Rave or rave party is a term first used in the 1980s to describe dance parties (often all-night events) with fast-paced electronic music and light shows. At these parties DJs and other performers play electronic dance music, including house, trance, techno and jungle (often collectively referred to as "rave music"), with the accompaniment of laser light shows, projected images and artificial fog.
In North America and Australia, the term is still widely used to describe dance music events. However; with the rise of legal dance music nightclubs, it fell out of use in the UK and Europe, where it now refers to parties that took place in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Unlicenced events are instead referred to as free parties when held outdoors or squat parties when held in buildings.
The late 1950s in London saw the term "rave" used to describe the "wild bohemian parties" of the Soho beatnik underground. In 1958 Buddy Holly recorded the hit "Rave On," citing the madness and frenzy of a feeling and the desire for it to never end. The word "rave" was later used in the burgeoning mod youth culture of the early 1960s as the way to describe any wild party in general. People who were gregarious party animals were described as "ravers". Pop musicians such as Steve Marriott of The Small Faces and Clare Willans were self-described "ravers".
Presaging the word's subsequent 1980s association with electronic music, the word "rave" was a common term used regarding the music of mid-60s garage rock and psychedelia bands (notably The Yardbirds). Along with being an alternative term for partying at such garage events in general, the "rave-up" referred to a specific crescendo moment near the end of a song where the music was played faster, heavier and with intense soloing or elements of controlled feedback. It was later part of the title of an electronic music performance event held on 28 January 1967 at London's Roundhouse titled the "Million Volt Light and Sound Rave". The event featured the only known public airing of an experimental sound collage created for the occasion by Paul McCartney of The Beatles - the legendary Carnival of Light recording.
With the rapid change of British pop culture from the mod era of 1963–1966 to the hippie era of 1967 and beyond, the term fell out of popular usage. During the 1970s and early 1980s until its resurrection, the term was not in vogue, one notable exception being in the lyrics of the song "Drive-In Saturday" by David Bowie (from his 1973 album Aladdin Sane) which includes the line "It's a crash course for the ravers." Its use during that era would have been perceived as a quaint or ironic use of bygone slang: part of the dated 1960s lexicon along with words such as "groovy". The perception of the word changed again in the late 1980s when the term was revived and adopted by a new youth culture, possibly inspired by the use of the term in Jamaica.
In the mid to late 1980s a wave of psychedelic and other electronic dance music, most notably acid house and Techno, emerged and caught on in the clubs, warehouses, and free-parties around Manchester and later London. These early raves were called Acid House Parties. They were mainstream events that attracted thousands of people (up to 25,000 instead of the 4,000 that came to earlier warehouse parties). Acid House parties were first re-branded "rave parties" in the media, during the summer of 1989 by Neil Andrew Megson during a television interview. In the UK, in 1988-89, raves were similar to football matches in that they provided a setting for working-class unification, in a time with a union movement in decline and few jobs, and many of the attendees of raves were die-hard football fans.
In the late 1980s, the word "rave" was adopted to describe the subculture that grew out of the acid house movement. Activities were related to the party atmosphere of Ibiza, a Mediterranean island frequented by British, Italians, and German youth on vacation. The fear that a certain number of rave party attendees used "club drugs" such as MDMA, cocaine, amphetamines and, more recently, ketamine, was taken by authorities as a pretext to ban those parties altogether.
British politicians responded with hostility to the emerging rave-party trend. Politicians spoke out against raves and began to fine anyone who held illegal parties. Police crackdowns on these often-illegal parties drove the scene into the countryside. The word "rave" somehow caught on in the UK to describe common semi-spontaneous weekend parties occurring at various locations linked by the brand new M25 London Orbital motorway that ringed London and the Home Counties. (It was this that gave the band Orbital their name.) These ranged from former warehouses and industrial sites, in London, to fields and country clubs in the countryside.
Electronic Music in general and also the "rave scene" was jump started in Detroit, Michigan and this is where the underground rave scene first originated. Numerous well-known DJ's such as Richie Hawtin and DJ Godfather all got their start in the underground scene in Detroit. Today the rave scene is still kept alive in Detroit with the DEMF or Detroit Electronic Music Festival also known as the Movement. Popular DJ's from all over the world come to play on one of the multiple stages during this 3-day event at Hart Plaza in Detroit. In 2008 an estimated 90,000 people showed up over the 3-day weekend. This is the biggest Electronic Music Festival in the world still alive today.
