It’s no secret that the world can be a scary place. News channels are filled with violence and pollution. Divisiveness and hate rule over social media. Life on earth can seem very dark at times, but ravers know where to find light. It’s not neon, it’s human. It’s not electric, but it’s sustainable.
It’s called P.L.U.R. and it stands for Peace, Love, Unity and Respect. For a lot of people it’s a sign of home. For a lot of people it’s a sign of hope. I like to think of it as a sign there’s still some people rooting for the good guy, and they know how to party.
Where PLUR Started
Before 1990 the word “rave” in America was still only used by English and Drama professors for its classic definition—to rave on about something, as in to rant or talk nonstop, or to talk about something with enthusiasm as in "a rave review." The “Raves” we know and love today were really just going on in Europe at the time, though some cities like Chicago and New York had pretty awesome underground music scenes that were havens to Black and LGBTQ+ people during the AIDS crisis.
At that time, Frankie Bones was still just a DJ from Brooklyn, and P.L.U.R. wouldn't come around for another three years. Frankie Bones is widely considered the man who brought Raving to America, and who popularized the idea of P.L.U.R. into a global phenomenon. But to understand the importance of P.L.U.R. you need to understand where it came from.
Brooklyn in the 1980’s was ruthless. Murder was rampant. Crime, poverty, and territorial gang activity were constant. It wasn't a safe place to live and Frankie Bones was not spared. In 1985 Frankie’s Dad, Miles Mitchell was murdered while working at night as a taxi driver, and in 1991 Frankie himself was targeted by an ecstasy druglord who wanted him dead. It’s no wonder Frankie and his brother Adam X focused their shows and records on peace and love.
As the Notorious B.I.G. made clear, to “spread love it’s the Brooklyn way.” Frankie was a prolific artist from a young age, and embodied that idea in his work from the very beginning. Toward the end of the decade raves were becoming extremely popular in England and were loosely modeled after the “hippie” movement from the 1960’s.
The records Frankie produced hit big in England, and with no internet everything spread through word of mouth and in the underground. In 1989 Frankie knuckles traveled to Europe to play at a rave called Energy. Frankie ended up performing in front of 25,000 people and, after experiencing the connective power of raves, he made it his mission to spread the light in America.
Raving in America
In 1990 a social club named Happyland was burned down in a jealous rage by a man trying to kill an ex-girlfriend. 87 people died in the fire and it impacted everyone in the scene. “Peace, love, and unity” turned into the Peace, Love, Unity, Movement, or P.L.U.M. A month later Frankie opened up a record store called “Groove Records” that served as a “home base” for P.L.U.M.
Frankie and his crew were generals in a war against hate. They threw the first Storm Rave on May 11, 1991—a giant underground party put on in the name of peace, love, and unity. These were the first American raves in terms of what we call a rave today. They began picking up momentum, but the last one was thrown on December 12th, 1992.
The series didn’t last long because throwing massive illegal parties in abandoned buildings with drugs and loud music didn't seem sustainable if they wanted to stay out of jail. But the Storm Rave crew (Frankie Bones, Adam X, and Heather Heart) kept throwing parties.
The party kept going, but unfortunately so did the violence in the city. In late June 1993 at a party in Ferry Point Park, a man and a woman in a fight bumped into the table where Frankie Bones was DJing. Memories of the Happyland fire came flooding back to Frankie. He snapped, got on the table and yelled into the mic “If you don’t start showing some peace, love and unity I’ll break you’re f*cking faces.” It’s in this moment of human emotion and extreme passion that popularized the P.L.U.R. phenomenon. That night the “M” for movement was replaced by “R” for respect.
The movement was known at the time, but now the respect was demanded.The world has always been a scary place. Divisiveness and hate have always been present. Dark times are almost constant. Fortunately for us, so is the fight against it. P.L.U.R.is a human accomplishment. Forged in some of the darkest moments of our history, P.L.U.R. is a light of hope for so many people. A diamond of an idea created by the intense pressures of the world we live in. P.L.U.R. is proof it doesn't matter how bleak or scary the world gets, all you need is some friendly humans, some peace, love, unity and respect.