When you think of the word rave, you probably conjure pictures in your mind of loud music, obnoxious kids, and drugs. While back in my party days this may have held as a semi accurate description, I was recently invited to one by a friend and on a whim decided to check it out. I was amazed to find that the scene has evolved leaps and bounds over where it had been when we said goodbye to each other nearly 8 years ago. Here are some of the amazing differences I discovered going back to a rave, or a party as it is now known to protect itself from a bad reputation.
The biggest change that slapped me in the face was how organized everything was. When I started going to parties they were frequently unruly and quickly thrown together, now you can buy your tickets directly online. In the days of the renegade and warehouse raves they usually involved the illegal use of property without permission, no age limit, and were often busted by the police. The party I attended, Insomniac, was hosted in a professional facility and actually had 2 working policemen to help with organization. Far from being suspicious or confrontational, the pair of officers made it very clear they were there solely for safety and security. This forward thinking was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen or heard from a cop in my life.
Since the beginning, drugs have been a part of the dance and rave scene. Things like acid, mushrooms, ecstasy, cannabis, cocaine, and many other chemicals were a common staple and generally widely allowed. Because these parties are well known now, I found that the people running the events had to jump through hoops to keep drugs out for legal reasons. While drugs were definitely around, I think it’s a huge leap in progress when I meet more than 150 people out of 1000 attendees that told me they were drug or alcohol free. In the past I have been to music events that with 30,000 people you’d be lucky to find one that was not intoxicated. This shows a never before seen shift towards health consciousness in a younger demographic.
While raves have always been a promotion of free expression and creative minds, I never would have said that the things done or seen constituted as actual art. At Insomniac it was interesting how many drawings, paintings, and sculptures I was impressed by, and considered buying. The new generation of ravers are dedicated and talented. The best thing about the option to buy this amazingly professional artwork was the cheap price. In many cases you could even get a sample or even free full size piece of work for free by talking to the artist and admiring their work. What I thought I’d find, judging from today’s teenagers, was obnoxious kids and a skewed version of the utopian feeling we used to strive for across the board. What I found was a setting that was culturally sound, creative, and had P.LU.R.(Peace, Love, Unity, & Respect) to spare. It was a refreshing experience to know there are some good kids in the next generation with their heads in the right place.
When I discovered the rave world many years ago the height of technology was generally liquid glowsticks, cheap lasers, and possibly a psychedelic screen saver maze projected from windows. Today we live in a LED world and there have never been more types of fancy toys on display. From 3ft. collapsible rainbow light swords to multicolor change poi balls, it was really an interesting sight to see. Just like Just like the visuals the music and bass had evolved as well. The party I attended had 3 stages that synced their set lists to start and stop on the same beat so that no matter where you were on the property you still heard and felt the same base bass beat. Not only did the music sync but the 5ft. and up speakers conveyed a clear sound that was unrivaled by anything I had previously heard.
Overall my experience checking out what the kids were up to was overall a surprisingly pleasant one. It definitely took me back to see so many people coming together to celebrate their favorite music, art, and talents together. I must say although the dance parties have been happening far more years than I’ve attended, I’m very impressed where we’ve come in just the last 10. If you like music or art it may be something you might want to give a try.