The early rave scene also flourished underground in North American cities such as Toronto, Halifax, Chicago, San Francisco,San Diego and Detroit and as word of the budding scene spread, raves quickly caught on in other major urban centres across the North American and European continents.
From the Acid House scene of the late 1980s, the scene transformed from predominantly a London-based phenomenon to a UK-wide mainstream underground youth movement. By 1991, organisations such as Fantazia, Universe, Raindance, and Amnesia House were holding massive legal raves in fields and warehouses around the country. One Fantazia party, called One Step Beyond, was an open-air, all-night affair that attracted 30,000 people. Other notable events included Vision at Pophams airfield in August 1992, with 40,000 in attendance and Universe's Tribal Gathering in 1993.
In the early 1990s, the scene was slowly changing, with local councils passing by-laws and increasing fees in an effort to prevent or discourage rave organisations from acquiring necessary licenses. This meant that the days of legal one-off parties were numbered. By the mid-90s, the scene had fragmented into many different styles of dance music, making large parties more expensive to set up and more difficult to promote. The happy old skool style was replaced by the darker jungle and the faster happy hardcore. Although many ravers left the scene due to the split, promoters such as ESP Dreamscape and Helter Skelter still enjoyed widespread popularity and capacity attendances with multi-arena events catering to the various genres. Particularly notable events of this period included ESP's Dreamscape 20 on 9 September 1995 at Brafield aerodrome fields, Northants and Helter Skelter's Energy 97 event on 9 Aug 1997 at Turweston Aerodrome, Northants.
The illegal free party scene also reached its zenith for that time after a particularly large festival, when many individual sound systems such as Bedlam, Circus Warp, DIY, and Spiral Tribe set up near Castlemorton Common. In May 1992, the government acted. Under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, the definition of music played at a rave was given as:
"music" includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.
–Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
Sections 63, 64 & 65 of the Act targeted electronic dance music played at raves. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act empowered police to stop a rave in the open air when a hundred or more people are attending, or where two or more are making preparations for a rave. Section 65 allows any uniformed constable who believes a person is on their way to a rave within a five-mile radius to stop them and direct them away from the area; non-compliant citizens may be subject to a maximum fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale (£1000). The Act was officially introduced because of the noise and disruption caused by all night parties to nearby residents, and to protect the countryside. However, it has also been claimed that it was introduced to kill a popular youth movement that was taking many drinkers out of town centres, where they would drink taxable alcohol, and into fields to take untaxed recreational drugs.
After 1993, the main outlet for raves in the UK were a number of licensed venues, amongst them Helter Skelter, Life at Bowlers (Trafford Park, Manchester), The Edge (formerly the Eclipse [Coventry]), The Sanctuary (Milton Keynes) and Club Kinetic.. In London, itself, there were a few large clubs that staged raves on a regular basis, most notably "The Laser Dome", "The Fridge", "The Hippodrome", "Club U.K.", and "Trades." "The Laser Dome" featured two separate dance areas, "Hardcore" and "Garage", as well as over 20 video game machines, a silent-movie screening lounge, replicas of the "Statue of Liberty", "San Francisco Bridge", and a large glass maze. At capacity "The Laser Dome" held in excess of 6,000 people. Events proved to be one of the main forces in rave, holding legendary events across the north-east and Scotland. Initially playing Techno, Breakbeat, Rave and drum and bass, it later embraced hardcore techno including happy hardcore and bouncy techno. Judgement Day, History of Dance, and now REGENeration continued the Rezerection legacy. Scotland's clubs, such as the FUBAR in Stirling, Hanger 13 in Ayr, and Nosebleed in Rosyth played important roles in the development of these dance music styles.
These were nearly all pay-to-enter events; however, it could be argued that rave organisers saw the writing on the wall and moved towards more organised and "legitimate" venues, enabling a continuation of large-scale indoor raves well into the mid-nineties. One might remember that the earliest house and acid house clubs were themselves effectively "nightclubs". Public perception of raves was also overshadowed in the press by the 1995 death of Leah Betts, a teenager who died after taking ecstasy; journalists and billboard campaigns focussed on drug use, despite Betts cause of death being water intoxication in her home, not an ecstasy overdose at a rave.
