What is Going to a Rave Like?

Many outsiders are often lead to believe that raves are filled with a bunch of people dressed in neon, taking lots of drugs listening to video game music, when it’s more than that, MUCH more.  Raves are an experience, filled with powerful energy and emotion.

Many outsiders are often lead to believe that raves are filled with a bunch of people dressed in neon, taking lots of drugs listening to video game music, when it’s more than that, MUCH more.  Raves are an experience, filled with powerful energy and emotion.  I would not recommend them to the lighthearted or epileptic.  Raves can be intense, beautiful and life changing.  The non-stop music, explosions of lights and cheers, dancing, and more make it very high energy, pure entertainment.  There’s never a dull moment because a rave never stops.  Even after a concert the beats you heard and the emotions you felt stick with you.  It's very easy to experience culture shock when immersed in the rave culture.  Just like any other culture there’s traditions, morals, rituals, and stereotypes.  It’s best to keep an open mind and respect what you are about to experience.

            Arriving at a rave is one of the key parts, when you feel the atmosphere and everyone connected around you.  You suddenly get a heightened sense of awareness of the good vibes rushing through the air.  Now not all raves are the same, they differ depending on the music, location, and season, so for now this is a general outline of what you can except to find. 

            I’ll start off with the music, since that really is the main reason why people attend raves.  The music is often loud and bold but the mood is different depending on what style.  House music attracts a happy dancing crowd, one filled with love and plenty of smiles.  If you haven’t ever really listened to EDM House music is a good way to start.  In a trance crowd, you can be sure to find very chill people, dreamers.  With artists like Above & Beyond and Tiesto running the show there is an uplifting vibe.  Above & Beyond have had ‘group therapy’ during their sets where they write positive messages on a giant LED screen behind them for everyone to see.  Next is dub step, which is not for everyone.  I sometimes like to describe it as the metal of EDM, it’s chaotic, hard, and filled with bass but unlike metal it’s not associated with moshing, skulls, or violence.  Dub step gets a spark pulsing through the air that trance and house music just can’t quite accomplish.  “Bassheads” as they call themselves often like to use words like sick, nasty, and filthy to describe the best tracks and drops.  At dub step raves you will find the hardcore partiers that love to rage.  Electro Jam bands are also a very different genre usually getting a big hippy crowd.  Bands like STS9 and Lotus have a much more groovy, mellow sound.  There’s more use of instruments and less digitized sound.  Although it would take hours to describe all the different genres of music found at a rave, you can really expect to hear anything there.  With so many subgenres influenced by pop, rock, hip-hop, R&B, soul, reggae, reggae ton, and even country there’s really something for everyone at a rave even if you don’t believe you’ll find it.  Dancing is what it comes down to, which is next up on what a rave is like.

            Everyone dances at a rave, everyone.  There are many types of dances you can expect to see at a rave.  First there are the people storming the rail, partying the hardest, rushing to the stage with their favorite artist.  They are raging, not really dancing, but just pumping their bodies up and down to the beat.  There are the go-go girls who are usually in more open spaces or on the stage just doing what they do best!  The mid-range crowd typically holds the casual dancers, people bustin’ their moves, being carefree, socializing with all the ravers around them.  Then you’ll see those occasional people that seem like they have just figured out the meaning of life, a beautiful smile on their face, swaying perfectly with the beat, eyes either wide open or softly closed.  Those people are on top of the world and you can’t help but catch their contagious smile.  Last but not least there’s ALWAYS that one person that is dancing their little heart out with about a 10-foot radius of room around them to get wild.  There is no right or wrong way to dance at a rave, just go with whatever you feel comfortable with.  Besides dancers, you will find other entertainers.  These people have LED gloves sets, orbits, LED hula-hoops, poi, and other crazy light-up strobing devices.  They can be found in areas that allow them to move around and give light shows.  A glove show, or light show can be a very intense sensory experience and when done right it’s so incredible and unique to the rave culture!

            You will see a LOT of neon at a rave.  Be prepared to see neon rainbows, sequins, tanks, light-up outfits that make people look like robots, and so much more.  What people wear to a rave is seen as a powerful way to express their individuality.  Many ladies do dress pretty provocatively even when the temperatures say otherwise.  Different types of ravers wear different things.  Kandi ravers will be seen decked out from head to toe in kandi (bracelets/necklaces/armbands/etc. made from colorful plastic beads) usually with little sayings on them too.  They are the ones most commonly seen with pacifiers in their mouths and fluffies on.  Rainbow tutus, kid-like clothing, plush animal backpacks and bright face paint are also very popular amongst Kandi Ravers.  These Kandi Kids are your best friends waiting to happen, very friendly and always offering hugs/massages/light shows, they truly display the peace, love, unity and respect (P.L.U.R) aspect of raves.  Next up you can spot the go-go girls.  Their normal attire consists of sparkly or very elaborately decorated bras, booty shorts, and often lots of fishnets.  They dance the night away in their tall go-go boot covers looking’ very sexy.  Depending on the rave, people will dress according to theme. Electric Daisy Carnival, Wonderland, and Sensation White all have pretty easily implied dress themes.  Cyber ravers are the ones that kind of freak me out but don’t judge a book by its cover, they are still very nice.  Wearing UV reactive biohazard goggles and LED gas masks with spikes on them they sport a more Goth style.  Big UFO pants with straps, wild contact lenses and bright hair extensions, also known as cyber lox or head kandi, are popular in this crowd also.  Since EDM is becoming so popular so quickly you will see lots of bros in their bro tanks and girls in weirdly high shorts and tribal print shirts but don’t mind them, they just want to have a good time like everyone else. 

            Something that is great to see at raves are those people you look at and just know spent so much time and effort on what they’re wearing.  El-wire suits making people look like they just left the set of TRON, or perfectly crafted Mau5heads (a giant cartoon mouse with big eyes and ears,), costumes that have LED lights flashing all over them, and so many other intricate outfits can be seen and you realize how much it means to someone to be a part of this EDM culture.  Overall the people are friendly, kind and outgoing.