Before I started raving, I remember being so baffled by what I saw of EDM culture. The outfits, the Kandi, the flow art, it all just seemed absolutely bizarre to me. Now that I’ve been heavily immersed in rave culture for a few years, it doesn’t seem bizarre at all; in fact, it’s pretty much a way of life. So when I hear negativity from people who don’t rave towards the culture, I find myself completely baffled by that, and sometimes even a little offended. When I do hear these kinds of comments, I try to remind myself how I viewed the scene as a whole before I started going to raves and festivals, and how most people who haven’t had much real exposure to the rave world aren’t going to understand it, much less appreciate it.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about those first few months of my raving life, and trying to pin down exactly what it was about the whole culture that caught my attention. I’ve come to realize that there wasn’t just one thing that grabbed me, but more the combination of many things that all worked together to create this alternate universe not bound by 9-to-5-jobs, pantsuits, and societal norms. Here are the top three things that attracted me to rave culture when I went to my first event a few years ago.
1. The Music (Obviously)
Okay, confession time. Before I really got into electronic music, I was one of those people who grouped it all together as one genre. In high school, I literally could not have told you the difference between Skrillex and Deadmau5 if my life depended on it. I went to my first EDC only having heard of a few artists on the lineup, and it was because they had popular songs on the radio. However, the more I’ve immersed myself into different genres and subgenres within the electronic umbrella, the more I’ve seen how wide the term “electronic” can really span. I really do believe there is something for everyone in the electronic world. Though I wasn’t always this way, I’ve come to love pretty much all genres. Since there are infinite possibilities in electronic music, there is a genre that can perfectly fit any situation. I love blasting tropical house when I’m laying next to the pool, and I love cranking dubstep when I’m getting ready for a night out with friends. Nothing pumps me up to be productive like psytrance, and nothing helps me wind down at the end of the day like techno. I really do believe that people who say they don’t like electronic music just need to explore some of the different subgenres a little more.
Photo Credit: EDC/Insomniac Events
The over-the-top costumes, totems, flow art, and everything else creative that comes with electronic culture is certainly a huge part of what grabbed my initial attention, and I know I’m not alone. Walking around at your first rave can feel like you’re on another planet completely. The freedom that people feel to dress however they want is a truly beautiful thing. And it goes beyond just fashion -- watching people perform with their hoops, gloves, poi, or whatever it may be, is truly astounding and takes multiple levels of skill and creativity as well. There is something infectious and freeing about being able to dress as ridiculous (or as reserved) as you like on that specific day. I love spending lots of time preparing my outfits for festivals, and I love that I can get away with wearing crazy and amazing clothing that I couldn’t just wear walking down the street. Well, I technically could...but I would definitely get some funny looks. Raves are just such judgment-free zones in terms of style and appearance.
Photo Credit: EDC/Insomniac Events
3. The Whole Scene Is Based On Love
We hear this one all the time, don’t we? Love, as well as peace, unity, and respect. Some will argue that “PLUR” is dead, and maybe at times it isn’t as strong as it used to be. However, as someone who’s been immersed in multiple other music scenes before I was ever exposed to rave culture, I think the difference is rather obvious in terms of how people treat one another. The friendliness and overall respect of people I meet at raves is completely out-of-this-world compared to any other concert or music event I’ve ever attended. Sure, there are always exceptions, but a vast majority of my social encounters at raves are not only positive, but rewarding. Whether it’s a random person running up to hug you, or a group of people adopting you when you get separated from your group, I bet if you’ve been to a lot of events you’ve experienced this too. This is one of the reasons why I stopped going to pretty much any other type of show that isn’t an electronic artist. Not because I don’t like other types of music, but because the vibes and the way people treat each other doesn’t even begin to compare to the overwhelming positive energy that ravers have.
If you’re a raver yourself, I’m guessing you can relate to some of these points. Some or all of these things might be what attracted you to the scene, and maybe you have other reasons as well. If you haven’t been to any raves or festivals, maybe after reading this you’ll see a glimpse of what it’s all about. The music, love, and creativity of an EDM event are on another level entirely, and everyone deserves to experience it at some point in their life.