Genuine illegal raves have continued throughout the UK to this day and unlicensed parties have been organised in venues including disused quarries, warehouses, and condemned night clubs. The rise of the Internet has both helped and hindered the cause, with much wider and more accessible communication resulting in bigger parties, but consequently increasing the risk of police involvement.
Dubstep has now been promoted to the forefront of the contemporary uk rave scene, overtaking house and techno in popularity it has built up a cult like following which has allowed the UK rave scene to develop and evolve, or as some might say devolve.
By 1987, a German party scene based around the Chicago House sound was well established. The following year (1988) saw acid house making as significant an impact on popular consciousness in Germany as it had in England. In 1989 German DJs Westbam and Dr. Motte established ‘UFO’, an illegal party venue, and co-founded the Love Parade. On the 9th of November 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, free underground Techno parties mushroomed in East Berlin, and a rave scene comparable to that in the UK was established. East German DJ Paul van Dyk has remarked that the Techno based rave scene was a major force in re-establishing social connections between East and West Germany during the unification period.
In 1991 a number of party venues closed, including UFO, and the Berlin Techno scene centred itself around three locations close to the foundations of the Berlin Wall: the ‘E-Werk’, ‘Der Bunker' and the now legendary ‘Tresor’. In the same period German DJs began intensifying the speed and abrasiveness of the sound, as an acid infused techno began transmuting into hardcore. This emerging sound was influenced by Dutch gabber and Belgium hardcore. Other influences on the development of this style were European Electronic Body Music groups of the mid 1980s such as DAF, Front 242, and Nitzer Ebb. In Germany, fans referred to this sound as "Tekkno" (or "Bretter").
Across Europe, rave culture was becoming part of a new youth movement. DJs and electronic-music producers such as Westbam proclaimed the existence of a "raving society" and promoted electronic music as legitimate competition for rock and roll. Indeed, electronic dance music and rave subculture became mass movements. Raves had tens of thousands of attendees, youth magazines featured styling tips, and television networks launched music magazines on House and Techno music. The annual Love Parade festivals in Berlin (in the Metropolitan Ruhr area onwards) attracted more than one million party-goers between 1997 and 2000. Meanwhile, the more commercial sound of happy hardcore topped the music charts across Europe. Nowadays there are only a few popular raving acts on the case in Germany.
The upsurge in popularity of rave culture in the United States at a certain period in time often lends it characteristics common to a 'movement' or subculture. Starting in the late 80s, rave culture began to filter through from English ex-pats and DJs who would visit Europe. Promoters like Dave and Patti Ryan of Life and CPU101 in Los Angeles,Branden Powers and Nicholas Luckinbill of San Diego's Global Underworld Network, creators of the legendary Narnia Festivals, Storm Raves (F.Bones & crew), Matt E. Silver in New York, & Dj Db's Friday night N.A.S.A. raves at the Shelter afterhours club, that was later to become the film KIDS and launch the acting career of then NASA doorgirl Chloe Sevigny. Roger Pedraza aka RP Smack and Lori Riegler of Ripe Productions, DJ Mystic Bill of Vibe Alive in Chicago, and Kurt of "Drop Bass" and "Furthur Festivals" of Milwaukee were among some of the few successful promoters doing most popular raves in heavy attendance early on. American underground rave DJs from that time who would go onto international celebrity include artists like Moby, Josh Wink, DJ Keoki, DJ Carlos Soul Slinger, Frankie Bones, Doc Martin , Jon Bishop , Mark E. Quark, Steve Pagan and others. During this time publications such as Milwaukee's "Massive Magazine", Chicago's "Reactor" and "A Thousand Words", Los Angeles' "Urb", and San Francisco's "XLR8R" magazines helped spread the scene from coast to coast and abroad. One of the first rave websites with event listings, music info and chemical information was hyperreal.org The popularity of rave music within the mainstream started in early to mid 1990s with such artists as Rozalla, Praga Khan, The Prodigy and The Shamen among others. Because the movement and music both embrace and incorporate so many different elements, a common thread can be hard to find.
Some cultural tenets associated with rave culture are:
The word "Responsibility" was added to the acronym PLUR during the mid to late 90s to promote awareness of increased drug overdoses at raves. Groups that have addressed drug use at raves include the Electronic Music Defense and Education Fund (EMDEF), DanceSafe, and the Toronto Raver Info Project, all of which advocate harm reduction approaches to enjoying a rave.
