EDM culture has gotten so big at this point that everyone has some preconceived notion as to what it means to be a raver, and to those not involved in the scene, that notion is usually negative. People read about tragic events like what happened at HARD Summer or EDC 2010 and immediately come to the same conclusion that everyone who goes to these events loves drugs almost as much as they love wearing ridiculous outfits. They see raving and electronic music either as a fad that is already fading or an epidemic invading America’s youth.
If there is one thing that middle-aged people don’t understand it’s youth culture. Teenagers now are interested in things that adults couldn’t have imagined in their younger days, which is the exact same thing some guy in his early 20’s was writing about middle-aged people 100 years ago. People are influenced most in their early years and music is one of the most influential forces on Earth. That’s why music has been historically condemned for “corrupting” the youth. It represents unfamiliar points of view, while promoting unfiltered self expression.
All the negative opinions uneducated people have invented about ravers and the electronic music scene pertain their discomfort with how young people express themselves. Granted, not all of them are healthiest forms of self-expression, but it’s that freedom to express oneself that defines electronic music. It encourages you to be you. Here’s how:
1. What was that sound again?
The main reason people become attached to any particular genre of music is because that specific combination of sounds reflects something about themselves. Whether it’s a rock guitar solo or an operatic aria, the undefined nature of sound can translate to any kind of meaning that a single listener chooses. However, where as instrumental music is limited by the instruments used to create it, electronic music can integrate absolutely any sound into new tracks. I was brought up playing different instruments so I fully understand and appreciate the indescribable beauty that they can create, but with EDM’s infinite combinations of sound, it’s much more likely that you’ll hear that one synth or that one drop that digs deep into your soul and forces your body to move in a more exuberant fashion than ever before.
2. Nice outfit bro.
Leading back to the preconceived notions about EDM and its affiliates, one of the unavoidable images that is paired with the rave scene are the outfits. In all the festival after-videos ever at least 60 percent of the footage is dedicated to people in the skimpiest underwear or the glammed up version of a Halloween costume that person wore two or three years ago. Walking in to festivals that feature multiple genres of music, you might see similar outfits, but for the most part people dress to accommodate the extreme heat or other weather conditions. At a rave, you’ll see people donning full Stormtrooper armor even if it’s 100 degrees outside. There are many people who would agree that clothes are a stricture forced upon humans by modern society and dress codes literally exist to force people to look a certain way. At festivals though, your clothes are just another means of communicating who you are, and although such garments might come off as extravagant or unnecessary, electronic music brings out the extravagant and unnecessary sides of people.
3. Let’s go dancing. I wanna go dancing with you all night dancing.
Dancing has been synonymous with music since there has been music. Think about all the scenes in movies of the native tribes dancing around the fire all night paying homage to their gods. That’s how far back dancing goes. The thing is though, for a few hundreds music was very contained and theoretical, and because of that, so was the dancing. Back when the only kind of popular music that existed was played by orchestra and heard by the rich, dancing was about following a formula. Ballet, waltz, tap, if you were dancing in front of people, you had to know what you were doing. This trend would continue through the years with styles like salsa dancing, swing dancing, and every other kind of dance where practice was necessary before going out in public.
Today, the most popular kind of music is EDM, and there definitely isn’t a specific way to get down to it. Don’t get me wrong, EDM has cultivated incredible dance styles as well as incredible dancers, but unless you’re actively trying to impress/embarrass the people around you, there’s no reason to stick to any specific set of moves. The defining principle of all the subgenres of EDM is the prominent beat, and as long as your dance moves are an expression of how you feel about that beat, you’re doing it right. Everyone’s heard the phrase “dance like nobody’s watching.” Well I’d be willing the bet that the person who said that was a raver.
4. “…and the most important headliner of all, YOU!”
EDM culture would not have become what it is now if everyone involved didn’t encourage each other to be themselves, and the best way to do that is by being yourself. When you’re walking around the festival, it’s very easy to see who’s having the best time simply because they’re the people who are aren’t afraid to express themselves. Upon seeing a person gyrating their body in such a flamboyant way to the music while no one pays any attention to them, someone who had reservations about expressing themselves may be inspired to do so.
Everybody reacts to music in a different way, but if people learn to embrace their reactions instead of ignoring them, the courage to do so will unite us.