rave culture

   Rave culture has its origin in the ‘second summer of love’ in 1988. Initially held in the North of England in disused Victorian mills and warehouses, and on greenfield sites within the M25 motorway surrounding London, raves were all-night parties at which was played a mixture of house, acid house, techno, disco and hip hop. Early raves were characterized by the easygoing nature of those who attended. However, the use of the drug ecstasy at these parties meant that they attracted the attention of both drug dealers and the police. In order to prevent a rave being shut down, organizers opened up special telephone lines for ravers to ring on the night of an event for information as to the time and location of the rave. Often convoys of ravers would form on the M25 and on roads heading towards towns in Lancashire and Cheshire. Police objections to raves initially led to mass arrests, and in 1990 to the Entertainments (Increased Penalties) Act. This legislation meant that ‘unofficial’ raves and parties were outlawed. As a consequence of this, rave organizers hired nightclubs and outdoor venues for raves. Clubs such as Quadrant Park in Liverpool, The Hacienda in Manchester, and Shelly’s in Stoke-on-Trent were at the forefront of these developments. While the music of early raves was an eclectic mix of styles, the early 1990s saw the arrival of ‘hardcore’ rave music, a more aggressive form of dance music characterized by high-pitched female vocals, fast beats and ‘hoover’ noises. Some more commercially orientated rave records reached the official top 40, for instance NJoi’s ‘Anthem’ and The Prodigy’s ‘Charly’.
   The rave scene of the mid-1990s is a very different one from that of the late 1980s. Outdoor raves are now extremely lucrative events that attract a younger crowd than the ‘semi-legal’ events of the 1980s. Organizers such as United Dance, Evolution and Dreamscape hold all-night events attended by up to 25,000 ravers, who are often prepared to travel hundreds of miles to attend such events. The music played at the raves of the mid-1990s is gabba (a form of rave music from Holland), ‘happy hardcore’ and jungle.
   Ravers often wear fluorescent clothing, white gloves and carry luminous ‘glow sticks’ that are waved while dancing. The rave scene appears to be more popular in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, with organizers such as Rezerection frequently selling out massive venues. The clubs at the forefront of English rave culture include The Drome in Merseyside and Kinetic in Stoke-on-Trent. While there has been some concern about the growing drug culture associated with raves, drug usage at raves appears to be no greater than at discos and other clubs.
   Despite the commercialization of rave in the early 1990s, some promoters continue to organize illegal raves. ‘Sound systems’ such as Desert Storm, Sativa, Exodus and DIY organize secret parties at secluded country locations. Information about such parties is usually spread by word of mouth, or occasionally through the Internet. People who attend such events are usually older than those at legal raves, and often include a sizeable contingent of crusties and ‘new-age travellers’.
   STUART BORTHWICK

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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