This article possibly contains original research. (July 2008)
Strobing lights flash at a rave in Vienna, Austria in 2005
|Genres not aimed at raves|
|Types of street rave dance|
|Related topics||Disc jockeys|
A rave (from the verb: to rave) is a large dance party featuring performances by DJs and occasionally live performers playing electronic music, particularly EDM. The music is amplified with a large, powerful sound reinforcement system, typically with large subwoofers to produce a deep bass sound. The music is accompanied by laser light shows, projected images, visual effects and smoke machines. While some raves may be small affairs held at clubs or private residences, some raves have grown to immense size, such as the Castlemorton Common Festival in 1992. Some electronic dance music festivals have features of raves, but on a large, often commercial scale. Raves may last for a long time, with some events continuing for ten hours. Due to the association of illegal party drugs such as MDMA (ecstasy) and the use of non-authorized, secret venues for some raves, such as squat parties at warehouses, law enforcement attention has been directed at the rave scene in many countries.
- 1 History
- 2 Characteristics
- 3 History by country
- 3.1 Germany
- 3.2 United Kingdom
- 3.3 North America
- 3.4 Australia
- 4 Notable raves
- 5 Notable soundsystems
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Origin of 'rave' (1950s–1970s)
In the late 1950s in London the term "Rave" was used to describe the "wild bohemian parties" of the Soho beatnik set. In 1958 Buddy Holly recorded the hit "Rave On," citing the madness and frenzy of a feeling and the desire for it to never end. The word "rave" was later used in the burgeoning mod youth culture of the early 1960s as the way to describe any wild party in general. People who were gregarious party animals were described as "ravers". Pop musicians such as Steve Marriott of The Small Faces and Keith Moon of The Who were self-described "ravers".
Presaging the word's subsequent 1980s association with electronic music, the word "rave" was a common term used regarding the music of mid-1960s garage rock and psychedelia bands (most notably The Yardbirds, who released an album in the US called Having a Rave Up). Along with being an alternative term for partying at such garage events in general, the "rave-up" referred to a specific crescendo moment near the end of a song where the music was played faster, heavier and with intense soloing or elements of controlled feedback. It was later part of the title of an electronic music performance event held on 28 January 1967 at London's Roundhouse titled the "Million Volt Light and Sound Rave". The event featured the only known public airing of an experimental sound collage created for the occasion by Paul McCartney of The Beatles – the legendary Carnival of Light recording.
With the rapid change of British pop culture from the mod era of 1963–1966 to the hippie era of 1967 and beyond, the term fell out of popular usage. During the 1970s and early 1980s until its resurrection, the term was not in vogue, one notable exception being in the lyrics of the song "Drive-In Saturday" by David Bowie (from his 1973 album Aladdin Sane) which includes the line "It's a crash course for the ravers." Its use during that era would have been perceived as a quaint or ironic use of bygone slang: part of the dated 1960s lexicon along with words such as "groovy". The perception of the word changed again in the late 1980s when the term was revived and adopted by a new youth culture, possibly inspired by the use of the term in Jamaica.
Birth of techno and acid house (1980s)
In the mid to late 1980s a wave of psychedelic and other electronic dance music, most notably acid house-music, emerged from acid house music parties in the mid-to-late 1980s in the Chicago area in the United States. After Chicago acid house artists began experiencing overseas success, it quickly spread and caught on in the United Kingdom  within the clubs, warehouses, and free-parties first in Manchester in the mid 1980s and then later London.
In the late 1980s, the word "rave" was adopted to describe the subculture that grew out of the acid house movement. Activities were related to the party atmosphere of Ibiza, a Mediterranean island in Spain, frequented by British, Italian, Greek, Irish and German youth on vacation.
Growth of the scene (1990s–present)
By the 1990s, genres such as acid house, house music, oldschool jungle, techno, and electronica were all being featured at raves, both large and small. There were mainstream events that attracted thousands of people (up to 25,000 instead of the 4,000 that came to earlier warehouse parties). Acid House Music parties were first re-branded "rave parties" in the media, during the summer of 1989 by Neil Andrew Megson during a television interview, however, the ambience of the rave was not fully formed until 28 May 1991. In the UK, in 1988–89, raves were similar to football matches in that they provided a setting for working-class unification, in a time with a union movement in decline and few jobs, and many of the attendees of raves were die-hard football fans. In 1990 Rave came also underground in several cities as Berlin, Milan, Patras in basements, warehouses and forests.
