After a recent argument with my dad about my participation in the EDM community (particularly my unparalleled desire to attend Electric Forest for the first time this year) I got to thinking about how raving is perceived by those who have never experienced it. It wasn’t that long ago that I had never attended an event, although I have liked the music for a while. Sadly, I know that there are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about the culture I have come to know from my family in the past six months. It’s sad for me, and I’m sure for others, to know that something I love so much has such a bad reputation. If everyone saw it the way we did, I’m sure I would get much less crap about my choice to rave, and rave often.
You should know that we aren’t druggies, we aren’t going to these events to get messed up. Sure, there’s always going to be people there who are only there for those reasons, which can be said of anything. There will always be bad seeds, they do not define us.
Why do we rave then? What’s the point? (I wish I got asked this question more, since my choice to rave is all too often dismissed as youthful indiscretion, I rarely get a chance to explain my love of EDM to people outside the culture)
We rave because after all the stress we experience (I’m sure you do too, no matter where you are in life) we can come together and drop it all. All the worries of everyday life get put aside for a night. I look forward to each event, no matter how big or small, because those are the times where I feel most free. We rave because of the unparalleled community that these events foster. We come from all walks of life, united by the music, and we become one. A family of people who pour out happiness because they are their better selves together. I have never felt more accepted or proud to be who I am than when I am around these people I call my family. There are no strangers, just friends you haven’t met yet, it may sound cliché but ask any raver, they would agree. This is a place where you are allowed to be yourself, knowing you not only will be free from judgment, but that your uniqueness will be celebrated. It’s not something that can easily be found elsewhere, and I would challenge you to try.
Okay, you think, I can accept this, you’re not druggies, maybe I don’t understand but I can accept. But why do you wear those ridiculous outfits? The girls always dress so slutty and the guys never wear shirts. You’re all basically naked.
The first question I ask you, non-raver, is have you ever worked out? The answer is probably yes, at some point. It gets hot when you work out. You sweat a lot, it’s natural. Now imagine working out with hundreds or even thousands of people sweating just as much or even more pressing up against you and each other. That’s what raving is like. It’s hot, sweaty, and a workout, and we love every minute of it. We dress for the activity, and when the activity is high energy, we don’t really want to sweat our asses off because you think we should “put on some more clothes”. Plus dancing in jeans? It sucks.
That’s the basic answer. The more complex one? The outfits we wear are a form of self-expression. We can be whatever and whoever we want for that night, but usually we are just the most extravagant forms of ourselves. It’s some of the same reasons you dress up for Halloween, it’s fun, it makes you feel hot, you can be anything. I love to dress up because it lets me be my weird, crazy, faux-fur glitter obsessed self. It is an outlet for my creative juices, and it simply makes me happy. These events are the one place I can dress as wildly as I want and not feel self-conscious about my clothes, or my body. Outside of raves I am uncomfortable at the pool in my swimsuit, but when I’m there I feel proud of my body and happy that my pride doesn’t translate to “easy” or “slutty” in other ravers eyes. Happiness, love, body positivity, and infinitely more, that’s what this scene is really about.
So, non-raver, do you understand a little better now? This is not an unsafe, drug-infested, over-sexualized culture. We are not the bad reputation that seems to be so well known. There are so few groups now that preach peace, love, unity, and respect, and even fewer who practice it. I have found one, and I am proud to be part of this family, and blessed to have discovered such an amazing group of people. If you have changed your mind about us, I’m glad, if not, hopefully someone else can. I hope you keep an open mind about these people who I call family, maybe someday you’ll choose join us under the electric sky.
A Passionate Raver
Kansas City raver, lover of glitter, and proud member of the EDM family