An ode to the rave that once was

This is a tribute to every laugh that was shared through the smoke, every cuddle embraced beneath the strobes, and every bump gayly offered to a stranger in the twisted manner in which we as creatures enjoy our new acquaintances.

Life without music would be a dreary, somber affair.

For those who don’t rave - or those who don’t rave properly - it may just seem like any other night out that techno folk keep taking to twitter to moan about. They don’t realise that for many of us it is so much more than that. It is a haven of bliss where troubles are forgotten and jubilation flows freely. Ironically, despite the many narcotics undoubtedly consumed, raves are a great asset to positive mental health. Raving is a release. It is a creation of elated memories; dancing for a solid eight hours before the sun crawls over the horizon is peak serotonin release. The joy of making new friends you already know you have so much in common with! As a person with a deep connection to this music it is nigh on impossible to separate the emotion associated whenever you hear it playing.

Music has always been emotive, thought provoking, and memory associated, and from where I’m standing raves just took it those extra steps further. Every time we blast music and imagine ourselves in a club it feels so good, but it is just another form of torture. The unequivocal anticipation of queuing outside to see a DJ you’ve been wanting to see perform for a year, in a new venue that you have yet to explore is incomparable.

The atmosphere at every good club is electric. You can feel the energy in the crowd and know that you will have a merry old time. The ecstatic feeling of recognising a track that gets dropped, the opposite flavour of the sheer and utter ‘wow’ moments as your jaw drops and your pal locks eyes with you. ‘What the fuck is this?!’ You mouth at each other. Every tiny detail adds to the compilation of happiness; a favourite of mine is spotting someone else Shazam a track which prompts you to swiftly tap them on the shoulder and provide them with the ID they seek. And the dancing. So much dancing.

It is agonising to think of how long it will be until the clubs open again, and we try our best to substitute where we can; but the effect of lights rolling across your retinas and feeling the bass bombilate through every inch of your body is second to none. Everyone has certain friends you only catch up with at these events; it’s a community, it’s always a treat to see who materialises in order to exchange hugs and laughs.

Around the globe, in whichever city you show your face, there will be like minded amigos with whom you can share your love. Though we cherish these memories deeply, even at the time of conception I believe most of us to be unaware of the true gravity they hold in our lives. We never perceived a time would come where we would be unable to partake in such joyous activities. Where to simply hug one another was dangerous, and to congregate in heaving, sweaty crowds was a resounding act of selfishness.

It is okay to miss the rave. It is understandable to feel depressed about their current lack of existence. Regardless of how involved you actually were - from being a 60 year old promotor to an 18 year old punter - if it meant something to you, then a huge portion of your livelihood is missing. This needs acknowledging! The underground isn’t just another party. It’s not just a job. It’s a way of life. It’s an indispensable part of culture. The rave is where priorities lie and is where such an enormous chunk of our attention, energy and interest is focussed. And it’s fucking sad that it’s gone and we know not when it shall return! Woe is us!

Now to pine after the rave we once knew is to pine after a rave now forgotten. After the exposure of such disgusting racism, bigotry, sexual exploitation/blackmail and misogyny (among other things) with DJ’s, clubs and promotors throughout the industry it is clear that these parties cannot go forward in the way they always have done. Raves have always been marketed as accepting, diverse, and caring.

It is such a shame now that (typically straight, white) people are partying at many illegal raves and prolonging the comeback of real clubbing for us all. They have been dubbed “plague raves” for very obvious reasons. If you care about humanity, but particularly if you care about black and brown people who have been disproportionately affected by this virus, then you would in no way, shape or form endorse these raves. If you genuinely care about the industry and it's revival then you wouldn’t endorse these raves.

I saw a tech house DJ duo tweet that it was “time to start standing up”… It is embarrassing to see those with such clout act in such a churlish manner. How are illegal raves standing up to anything during a pandemic? If they really think this is an act of defiance in the face of the government then they really are stupid beyond hope. Playing into their hands and screwing over those in the industry who actually deserve their bookings, and need that income.

Governments will use it against us in the future and make it more difficult for venues to reopen their doors. Why would this matter to DJ’s who used to cop an easy 10k+ for a 90 minute set of trash? So please remember that, in missing the rave, you are doing the right thing. You are saving lives. And you will be of those at the forefront when the industry rises from the ashes and is born anew.

After 2020 we can all see that the entire industry needs a remodel, and it is guaranteed to be foot by the people who actually give a fuck, because as I saw in another tweet recently that couldn’t have put it any better: these capitalist folks don’t see any value in the arts unless there is already value there. Why do you think that most of the big clubs across Europe are owned/run by white people who had parental financial support aplenty? We need to do better.

So if you are out there missing the rave, scrolling through your videos, or reminiscing about daft after parties, remember it’s okay to be alarmingly upset by it’s stark absence. The rave deserves to be missed. Keep those memories alive and hold the torch high. Us ravers need to stick together. You are doing really fucking well to just hang in there. It will only make the return all the more sweet.

Please, however, do bare in mind when this happens to choose carefully which DJ’s you pay to see perform and which promotors you give your money to. The gloves are now off.

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