British politicians responded with hostility to the emerging rave party trend. Politicians spoke out against raves and began to fine anyone who held unauthorized parties. Police crackdowns on these often-unauthorized parties drove the scene into the countryside. The word "rave" somehow caught on in the UK to describe common semi-spontaneous weekend parties occurring at various locations linked by the brand new M25 London Orbital motorway that ringed London and the Home Counties. (It was this that gave the band Orbital their name.) These ranged from former warehouses and industrial sites, in London, to fields and country clubs in the countryside.
Prior to the commercialization of the rave scene, where large legal venues became the norm for these events, the location of the rave was kept secret until the night of the event, usually being communicated through mobile messaging, secret flyers, and websites. This level of secrecy, necessary for avoiding any interference by the police, on account of the illicit drug use, enabled the ravers a location they could stay in for ten hours at a time. It promoted the sense of deviance and removal from social control. Today, this level of secrecy still exists in the underground rave scene. However "after-hours" clubs, as well as large outdoor events, create a similar type of alternate atmosphere, but focus much more on vibrant visual effects, such as props and décor.
Some raves make use of pagan symbolism. Modern raving venues attempt to immerse the raver in a fantasy-like world. Indigenous imagery and spirituality can be characteristic in the Raving ethos. In both the New Moon and Gateway collectives, "pagan altars are set up, sacred images from primitive cultures decorate the walls, and rituals of cleansing are performed over the turntables and the dance floor" This type of spatial strategy is an integral part of the raving experience because it sets the initial "vibe" in which the ravers will immerse themselves. This said "vibe" is a concept in the raver ethos that represents the allure and receptiveness of an environment's portrayed and or innate energy. The geographical landscape is an integral feature in the composition of rave, much like it is in pagan rituals. For example, The Numic Ghost Dancers rituals would be held on specific geographical landscapes, considered to hold powerful natural flows of energy. These sites were later represented in the rhythmic dances, in order to achieve a greater level of connectivity.
The following is an incomplete list of venues associated with the rave subculture:
- United States
- Club Space
- The Saint (club)
- Catacombs Nightclub Philadelphia
- Tunnel (New York nightclub)
- Paradise Garage
- Warehouse (nightclub)
- Club Glow
- U Street Music Hall
- New Zealand
- Angels (1992-96)
- Cream (nightclub) (1992-2002)
- Epping Forest Country Club
- Fabric (club)(1999-2010)
- Gatecrasher One (1996-2007)
- Godskitchen (1996)
- Heaven (nightclub) (1979-present)
- Home (1998-2001)
- Ministry of Sound (1991-present)
- Matter (venue)
- Megatripolis (1993-96)
- Popscene (club)
- Quadrant Park (1988-91)
- Renaissance (club) (1992)
- Sanctuary Music Arena
- Shelley's Laserdome (1989-1995)
- The End (club) (1995-2009)
- The Fridge (1981-2010)
- The Haçienda (1987-2002)
- Trade (1990-2008)
- Turnmills (1990-2008)
- Czech Republic
A sense of participation in a group event is among the chief appeals of rave music and dancing to pulsating beats is its immediate outlet. Raving in itself is a syllabus-free dance, whereby the movements are not predefined and the dance is performed randomly, dancers take immediate inspiration from the music and their mood. Rave dance refers to the street dance styles that evolved alongside rave culture. Such dances are street dances since they evolved alongside the underground rave movements, thus without the intervention of dance studios. Sometimes club-oriented dances would be danced to rave music, too, for example, tecktonik is sometimes danced to fast-paced electro house.
Such dances are usually freestyle in nature, since they are very rarely choreographed in preparation for such events (although some ravers may create personal dance routines). Dances like Jumpstyle, Tecktonik, Liquid and digits, Melbourne Shuffle, Brisbane Stomp and Industrial dance may be sometimes highly dependent on pre-planned choreography for performances at raves, therefore such dance styles may be practised professionally. Nonetheless, rave dance styles can be completely freeform due to their simple footwork and arm movements. These dances may be featured at festivals such as House Dance International, which is held in New York and has a house music and disco focus.
