Wearing sunglasses at night isn’t something that is super common in most bars or clubs, but you might be surprised how many people are wearing glasses at any given rave or nighttime set at a music festival. If you’ve found yourself wondering “Why do people wear glasses at raves?”, you’re not alone - it’s a source of confusion for many inexperienced ravers. It’s not just eyewear that people are confused by when it comes to rave apparel, however. If you’ve ever walked up to a rave and noticed people wearing what look like surgical masks (before the COVID-19 pandemic made them a necessity), you’ve probably been equally confused. There are lots of interesting nuances to rave culture when it comes to apparel and accessories, and we’ll break it all down for you.
Why Do People Wear Glasses at Raves?
Wearing sunglasses or goggles (or refractory glasses that might look like sunglasses) at night might seem like a pretty strange behavior, but there’s a few reasons why it is so common. First, if you’ve ever been to a festival like EDC that’s all about neon lights, strobe lights, glow-in-the-dark, and LED lights on every stage, you know that the lights for your favorite performers can be crazy bright. If your eyes are especially sensitive or you’ve been looking at all those lights all day, it can cause headaches and make the whole experience pretty uncomfortable. Second, some people just love the look of sunglasses at night - it’s pretty badass, if we’re being honest. There’s no need to worry about how your eye makeup has held up throughout the day if you’ve got sunglasses on, after all. So, some sunglasses are worn just to make a fashion statement.
However, sunglasses aren’t the only game in town when it comes to rave glasses. Kaleidoscope glasses, refractory glasses, and other styles all play with the lights and lasers that come off of festival stages, sending them bouncing in all different directions for a trippy experience. The light and laser shows at any rave are going to be cool no matter what, but kaleidoscope and diffraction glasses can take your experience to the next level.
Why Do People Wear Rave Masks?
Rave masks are another source of mystery for many people who are new to raving, but wearing masks to parties actually has its origins all the way back during the 1500s, when the wealthy donned party masks to wear to exclusive gatherings. Today, ravers are more likely to wear masks because of the many benefits they offer.
First, rave masks are key for keeping your lungs clear of dust and debris that inevitably gets kicked up at any outdoor EDM music festival. Major festivals like Coachella and Burning Man take place in areas that are naturally dry, so they’re likely to be dusty even during their best years. Without a mask, dirt and dust can get kicked up into your lungs by a breeze or your fellow ravers dancing up a storm, and these particles head to your airways, where they turn to mud as they mix with the moisture in your lungs. This can lead to serious illness as your body begins attacking the dust, and the airways can become too clogged to get the oxygen they need. It’s definitely not something you want to mess around with, and a rave mask can help reduce the issue.
Regardless of what you like to wear to raves, you’re probably interested in cultivating a fun look that will still allow you to express yourself and be comfortable as you dance the night away. Over the years, rave masks have become one of many accessories adopted by the rave culture that is simply part of the look, like face gems, paint splatter, harnesses, kandi, neon hair extensions, and more.
Sites like iHeartRaves offer rave masks in a variety of colors, patterns, and styles to compliment your outfit, or you can let your creativity run wild and design your own unique piece. Don’t confuse them with Halloween masks, though - rave masks aren’t the same thing! You’ll find light up masks, LED masks, glow in the dark masks, purge masks, and half face masks, some of which are even rechargeable.
There’s also an element of anonymity that comes with rave masks, which some people really like. A rave is a perfect place to let your inhibitions go and be yourself - after all, there’s no place more accepting, loving, and free-spirited than a rave - but not everyone feels comfortable being totally free when surrounded by cell phone cameras. Rave masks allow for a bit of anonymity in the event that you aren’t feeling super confident about your dance moves or would prefer not to have your outfit’s details posted all over the internet. If you’re looking for a way to blend in with the crowd and do your own thing, a rave mask can help!
Why Do People at Raves Wear Plastic Beaded Bracelets?
One thing that might seem out of place a rave or music festival at first glance is all of the plastic pony bead bracelets that you’ll see winding around the arms and necks of many festival goers and ravers. These bracelets, called kandi, are as synonymous with the festival scene as glasses and masks, and they’re a big deal.
Kandi are meant to be exchanged and given away at festivals and raves as an expression of friendship and the rave code of PLUR - peace, love, unity, and respect. When you meet someone at a rave that you connect with, it’s customary to exchange kandi after giving a PLUR handshake, which basically consists of repeating “peace, love, unity, respect” and then switching kandi. In addition to being a fun way to spread good vibes, they also make great souvenirs to remember your new friends by. If you didn’t bring any kandi with you to your first rave or festival, don’t despair - it’s customary for people to give kandi to those who don’t have any at all, as a way to welcome them to rave and kandi culture.
Kandi is also a great way to express yourself, because many people make their kandi themselves instead of buying it, so that it’s especially unique. Kandi can be made into single strand bracelets, larger bracelet cuffs, or even face masks, so there’s really no limit to what you can try. Some people change the theme of their kandi up for a certain festival or artist, while others include their own names or favorite sayings. Some festivals, like EDC, even offer kandi-making stations where you can sit and make kandi on the festival grounds. Sounds like a pretty great way to chill out and make some new friends, right? However, some festivals ban kandi due to concerns over littering, so make sure you check the guidelines at the next festival you attend.
Why Do People at Raves Carry Large Decorated Poles?
To the uninitiated, it does seem a little strange that ravers and festival goers are carrying around large poles decorated with any number of ribbons, colors, and symbols, but these poles have a purpose. Totems, as they are called, are a great way for groups of ravers and festival goers to make sure they can find their friends in a crowd, and we all know how crowded a rave or festival can get. Cell phone service can sometimes be a challenge to find with so many people using the network, and cell phone batteries often die early. By using a unique totem, group members can find their way back to each other throughout a festival and make sure everyone is accounted for. Before building your next totem, make sure to check the festival guidelines for what types of materials are allowed, and try to use an extendable pole if possible. If you can’t find an extendable pole, use one that’s tall enough so that it won’t block anyone’s view of the stage. It’s helpful to use lots of colors and use symbols or expressions that are unique to you and your crew, so you won’t have to worry about having lookalike totems with another group. Memes are a really fun way to connect with other ravers, because everyone loves a great meme!
There are many unique elements of rave culture that might seem strange to rookie ravers, but once you experience your first festival for yourself, it will all make perfect sense. No matter how you choose to express yourself, make sure you’re radiating PLUR and keeping the good vibes flowing.