How Raving Appeals To Our Inner Child

While society views raves as strictly adult spaces, raving inspires people of all ages to connect with their inner child. Some people even go so far as to label raving and festivals as “childish”  for this reason.

Still, despite their negative implications, the child-like joys of the rave experiences can offer a positive release to the adults of the modern world who are trying their best to muddle their way through an increasingly hectic world.  

At some point or another, most people hear the message that play doesn’t belong in adult life before they even reach adulthood. Dominant culture pulls young people away from sources of joy that get labeled as “childish” and pushes them toward a very specific set of “adult” outlets as they come of age.

This is unfortunate, especially since some of these normalized forms of “adult fun” can be deeply destructive (i.e. binge drinking culture).  In reality, every human benefits from play. It’s been found that play benefits both physical and mental health across all ages, and yet, many people spend their adult lives chasing the joys they experienced in childhood –a time when fun and joy were encouraged and celebrated rather than seen as something to be put off. 

Rave culture critically challenges restrictive perceptions of what it means to be an adult by encouraging a sense of playfulness we often lose. They allow people to drop the masks they feel they must wear to get through daily life and lean into joy, creativity, and curiosity unbothered by any other agenda.

Experiences like this can help people live more fulfilling lives and even find healing, so while raving awakens our child-like senses, its benefits are anything but childish.

Creative Self-Expression  

One of the ways rave culture echoes the highlights of childhood is that it embraces and celebrates bold acts of creativity. Perhaps nowhere is this more visible than in North American rave fashion: No color is too bright, no style too wild, no platform too bold, and at long last, the narrative includes more diverse body types.

As an adult who still adores playing “dress-up,” nothing lights me up like putting together a rave outfit.  Many ravers use fashion to express themselves–there’s a timeless joy that comes from experimenting with one’s appearance and crafting a look that boldly expresses a vision only you can bring to life.

It’s an incredibly liberating experience for dancefloor fashionistas because they can embrace and celebrate a playful part of themselves unhindered by social norms.

A Place To Meet Yourself

The fierce creativity of North American rave fashion points to a broader aspect of rave culture’s playful allure. In this unique space, people can safely explore different aspects of their personalities in ways they may not be able to in their everyday lives.

Think of how kids and adolescents use music, fashion, fandoms, or special interests to represent different aspects of themselves. Young people use their interests to express and experiment with identity, and raving can fill a similar space in people’s lives when they reach adulthood.

That can be a liberating counterbalance to the fact that the pressure to fit ourselves into a mold increases with age, especially as we become employees, parents, business owners, etc and our identities intertwine with our responsibilities. 

Many people feel stifled by the rigid view dominant culture has about how we’re supposed to craft our identities as adults. It ignores the fact that humans can benefit from evolving, learning, and developing new interests at all stages of life–and that fun plays an important role in making this happen. 

The playful spirit of rave culture provides an environment where outside labels and responsibilities fade into the background, and adults are once again free to let their joy and curiosity take the wheel. People can discover dozens of styles of music, explore different subcultures, and try out creative hobbies like flow art and body painting, and there are no consequences for changing direction.

Leaning into playful exploration like this can widen our sense of self and lead to new passions, which can ultimately enrich our sense of identity.

A Sensory Playground

In addition to awakening our inner senses, raving and festival settings also awaken our somatic senses. From the music to the colorful installations, lasers, and lights, to feeling the bass pulsing in your chest, raving is an all-sensory experience. Plus, with many festivals embracing interactive elements like art installations and games, the environment truly feels like an adult playground. 

Many people love festivals because they encourage everyone in the space to frolic and play through their senses, and this playful energy reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously. It’s safe and acceptable to act silly, to jump and run and lay in the grass, and fully let the energy of the moment take over.

Not only is this fun, it’s actually good for us. This kind of play helps us reconnect to our bodies and be present in the moment– a priceless release from lives filled with stress, restrictions, expectations, and responsibilities.

Photo by Tyler Hill | www.tylerhillphoto.com

Social Connections

Who can recall a time in their childhood when playing a game with a stranger led to a new friendship? The rave environment breaks down social barriers and creates a space where people can mingle, play, and bond with one another in the same carefree way that children do.

Making a new friend can be as easy as asking a stranger who their favorite artist is, inviting them to play a camp game, learning a new dance move from someone, or trading kandi and other collectibles.

Fostering new friendships in the outside world can be difficult, and in a world where social connections and community are eroding everywhere, these spaces provide an important safe haven for people to come together. 

Some people argue this is changing as rave culture and festivals bleed into mainstream culture, and there’s no denying that festival environments have become more chaotic as the scene grows.

Nonetheless, it’s still very possible to find spaces that foster positive connections in the rave scene. Raves and festivals continue to be a haven for people seeking to reconnect with the carefree sense of joy, wonder, and play we experience as children.

Not all may understand the value that experiences that appeal to our inner child have to offer, but having access to this kind of release is ever more important in today’s fast-paced, high-pressure society. For those who find this experience through raving, it’s a priceless part of well-being.

Images courtesy of Insomniac

Written by
Federica Brandi

Hi! I'm Federica, I'm a writer, world traveler, and above all, I'm a dance music lover. The communities, culture, history and free expression I've encountered through raving and the world of EDM inspire me to explore the scene far and wide and to share all the stories I encounter along the way. If you see me at a show come say hi and trade kandi!

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