This section requires expansion with: table details from any contributor with knowledge on the topic. (May 2015)
|Drum&Bass Step||2008||Hungary||Drum and Bass||150 to 180|
|Glowsticking||1980s||New York City, USA, London, UK|
|Liquid and digits||1980s||EDM (trance, DnB, glitch hop, etc.)||Similar to popping|
|Para Para||1980s||Japan||Eurobeat, bubblegum dance||110 to 150|
|House and techno||?||Brazil||Rave music|
|Melbourne Shuffle||1990s||Melbourne, Australia||EDM (house, acid house, hardstyle, hard trance, etc.)||120 to 160|
|Brisbane Stomp||1990s||Australia||Gabber, UK hardcore, happy hardcore||160 to 180|
|Hakken||1990s||Netherlands||Gabber, hardcore||180 to 220|
|Jumpstyle||1997||Belgium||Hardstyle, Jumpstyle||140 to 150|
||Industrial dance||Cybergoth style|
|Tectonik (electro dance)||2002||France||Electro house||128 to 130|
This section requires expansion. (July 2013)
The loose, casual and sports clothing was originally adopted by the acid house set earlier on in Ibiza, utilizing easy-to-dance-in attire from hip hop and football/soccer culture. As well as clothing there developed a range of accessories carried by many ravers including: Vicks VapoRub, which ravers find pleasant under the influence of MDMA, pacifiers to satiate the need to grind one's teeth (bruxism) caused by taking MDMA, and glow sticks which adjunct the mild psychedelia of MDMA's effect. This led some clubs and event organizers to search participants on entry and confiscate such items due to it being evidence of drug use inside the venue.
Recent global rave events such as Sensation have a strict minimalistic dress policy, either all white or black attire. This ties in with the initial PLUR approach upheld from earlier rave culture. In the United States, rave fashion is characterized by colorful clothing and accessories, most notably "kandi" jewellery, that fluoresce under ultraviolet light. In European countries, this kandi culture is much less common. Most raves are illegal and take place outside or in poorly heated warehouses, so keeping warm is a priority. Dreadlocks, dyed hair and mohawks are popular, as are tattoos and piercings. Clothing is vibrant and alternative, often taking inspiration from new-age punk and grunge style. However, there is no set dress code for the illegal rave scene.
Since rave culture has seen such an explosion in the US since 2010 as the rave scene is no longer illegal or underground, raves in the US are now so popular that there are many brands, retailers, and websites selling apparel, costumes, and accessories just for those who go to dress up at raves. This style of attire, along with the entire rave culture, is now spilling out into the mainstream, especially in the US. Sometimes called "rave fashion" or "festival fashion," it now includes all kinds of accessories to create unique looks depending on the person and event. Items such as jewelry, body chains, temporary tattoos, furry leg warmers, sunglasses, fanny packs, pasties, light up items, spirit hoods, and much more can be seen at any major rave event around the US and globe. There is also been a recent trend in the use of Diffraction and Kaleidoscope Glasses in the festival industry.
Some ravers participate in one of four light-oriented dances, called glowsticking, glowstringing, gloving, and lightshows. Of the four types of light-orientated dances, gloving in particular has evolved beyond and outside of the rave culture. Other types of light-related dancing include LED lights, flash-lights and blinking strobe lights. LEDs come in various colours with different settings.
Gloving has evolved into a separate dance form that has grown exponentially in the last couple of years while still keeping its rave roots. The origins of gloving is often credited to Hermes who put together 10 Rav'n lights into a pair of white gloves in 2006. Since then the culture has extended to all ages, ranging from kids in their early teens to college students and more. The traditional Rav'n lights are limited now, but many stores have developed newer, brighter, and more advanced version of lights with a plethora of colors and modes—modes include solid, stribbon, strobe, dops, hyper flash, and other variations.
What was once an extension of the rave culture has now blossomed into a hobby or a form of dance. Even though gloving originated in Southern California, it can now be seen in Northern California, Florida, New York, and many other states in the US. In college, you can see a gloving club called Ambience, which has spread into University of California Irvine, University of California Davis, University of California Berkeley, University of California Santa Barbara, University of California San Diego.
According to the FBI, "Raves are one of the most popular venues where club drugs are distributed. Club drugs include MDMA (more commonly known as "Ecstasy" or "Molly"), GHB and Rohypnol (also known as the "date rape" drugs), Ketamine, Methamphetamine (also known as "Meth"), and LSD." In the U.S., some law enforcement agencies have branded the subculture as a drug-centric culture, as rave attendees have been known to use drugs such as Marijuana, 2CB, and DMT.
Groups that have addressed alleged drug use at raves e.g. the Electronic Music Defense and Education Fund (EM:DEF), The Toronto Raver Info Project (Canada), DanceSafe (USA and Canada), and Eve & Rave (Germany and Switzerland), all of which advocate harm reduction approaches. In 2005, Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, advocated drug testing on highways as a countermeasure against drug use at raves.
