Friday, October 15, 2010

PARENTS: Rave Culture and the Rave Scene

Parents Do you know what a RAVE paarty is and what happens at them?

Although only a little more than a decade old, rave culture and the rave scene have evolved into different forms, with variations in music styles, settings, drugs used, and ravers' ages. The rave scene is variously referred to in the literature as the "club scene" or "dance scene" (and the drugs variously referred to as "rave drugs," "club drugs" or "dance drugs").

Here we provide only a brief and general history and description of rave culture and the rave scene; the culture and scene may vary somewhat from community to community.

Raves emerged in U.K. youth culture in the late 1980s, having started amidst the party atmosphere of Ibiza, a Mediterranean island frequented by British youth on vacation. Rave music originated in the United States, mainly in Detroit, Chicago and New York. The rave scene soon spread to other European and North American countries, to Australia, to New Zealand, and elsewhere around the world. Raves, especially those held in large clubs, have been prominent in such North American cities as Toronto, Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Tampa and Orlando, Fla.; and in British cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and London.

Raves vary in size: some draw a few hundred people, while others draw tens of thousands. Raves are commonly advertised in flyers distributed in clubs and music stores, and on Internet websites. Oftentimes, the flyer or website lists only the city, the date, the rave title, and a telephone number.

Those who call the number are given directions to the rave or to another location where they can find out where the rave is. Raves usually start late at night and continue into the morning. A well-known disk jockey is often the rave's main attraction. Ravers often wear or carry glow sticks or other brightly lit accessories, and eat lollipops and candy necklaces. Some wear painters' masks with mentholated vapor rub applied to the inside to enhance ecstasy's effects.

Rave culture has become increasingly commercialized since its early days, and today accounts for a large part of the youth entertainment industry. Regular ravers spend around $50 to $75 (£35 to £50) a week just on admission, drugs and drinks.

So-called "energy drinks" (nonalcoholic beverages laced with amino acids) are often heavily marketed at rave clubs. Bottled water is also prevalent at raves–ravers drink a lot of water to try to keep their bodies hydrated and their body temperatures down. Selling bottled water at raves can be highly profitable. There are large profits to be made selling anything associated with raves, from clothing to accessories to beverages.

In the early years, most raves were unlicensed, unregulated events held in clandestine locations–usually in remote sites like open fields, caves or tunnels, and sometimes indoors in empty warehouses, airplane hangars or barns. Rave locations were kept secret until the day of the event: ticket holders called special telephone numbers to learn where to go. Largely due to police crackdowns on these unlicensed and unregulated clandestine raves, the rave scene moved to large clubs in urban and suburban areas.

Raves predictably attract a young crowd–as young as 13 at unlicensed raves, but more typically in the 17-to-early-20s range in licensed clubs.

Younger ravers are sometimes called "candy ravers":  they are more likely to wear costumes. Ravers come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, though most are white.8 Most are employed, which is not surprising given the costs of regular rave attendance.

Slightly more males than females attend raves.Different clubs that  Promote different types of rave music attract different races and sexual orientations.

Regular ravers appear to derive great pleasure from their involvement in the rave scene, and are committed to it in spite of the risks and costs.

Rave-Related Drugs

Although ravers might use any number of legal and illegal drugs, certain drugs are most commonly associated with the rave scene. Among them are:

• ecstasy (or MDMA)

• Ketamine,

• LSD (or "acid"),

• Rohypnol, and


Ravers also use amphetamines, methamphetamine, cannabis, alcohol, and cocaine, but such use transcends involvement in the rave culture. Crack and heroin are not yet prominent in the  rave culture, but heroin use appears to be increasing among ravers in some jurisdiction.

Other drugs associated with rave culture include:

• MDEA (or "Eve") (3,4-methylenedioxyethylamphetamine);

• MMDA (3-methoxy-4,5-methylenediosyamphetamine);

• PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine);

• fentanyl;

• PCP (or "angel dust") (phencyclidine);

• psilocybin (or "magic mushrooms");

• methaqualone;

• DMT (dimethyltryptamine);

• over-the-counter drugs such as pseudoephedrine, ephedra,

caffeine, menthol inhalants, and vaporizing ointments;

• prescription drugs such as Viagra, Prozac and DXM

(dextromethorphan, a cough elixir); and

• legal substances such as nitrous oxide (or "laughing gas" or


The Problem of Rave Parties

Rave parties–or, more simply, raves–are dance parties that feature fast-paced, repetitive electronic music and accompanying light shows. 

Raves are the focus of rave culture, a youth-oriented subculture that blends music, art and social ideals (e.g., peace, love, unity, respect, tolerance, happiness).

Rave culture also entails the use of a range of licit and illicit drugs. Drug use is intended to enhance ravers'
sensations and boost their energy so they can dance for long periods.

In many jurisdictions, the first time a young person dies while or after attending a rave and using rave-related drugs sparks media, public and political pressure on police to take action.

In some respects, rave party problems are unique; they combine a particular blend of attitudes, drugs and behavior not found in other forms of youth culture. In other respects, rave party problems are but the latest variation in an ongoing history of problems associated with youth entertainment, experimentation, rebellion, and self-discovery.

Rave Parties

The principal rave-related concerns for police are:

• drug overdoses and associated medical hazards;

• drug trafficking and the potential for violence associated

with it;

• noise (from rave music, crowds and traffic);

• driving under the influence; and

• traffic control and parking congestion.

Rave party problems are only one set of problems relating to youth, large crowds and illegal drugs, problems police are partially responsible for addressing. Other problems not directly addressed in this guide include:

• problems associated with crowds at music clubs (e.g., hiphop

clubs), and at concerts and other big events;

• assaults in and around bars;

• thefts of and from cars in parking facilities;

• disorderly youth in public places;

• graffiti;

• street-level drug dealing;

• clandestine drug labs;

• high-level trafficking in rave-related drugs; and

• use of illicit drugs in acquaintance rape.

Environmental Risk Factors at Raves

Certain environmental conditions common to raves create health and safety risks for ravers. Chief among them are heat, humidity and loud music.

The heat and humidity are generated by large crowds of people whose body temperatures rise due to strenuous dancing and the Chemical effects of some rave-related drugs.

Where heat and humidity are not compensated for through good ventilation, air conditioning and ready access to cool drinking water, the risks are compounded.

Prolonged exposure to loud music can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss: sound levels at many raves average around 135 decibels, well above the level that can cause hearing loss.

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