Growing up, I was raised by a wildly passionate woman. She is an artist in more ways than one, and always inspired me to explore the avenues in life that sparkled to me.
She was my introduction to electronic music; which was a welcomed change from the top-40s pop I was used to. It was she who showed me that music can be passion, business, and art. Since then, electronic music has been an integral part of my life. To me, it is more than music.
But not all people are brought into the scene the way I was. For many, parents disapprove of their children raving, or they are judged for being a raver by their coworkers and peers.
The stigma that surrounds raving was born out of its history and culture in its infancy. Raves were illegal at first, stemming from media and political agendas tainting the scene. Raves were coupled with the war on drugs and viewed in the same light.
This demonized rave culture as well as those who participated, and the reverberations from that initial impression continue to detract from the scene today.
The stigma around raving has followed me all throughout my life. When I was young, classmates would make fun of the music I listened to saying it was “beep bop” sounds. As a teenager, I felt judgement from peers after attending an event. Coming back to school so excited to share my experience, and being ridiculed instead.
As an adult, I sometimes have reservations about sharing that I am a raver. Whether I say “I’m going on a camping trip” to a boss or vaguely say “I’m attending a concert/live music show” to a family member.
Why is it that I, and so many other ravers, feel that “pang” of shame, when sharing that we attend raves? The hesitation to open up about who I am as a raver is born from the worry that people will judge me based on their own perception of what raving is.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
As individuals that are a part of this community, we have the opportunity to continue to break the stigma around the electronic music scene. While also teaching new generations what it means to be a raver.
When I discuss raving responsibly, most will think about substance safety and knowing your limits. Responsibility is more than ensuring safe substance use for yourself and the people around you. It includes overspending, skipping work or other prior commitments, and being reckless with your health at raves.
When I was younger I did all of these things. I went to events that I could not afford, I skipped work, I even missed midterms at university to go to ADE, and made many other irresponsible choices. While in the short term I was ecstatic to be at these shows and festivals, in the long term it affected me in more ways than one.
Poor habits are easy to form, and much harder to break. When I started off going to raves, I did not have the financial discipline that I have now. The fear of missing out (FOMO) was far more effective on me a lot more than the idea of financial security.
I would attend every show I could, even if it was an artist I didn’t really care to see. I would go to festivals without saving adequately for transportation, hotels, food, etc. These habits built the foundation of my raving experience and unfortunately, lingered up until recently.
When I would spend money I did not have to go to these events and shows, I would then feel stress and anxiety of debt that I had accumulated.
At the end of the day, attending these shows and events had a much longer negative effect on my mental health compared to the short-lived dopamine surge the night of. It was only when I applied financial discipline in my life that I fully recognized the value of being financially responsible.
Now, when as I say this, I by no means am saying not to go to events! We are ravers, and of course we will always be going to shows!
I just mean that beware of FOMO and overspending. Save your money for the events that really matter to you. In the long run, you hold more value in the shows that you attend and they aren’t tainted with guilt and stress.
Stigmas around ravers come from the idea that we “don’t have our lives together”. The truth of it is, many of us are actually working in a wide variety of accredited careers. Although, there is still the (somewhat valid) stereotype that we skip work and other commitments, like school, to attend raves.
I mentioned this earlier, but I was once guilty of this. In 2018, I had a wicked opportunity to go to ADE, but it was during my Fall midterms. I made the foolish choice to “call in sick” to a midterm, thinking I could make up for it later in the semester.
At the end of my degree that was the lowest mark I had been given, by a lot. The truth of it is, while ADE was an amazing experience, ADE will always be there. Although moving forward, I will also always have a bright shining D+ on my $40, 000 degree.
I have learnt that it is far better to build trust and understanding in your workplace or school, rather than “calling in sick”. A responsible, trusting relationship can be leveraged in your favour to ask for time off/banking hours. Establishing these relationships is an excellent way to live life outside of the raving stigma.
Your Health Is Your Wealth
When you are lost in the moment having a good time, I’m sure 90% of the time you don’t think “have I had any electrolytes today?” or “have I eaten enough carbs to sustain my energy?”.
Unfortunately, sometimes this unhealthy raving lifestyle can start spilling into your day-to-day. Whether you’re only reckless with your health for the weekend or the party doesn’t stop for a week after the event, these habits can become harmful in the long term.
I’ve forgotten to take the best care of myself during festivals, and I pay the price the days following. I have experienced mood swings, brain fog, fatigue, weakness and a number of other symptoms.
This is because I push myself pretty hard with all of the dancing, walking and jumping around, with little sleep and inadequate nutrition. These symptoms then cause lack of focus on my work, no motivation in the gym, etc.
After having these ups and downs, I didn’t want my rave life to affect my day-to-day anymore. Being responsible at events, and taking extra care with my health has been a game changer. I am able to bounce back to real life with far more ease than before. It makes this “double life” feel so much more sustainable.
Responsibility Breaks Stigma
Addressing these three factors in irresponsible raving has been monumental in breaking the stigma in my own life. I am able to achieve financial goals while still attending events.
I have established great relationships in my workplace built on trust and understanding, which supports my requested time off. Lastly, my raving life doesn’t affect my home or work life in negative ways. Although these are things that I am actively working towards and constantly trying to improve, no one is perfect.
Breaking stigmas doesn’t come about easily, nor will it come quickly. But if all ravers strived to showcase responsible raving, opinions may start to shift around what type of people ravers are. We should be recognized for our positive qualities; beautiful, kind, loving souls, brought together by the love of music, rather than lingering stigmas.
All images were retrieved from ADE’s Facebook page.