American ravers, following their early UK & European counterparts, have been compared to both the hippies of the 1960s and the new wavers of the 1980s, due to their interest in non-violence and music.
In the 1990s, one of the most influential Rave organisers / promoters in America was San Diego's G.U.N. ,Global Underworld Network known as Nicholas Luckinbill and Branden Powers. They were made famous for organising and throwing the internationally known OPIUM and NARNIA raves that reached in size of 60,000 plus people in attendance, a feat unheard of at that time. Narnia which would become famous for a morning hand holding circle of unity was featured on Mtv and twice in LIFE magazine being honored with Event of the Year in 1995. Narnia quickly became known as the "Woodstock of Generation X". These festivals were mostly held on Indian Reservations and Ski Resorts during the Summer months and were headlined by well known DJs such as Doc Martin,Dimitri of Dee-lite,Afrika Islam and the Hardkiss brothers from San Francisco. They also featured exceptional local San Diego DJ's Jon Bishop, Steve Pagan,Alien Tom,Jeff Skot and Mark E. Quark. Global Underworld's events were the first prop heavy , themed parties in America. Global Underworld Network were also the first production company to throw Raves within Mexico, thus launching the entire rave culture movement within South America as well. The iconic fairy and pixie craze with ravers getting fairy tattoos and wearing wings to parties all started from an image of a winged fairy on the first Narnia flyer. The Crystal Method played their first out of town show for Global Underworld's Universary event. Fearing reprisals from the police Global Underworld Network advertised the event as "A thousand Points of Light" referring to the power of healing crystals and not the obvious drug reference of the Crystal Methods name. A fact that tickled the upcoming artist so much they would refer to it years later in their biography. The Chemical Brothers were also in awe of Nicholas and Branden's Global Underworld headquarters in downtown San Diego. A multi story building of the arts, much like Warhol's factory. There Global Underworld fed starving artists and provided space for all the arts. The Chemical Brothers played an intimate show at Global's offices in front of a few hundred lucky fans on the eve of a Global event that was shut down by the authorities. In an interview with Virgin Airways The Chemical Brothers referred to Global Underworld as a cult with cult like followers, a fact that wasn't to far from the truth. Nicholas Luckinbill step grandson of the late Lucille Ball and Branden Powers were the Tim Leary and Ken Keaseys of the Rave Generation, and were instrumental in creating their political movement called RTD or RIGHT TO DANCE. RTD was a non violent protest held in San Diego and later in Los Angeles on the steps of the Cities administrators proving that Rave was about community , peace, love and not a dirty word. These protest by Global Underworld helped lay the foundation for future growth within the rave scene. 20 years to the date of their first party "The Birth of Baby X" Global Underworld has risen like a Phoenix from the ashes , reborn anew and is bringing back their world famous festival NARNIA in the Summer of 2012.
In contrast to many other "youth cultures," older people are often active members of the U.S. scene and are well represented at events. Certain facets of dance music culture in the UK, Europe and globally, are also welcoming to the older generation (especially the free party/squat party/gay scenes). However, rave and club culture remains on the whole very much a youth-driven movement in terms of its core fan base. Although rave parties are commonly associated with illegal activities (e.g. drug use), it should be noted that raves themselves are (often) legal gatherings.
In late 80s and early 90s, there was a boom in rave culture in the Bay Area. At first, small underground parties sprung up all over the SOMA district in vacant warehouses, loft spaces, and clubs like DV8 and 1015 Folsom, and basement of Jessie Street that had permits to run to 6am as long as no alcohol was served. The zero alcohol rule fuelled the ecstasy-driven parties to a much larger crowd, and soon followed were the first large scale raves. Every weekend a few hundred revellers would show up at venues like the Townsend warehouse, the King Street garage, and other mid-size warehouse's located in the SOMA and south San Francisco area.
Rave crew's started to become famous not only for their quality of music and the smoothness of the parties thrown but also for the 'vibe'. Crews grew to legendary status at this time: 'the gathering', 'toontown', 'wiked', 'rave called sharon', 'the church', and 'osmosis'. Small underground raves were just starting out and expanding beyond SF to include the east bay, the south bay area including San Jose, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz beaches (where the notorious 'full moon raves' took place at Bonny Dune beach every month).
