Monday, July 14, 2014

Let's Define the Word "Rave"

How did we go from "Old School" to "Prosti-tots",
and why is everyone so pissy about it?

Before I get super deep into calling myself a "rave fashion" blogger, let me talk about how I define rave culture, and why I love "the scene" as much as I do.
Everything on this planet is cyclical. There are patterns, which repeat themselves, and change is the only thing that is constant. Even groups of people related by a common factor can change their views over time. Hundred of years ago, Democrats were actually considered more conservative, while Republicans were the more progressive group. This has changed and evolved over time, just like the meanings of words. Let's get a quick history lesson about the word, "Rave."

In the 50's, "rave" was the word for the wild bohemian parties thrown by the Soho Beatnik set. In the 60's, it was used to describe the mod youth party culture. When electronic dance music started becoming a "thing" in Chicago in the 80's, raves, Frankie Bones spun a party in an airplane hangar, and  the underground was born. The culture bloomed across the US and the UK, sparking new promotion companies hosting wilder and crazier events, and artists delving deeper into musical theory, creating genres, and sub-genres, and sub-sub-genres within the electronic music realm (but thats a whole other discussion!). These raves were traditionally held at large venues, which were kept a secret until the night of the event. Promoters worked, without the help of the internet, passing out flyers until the wee hours of the morning. Checkpoints to get directions, as you drove through the night, sometimes for hours, to reach the party, were common ways to keep cops from finding and shutting down these raves, while at the same time, providing adventure and building anticipation for the night ahead. Lasers, sound systems, dancing, glow sticks, and good vibes were all present, just as they are today.
(Thank you, Wikipedia! Click through for the full history)

Since the origination of the underground, as more and more of these renegade parties were shut down, they garnered tons of negative attention, bringing rave culture to the surface, and forcing promoters into clubs and permitted locations. With higher quality productions and more visibility, raving and the EDM community became accessible to just about everyone, bringing in more dough for the artists and promoters, and driving many to want a piece of the lucrative little rave pie for themselves.

More newbies start hanging out and induction to the "mainstream" is inevitable. Drunk girls keep cool in poorly ventilated clubs and desert festivals by wearing skimpy outfits, while buff bros, uneducated about the PLUR values that the rave community was built on, start fights and mosh pits. Purists argue about vinyl, and vibes, and how the drinks are too expensive. DJ booths are visible from the club dance-floor, creating a front-facing audience and the idolizing of favorite artists. The overuse of the sync button runs rampant. Things have changed.

I've taken the liberty of highlighting an excerpt from
To enjoy oneself wildly or uninhibitedly.
A rave, is a rave, is a rave. Words change meanings. I, personally, even went through a phase where I wouldn't call EDC a rave because it wasn't like the old days. But that's not right. Words can change. Now I don't worry about it. I enjoy myself wildly and uninhibitedly.
Do we really need to nitpick and argue about semantics and how to label the way we party?

These days, we have ticketed clubs, permitted shows, and massive festivals that are taking over the world country by country-- but DJ's we download from across the planet now have more opportunities to tour so that we can enjoy them live from the comfort of our favorite venue in our hometown.

Where we once had checkpoints and all-night drives, we now have an exciting road trip across states to reach the giant festival we've dreamt about and saved for all year. The adventure and anticipation is still there, just different. Where we once had a couple of gogo dancers and a fog machine, we now have massive structured stages, light up art installations, pyrotechnics, performers, and fireworks that rival the best Independence Day displays. The magic is still there, just different.

Many people outside of this scene don't understand the love and unity you can feel with complete strangers as the lights, sounds, and feelings transport you to a place you never realized existed. Some within the culture even feel that it has changed into something unrecognizable from what they were once drawn to. But the basics, and all of the things we love about this culture-- a passion for music, peace, love, unity, and respect, remain.

It's not just a party. It's a way of life.

What do you think? How would you define the word "rave". Can we evolve the word, or have things changed so much from the beginning that we have to re-label the scene altogether? Do you think large-scale promoters avoid the word because of its negative connotations, or to set their massives apart from the underground? Leave a comment with your opinion so we can discuss!

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