Rave culture descends on the Bay Area


Christian Martinez,

The Bay Area has become a powerhouse for electronic dance music (EDM). At every show, the energy and good vibes can be felt as soon as you walk into the venue no matter which DJ is behind the turntables because that’s a part of rave culture.

Rave culture is something that is recognizable but sometimes misunderstood. Rave culture can best be experienced by analyzing the interaction between the people, the music and the events that are central to being a raver. The way that rave goers interact with one another and what is deemed socially acceptable at shows is all a part of rave culture as well.

There are no exact rules on how to be a raver, but there are some unwritten rules about it, kind of like the “secret menu” at In-N-Out. Those who have gone to raves and are more immersed in the EDM world would be familiar with the acronym PLUR, which stands for peace, love, unity and respect. These are some of those secret menu ideas and principles of being a raver that everyone universally follows.

“PLUR is like everyone coming together under one roof and is having a good time,” said Calvin Figueroa, a raver for four years. “It’s like sharing that bond and not having to worry about other things. You take care of each other even though you don’t know that person.”

Before attending any event, experienced ravers normally have a checklist of things to bring to make sure that they have an enjoyable time but a safe one as well.

“Normally when I’m prepping to go to a show I try and make sure I have all the essentials,” said Danielle Nazareno, an avid festival goer who has been going to events for two years, explaining how she prepares to go to events. “First, I check that I have my ticket and ID cause without that I won’t get in! Next, I have a backpack with water, a fan, my wallet and some gum. Sometimes I bring candy too if I don’t want gum and a few extra hair ties.”

Nazareno mentioned that one of the most common interactions between ravers at events is locking eyes with someone near you and having something like a mutual understanding and accepting of the music and what’s going on around them. Afterwards you check to make sure they’re having a good time and if they have water and feel fine.

Most single day or single night events have a mix of artists from different genres and go for five to six hours until they end. There are larger single day festivals that go on longer but they start to fold into the larger festival groups comprised of events that span over the course of three days, such as the Electric Daisy Carnival. At events like this, there are separate stages dedicated to specific genres of EDM and those in attendance are free to go back and forth between stages at will.

A common topic normally brought up when talking about raves or ravers is substance use. There is use of substances at events because — to those who use them — they say it enhances their experience.

“The experience you have when you’re sober and the experience you have when you roll are two completely different things,” said Brianna Mendoza about why people would decide to use illicit drugs. “The lights look brighter, the music is louder and you just feel great in every way ever. You totally don’t need to but I know exactly why some people decide to roll cause it made me feel amazing.”

When someone is on any type of substance, it’s known as “rolling”. There are two main substances that are used if you wanted to roll, one of them being ecstacy and the other being molly. The effect of the substance that someone would use depends on a handful of factors that can either lead to a positive or negative experience.

Mendoza explained that one’s mental state upon consumption of a substance can affect his/her experience while under the influence. She also said that personal tolerance can plays a role.

“If you decide to roll or you don’t it’s fine cause people still care about you and make sure you’re okay and having a good time at raves. That’s really all it comes down to, it’s love.”

It’s not a necessity to take illicit drugs to enjoy yourself when you go to raves just like you don’t have to be in the very front of the crowd to see a DJ or other band. The main priorities when you go to shows would be that you have an enjoyable time and that you’re safe while you’re there. I personally go for the music and have never been tempted into trying anything I didn’t want to. The music is the main reason anyone goes to a show. The feeling you get when you’re surrounded by others who feel just as excited about the music as you do is indescribable and the bond you form from that is like nothing else in the world.