History by country
By 1987, a German party scene, started by Tauseef Alam, based on the Chicago House sound was well established. The following year (1988) saw acid house making as significant an impact on popular consciousness in Germany and Central Europe as it had in England. In 1989 German DJs Westbam and Dr. Motte established the Ufo Club, an illegal party venue, and co-founded the Love Parade. On 9 November 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, free underground Techno parties mushroomed in East Berlin, and a rave scene comparable to that in the UK was established. East German DJ Paul van Dyk has remarked that the Techno-based rave scene was a major force in re-establishing social connections between East and West Germany during the unification period.
In 1991 a number of party venues closed, including Ufo, and the Berlin Techno scene centred itself around three locations close to the foundations of the Berlin Wall: the E-Werk, Der Bunker and the now legendary Tresor. In the same period, German DJs began intensifying the speed and abrasiveness of the sound, as an acid-infused techno began transmuting into hardcore. This emerging sound was influenced by Dutch gabber and Belgian hardcore. Other influences on the development of this style were European Electronic Body Music groups of the mid-1980s such as DAF, Front 242, and Nitzer Ebb.
Across Europe, rave culture was becoming part of a new youth movement. DJs and electronic-music producers such as Westbam proclaimed the existence of a "raving society" and promoted electronic music as legitimate competition for rock and roll. Indeed, electronic dance music and rave subculture became mass movements. Raves had tens of thousands of attendees, youth magazines featured styling tips, and television networks launched music magazines on House and Techno music. The annual Love Parade festivals in Berlin (in the Metropolitan Ruhr area onwards) attracted more than one million party-goers between 1997 and 2000. Meanwhile, the more commercial sound of happy hardcore topped the music charts across Europe. Nowadays there are only a few popular raving acts on the case in Germany, but many underground acts in Berlin and Frankfurt (Main). That is why Berlin (especially the east side) is still called the capital city of electro music and rave. Although electro composer Paul Kalkbrenner from Friedrichshain, Berlin made "Berlin Techno" world popular again, he is touring on his Berlin Calling (named after the movie he acted the main character and the soundtrack he produced for) tour through Europe and America.
Birth of UK rave scene (1980s-1990s)
The UK was finally recognized for its rave culture around the late 1980s early 1990s. EXODUS collective which was founded in Luton famously known for London Luton airport and hat manufacturing. Exodus played a big part in the UK's rave scene today. By 1991, organisations such as Fantazia, Universe, N.A.S.A "Nice And Safe Attitude", Raindance and Amnesia House were holding massive legal raves in fields and warehouses around the country. One Fantazia party, called One Step Beyond, was an open-air, all-night affair that attracted 30,000 people. Other notable events included Vision at Pophams airfield in August 1992, with 40,000 in attendance and Universe's Tribal Gathering in 1993.
In the early 1990s, the scene was slowly changing, with local councils passing by-laws and increasing fees in an effort to prevent or discourage rave organisations from acquiring necessary licenses. This meant that the days of legal one-off parties were numbered. By the mid-1990s, the scene had fragmented into many different styles of dance music, making large parties more expensive to set up and more difficult to promote. The happy old skool style was replaced by the darker jungle and the faster happy hardcore. Although many ravers left the scene due to the split, promoters such as ESP Dreamscape and Helter Skelter still enjoyed widespread popularity and capacity attendances with multi-arena events catering to the various genres. Particularly notable events of this period included ESP's Dreamscape 20 on 9 September 1995 at Brafield aerodrome fields, Northants and Helter Skelter's Energy 97 event on 9 Aug 1997 at Turweston Aerodrome, Northants.
Free parties and outlawing of raves (1992-1994)
The illegal free party scene also reached its zenith for that time after a particularly large festival, when many individual sound systems such as Bedlam, Circus Warp, DIY, and Spiral Tribe set up near Castlemorton Common. In May 1992, the government acted. Under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, the definition of music played at a rave was given as:
"Music" includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.
–Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
Sections 63, 64 & 65 of the Act targeted electronic dance music played at raves. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act empowered police to stop a rave in the open air when a hundred or more people are attending, or where two or more are making preparations for a rave. Section 65 allows any uniformed constable who believes a person is on their way to a rave within a five-mile radius to stop them and direct them away from the area; non-compliant citizens may be subject to a maximum fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale (£1000). The Act was officially introduced because of the noise and disruption caused by all night parties to nearby residents, and to protect the countryside. However, some participants in the scene claimed it was an attempt to lure youth culture away from MDMA and back to taxable alcohol. In November 1994, the Zippies staged an act of electronic civil disobedience to protest against the CJB (i.e., Criminal Justice Bill).
