Music Today Essay, Research Paper
This essay will explain rave culture. The reason that I chose to research and write on this topic is that I am involved with rave scene and enjoy going to raves. From researching this topic I discovered that rave culture displays many of life s simple pleasures, such as dancing.
Over the last 10-15 years, a new trend of parties has been evolving. These gatherings are known in the media as raves, and are often simply called parties by those attending them. A rave is an all night event where usually young people gather in a social atmosphere while listening to hypnotic dance music. These parties have slowly evolved into spectacles of total sensory overload. The first is the social aspects, unhindered freedom of expression of ones self through dance, dress or any other mean without fear of ridicule from others. The second is the dancing and its often quasi-spiritual effects on those partaking.
The key to the success of raves is the positive atmosphere, or “vibe”. Raves are renowned for people’s acceptability and tolerance for others. They are safe havens for people who wish to be free from social pressures. Because of this, many ravers (person who attends these parties) are dressed differently then people you would normally see. Bright colors, clothing with different textures and feel, and generally clothes that is very comfortable to dance with. A sense of unity is formed between the partygoers, they attempt to form a community of sorts through there individuality. People feel free to go up to strangers and start up conversations. They also become very comfortable with everyone around them and try to share this feeling with others. This is a very important part of the whole Rave experience. When this occurs, then the “party kids” can truly feel free to be themselves in every way. This is something quite rare in today’s commercialized society which often dictates what is normal, and what isn’t.
Rave music is made from computer generated sounds. A DJ will usually have two turntables, each playing a different piece of music. The DJ plays one vinyl record while he or she listens to the other record, in a set of earphones. The music will play in the headphones ten seconds before it plays out to the crowd of dancers. This gives the DJ a chance to stop and start the songs, and create new sounds out of the record. Then, as one vinyl record is being played the DJ starts spinning the second. The DJ will then match the tempo of the beats, using the speed control of the turntable. The second track will then cut in 10 seconds later. The combination of the beats gives off a very complex sound that many people are not used to hearing. When first heard the music may sound overwhelming or even annoying. However, as one becomes accustomed to the sounds, the complexity of the music starts to be very hypnotic. The music being played by the DJ is also very interactive with the crowd. The DJ will stop and start the records, to create new sounds. Also, the DJ will use the treble, bass and fade of the music, through the use of a mixer, to excite the crowd. A good DJ will know exactly how to mix the music to create exciting new sounds. Raves are a display of many types of music. But they all fall under the category of techno or computer generated. This music almost always consists of repetitive beats, which in turn helps to put the crowd into a hypnotic state. Much like the drums used by natives in North America during ceremonial dances, once people begin to dance to this music for extended periods of time, your body becomes in synch with the beats. Once this occurs then the music begins to hold some small control over the crowd.
Vancouver DJ Dustin was interviewed and he said, “It is when a crowd falls into a hypnotic dreamlike state when the DJ’s really come into play. Once they have a good hold on the crowd, they’ll start playing different types of tracks that turn the crowds into a frenzy of hard dancing or moments of slower interludes. When I can feel the people are ‘with me,’ I usually slow the music down. This gives everyone a chance to build up energy. I will usually have one or two mixes that will get everyone into it for sure. I will play one word or beat over a couple of times, by spinning the record back and forth. This really gets the baseline into the people’s heads. Then with a big bang, I let the record go, and crank up the volume. If I can get the sound just right, I can have thousands of people “going off.” When these frenzies occur people experience great surges of energy as well as a feeling of being very aware of everything in their surroundings. The raver’s mode of dancing often changes from the semi-monotonous dancing they’d been doing to quite abstract forms of dancing and celebrating joy. People jump with there hands in the air, start spinning in circles or begin moving there feet as fast as they can.
Dancing has and always will be a part of many human societies and culture. Archeological digs have found primitive musical instruments dating back to the beginning of human society. Our ancestors would stay up late at night dancing around fires to the sounds of beats made by whatever means were available. Many societies throughout the ages incorporated dancing into all parts of there culture, and most importantly, into there spiritual life. Over the last few hundred years, dancing has been seen less and less as a spiritual tool and more as a form of entertainment. Today young people are re-discovering dancing and music in an experience much like people of the past through these all night parties. The music played at raves is very reminiscent of the pounding beats of hand drums, which are ancestors used to dance to. These parties are mainly attended by young people, between the ages of 15-30. At these parties the crowds of people are worked up into frenzies of energy, with people dancing hours on end without stopping.
Another part of the rave experience is the lighting and surroundings. In the summertime many parties are held outside in desolate, and sometimes quite beautiful surroundings. Out on the West Coast of B.C. , many of the parties during the summer are held up in the surrounding mountains of the lower mainland and around lakes. These serene settings all add to the utopian experiences created by a rave. During the winter months when it is to cold to hold a party outside, raves are held inside banquet halls, vacant buildings, or wherever a big enough size room can be found. Often these venues can be quite plain and boring in contrast to the vibrancy of a party. Stage type sets are brought in to conquer this dullness, usually with a theme associated with the party. The most important part of the backdrop for a party though is the lighting system. In order to fulfill total sensory overload, expensive laser light systems are brought in to aid the whole experience. These lighting systems can cost in the thousands of dollars and are often run by computers. As a DJ is building up the crowd so that they can “go off”, the lighting and lasers follow suit accordingly. When the DJ has the music peaking and the crowd is going off, the lasers and lights are usually shining as brightly as possible and are flaring off in every direction.
Raves are a medium for young people to get together, forgot about the problems in their everyday lives, escape from the world around them, and be free to be themselves for a short period of time. In Vancouver and many other Canadian cities, raving serves as an open-minded sanctuary from many young people. The Vancouver Rave Scene is different from many other American cities because of the fact that Canadian youth are allowed into drinking establishments much earlier than American youth. In Vancouver, many of the youth feel that the Bars and Clubs bring upon many superficial ideas. Raves serve as a place for these youths to have fun without being judged.