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Rave Culture & Clothing!

Mar 20


Over the last decade, high-energy, all-night dance parties and clubs known as "raves," which feature rapid, pounding dance music and coordinated laser shows, have grown in popularity, particularly among teens and young adults. Rave culture has grown from an underground movement in Europe to a highly structured, commercialized global party scene. Rave parties and clubs may now be found all throughout the United States and in other nations. Raves take place in permanent dance clubs or in temporary venues put up for a single weekend event like abandoned warehouses, open fields, or abandoned structures.

The number of "ravers" at a small club might range from 30 to tens of thousands in a sports stadium or open field. While techno music and light shows are vital to raves, drugs like MDMA, ketamine, GHB, Rohypnol, and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) have also become a part of the rave culture.


The introduction of European techno music and American house music facilitated the evolution of raves from 1980s dance events. In the 1980s, European clubs that hosted raves sought to keep visitors away from the general public and police authorities. Raves were after-hours, private dance events that were frequently conducted at homosexual bars and were only open to invitees or invitees' acquaintances. The location of the party was frequently kept secret, and invitees were seldom informed of the host club's location until the night of the party. The emerging rave culture was sometimes referred to as a "underground" phenomenon because to the limited access and secrecy surrounding the venues.

Rave Clothing and Paraphernalia

Many teenage ravers dress in distinctive apparel and carry items often linked with rave culture and club drug usage. Ravers dress comfortably, as can be seen in the style of old school rave clothing. They frequently dress in layers and wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing, allowing them to shed layers when they feel hot after dancing for hours. Many people wear baggy trousers or rather wide-legged shorts. To stay cool, rafters wear T-shirts, bikini tops, tank tops, tube tops, and open-back halter tops. Many ravers have stripped down to their underwear after hours of dancing and, in many cases, after ingesting MDMA, which raises body warmth. Some ravers, particularly females, dress up for raves as princesses, cartoon characters, or other fantasy figures that correspond to the rave's theme (e.g., futuristic, space, mystic).  

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Bracelets, necklaces, and earrings made of plastic beads or pill-shaped sugar sweets are common accessories used by ravers. MDMA users may use these accessories to hide their narcotics by stringing MDMA pills among the candy. To counteract the effects of MDMA-induced involuntary teeth grinding, many ravers suck on baby pacifiers or lollipops. Pacifiers are typically worn on plastic beaded necklaces around the user's neck.

To intensify the effects of MDMA, many individuals bring various products to rave events. To enhance the hallucinogenic qualities of MDMA and the visual distortions caused by its usage, ravers employ bright chemical lights and flashing lights. Chemical glow sticks, bracelets, and necklaces are frequently worn during parties and waved in MDMA users' eyes for visual stimulation. To give additional visual stimulation to MDMA users, ravers commonly implant flashing red lights in their belly buttons (kept in place with a mild adhesive) and pin blinking lights in the shapes of hearts, stars, and animals to their clothing. Painter's masks with menthol vapor rub placed to the inside are commonly used by MDMA users. MDMA users think that breathing the menthol vapors will increase the drug's effects. However, because the fumes dry up the eyes and nasal passages, they may be increasing their risk of hyperthermia.

Rave parties had gained such a following among teens and young adults by the mid-1980s that by 1987, London raves had overtaken most dance establishments. It was once customary to stage all-night raves in big, open fields on the outskirts of town, which drew thousands of people. In the late 1980s, as the rave movement grew, the first rave parties appeared in cities across the United States, including San Francisco and Los Angeles.

By the early 1990s, rave parties and clubs could be found in almost every major city in the United States. Teenagers surpassed conventional young adult ravers, resulting in the emergence of a new rave culture in which events were aggressively publicized, intensely commercialized, and less mysterious. Many of the new rave organizers in the United States were career criminals who saw the potential profit in putting on events for teenagers. Taking advantage of raves' expanding popularity, specialized industries sprang up to sell apparel, toys, drugs, and music. Stadium venues with off-duty police security have taken the role of private clubs and hidden locales.

By the late 1990s, raves in the United States had grown so commercialized that they had become nothing more than a means of exploiting young people in the country. High entry costs, substantial drug usage, exorbitantly priced bottled water, extremely dark and often dangerously packed dance floors, and "chill rooms," where young ravers go to cool down and frequently engage in open sexual behavior, are all characteristics of today's raves. Furthermore, many club owners and promoters appear to encourage drug usage, particularly MDMA. To handle heat and dehydration, they supply bottled water and sports drinks; pacifiers to minimize reflexive teeth clenching; and menthol nasal inhalers, chemical lights, and neon glow sticks to increase MDMA's effects. Furthermore, rave producers frequently publish fliers with conspicuous and repetitive usage of the letters "E" and "X" (MDMA monikers) or the term "rollin'" (a reference to an MDMA high), ostensibly advocating MDMA use alongside the dance.

