Electronic dance music (EDM) genres, which have been popular in the UK since the late 1980s, have been played at raves.
A rave (from the word rave) is a dance party held in a warehouse, public or private property, and usually involving DJs spinning electronic dance music. DJs played at illegal parties in musical forms dominated by electronic dance music from a wide range of sub-genres, including techno, hardcore, house, dubstep, and alternative dance, throughout the early 1990s dance music scene. Live musicians, as well as other forms of performance artists such as go-go dancers and fire dancers, have been known to perform during raves on occasion. Ravers – wearing Rave T-Shirts, danced to the music that was amplified by a big, powerful sound reinforcement system, which usually includes large subwoofers for a deep bass sound. Laser light shows, projected colourful graphics, visual effects, and fog generators are frequently used to accompany the music.
While some raves are tiny gatherings conducted in nightclubs or private houses, others have grown to enormous proportions, such as major festivals and events with many DJs and dance zones (e.g., the Castlemorton Common Festival in 1992). Rave-like elements can be seen at some electronic dance music festivals, but on a bigger, frequently commercial scale. Raves can run for hours or even days, with some gatherings lasting up to twenty-four hours and all night. In several nations, law police raids and anti-rave legislation have posed a threat to the rave scene. This is because illegal drugs like MDMA (commonly referred to as a “club drug” or “party drug”), amphetamine, LSD, GHB, ketamine, methamphetamine, cocaine, and cannabis are linked together. Rave parties frequently use non-authorized, hidden venues, such as squat parties at vacant homes, empty warehouses, or aircraft hangars, in addition to drugs. These worries are frequently attributed to a moral panic that surrounds rave culture.
The term “rave” was coined in the late 1950s to characterize the “wild bohemian gatherings” of the Soho beatnik culture in London, England. Mick Mulligan, a jazz guitarist who was notorious for indulging in such excesses, earned the moniker “king of the ravers.” Buddy Holly’s popular song “Rave On” was released in 1958, describing the craziness and frenzy of a sensation and the yearning for it to never cease. The term “rave” was later coined in the early 1960s by the developing mod youth culture to denote any raucous gathering. “Ravers” were a term used to designate gregarious party animals. Pop musicians like Small Faces’ Steve Marriott and The Who’s Keith Moon were self-described “ravers.”
The term “rave” was a common term used to describe the music of mid-1960s garage rock and psychedelic bands, foreshadowing the word’s eventual 1980s relationship with electronic music (most notably The Yardbirds, who released an album in the United States called Having a Rave Up). The “rave-up” referred to a specific crescendo moment near the climax of a song where the music was played faster, more heavily, and with intense soloing or aspects of controlled feedback, in addition to being an alternative term for partying at such garage concerts in general. It was later used in the title of the “Million Volt Light and Sound Rave,” an electronic music performance event staged on January 28, 1967 at London’s Roundhouse. The event featured the only known public performance of Paul McCartney’s experimental sound collage prepared for the occasion — the iconic “Carnival of Light” recording.
The word fell out of favor when British pop culture shifted rapidly from the mod era of 1963–1966 to the hippie era of 1967 and beyond. Many consider the Northern soul movement to be a crucial milestone in the development of contemporary club culture and the superstar DJ culture of the 2000s. Northern soul DJs, like current club DJs, gained a following by meeting the public’s yearning for music that they couldn’t find anyplace else. Many say that Northern soul was responsible for the establishment of a network of clubs, DJs, record collectors, and dealers in the United Kingdom and that it was the first music genre to supply the British charts with records that were solely based on club play. The sequencing of tracks to create euphoric highs and lows for the crowd was a method used by northern soul DJs, as it was by their later counterparts. Laurence ‘Larry’ Proxton, a DJ, is well-known for his use of this technique. DJ personalities from the original Northern soul movement, as well as their followers, went on to become key figures in the house and dance music movements. The phrase was not popular in the 1970s and early 1980s until it was revived, with one noteworthy exception being David Bowie’s song “Drive-In Saturday” (from his 1973 album Aladdin Sane), which includes the line “It’s a crash course for the ravers.” Its use at the time would have been seen as a quaint or satirical use of bygone slang, as it was part of the antiquated 1960s lexicon with phrases like “groovy.”