In late 1991 raves started to explode across northern California, and cities like Sacramento, Oakland, Silicon Valley were taking off every weekend. This proved to be the turning point in northern California's rave history. No longer were raves a secret, where one had to know the right people to gain access to map points. Now rave flyers were to be found up and down the Haight Street at stores like Anubis Warpus, Amoeba clothes, Behind The Post Office, and newly opened Housewares. Raves were exploding at an enormous rate and no longer were hundreds of revellers heading out, now there were thousands of ravers living for every weekend. The second generation of raves were just starting to be realised.
Toontown's NYE 91 rave, which took place in the basement of the Fashion Center in SF was the first 'true' massive in the bay area. Over 8,000 people helped welcome in the new year and at the same time put SF as a must visit city for the burgeoning world wide rave scene. Similarly, a year later, "The Gathering' held New Year's Eve of 1992 in Vallejo had over 12,000 people in attendance. The massive parties were taking place every weekend now from such disparate locations as outdoor fields to aeroplane hangers and hilltops that surround the valley.
San Francisco has long been a Mecca for ravers from all over the world and true to form a lot of the early promoters and DJs were from the UK and Europe. For almost ten years after the initial raves took place, one could find up to 2 to 4 parties happening a weekend and sometimes on the same night. There was no curfew in place, which allowed the SF scene to explode by the late 90's when venues would have up to 20,000 people every weekend; 'Homebase', and '85 & Baldwin' were the largest venues to be used in the Bay Area. Many amazing venues were used by crews that held clout or members that were tied to the city or knew the appropriate ways to navigate the permit maze. Thus, in the late 90's some of the most memorable raves took place in locations such as the SOMA art museum, 'Where the wild things are' museum on top of the Sony Metreon, and in the venerable Maritime hall that was used for many parties from 98-02. Some old locations appeared again brand new, such as the concourse that saw thousands of ravers in 92, now saw the same amount in late 99. The galleria that once held a 'concert' in 92 with artists such as Moby, Aphex twin, Prodigy, Space time continuum, was now used for a few one-off events that utilised all 5 floors of the building with a different music style on each floor.
The mid part of the 90's saw a general loss of the first generation of ravers, causing the scene to take a short dive. In this time, however, a new West coast sound was formed and developed by DJs such as jeno, tony, spun, galen, solar, harry who?, Rick Preston to name but a few. Venues and parties such as Stompy, Harmony, CloudFactory, Cyborganic lounge, Acme warehouse among many others started to fuse the Breakbeat sound from hardcore trax with the more melodic pace of house. West coast funky break-beat was born from this and stormed the dance scene. By the end of '94 all the people that had left a gap in the rave scene in '93 were long forgotten as twice as many people now found the new sounds completely and utterly funky. The LA Scene had promoters such as Vince Bannon and Phil Blaine throw gigs for Electronic acts like 808 State, Aphex Twin, Prodigy, and Massive Attack to name a few.
This time period saw the rise of the many facets of EDM. Now all jungle raves, or cybertrance, or Breakbeat, or just good house could be enjoyed by anyone willing to go out to any of these parties. Gone were the days of a basement, and red light and a feeling. Now one could pick an upscale club, or a warehouse, or illegal outdoors as many crews sprung forward and blossomed. Promoters started to take notice and put together the massives of the late 90's with many music forms under one roof for 12 hour events. It was not unheard of for almost 20,000 people to pack Homebase, or 85th/Baldwin for a nite of eternal dancing. SF was now a fabled and much talked about destination around the states, if not the world. DJs from all corners of the globe played in San Francisco.
The year 2000 saw the demise of massive raves as curfews were placed on permits handed out to promoters throwing parties. Instead of all night and into the next day, parties now had to end at 2 a.m. Two of the largest venues closed down soon after, and there wasn't enough momentum to sustain parties that catered to tens of thousands of people. As if a nail was drove into the coffin of the SF rave scene, the Homebase warehouse that held parties from 96-00 burned down to the ground in a spectacular 6 alarm fire in 04. Smaller, intimate venues continued just like they had from the start and underground raves became the norm in the years after the tech boom of the 1990s.
While San Francisco's crowd attendance and variety of DJs might have peaked, it still maintains a much smaller but dedicated cadre of various crews, DJs, promoters and producers. Every weekend, many events are still dedicated to the various forms of electronic music across the greater Bay Area.
