A rave party, more often just called a rave, also called free-parties, is typically an all-night dance event where electronic dance music and rave music are played, usually by a DJ.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Rave culture
3 See also
4 External links


Mainstream raves began in the mid-to-late 1980s as both a product of and a reaction against the increasingly commercial, alcohol and meat-market oriented nightclub scene and hollywood-monopolized radio airplay.

In an effort to maintain some distance and secrecy from the mainstream club scene, most raves were (and continue to be) held in places like warehouses, rental halls, and outdoor locations, although sometimes reluctantly nightclubs and legitimate concert venues are used.

Some hardcore ravers believe the first "rave" involved the Baby boomers at Woodstock in 1969, and that the subsequent children of the boomers, later became the first mainstream "ravers". Children of boomers, it can be argued, were raised by parents who professed "free love" and less physical violence in disciplining children, who experimented with drugs, and who openly disagreed with their own parents, especially in regards to the Vietnam War. Such a legacy could explain modern rave culture.

Early raves invitations were only by word of mouth, there by controlling to some extent who would and could attend. As law enforcement began to disrupt raves, the secrecy became very elaborate, with cell phone numbers leading to web sites, leading to other phone numbers, leading to finally a last-minute contact phone number or location, and here you would receive directions to the rave location.


What could arguably be called raves existed in the early 1980s in the Ecstasy-fueled club scene in Texas and in the drug-free, all-ages scene in Detroit at venues like The Music Institute. However, it wasn't until the mid-to-late 1980s that a wave of psychedelic dance music, most notably Acid House and techno, emerged and caught on in the clubs, warehouses and free-parties of London, England. Police crackdowns on these often-illegal parties drove the scene into the countryside. The word "rave" somehow caught on to describe these semi-spontaneous weekend parties occurring at various locations outside the M25 Orbital motorway.

The early rave scene flourished underground simultaneously in the United Kingdom and some US cities such as San Francisco (home of the seminal and still-legendary Toontown cyber-warehouse parties) and Los Angeles, especially places where groups of British expatriates had set up shop. As word of the budding and still quite underground scene spread, raves quickly caught on in other cities such as San Diego and New York City (home of the legendary 1992 Storm Raves, organized by DJ Frankie Bones), and in major urban centers across the European continent.

1990s: United Kingdom and United States

Although raves were happening with increasing frequency in the U.S., the scene developed primarily in the UK and Europe until around 1991 - 1992, at which point it became a much more global phenomenon.

The spread of raves was initially grassroots only; people who had traveled to attend the first raves began setting up their own, often informal promotion companies to throw their own parties -- mirroring in smaller cities the urban scene with which they had become enamored. As time went on, rave culture became tainted by mainstream commercial interests, with major corporations sponsoring events and adopting the scene's music and fashion for their "edgier" advertising.

In 1994, the Criminal Justice Bill was passed as the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act which contained several sections designed to suppress the growing free-party and anti-road protest movements (sometimes charecterised by ravers and travellerss).

Sections 63, 64 & 65 of the Act targeted rave music, defining it as 'wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats'. These sections give powers of arrest to police if they suspect people are preparing to hold a rave (2 or more people); waiting for a rave to start (10+); actually attending a rave (10+). Section 65 lets any uniformed constable who believes a person is on their way to a rave within a 5-mile radius to stop them and direct them away from the area - failure to comply can lead to a maximum fine of 1,000.

By the late 1990s the rave scene seemed to stabilize with mainstream status, the opening of many more clubs and it is still undergoing change, still finding its way towards becoming a fixture in youth culture. Constants in the scene include electronic dance music, a vibrant social network built on the ethos of PLUR, and a love-hate relationship with psychedelic drugs such as Ecstasy and LSD.

1990s: Europe

After an early sparkle worldwide, raves were not a big topic in the US throughout the 1990s. In Central Europe and other parts of the world, rave culture was more explicitly a part of a new youth movement, which was not so much the case in the US, which were more purely hedonistic affairs. In Central Europe, especially the Benelux countries and Germany, raves were identifying a whole generation throughout the nineties. DJ artists such as Westbam proclaimed the "raving society" and promoted techno as legitimate competition to rock and roll. Indeed techno and rave became mass movements as they are not imaginable in the US today. Raves had tens of thousands of attendants, youth magazines featured styling tips and TV stations launched music magazines on house and techno music.


According to some observers, by the end of the 1990s techno and rave had gone through the same cycle that every original music of an era goes through: a passionate start in the early years with lots of innovators and the idiom of the true underground - an early majority that takes the music into the society - a mass movement where everybody had to be on a rave somehow - a decaying phase when "raver" became the most anticipated word to describe someone with.

By the early 2000s, in Europe, the term "raver" had fallen out of favor, "ravers" returned to be "clubbers". "Rave" used to describe a dance party was not a commonly used term. There were only some traditional "raves" left in Central Europe, such as "Mayday", raves were more commonly known as "festivals". Also by the early 2000s, traditional rave paraphernalia such as face masks, pacifiers and neon colors were not old enough at that time to be considered fashionable again.

Rave culture

Main related articles: rave music, raver

Raves are predominately attended by ravers, a sub-culture. The openness and welcoming nature within the rave community is said to be refreshing in a world filled with judgementalism. Thus, according to ravers, a rave party provides a few hours of escape and relaxation along with a sense of oneness with similar-thinking ravers. Ravers try to be, or at least show that they are happy and fun and avoid negativity or physical confrontation.

The experience at a club are often decidedly different from a rave as clubs take most of their profit from alcohol sales, and create an atmosphere of drunken, slightly slowed intoxication; for this reason, they attract the pre-existing dance music crowd, are 21 and up, and often sound more like commercialised radio stations than a continuous mix of international electronic music, in an positive atmosphere. The combination is apparent in the fights and hostile attitudes that often occur in nightclubs. Fighting or arguing of any sort is extremely rare at raves.

While the influence of recreational drugs on the early rave scene is undeniable, there is much debate over the role drugs continue to play, and what should be done about them. Opponents of raves seek to outlaw the parties and the people who organize or host them, contending that rave parties are "drug orgies" that exist exclusively for the rampant use and trafficking of dangerous substances. Proponents retort that people attend raves primarily for the love of a new music genre, to dance, to participate in the social scene, and that recreational drugs at music events are infused in the culture of youth, regardless of raves. Moreover, at most raves, attendees are either not using drugs at all or are using relatively benign substances in a reduced-risk manner, and that a typical rock/rap concert or major sporting event is rife with far more rampant consumption of much more dangerous substances.

The Internet and low cost home computerss have been revolutionary to the development of digital electronic music, MP3, music mix and swapping web sites, and creating a high speed communicating and sharing "global village". These improvements have been instantaneously been adopted by ravers and rave D.J.'s since the beginning of the public World Wide Web in 1993.

Famous raves (rave series):

  • Mayday Germany 1991 - today: http://www.mayday.de
  • Nature One Germany 1995 - today: http://www.nature-one.de
  • Tunnel Rave Germany 1995 - ??
  • Time Warp Germany 1995 - today: http://www.time-warp.de
  • Rave on Snow Austria ??- today: http://www.raveonsnow.de
  • Rave and Cruise Mediterreanean Sea 1997 - 2001
  • Nocturnal Wonderland Los Angeles U.S.A. 1997? - today
  • Together as One Los Angeles U.S.A. New Years Eve, 1998- today
  • J18 Carnival Against Capitalism - London, UK 1999

See also

External links