The rave culture has moved from big urban regions to more rural or conservative communities as parties' renown has grown. Rave parties are popping up in Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, where local governments aren't necessarily equipped to deal with large groups of youngsters.

Rave Promotion

Despite raves becoming more commercialized in the 1990s, several producers have kept the practice of party location secret alive, more as a novelty than a necessity. Raves are rarely marketed in the open media in this tradition, instead appearing on fliers available only in record stores and apparel stores, at other rave parties and clubs, and on rave Internet sites. The name of the city where the party would be hosted and a phone number for more information are usually all that is provided on fliers or Internet ads.

The location of the party is frequently supplied to callers over the phone, however many producers retain anonymity by just offering a "map point," or a spot where ravers will go the night of the rave. Ravers are informed of the real location of the rave at the map point. Within a 20-minute drive of the party, the map point is generally a record or clothes store.

Raves and Club Drugs

MDMA, ketamine, GHB, Rohypnol, and LSD—collectively referred to as "club drugs"—are an important aspect of rave culture. Many ravers utilize and promote club drugs, erroneously thinking that if they are taken "responsibly" and the effects are handled appropriately, they are not hazardous. Many professionally made rave clothing include pro-drug themes, while rave posters and fliers frequently encourage drug usage.

Over the last ten years, members of private drug education and drug testing groups known as "harm reduction organizations" have surfaced at raves. They go to raves to test samples of illicit narcotics so that ravers can be informed about purity levels. Members of these groups think that by teaching users on the physical effects of various drugs, they may help minimize the number of overdoses. Many law enforcement authorities, on the other hand, think that harm reduction groups' policies encourage drug use, and they back up their claim with national statistics showing a rise in club drug overdoses as harm reduction organizations have expanded their reach.

Drug overdoses and emergency department visits are on the rise as a result of club drug usage. The frequency of emergency department (ED) references for MDMA and GHB, which are typically connected with the crime of drug-facilitated rape, more than quadrupled between 1998 and 1999, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). (For further information, see the DAWN chart.) Young people are the predominant consumers of MDMA and GHB, according to DAWN statistics from 1999. For example, whereas patients aged 25 and under accounted for just 29% of all DAWN ED cases, patients aged 25 and under accounted for at least 80% of ketamine, LSD, MDMA, and Rohypnol ED mentions, as well as 59 percent of GHB ED mentions.

MDMA is without a doubt the most popular of the club drugs, and most rave events include evidence of MDMA usage by youngsters. Ketamine, GHB, and Rohypnol are also used at raves, but to a lower level. Some hallucinogens, such as LSD, PCP (phencyclidine), psilocybin, and peyote or mescaline, have recently seen a revival in availability and use at raves and dance clubs, necessitating their inclusion in the club drug category. At raves, inhalants such as nitrous oxide are occasionally seen; nitrous oxide is sold in gas-filled balloons known as "whippets" for $5-$10.

Youths may be using additional, highly addictive substances as a result of the widespread usage of club drugs during raves. There have been several instances of Asian methamphetamine pills (often referred to as "yaba") being more readily available and being used at California parties and nightclubs. Heroin is becoming increasingly common in big urban areas, particularly in the eastern United States, during parties and clubs. At parties and on college campuses, a broader selection of aesthetically attractive and easy-to-administer forms of MDMA, LSD, heroin, and combination pills are available.

Anti-Rave Initiatives

Many municipalities began attempting to restrict the number of raves in their regions and to reduce the usage of club drugs in the late 1990s. Several localities approved new rules aimed at regulating raves, while others began enforcing existing laws to assist police better monitor raves.

Chicago, Denver, Gainesville, Hartford, Milwaukee, and New York are among the cities that have taken active efforts to prevent raves. Juvenile curfews, fire regulations, health and safety legislation, liquor laws, and licensing requirements for big public gatherings were all used to suppress rave activity in these cities. For major rave events, several cities began forcing rave organizers to hire onsite ambulance and emergency medical services, as well as uniformed police security, at their own expense. Many rave promoters and organizers have transferred their activities to other places as a result of these actions.