Rave friendships are a unique kind of bond. The exhilaration and hedonic release that dancing, group flow, and the explosion of energy music festivals produce can become life-changing forces–and the impact doubles when shared with friends.
It’s no surprise that many people in the rave and festival community refer to their friends as their chosen family. Just like real families, rave friendships can be a source of love, support, and inspiration that rivals no other force–but also like real families, they aren’t perfect.
All relationships need tending to thrive, and unacknowledged issues can throw even strong bonds through the wringer.
Rave friendships come with their own unique sets of challenges, so learning to spot important red and green flags helps ensure that these bonds remain healthy. Identifying red flags is a good place to start:
1. Flaky Behavior
If issues are popping up in the rave fam, it could be a sign that toxic behaviors are breaching these values. One red flag to watch out for is flaky behavior:
When planning for an event, do people in the group frequently change travel or lodging plans last minute or with little notification? Do they plan activities that only interest part of the group while excluding others?
Have people been left behind or ditched the group during an event without any communication? Are expenses not being shared fairly?
If gone unchecked, these behaviors can deal real damage to rave friendships.
2. Controlling Behavior
Another red flag to watch for is controlling behavior. This may look like one (or more) individuals taking complete charge of planning, neglecting to give others a chance to speak up, or getting upset when their ideas are questioned.
They may also demand that others do what they want without reciprocating (your crew refuses to see artists that don’t interest them but expect you to do so for them, for example).
Both flaky and controlling behavior indicate that people’s needs and wants aren’t being respected with equal value.
3. Lack of Boundaries
In the festival environment, people often get to expand their social boundaries and break out of their comfort zones. This can be enticing and fun, but if the situation starts to feel unsafe, it’s time to speak up or move on.
Violating someone’s physical and personal boundaries is never okay, and groups that tolerate such behavior risk putting everyone in harm’s way.
Such behaviors warrant immediate attention if spotted. This can include inappropriate or unwanted sexual behavior, not respecting someone’s space, peer pressure, dosing someone without their knowledge, and taking or using people’s belongings without consent.
4. Irresponsible Substance Use
Overindulging in substance use is another way a fun situation can turn stressful or even dangerous. This is especially true with the current rise in overdoses due to Fentanyl.
What’s more, overindulging doesn’t need to reach dangerous levels to be disruptive: Think of a friend who always goes too hard and makes their friends miss out on the fun to take care of them, for example.
If a pattern of such behaviors exists among your rave friends, it’s important to speak up–and if concerns still go ignored, it’s probably best to step away altogether.
With all that said, it’s also important to recognize green flags in rave friendships. Besides enjoying each other’s company, an ideal rave group should feel safe, inclusive, and respectful. If consistent over time, connections forged over these values can lead to long-lasting friendships off the dancefloor.
1. Feeling Safe
Feeling safe is essential in any social group. Trustworthy rave companions respect each other’s boundaries, pay attention to the environment, and take each other’s safety seriously.
This means that individuals in the group embrace harm reduction and check on each other often, make sure people stay hydrated, step in to offer comfort if someone is having a challenging experience, and understand when to change the setting or get help if necessary.
Inclusivity is another important value. Inclusive friendships respect and embrace each others’ tastes and needs, and they are open-minded to exploring different experiences together.
This ensures that no one feels left out and makes for a better experience collectively–it’s much easier to tap into that carefree sense of flow when everyone is on the same page.
3. Good Communication
Good communication is essential. Rave crews who practice this make an effort to include everyone in decisions, and they plan ahead in case people get separated or lose communication.
Good communication also looks like making an effort to connect with people on a deeper level. Like when a friend takes you to see a set they think you’ll love, trades kandi with strangers, you accompany a newcomer to see their favorite artist, and when people take a genuine interest in getting to know each other.
4. Respect All Around
Finally, it goes without saying that the joy and positivity ravers share with each other on the dancefloor don’t always roll over to the rest of their lives.
That’s why people who bring rave culture ideals like kindness, respect, and responsibility to their daily lives earn an extra special green flag. These people don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk–and with some effort, they can become lifelong friends.
In the end, it’s important to remember that everyone is human, and friendships evolve. Red flags can be remedied, and green flags can be nurtured.
Leading by example, listening, and speaking up when something needs attention are the key to fostering healthy rave friendships. After that, what’s meant to be will be.
Images Courtesy of Insomniac.