Through the mid 90's and into the 00's the city of Seattle also shared in the tradition of West Coast rave culture. Though a smaller scene compared to San Francisco, Seattle also had many different rave crews, promoters, Djs, and fans. Candy Raver style, friendship and culture became particularly popular in the West Coast rave scene, both in Seattle and San Francisco. At the peak of West Coast rave, Candy Raver, and massive rave popularity (1996-1999,) it was common to meet groups of ravers, promoters, and Djs who frequently travelled between Seattle and San Francisco, which spread the overall sense of West Coast rave culture and the phenomenon of West Coast "massives".
Grave Rave, on 11 October 1992 marked the first major party crack down in the mid-west, when 973 people were arrested for attending a party at a warehouse in Milwaukee's Third Ward. Following the crackdown, most raves were promoted via fliers and distributed a phone number with an informational voice message. On the day of the party, the message changed to give the location of the map point. Upon showing up at the map point, ravers were able to purchase a map and ticket to the party. Midwest parties were commonly held at barns, camp grounds, and warehouses.
In 1995 the Detroit Police Department began sending the gang squad in to raid the parties with an unnecessary level of violence. Map points were moved, and shuttling in from remote parking lots didn't stop them. The major destructive force wasn't the police though, but the movement into legal clubs where adding alcohol changed the entire attitude and vibe of the community.
No longer considering itself as a "rave" scene, unless using the term "rave" in a sarcastic, yet, nostalgic way, Detroit has a very committed fan base for all-night Techno events, better known as "parties." The history of Techno music's origins and connotations still linger in Detroit and continue to inspire die-hard devotees who produce and progress the ideals of Techno and House gatherings under underground circumstances and production teams which are unique to Detroit. The Detroit Electronic Music Festival (DEMF) is an opportunity for visiting Techno tourists to experience the vibe of Detroit "parties," but the Detroit "party" scene continues year round for the locals who have, in many cases, been raised in the spirit and tradition of the Detroit Techno scene, usually for ten years or more.
U.S. rave culture on the Northeast Coast and Midwest in the 90s was unique in that the majority of ravers were young (under 25), and rejected the alcohol- and sex-based mainstream culture of clubs and bars.
By staging and attending raves in unlikely and non-traditional places (either legally or not), North-east Coast U.S. ravers avoided the prevalent alcohol- and sex-based culture that used to be predominant.
There is a common conception among some parts of the country, especially the North-east, that raves were a 1990s fad, with the common quip "People still go to raves?" The popularity of rave music and the culture of it continues to grow, especially in the Pacific Northwest
Rave culture in Canada is more pervasive than in the USA. Raves have become increasingly mainstream, especially in Montreal as well as the rest of the province of Quebec, with large commercial raves attracting major international DJs and much media attention. A number of Canadian DJs and producers have emerged from the Canadian rave scene to reach international acclaim, including Richie Hawtin, Max Graham, Deadmau5, and Tiga, among others. There is a well established and ever changing rave scene on Vancouver Island spawning many DJ's,Producers and Performers. Commercial Raves in Canada are concentrated in Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax, Saskatoon, Calgary, Ottawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg, with the exception of house raves which can be found in smaller cities.
Raves flourished in Australia where raves were generally called Dance Parties.
In Sydney from 1983 Rat Parties saw the opening up of Sydney's underground gay dance party scene to a broader community where it found an enormous appetite. By 1990 the standard setting Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras party, its winter off-shoot Sleazeball and the regular Rat Parties which ran until 1992, were attracting huge crowds of gays and straights alike, while young entrepreneurs behind events like FUN, Sweatbox and Bacchanalia were booking inner city warehouses and tired old venues and transforming them into vibrant, packed party palaces. The DJ Peewee Ferris played at the first Sweatbox parties (Let them eat cake and Sign of the times) and RAT Parties from 1987. The biggest RAT Party was in 1999 with Grace Jones with 20,000 people at the Hordern Pavilion.
