Jose Escudero’s latest book, When We Danced, chronicles the 90s rave era through photographs. He shot night after night using a Minolta 35mm camera and has created an array of nostalgic images sure to transport you back to your own 90s parties.
Rave parties were known for their intense sound system, vibrant lights and constant beat that kept people dancing. Additionally, drugs became an integral part of the experience with Ecstasy being introduced as an alcohol substitute.
Rave culture began in the United States and quickly spread around the world. It included dance music, DJs, drugs, and an appreciation for psychedelia.
Rave culture in the US emerged out of disco music during the late 70s and early 1980s. These events often featured groundbreaking electronica, innovative DJs and laser lights; however, it also encompassed fashion trends, liberal attitudes and drug exploration.
In the 1990s, raves became a popular way for people to gather in an atmosphere that was secure and entertaining. Here they could dance in an altered state of consciousness to music they knew or hadn’t heard before.
The rave movement was made popular by DJs who played an array of electronic music, from house to techno. This movement was enabled by cutting-edge technology, creative DJs and an open-minded attitude.
Ecstasy was made possible by the rise of an ecstasy culture. The drug quickly became a staple among ravers due to its euphoric effects.
California became a mecca for raves during the 1990s, featuring some of music’s legendary DJs such as 808 State, Aphex Twin, Massive Attack and Prodigy.
By the late 1980s, rave parties became increasingly popular in the UK. Organisers took advantage of empty spaces such as warehouses and mills around town to host these illegal gatherings.
Due to this, the government passed a bill giving police the power to stop parties held in public spaces – this became known as “rave ban,” and right-wing tabloids quickly condemned those attending raves for posing a danger to society.
Legislation like this was a major setback for the rave movement, yet by the end of the decade organizations like Fantazia and Raindance were holding massive legal raves in warehouses and fields throughout the UK.
Throughout the 90s, a new wave of artists began creating their own distinct styles within this genre. Adopting a zero-gatekeeping philosophy that allowed them to experiment without fear of rejection, these individuals created an innovative music scene which continues to influence how we listen to music today.
In the 1990s, rave culture emerged, a youth subculture that fused music with social ideals and substance abuse. This inspired a new style of clothing which mostly shunned designer labels in favor of oversized t-shirts, sweats and trainers.
90s rave fashion was heavily influenced by the growing electronic dance music genres of acid house and jungle music, such as liquid (known for harmonic vocals and less aggressive bass drops), classic dancefloor (energetic party music), jump-up (less complex beat often featuring machine-like sounds) and neurofunk (almost sci-fi like subgenre of heavy drum and bass with few well-known samples or traditional melodies).
Another hallmark element of 90s rave style was the use of vibrant colors and patterns – usually on shirts, windbreakers and pants – to help people stand out in crowds at raves.
In the 90s rave scene, accessories like glow sticks and bandanas were popular. Some people even donned sunglasses with colored lenses to reduce the brightness of stage lights and strobe lights in clubs.
Many raver also used Kandi bracelets, which consisted of elastic bands or strings with beads and charms representing different things to the wearer. These accessories could be given away at raves by other ravers in a variety of designs.
Ravers may have worn a visor, which was an eye-wear trend popular during the 90s. These visors typically consisted of curved plastic with vibrantly colored lenses.
Though many don’t remember the 90s rave, it was an incredibly influential era in fashion and culture. Ravers also donned neon-colored clothing and accessories – trends which still endure today.
In the early 1990s, rave culture mainly consisted of outdoor events. This encouraged people to wear whatever felt comfortable while dancing. However, with the emergence of underground clubs in the UK in mid-1990s, raver fashion drastically altered as more indoor-oriented licensed raves became commonplace.
Rave culture was an integral part of 90s music, reflecting back on Thatcherite government in the UK and celebrating individuality and freedom. Additionally, it had a vibrant drug culture fuelled by substances such as Ecstasy, MDMA, Ketamine and LSD.
Psychotropic drugs were popular in the 1990s to enhance feelings of euphoria and promote dancing. These substances remain widely utilized today.
Ecstasy was the most renowned drug of the 90s, found in every warehouse party back then. This highly potent stimulant allowed people to stay up and dance for hours on end.
Not only was ecstasy a drug to get high, but it could also be used to combat anxiety in some cases. Studies have even demonstrated that it may even benefit those in the final stages of cancer.
Ecstasy was an addictive drug that kept people up and dancing for hours on end. It had become immensely popular during the 90s, serving as a great way to keep people energized and uplifted.
Another drug popular in the 90s rave scene was speed. Similar to Ecstasy, but less potent, speed kept people up and dancing but didn’t provide them with the euphoric high that Ecstasy did.
One of the major issues in America is that there are various kinds of drugs used at raves. These substances, commonly referred to as club drugs, can be highly hazardous.
Ketamine, MDMA and psilocybin mushrooms were often used at raves due to their hallucinogenic effects; these drugs form an integral part of rave culture.
Furthermore, these drugs can be hazardous for those who take them. They have the potential for addiction and death, while being difficult to detect with standard drug testing methods. This explains why so many deaths and overdoses occur at raves.
Rave culture is not just about music; it has an immense effect on society and how people live their lives. This influence can be seen in everything from fashion to music, making it a significant element of modern culture.
In the early 1990s, rave parties spread throughout North America and Great Britain. These events were hosted in warehouses, factories, carpet showrooms as well as indoor/outdoor venues like basketball gymnasiums, train stations and circus tents.
They provided a safe space to celebrate life and socialize without fear of getting caught or arrested. Furthermore, it provided young people with an outlet to express themselves creatively and find their identity.
However, it wasn’t until 1994 that the government took notice of rave parties and passed the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. This legislation prohibited any event that emitted a continuous sequence of beats – an apparent response to rising ecstasy deaths and perceived risks to society.
Ultimately, this act was successful and led to the decline of many parties. However, this movement wasn’t over; it reemerged in the 1990s with large commercial events like Fantazia which attracted crowds of over 30 thousand people.
Another hallmark of the culture was self-policing, which was essential in opposing oppressive legislation. As Jack from DiY put it, “We were rebelling against both commercialism and politics alike.”
While raves may have faded away in the United States, they have been revived around the world. Australia continues to host them with events held at warehouses, warehouse clubs, and carpet showrooms.
It is essential to remember that these parties are not intended for intoxication, but rather an opportunity for people to have fun and dance. Furthermore, they provide a chance for people to gather with their friends and families for some friendly competition.
Simon Reynolds, a music and cultural critic, has identified the drug-tech interface as being central to 90s rave culture. This new form of experimentation with sound and social dynamics holds great promise for creating exciting sounds and unique rhythms in the future.