Legal and underground raves (1994-present)
After 1993, the main outlet for raves in the UK were a number of licensed venues, amongst them Helter Skelter, Life at Bowlers (Trafford Park, Manchester), The Edge (formerly the Eclipse [Coventry]), The Sanctuary (Milton Keynes) and Club Kinetic. In London, itself, there were a few large clubs that staged raves on a regular basis, most notably "The Laser Dome", "The Fridge", "The Hippodrome", "Club U.K.", and "Trade." "The Laser Dome" featured two separate dance areas, "Hardcore" and "Garage", as well as over 20 video game machines, a silent-movie screening lounge, replicas of the "Statue of Liberty", "San Francisco Bridge", and a large glass maze. At capacity "The Laser Dome" held in excess of 6,000 people. Events proved to be one of the main forces in rave, holding legendary events across the north-east and Scotland. Initially playing Techno, Breakbeat, Rave and drum and bass, it later embraced hardcore techno including happy hardcore and bouncy techno. Judgement Day, History of Dance, and now REGENeration continued the Rezerection legacy. Scotland's clubs, such as the FUBAR in Stirling, Hangar 13 in Ayr, and Nosebleed in Rosyth played important roles in the development of these dance music styles.
These were nearly all pay-to-enter events; however, it could be argued that rave organisers saw the writing on the wall and moved towards more organised and "legitimate" venues, enabling a continuation of large-scale indoor raves well into the mid-nineties. One might remember that the earliest house and acid house clubs were themselves effectively "nightclubs". Public perception of raves was also overshadowed in the press by the 1995 death of Leah Betts, a teenager who died after taking MDMA; journalists and billboard campaigns focused on drug use, despite Betts cause of death being water intoxication in her home, not an MDMA overdose at a rave.
In London, the warehouse party scene has made a revival, with many large clubs closing, popular DJs are playing in abandoned car parks, warehouses, factories etc. Many put this down to the recession, nightclubs and bars being less affordable than in the past few years, a similar situation to the late 1980s and early 1990s when House Music and rave took off.
Genuine illegal raves have continued throughout the UK to this day and unlicensed parties have been organised in venues including disused quarries, warehouses, and condemned night clubs. The rise of the Internet has both helped and hindered the cause, with much wider and more accessible communication resulting in bigger parties, but consequently increasing the risk of police involvement.
Origins in disco and psychedelia (1970s)
American ravers, following their early UK & European counterparts, have been compared to the hippies of the 1960s due to their shared interest in non-violence and psychedelia.
Rave culture incorporated disco culture's same love of dance music, drug exploration, sexual promiscuity, and hedonism. Although disco culture had thrived in the mainstream, the rave culture would make an effort to stay underground to avoid the animosity that was still surrounding disco and dance music. The key motive for remaining underground in many parts of the US had to do with curfew and the standard 2:00am closing of clubs. It was a desire to keep the party going past legal hours that created the underground direction. Because of the legality, they had to be secretive about time and place. Most did not have drugs or alcohol, that came later
New York raves and party promoters (1980s)
In the late 80s, rave culture began to filter through from English ex-pats and DJs who would visit Europe. However, rave culture's major expansion in North America is often credited to Frankie Bones, who after spinning a party in an aircraft hangar in England helped organize some of the earliest known American raves in the 1990s in New York City called "Storm Raves" which maintained a consistent core audience, fostered also by zines like fellow Storm Dj (and co-founder, with Adam X and Frankie Bones, of the US' first techno record store Groove Records.) Heather Heart's Under One Sky. Simultaneously in NYC, events called NASA were introducing electronic dance music to New York. In 1993, P.A.W.N. LASERS from Pennsylvania produced the 1st electronic Dance Festival "IMPACT" with Josh Wink, Superstar DJ Keoki in PA, and then later became the most well known laser company at raves in East Coast by cross-promoting these rave events State to State as far south as Florida and Louisiana. Between 1992 and 1994, promotional groups sprung up across the east coast such as Ultraworld (MD,DC), Park Rave Madness (NYC), Satellite Productions (NYC), G.O. Guaranteed Overdose (NYC), Local 13 (NJ), Caffeine (NYC), Liquid Grooove aka Liquified (GA), Columns of Knowledge (CT), Special K aka Circle Management (PA), Zen Festivals (FL), Disco Donnie (LA), Ultra Music Festival (FL), and later the west coast, causing a true "scene" to develop.
