Let me begin by saying I am no expert on the subject of EDM. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is. Through our connection, I've had the pleasure of opening my ears to new sounds and my mind to new environments. That being said, despite many people thinking that Aviccii's retirement will signal the beginning of the end of this era, I'm hoping I can adequately sum up why you need to throw that idea away and go to a rave right now.
To give you a little background, before meeting my boyfriend and his rave family, I had little to no knowledge of the EDM scene, apart from Kygo and some house music. I'll admit that when I met them the first time they came in for Sunday brunch, they lived up to the stereotype. Some of them still had kandi on from the night before, and were all nursing hangovers of sorts -- if you get what I'm saying (and I'm sure you do).
There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, you do you. But as their very busy bartender and someone who didn't really see the point in going to a show to suck on a pacifier, wear plastic jewelry and be surrounded by half-naked girls dressed as unicorns, I wasn't the most accepting person in those first moments.
But within 15 minutes, they started to grow on me. One brunch visit turned into a few and with each minute my would-be boyfriend and his friends sold me on the idea of raves being more than meets the eye.
Just because they're incredibly into the scene, doesn't mean they subscribe to every negative stereotype. They called me Miss Becca and insisted I give raves the benefit of the doubt, and although they opened me up to the idea, I knew I'd likely never go.
Oh, how wrong I was. Fast forward eight months: I was moving states away, and that guy and I started dating long distance and after hearing about a million raves that he and the family had gone to, I was agreeing to go to my first.
As a person with a certain level of anxiety, my mind automatically began to question if a rave is too far out of my norm. I started to get worried about the idea of getting anxious within the rave.
So typical. I didn't know if I'd be pressured to pop Molly, or if I'd feel like I was at a strip club surrounded by women in pasties and fishnets. To top it off, I didn't know what to wear. I'd done way too much research, and that's clearly what's to blame. Because as soon as I talked to my boyfriend, he made it very clear that I was stressing far too much about something that's just supposed to be a good time.
So, for once in my life, as I boarded the bus for DC and headed to the rave, I threw my worries out of the window. My first rave was an Oliver Heldens show. It was amazing. It both lived up to and defied the stereotypes. It's the show that laid the groundwork for my immediate agreement to go to future shows. Here's why:
1. The Lights
They're absolutely beautiful, and come in a million colors over your head and weave through the crowd. Before the show started and as the DJs were gearing up, everyone was so hype about the lights and I didn't really understand it.
Like really, what could be so great about lights? All concerts have lights of some sort, big deal. Man, was I wrong. The lights make all the difference—synced and pulsing with the music, they make you feel alive. They also sometimes make you go cross eyed. But maybe that's just me.
2. Gloving, Orbiting And Flow Arts
My boyfriend and his rave family are kind of a big deal — no, but really, at raves they are because they dabble in gloving and orbiting and everyone wants a show. That might sound foreign to you and if it does, don't be intimidated by it — look it up and get amazed.
EmazingLights has some awesome sponsored glovers and orbiters on Instagram and YouTube. But do keep in mind that seeing these light arts through a screen and first hand are two entirely different things. Through a screen, it looks wicked cool, but in person you get lost in it. It can feel like you're in a tunnel or another galaxy. It's just you and the orbiter's devices.
3. The Diversity Of The Crowd
You will see literally any type of person you can imagine at a rave. You'll see people on the main floor having a blast and donning '90s apparel and people in VIP all dolled up in dresses and heels. I was under the impression that there'd be half naked unicorns everywhere, and while there were a few, it wasn't the majority.
I'm all about wearing whatever you want; I just knew I was already throwing myself into a new environment and I didn't want to get anxious about not dressing appropriately. I didn't want to be the only non-nearly naked raver, nor did I want to get jealous about the fact that the guy I was falling for wanted to be in that sort of environment all the time.
Luckily, he was right when he calmed me down and said those outfits are more often the minority than the majority. Everyone I was at the rave with kept complaining about how it was more of a frat scene than the raves they like to go to, which only goes to show that all types of people will show up.
4. The Music
It's loud. It's uplifting. It's danceable. I really don't see how someone couldn't like it.
PLUR stands for peace, love, unity and respect. There's even a hand shake for it, if you're into that (and you better be, because otherwise you'll look silly like me when someone tries to trade kandi with you). But in all seriousness, the idea of PLUR, in my opinion, is just the promotion of an absolutely judgment-free zone where everyone becomes one with the music and the scene.
I would've never pegged myself as someone to believe in what I used to chock up to Molly-induced nonsense, but it turned out to be pretty enlightening.
When I first met my boyfriend and his friends, they talked about how accepting ravers are, and how ravers are often people who may not have felt like they fit in as well elsewhere. They talked about you can meet some of the best people in the entire world at raves. After my first show, I understood that.
For the first time in a long time, I was out without any sense of anxiousness. I felt nothing but love and wide-eyed entrancement about everything going on around me, especially seeing that big grin on my boyfriends face as he danced around carefree between glove shows.
Here's the real kicker: Despite being so consumed by the scene, I was sober. Molly? Nope. I didn't even drink alcohol. I was training for my first half marathon and I didn't have time for distractions like that. So, you see, When I said I'd looked everything up beforehand, I meant everything. I even went to Michael's so I could make kandi and fit in slightly better.
I realized I'd spent so much time focusing on the stereotypes of a rave culture and how uncomfortable I was going to be and out of place I was going to feel, that it never crossed my mind that I'd be entering a place where I'd never felt more free.
So, maybe you're like me and you've just heard so much about it that makes you steer clear of it. If you don't do drugs, how could you possibly like a rave? If you don't know of any DJs, how could you possibly like the music?
What's beautiful about the world and new experiences is that you'll never know if you like something until you try it. So go out on a limb; say yes to new adventures and have an absolute f*cking blast, especially if the rumors are true and this is the beginning of the end for the scene.