90s Rave Culture
90s rave culture revolutionized the UK, taking dance music from warehouse parties in London and East Anglia to increasingly large outdoor events at abandoned airfields. It was an euphoric time, coined “The Second Summer of Love”.
The party scene was a hub where ravers could enjoy dancing to the latest music in an open, safe, and stigma-free atmosphere. This fostered an iconic culture that still thrives today.
In an increasingly desolate Britain, raves offered young people a way out. A vibrant subculture emerged with an inclusive community, unique fashion sense, and adventurous attitude towards drug use – particularly ecstasy – that offered them solace.
In the early 1990s, energetic all-night dance parties took place in abandoned warehouses, vacant apartment lofts and open fields. DJs played a blend of European techno and American house music that created an intense feeling of escapism.
As the decade came to a close, ravers around the world began questioning its social and political relevance. As a result, several political events were hosted at raves.
Some of these protests were organized by law enforcement, while others were led by ravers affected by police brutality or anti-raver racism. This often resulted in confrontations with law enforcement and, in some cases, riots.
Though briefly suppressed, rave culture made a comeback in the 1990s with larger parties becoming increasingly popular. This period saw organisations like Fantazia and Raindance hold massive legal raves across large warehouses and fields throughout Britain – an indication of just how widespread rave culture had become at that time.
Rave culture eventually spread to the US, where parties were held in outdoor fields, aeroplane hangars and hilltops near cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles. At this point in its evolution, rave culture also took on a more commercialised form.
Today, a new generation is discovering the joys of these unique gatherings and rave music continues to inspire contemporary artists such as Mark Leckey, Dinos Chapman, Jeremy Deller and Martin Creed who either incorporate it into their work or pursue separate musical projects.
Ecstasy is an integral part of 90s rave culture, but other drugs are also popular among ravers. At these parties, certain party drugs can enhance the dancing and music experience by offering multisensory psychedelic sensations that reduce inhibitions and encourage all night dancing.
MDMA is a widely-used party drug at raves. It amplifies dancing impulses and provides bursts of energy, enabling dancers to move freely and uncontrollably along with the music’s pulse and lights.
Raves often involve party drugs like GHB, ketamine and Rohypnol – hallucinogens which cause intense feelings of euphoria according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
Rave drugs can lead to dangerous overdoses. Family physicians and emergency medical personnel need a thorough understanding of these drugs, their potential hazards, and how best to treat those who use them.
Although some people are aware of the potential hazards associated with using club drugs at raves, many ravers lack even basic awareness. Education about proper dosing and medication usage can help avoid overdoses during raves and festivals.
Over the last decade, drug counseling and testing organizations have become more prominent at raves. These teams come out to inspect samples of illegal drugs to verify their purity levels and educate attendees on safe consumption practices.
Drug testing and counseling services at raves are designed to reduce overdoses. But these measures only work if participants are informed about their drugs and have access to drug counselors who can offer guidance on managing effects or limiting usage.
Rave music is comprised of various genres such as acid house, techno and breaks. It draws influences from genres like jungle drum and bass, garage music and EDM.
Rave culture played an integral role in the development of electronic music during the 1990s. DJs became more creative, using machines to manipulate sound in novel ways and exploring various genres of electronic music.
Furthermore, the vibrant sound systems associated with rave culture played a significant role in popularizing numerous music styles that are now beloved among dance music connoisseurs worldwide – from acid house to dubstep.
But it was the formal experiments conducted within this subculture which truly distinguished it. This sonic revolution was achieved through digital technology such as samplers and other instruments, allowing musicians to approach sound in an entirely new light.
The results were a series of new sounds and forms dubbed ‘digital psychedelia’. This opened the door for an entirely new generation of electronic music producers who are now at the cutting edge of innovation.
Though the ’90s rave movement may not have had the same notoriety as it once did, its elements of escapism still resonate with Gen Zers today. As such, young artists are creating music that draws heavily from this era’s influences.
This movement has been spearheaded by young, independent artists such as Piri, Negative Gemini, Nia, jamesjamesjames, PinkPantheress and Deijhuvs. These artists are creating their own sounds without seeking industry approval and revolutionizing how artists are validated by the music industry.
In the 1990s, raves were held in warehouses, outdoor parks and clubs around the world. DJs typically played electronic dance music to attract teenagers to these parties which were illegal and exposed them to narcotics and other drugs.
England experienced a wave of underground parties held at old warehouses and abandoned buildings, often targeted at young adults and teenagers with an emphasis on drug use.
In the 1990s, rave culture spread throughout Europe with the rise of electronic and house music. Local authorities took action against parties and promoters for their illegal use of venues and widespread consumption of narcotics by partygoers.
Some towns took steps to reduce raves, leading to a drop in their popularity. Some municipalities passed new ordinances designed to regulate rave activity while others enforced existing laws that helped monitor them more closely.
Rave promoters often invested substantial sums of money to secure a venue for an event, and then held it. In certain cities such as Chicago, Denver or Gainesville, rave promoters were required to provide onsite ambulance and emergency medical services as well as uniformed police security at their own expense for large rave events.
In the 1990s, some rave venues could accommodate tens of thousands of people; however, this wasn’t an option for most events, particularly those that wished to continue into the next day. As a result, many large venues closed down in the early 2000s.
In the 1990s, police activity surrounding rave culture saw a dramatic spike. This was largely due to an uptick in club drugs such as MDMA (3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or Ectasy) and other psychedelic substances used at these parties. With reports of high drug overdoses and emergency room visits associated with club drugs at raves, communities and law enforcement agencies began feeling increasingly concerned.
These issues were further compounded by the rise in venues that utilized warehouses and industrial buildings, which were difficult to police. Furthermore, illegal security services gained access at discounted rates, selling counterfeit drugs that posed a serious health hazard for ravers.
Recently, an increase in drug overdoses at EDM festivals across New York, Los Angeles and beyond has prompted local authorities to consider banning these events. Although drug use at these events tends to be lower than at traditional music events, they still present a danger for ravers that could potentially result in life-threatening complications.
One of the key challenges police face in this situation is that while many ravers are responsible and law-abiding, some do not, creating a challenge for authorities. It may be difficult to strike an equilibrium between strict enforcement of rave parties while still acknowledging their potential harms.
The police are in an unique position when it comes to this situation, as they may face considerable pressure from society to shut down these parties. Nonetheless, police must remember that these gatherings are popular with a significant portion of youth population – many who tend to follow laws and act responsibly.