San Diego and Latin America (1990s)
In the 1990s, one of the most influential Rave organisers / promoters in America was San Diego's, Global Underworld Network. They were made famous for organizing and throwing the OPIUM and NARNIA raves that reached in size of 60,000 plus people in attendance, a feat unheard of at that time. Narnia which would become famous for a morning hand holding circle of unity was featured on MTV and twice in LIFE magazine being honored with Event of the Year in 1995. Narnia became known as the "Woodstock of Generation X" & Nicholas Luckinbill and Branden Powers of G.U.N. have been called the Merry Pranksters of the Rave scene. These festivals were mostly held on Indian Reservations and Ski Resorts during the summer months and were headlined by well-known DJs such as Doc Martin, Dimitri of Deee-lite, Afrika Islam and the Hardkiss brothers from San Francisco. They were instrumental in creating the RIGHT TO DANCE movement—a non violent protest held in San Diego and later in Los Angeles on the steps of City Hall which aimed to demonstrate that rave culture was about community, peace and love.
Featuring local San Diego DJ's Jon Bishop, Steve Pagan, Alien Tom, Jeff Skot and Mark E. Quark, Global Underworld's events were the first prop-heavy, themed parties in America. They were also the first production company to throw Raves within Mexico, thus launching the entire rave culture movement within South America. The iconic fairy and pixie craze with ravers getting fairy tattoos and wearing wings to parties likely started from an image of a winged fairy on the first Narnia flyer. The Crystal Method played their first out of town show for G.U.N.'s Universary event. Fearing reprisals from the police the event was advertised as "A thousand Points of Light" referring to the power of healing crystals of the Crystal Methods name. This tickled the upcoming artists so much they would refer to it years later in their biography.
The communal space hosting the G.U.N. office amongst many others—something of a Waco meets Warhol in the MIT media lab—was a crossroads of the scene. This vibrant, weird, & chaotic top 3 stories of a building in downtown San Diego, unceremoniously known as "The Loft", grew out of an unlikely collaboration between Alabama yoga guru Murshid Van Merlin, hackers Jerry Lugert & Bill Huey, & Sin Magazine editor Chris Howland. The mythology goes that Howland met Lugert at a Denny's, jumped on the back of a Harley, and was blindfolded for a windy ride deep into Rancho Santa Fe. Awestruck by weirdness, Sin Magazine's warehouse office was soon thereafter offered to & annexed by the cult which was being driven from the upscale estate by neighbors whom were not fans of the late night electronic music arts. In contrast to the commercial oriented mega raves, the Loft hosted intimate parties over the years & provided an art & technology incubator for thousands in the SD underground scene of the 1990s. The percussive group Crash Worship in particular, sometimes working out of the Loft, mechanistically generated the essence of techno tribal dionysian abandon of which the raves scene is rooted. This scene marks the post-industrial, pre-rave period of tranced out dance parties in the U.S.. Symbolic & predictive of the changes to come, they were known to march on & raid the early Burning Man rave camps, analog & un-amplified, to take the DJ hostage.
Adults are often active members of the U.S. scene and are well represented at events. Certain facets of dance music culture in the UK, Europe and globally, are also welcoming to the older generation (especially the free party/squat party/gay scenes). However, rave and club culture remains on the whole very much a youth-driven movement in terms of its core fan base. Although rave parties are commonly associated with warehouse break-ins & such, raves themselves are more often considered to be legal, & often commercial gatherings in recent times.
Growth in California
In late 80s and early 90s, there was a boom in rave culture in the Bay Area. At first, small underground parties sprung up all over the SOMA district in vacant warehouses, loft spaces, and clubs like DV8 and 1015 Folsom, and basement of Jessie Street that had permits to run to 6am as long as no alcohol was served. The no alcohol rule fueled the ecstasy-driven parties to a much larger crowd, and soon followed were the first large scale raves. Every weekend a few hundred would show up at venues like the Townsend warehouse, the King Street garage, and other mid-size warehouse's located in the SOMA and south San Francisco area.
