While every rave and festival has a slightly different theme and vibe that affects how ravers will dress for the event, there are some wardrobe staples that you’ll see pretty much everywhere on the rave scene. One of those is the rave mask - you probably won’t be able to take more than two steps at your next festival without seeing one, unless they’re banned (don’t worry, we’ll get into that in a minute). There are lots of reasons to wear a rave mask besides looking cute, but the huge variety of color, pattern, and style options available from iHeartRaves doesn’t hurt either.
If you think that ravers invented the first party masks, think again. The very first party masks can actually be traced all the way back to France in the 1500s when rich people began wearing face masks to go along with their lavish costumes worn as they partied in the days leading up to Lent. In case you’re not familiar with Catholic traditions, Lent is the period of forty days before Easter when people give up certain things they love, like chocolate, alcohol, video games - you name it! Because Lent is a time for sacrifice and reflection, people party big leading up to it. In fact, Mardi Gras parades today are a continuation of the French parties of old. Back in Europe, masquerade, or masked, balls became all the rage as people went all out to enjoy themselves before giving everything up. That meant crazy costumes, lots of creativity, and of course, all-night dance parties.
In the 1600s, the trend swept Italy, and the Italians took it up a notch. Artists began creating paper mache masks that were literal artistic masterpieces, and the wealthy wore them to their own masked parties. These masks were covered in everything from paint, to ribbons, to feathers and glass beads - imagine if they had had glitter! The ornate masks gave people the opportunity to really cut loose because no one knew the identity of the person underneath, for better or for worse.
Ever since those early days, masks have been a staple of the party scene, and the rave community has embraced them whole-heartedly. Whether you’re rocking a mask to keep the dust out of your mouth, nose and lungs, you’re using them to compliment your signature style, or you want to keep your identity concealed so you can really let loose, you definitely won’t be the only person wearing a mask at your next rave or festival.
More likely than not, the people you’ll see wearing them are doing so for other reasons entirely. Benefits of wearing rave masks include:
- Avoiding dust: If you’ve ever attended an outdoor EDM music festival without wearing a mask, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the joys of inhaling a whole bunch of dirt and dust being kicked up by tens of thousands of your new best friends. Some festivals are especially known for their dustiness even in good years, including Coachella and Burning Man, which take place in dry environments that can send trillions of tiny particles into the air. In fact, a windstorm closed out Coachella in 2013, with dust blowing in from the surrounding California desert covering the festival grounds. Burning Man, which takes place in the Black Rock Desert, has especially serious dust issues because the texture of the dust there, called playa dust, is extremely fine - like, smaller than the particles of baby powder. That means that any breeze (or let’s be honest, serious dancing) starts to kick up those tiny particles, which quickly make their way into your airways and turn to mud as they mix with the moisture in your lungs. This can even lead to a condition called eosinophils (also called playa lung, no joke!), a condition in which the immune system begins to use disease-fighting white blood cells to attack the dust, which it recognizes as a foreign body. Over time, this can cause the airways to become clogged, preventing the body from taking in oxygen. Pretty serious stuff! Wearing something like a face mask bandana or a dust mask are ways to keep at least some of the festival funk out of your nose and mouth.
- Adding to Your Look: Obviously, rave culture is all about the music and dancing first, but a very close second is the fashion! At your next festival or rave, you’ll likely see everything from people wearing a t-shirt and jeans to someone wearing pasties and a tutu, and everything in between. Rave culture encourages people to be themselves and express themselves through their clothing and dance, and along the way, lots of people have added fun accessories like face gems, kandi, paint splatter, neon hair extensions, harnesses, thigh highs, and more to their looks. Why should rave masks be any different? Choosing a rave mask to go with your next festival outfit can be part of the fun and add to your look, or you can really let your creativity run wild and design your own look so you’re sure to stand out among the crowds. These masks differ from Halloween costumes. Some of the bestsellers are light up masks, LED masks, glow in the dark masks, purge masks, and half face masks. Many of these are even rechargeable to use for your next cosplay! Either way, adding a rave mask to your look can help take your festival-day vibe to the next level.
- Letting Loose: There’s no place more accepting, loving, and free-spirited than the rave community, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is totally comfortable being themselves all the time, especially when surrounded by thousands of other people that are likely Instagramming every single second. The whole point of going to a rave or festival is to cut loose and vibe with your friends in a way that feels good for you, and a rave mask can help provide you with a bit of anonymity in case you don’t feel like having your super hot rave outfit splashed all over the internet. There’s something to be said for feeling like you can blend in with the crowd and do your own thing without worrying about being recognized, so if that’s a concern for you, a rave mask might be able to help!
At any rave or festival, you’re likely to see a bunch of different styles of rave masks, so don’t be afraid to opt for something unique. Creativity and self-expression are the name of the game at raves, after all! These styles are just a few of our favorites.
- Seamless mask bandanas: If you’re interested in comfort, style, and breathability, you’ll probably opt to choose a seamless mask bandana for your rave look. These multifunctional masks can easily slide to cover your neck, mouth, and nose, and you can also wear them as headbands, wristbands, hair ties, and whatever else you need. Seamless mask bandanas will protect you from dust and damaging UV rays while still releasing body heat, so you don’t have to worry about getting overheated from your mask.
- Face Mask: The classic face mask has been a festival go-to for years and most closely resembles a mask worn by medical professionals (glammed up for raving, of course). The masks loop behind your ears, so you don’t have to worry about them sliding down while you dance.
- Punk/gas mask: There’s no doubt about it - if you really want to make a statement, the punk/gas mask is the way to go. These things are just straight-up cool looking, and you can make it suit your style by adding beads, sequins, glitter, and anything else your mind can imagine. You’ll still be able to breathe with a gas mask on, of course, but there’s no denying that these things are less breathable (and therefore hotter) than the seamless mask bandanas or ear masks, so you might want to skip one during those boiling midsummer festivals and stick with goggles instead.