I will admit I did not write this but when I found it I felt the need to share it with everyone. How the mainstream of electronic music has affected Rave culture-- One can no long assume that just because electronic dance music is pumping through the speakers, that the event should be considered a rave or a part of rave culture. In altered state, Matthew Collin and John Godfrey explain that when the first raves occurred in the UK during the summer of 1988 they were the result of three different converging factors: People dancing together in groups, sharing a state of mind (with or without the assistance of mind altering chemicals), and listening to electronic music. Electronic music and raving were inextricably tied together. As this new underground phenomenon began the spread reaching the US in 1990 it carried the music with it. Many electronic musicians and DJ's readily embraced the ideals of this new culture in fact it is widely accepted that it was DJ/producer Frankie Bones who first used the term PLUR to describe the four pillars of the rave community: PEACE, LOVE, UNITY, RESPECT. With law enforcement already taking a dim view of raving it seemed this thriving culture would remain underground forever.
Now twelve years later some observers are ready to declare rave culture dead. Electronic music which once seemed the exclusive property of the underground has stormed the pop charts all over Europe and can be heard at the movies, in commercials, and on the radio even in the US. Hundreds of thousands of people are attending electronic dance events every weekend all over the world. These parties have become fully permitted, corporately sponsored, high-priced entertainment. In a recent article in the on-line magazine Salon Michelle Goldberg mused that rave culture "has been fully consumed by the mainstream". Looking around the state of our community in the US today one might be reluctant to argue. What has happened? Is our rave culture dead? And if not how do you explain the situation in which our culture finds itself? What has changed? The answer is a lot. For the first time in raving short history all of the gatherings at which you can hear electronic music are not necessarily a part of rave culture. It used to be that the only places you could hear this music played in public were at raves and underground club nights. Today full-color flyers are piled high in record and clothing stores at the mall tickets are made available through ticketmaster and ads are placed in glossy magazines in order to attract that sought after capacity crowd. Listing for mainstream dance clubs featuring electronic music can be found in the "weekend" section of almost any major newspaper and there is a "techno" rack in nearly ever record store in the country. Though it once helped to define our underground culture electronic music has grown up and is now enjoying mainstream success. as a result one can no longer assume that just because electronic dance music is pumping through the speakers an even should be considered part of rave culture. if the interaction of the music,the dancers,and the message is missing from an event then it cannot truly be described as a rave. As electronic music has gained mainstream prominence many clubs and large-scaled events have been carried into the mainstream along with the music. And though they can still be fun to attend these events have in many ways moved away from the original spirit of raving. Dj's are chosen for their name recognition or ability to draw a crowd rather than their talent for getting people on the dance floor. Familiar friend and family are swallowed up by the masses unable to communicate their message to the vast sea of new faces. Local police work security completely eliminating the possibility of creating any sort of temporary autonomous zone. Instead of being a tool for unification and self-exploration drugs use becomes nothing but a quest for the ultimate high as people risk their health and their lives each weekend to see how fucked up they can get. And as ticket prices climb higher and higher events that were once gathering places for our diverse community become luxuries available only to those with cash to spare. These events have become a part of the business of electronic music. Soulless sterile and lacking the synergy of message people and music-- raving& rsquo's original focus-- the term rave no longer applies to them.
Then what has happened to the raves? As many lotus readers know they s till exist. "rave culture" is not dead but the time has come for us to rethink what those words mean. Rave culture can no longer be easily defined as "the community built around electronic dance events" A new definition must be formulated that more clearly defines what separates "rave" gatherings from other events and we must examine the events we call raves today and determine whether that label is accurate. The key remains the interaction of the original three elements: the people dancing together, the music being played, and the state of mind (chemical or otherwise) of the participants. In many events one or more of these items has been ignored. Often too many people are crammed into a venue, making it impossible for people to dance or nothing has been done to encourage a positive unified state of mind in t he attendants. Sometimes it is so dark as to make it impossible to connect in a meaningful way with those around you or people are to high to connect at all. Events like these do nothing to foster the sense of community among the participants that sets raving apart and they have little to contribute to the culture as a whole.
Can rave culture survive this redefinition? Of course. There are plenty of things that can be done to restore the balance between people message and music at raves. Promoters can get serious about Right Of Admittance Reserved and deny entry to or remove party goers that are doing thing or behaving in ways they find unacceptable at their gatherings. Having respect for one another does not mean allowing those in attendance to do whatever they like especially when their actions are negatively affecting the experiences of others. When advertising future parties emphasize hand-to had promotion. Get your fliers to the people you want to be at your event. Actively encourage responsible drug use by having groups like dancesafe at your parties. Ensure that there will be room to dance in your location even if your events sell out, and make sure people can see one another by providing adequate lighting. and be aware of the music volume! the kind of gatherings that will enrich and strengthan our culture the most are largely social in nature so dancers must be able to meet and communicate with one another. A chill room or quiet area can do wonders for the social atmosphere of an event. We can also remember that in redefining our culture we need not restrict ourselves to the traditional rave formula. Consider alternative types of events like the Learning parties in LA which include lectures and discussions on topics of interest to the community as well as music and dancing. or maybe an art exhibition or work by local dancers, complete with Dj's. Hold daytime gathering in city parks. Camp out parties among trees or under the stars. Throw small scale events where people have the opportunity to get to know each other in a meaningful way can contribute something valuable to our culture and give back to our community. Be creative. Question the templates that have been exhausted by overuse. The time has come to look for new ways of accomplishing the same goal. Gathering in the spirit of PLUR in order to meet other members of our community celebrating life together through music and dance. Rave culture is not dead it is just in need of new definition one that is no longer so closely associated with the increasingly popular genre of electronic music. the music and rsquo's new wider audience does not negate the fact that rave culture can still be a powerful force for positive personal growth in today and rsquo's rapidly changing the world.