Rave crews started to become famous not only for their quality of music and the smoothness of the parties thrown but also for the 'vibe'. Crews grew to legendary status at this time: 'The Gathering', 'Toontown', 'Wiked', 'Rave Called Sharon', 'The Church', and 'Osmosis'. Small underground raves were just starting out and expanding beyond SF to include the east bay, the south bay area including San Jose, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz beaches (where the notorious 'full moon raves' took place at Bonny Dune beach every month).
In late 1991 raves started to explode across northern California, and cities like Sacramento, Oakland, Silicon Valley (Palo Alto, San Jose) were taking off every weekend. This proved to be the turning point in northern California's rave history. No longer were raves a secret, where one had to know the right people to gain access to map points. Now rave flyers were to be found up and down Haight Street, at stores like Anubis Warpus, Amoeba, Behind The Post Office, and newly opened Housewares. Raves were exploding at an enormous rate, and now there were thousands of ravers living for every weekend. The second generation of raves were just starting to be realized.
Toontown's NYE 91 rave, which took place in the basement of the Fashion Center in SF was the first massive in the Bay Area. Over 8,000 people helped welcome in the new year and at the same time put SF as a must-visit city for the burgeoning world-wide rave scene. Similarly, a year later, 'The Gathering' held New Year's Eve of 1992 in Vallejo had over 12,000 people in attendance. Security measures could not stop the influx of people as they were hopping gates and climbing over walls. The massive parties were taking place every weekend now from such disparate locations as outdoor fields to airplane hangars and hilltops that surround the valley.
San Francisco has long been a Mecca for ravers from all over the world and true to form a lot of the early promoters and DJs were from the UK and Europe. For almost ten years after the initial raves took place, one could find up to 2 to 4 parties happening a weekend and sometimes on the same night. There was no curfew in place, which allowed the SF scene to explode by the late 1990s when venues would have up to 20,000 people every weekend; 'Homebase', and '85 & Baldwin' were the largest venues to be used in the Bay Area. Many amazing venues were used by crews that held clout or members that were tied to the city or knew the appropriate ways to navigate the permit maze. Thus, in the late 1990s some of the most memorable raves took place in locations such as the SOMA art museum, 'Where the wild things are' museum on top of the Sony Metreon, and in the venerable Maritime hall that was used for many parties from 1998-2002. Some old locations appeared again brand new, such as the concourse that saw thousands of ravers in 1992, now saw the same amount in late 1999. The galleria that once held a 'concert' in 92 with artists such as Moby, Aphex twin, Prodigy, Space time continuum, was now used for a few one-off events that utilized all 5 floors of the building with a different music style on each floor.
The mid part of the 1990s saw a general loss of the first generation of ravers, causing the scene to take a short dive. In this time, however, a new West coast sound was formed and developed by DJs such as Jeno, Tony, Spun, Galen, Solar, Harry Who?, Rick Preston to name but a few. Venues and parties such as Stompy, Harmony, CloudFactory, Cyborganic lounge, Acme warehouse among many others started to fuse the Breakbeat sound from hardcore trax with the more melodic pace of house. West coast funky break-beat was born from this and stormed the dance scene. By the end of '94 all the people that had left a gap in the rave scene in '93 were long forgotten as twice as many people now found the new sounds completely and utterly funky. The LA Scene had promoters such as Vince Bannon and Phil Blaine throw gigs for Electronic acts like 808 State, Aphex Twin, Prodigy, and Massive Attack to name a few.
This time period saw the rise of the many facets of EDM. It came to be that many genres of electronic dance music could be enjoyed by anyone willing to go out to any of these parties. Raves could be found in many different kinds of venues, as opposed to just basements and warehouses. Promoters started to take notice and put together the massives of the late 1990s with many music forms under one roof for 12 hour events. Parties were known to attract tens of thousands in venues like Homebase or 85th/Baldwin for a night of continuous dancing. San Francisco became a notorious destination for raves in the United States, and to a lesser extent, the world at large. DJs from all corners of the globe began performing in San Francisco.
The year 2000 saw the demise of massive raves as curfews were placed on permits handed out to promoters throwing parties. Instead of all night and into the next day, parties now had to end at 2 a.m. Two of the largest venues closed down soon after, and there wasn't enough momentum to sustain parties that catered to tens of thousands of people. As if a nail was drove into the coffin of the SF rave scene, the Homebase warehouse that held parties from 1996-2000 burned down to the ground in a spectacular six alarm fire in 2004. Smaller, intimate venues continued just like they had from the start and underground raves became the norm in the years after the tech boom of the 1990s.
