It’s illegal,” he said, adding, “It violates common decency. look at all the people you endangered. What if one of the people gets sick and dies?...We need better enforcement all across the state.”

The organizer of the Kosciuszko Bridge rave said he was planning to self-quarantine for the next week or so to see if he has any symptoms. He claims he is unsure whether he'll throw any more of these events.

"Do you think people aren't going to be gathering on Labor Day? West Indian Day Parade? Do you think people are just going to stay home?" he asked. "People are meeting. The cat's out of the bag."

[Update Tuesday, 9:45 a.m.] Pictureplane, one of the DJs who played the rave, said in a statement to Pitchfork that he regrets taking part in the event. "When i saw video of the location, it looked enormous. I figured that it was a large enough space that people would have tons of room. And wouldn't be any different than going to like Rockaway Beach on a Saturday," said Pictureplane’s Travis Egedy.

"It felt incredible to DJ after being alone in my house for basically 6 months!" he continued. "And I'm sure a lot of people there felt the same. But I don't think it was worth the risk looking back on it now. I definitely won't be going to any events like that again while COVID is still happening. And I really hope that no one gets sick after this event."