Nowadays LED lights aren’t limited to just the stages. Festivals and art seem to not only walk hand and hand but to blend together seamlessly. So it’s no surprise that one of the more widely practiced and appreciated parts of rave culture is flow arts. However where as some like hooping, or orbiting are accepted, some like gloving are being picked apart for carrying a negative connotation.
When it boils down to it, it’s not the art form itself that causes the controversy. It’s what many outside of the culture view as “perpetrating drug culture”. While many companies such as Insomniac have stated that they understand gloving isn’t specifically tied to drug stereotypes, “perception is perception” and many feel as though they have hit a wall. Either ban gloving or forfeit public opinion and with it the rapidness of EDM’s growing popularity. Understandably larger companies are trying to, in a way, dumb down the scene to make it more accepted by more people. Therefore allowing more people to attend their events.
To over simplify, outsiders don’t view light shows as a raver sharing their talents with one another. They’ve placed gloving neatly in a box and labeled it a drug-adjacent art form. And while it would be easy to simply blame the events banning gloving from their venues, I think the problem is even more deeply rooted than that. There have been times when a friend of mine has offered someone a light show and the person responds with “No thanks, I don’t do drugs”. Ravers are the ones who spread stories and talk of what goes on inside event grounds. The people who aren’t there don’t see what we see, it’s all hearsay. So when a raver themself views gloving as drug attached that’s where a small vein of the problem begins. And from there is steams out to others, who without that form or hearsay, would have nothing but a baseless statement.
Other art forms like hooping and poi are much more widely accepted. When if you really think about it, it’s the same exact thing, minus the stigma. It’s all the same lights and trails and flow. It can still leave a person wide eyed and staring, it’s just less personal then a one on one light show. One of my favorite parts about festivals is watching others gaze into the flowing fingers of glovers. It’s not just a hobby to them but a practiced and honed talent.
Glovers like any other flow artist are incredibly dedicated to what they do. They bring new light to the phrase “like you do it in the mirror”. For anyone who’s never attempted gloving, the only way to explain how it feels is: completely unnatural. I’m a hoop dancer and for all the practice I’ve attempted to put into gloving, I’m very basic. And these guys (and girls) make it look easy, and what’s more, they love what they do. Seriously find me a glover who doesn’t have some serious passion about it.
So the problem is identified, now what do we do? Instead of simply allowing rave culture and the gloving art form to be viewed as a drug culture, we have to speak up. Educate outsiders, educate the ravers and festival attendees around you. We have the power to create a change. Speak up in forums, and event pages but do so without malice or anger. Air on the side of informative and open minded let them know that gloving is not a crime, and maybe one day soon glovers will be free to carry their lights through security with open non-smuggled pride.
I'm a cosmetologist and recovering pageant competitor turned raver. NorCal based. I love kandi, hoop dancing and you can find me at any event with Trap or Hardstyle.