While San Francisco's crowd attendance and variety of DJs might have peaked, it still maintains a much smaller but dedicated cadre of various crews, DJs, promoters and producers. Every weekend, many events are still dedicated to the various forms of electronic music across the greater Bay Area.
Through the mid 1990s and into the 2000s the city of Seattle also shared in the tradition of West Coast rave culture. Though a smaller scene compared to San Francisco, Seattle also had many different rave crews, promoters, Djs, and fans. Candy Raver style, friendship and culture became particularly popular in the West Coast rave scene, both in Seattle and San Francisco. At the peak of West Coast rave, Candy Raver, and massive rave popularity (1996-1999,) it was common to meet groups of ravers, promoters, and Djs who frequently travelled between Seattle and San Francisco, which spread the overall sense of West Coast rave culture and the phenomenon of West Coast "massives".
Recent years (2000s)
By 2010, raves were becoming the equivalent of large-scale rock music festivals, but many times even bigger and more profitable. The Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas drew more than 300,000 fans over three days in the summer of 2012, making it the largest EDM music festival in North America. Ultra Music Festival in Miami drew 150,000 fans over three days in 2012 while other raves like Electric Zoo in New York, Beyond Wonderland in LA, Movement in Detroit, Electric Forest in Michigan, Spring Awakening in Chicago, and dozens more now attract hundreds of thousands of "ravers" every year.
Almost all of these new EDM-based rave events (now simply referred generically to as "music festivals") sell out, proving that the market is there and willing to pay money to be a part of this new culture. Festival attendance at the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) increased by 39.1%, or 90,000 attendees from 2011 to 2012. In 2013, EDC had attendance of approximately 345,000 people, a record for the festival. The average ticket for EDC cost over $300 and the event contributed $278 million to the Clark County economy in 2013. This festival takes place at a 1,000-acre complex featuring a half dozen custom built stages, enormous interactive art installations, and hundreds of EDM artists.
Insomniac, one of the largest EDM event promoters in the US, has been throwing yearly EDC and other EDM events around the country for over 20 years now, and is a good example of how far "raves" have come in the US.
1980s and 1990s: outdoor raves and the Sydney scene
Rave parties began in Australia as early as the 1980s and continued well into the late 1990s. They were mobilised versions of the 'warehouse parties', across Britain. Similar to the United States and Britain, raves in Australia were unlicensed and held in spaces normally used for industrial and manufacturing purposes, such as warehouses, factories and carpet showrooms. In addition, suburban locations were also used: basketball gymnasiums, train stations and even circus tents were all common venues. In Sydney, common areas used for outdoor events included Sydney Park, a reclaimed garbage dump in the inner south west of the city, Cataract Park and various other natural, unused locations and bush lands. The raves placed a heavy emphasis on the connection between humans and the natural environment, thus many raves in Sydney were held outdoors, notably the 'Happy Valley' parties (1991-1994), 'Ecology' (1992) and 'Field of Dreams 4' (July 6, 1996).
The mid-late 1990s saw a slight decline in rave attendance, attributed to the death of Anna Wood at a licensed inner-city Sydney venue, which was hosting a rave party known as "Apache". Wood had taken ecstasy and died in hospital a few days later, leading to extensive media exposure on the correlation of drug culture and its links to the rave scene in Australia.
The tradition continued in Melbourne, with 'Earthcore' parties staged in the cities hinterland. Raves also became less underground as they were in the 90s, and many were held at licensed venues well into the 2000s. Despite this, rave parties of 90s momentum became fewer after the 20th century came to an end. Nonetheless, the rave scene in Australia experienced a brief resurgence briefly up until 2010. During this period the resurfacing of the "Melbourne Shuffle", a Melbourne club/rave dance style, became a huge YouTube sensation and many videos have been uploaded. The Sub coulter or Raves with in Melbourne was taken to new heights with the opening of clubs such as Bass Station and Hard candy. Melbourne had a huge influence on the world stage for keeping Raving culture in with young people and set a new type of music designed for the Shuffle.
The following is an incomplete list of notable raves, particularly smaller raves that may not fit the profile of being an electronic dance music festival:
The following is an incomplete list of notable sound systems:
- Acid house party – Forerunner of raves typically originating from Chicago, Illinois.
- ArtRave: The Artpop Ball
- Free party
- New Rave
- RAVE Act – An American law targeting raves.
- Rave Board Game – 1991 board game based on the UK Rave scene
- Rave music – Music and music styles at raves
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