In Melbourne, the underground dance style called the "Melbourne Shuffle" originated at these parties. Some early parties such as Every Picture Tells A Story were broadcast live on free-to-air television from the party's own TV station. The Melbourne raves tended to have a greater amount of artwork, video art, decor and performance as the underground arts community of Melbourne was heavily involved in producing the parties. Fashion was also a very important component, as many party goers were in the fashion industry which is very large in Melbourne, and they designed and made their own 'party' clothes and accessories. The parties became a fashion show for the designers and created strong retail sales for their works. Often outstanding dancers were sponsored to wear designers' ranges at parties.
The Melbourne underground rave community was very large with its own street press, radio stations, TV shows, clothing shops, bars, cafes, theatres, performance venues, record labels, clothing labels, and free street raves such as the Brunswick Street festival (pictured) which regularly drew crowds of 100,000 people.
The first novel dedicated to the Australian rave and dance scene was set in Melbourne. Written by Tom Griffin and titled, Playgrounds: a portrait of rave culture, it was launched at a rave at Kryal Castle in 2005.
Driven by a need to be away from residential areas due to noise pollution complaints of residents, the Australian rave scene held their events in industrial areas. For the Sydney rave scene the industrial areas of the Western suburbs were quite common in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Following the 2000 Sydney Olympics the Sydney Olympic Park at Homebush proved a popular venue as it had ample large warehouse space available and the advantage of no close by residential areas. The "Superdome" at Olympic Park has hosted a number of events due to the large capacity. Events at these venues often have ample room for amusement rides, open air "chill out" areas and food stalls. Several amusement parks have hosted dance party events (Wonderland Sydney and Luna Park Sydney).
In Victoria, the dockland areas of Melbourne hosted numerous raves in the 90s. Bushland areas out side of Melbourne provided Doof venues, notably Mt Disappointment for Earthcore and Kryal Castle just outside of Ballarat.
The Newcastle Rave scene made use of unused warehouses in the Newcastle CBD and at licensed entertainment venues throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. Events such as "Vital beats" and under-age dance parties were held in these venues.
Another style which originated in Melbourne is the Melbourne Shuffle. The Australian rave scene has a cousin in the Doof party scene. Although the rave scene attracts a younger, city-based crowd the Doof party events are a more "hippy" or alternative crowd. Warehouse parties in Sydney also shared the common theme of electronic music, although of a more House music style than the hardcore or trance and house found at Australian raves.
The first mega-rave in South Africa was held in a warehouse on Cape Town's foreshore. Dubbed the World Peace Party, it featured a cross-over crowd of Cape Flats rappers, fashionistas and Clubbers dancing to rave music and progressive house. The first electronic South African Bands who performed live at the Raves were the Kraftreaktor and The Kiwi Experience. The first large Johannesburg rave was held at an old cinema in Yeoville in early 1992. Amongst the first Johannesburg rave organisers in the early 1990s were Fourth World Productions (responsible for the legendary 1993 nightclub 4th World) World's End Productions and Damn New Thing Productions.
In the early 2000s illegal parties still existed, albeit on smaller scales, and the number of sanctioned events seemed to be on the rise. The few constants in the scene include amplified electronic dance music, a vibrant social network built on the ethos of the acronym PLUR, "Peace, Love, Unity, Respect", percussive music and free-form dancing often accompanied by the use of drugs such as ecstasy, methamphetamine, speed and ketamine. However, increased cocaine usage, preponderance of adulterated ecstasy tablets and organised criminal activity has been detrimental to UK-based rave culture, although free parties are now on the rise again.
According to some long-time observers, rave music and its subculture began to stagnate by the end of the 1990s. The period of grass-roots innovation and explosive growth and evolution was over; the flurry of passionate activity and the sense of international community were fading.
By the early 2000s, the terms "rave" and "raver" had fallen out of favour among many people in the electronic dance music community, particularly in Europe. Many Europeans returned to identifying themselves as "Clubbers" rather than Ravers. It became unfashionable among many electronic dance music aficionados to describe a party as a "rave," perhaps because the term had become overused and corrupted. Some communities preferred the term "festival," while others simply referred to "parties." True raves, such as "Mayday," continued to occur for a time in Central Europe, with less constrictive laws allowing raves to continue in some countries long after the death of rave in the United Kingdom. Moreover, traditional rave paraphernalia, such as face-masks, pacifiers, and glow-sticks ceased to be popular. Underground sound systems started organising large free parties and called them Teknivals.
Raves and ravers continued to be targeted by government authorities. For example, following a July 2005 violent raid by police on CzechTek, an annual Teknival, the Czech Republic's Prime Minister Jirí Paroubek said the festival's attendees were "no dancing children but dangerous people" and that many were "obsessed people with anarchist proclivities and international links," who "provoke massive violent demonstrations, fuelled by alcohol and drugs, against the peaceful society."
During the 90's, the US Rave scene self-publication became a huge part in the way parties were advertised and known of. These publications ranged from a single sheet photocopied "zines" to expensive glossy covered magazines. Each magazine had its own reasons for being and having a dedicated audience that centered around the cities of publication of each magazine. The Midwest was known for its Milwaukee based "Massive Magazine" and Chicago based "Reactor" and "A Thousand Words" photo magazine. On the East Coast you had NYC DJ Heather Heart's "Under One Sky"(actually started in 1990 or 1991) and a few years later a little magazine called "Vice" that was in the works (Feel free to add here), and later, in 1996 & 1997, On the West Coast you had LA based "URB" , San Diego's Hypno, BPM and Sin Magazines and San Francisco based Lotus and "XLR8R". Abroad you had Germany's "Frontpage" and "De:Bug" and the United Kingdom's "Mixmag", "Atmosphere" and "Knowledge" magazines. The latter two dedicated to the UK's Breakbeat and Drum n Bass markets.
Each publication was an essential part of the local Rave scene, and was greatly appreciated by many ravers. Each issue contained interviews with artists that weren't known in commercial publications. Most of these magazines started as free enterprises, usually surviving only on an advertising revenue based model. Later on, some magazines such as "Urb" and "Xlr8r" were able to legitimise and become proper publications that can now be found at local book stores. While others like "Massive Magazine" ended with a fire consuming their offices in the winter of 2004 destroying all the films and back issues making issues of "Massive Magazine" a piece of must have nostalgia fetching prices of up to 100 dollars for any early back issues on eBay.
Some ravers participate in one of three light-oriented dances, called glowsticking, glowstringing, and lightshows. Other types of light-related dancing include LED lights, flash-lights and blinking strobe lights. LEDs come in various colours with different settings. The "low intensity" setting causes a strobe effect, leaving trails of dots, while "high intensity" leaves a solid line. The most common LED lights at parties are Inova micro lights or lights by LRI such as the Photon Freedom or Rav'n lights. There are many techniques used to make the lights "flow" with the music in order to create a visually pleasing and mesmerising combination of patterns. There are also a nearly infinite variety of other moves with varying levels of difficulty applied in their execution. These such moves are called a "figure eight" along with "finger rolls" all of these moves can be seen on videos and youtube. Lightshows stimulate the brain and intesify the effect of the drug/drugs. Some would say these people that give lightshows are modern day shamans.
Regardless, glowsticks and LEDs can be used at raves for interesting dance effects, because most raves (except some open air raves, e.g. technoparades) are held in dark or nearly dark rooms. Because rave parties are popular with people who wish to show off their dancing, glowsticks can be an ancillary material for creative freestyle dance. LED's and glowsticks now not only show up at most every rave event, but also are becoming more prominent at many electronic dance music (edm) clubs.
In the U.S., the mainstream media and law enforcement agencies have branded the subculture as a purely drug-centric culture similar to the hippies of the 1960s. As a result, ravers have been effectively run out of business in many areas. Although they continue, most notably the growing Southern California scene, the Winter Music Conference in Florida and the Electric Zoo Festival in New York, most other areas have been relegated to word-of-mouth-only underground parties and nightclub events. In some parts of Europe, raves are common and mainstream, particularly Germany, where the rave scene is most popular in the world.
Groups that have addressed drug use at raves include the Electronic Music Defense and Education Fund (EMDEF), The Toronto Raver Info Project, and DanceSafe, all of which advocate harm reduction approaches. Paradoxically, drug safety literature (such as those distributed by DanceSafe) is used as evidence of condoned drug use. Other groups, such as Drug Free America Foundation, Inc., characterize raves as being rife with gang activity, rape, robbery, and drug-related deaths.
In recent times, as opposed to the past decades, Rave venues have taken to hiring local law enforcement to reduce drug use.
Including some elements or descriptions of Rave culture.
Sunrise was one of the biggest raves to hit Europe during what some people called "the second summer of love". An estimated 20,000 people attended the event.