The rave scene has become more and more mainstream these days, in part due to the popularization of music that has its origins in the rave scene, and in part due to the increased ease of communication that has come with increasingly easy access to the Internet -- especially these days, what with the popularity and ubiquity of smartphones. Despite the sometimes negative connotations of the word ‘rave’, it’s an interesting history that’s had a significant influence on modern-day culture, primarily through its influence on the way its changed the way we see parties as a culture and the music that’s come from the movement.
Early Rave Culture: The Music, the Dancing
Despite the connotations of the word rave, the first events to bear the name were, in fact, legal. These were executed by organizations such as Fantazia, Raindance, and Amnesia House, in large warehouses or open fields throughout the country. These events were typically very, very large, with hundreds of attendees -- and, sometimes, into the thousands. One party, the now-famous One Step Beyond, attracted thirty thousand partygoers! This was impressive, but not entirely unique. The Vision festival, held at Popham’s field in ‘92, had forty thousand in attendance -- quite a number
Raves came to be known for the music that was played, and the energetic dance styles that grew around them. These styles were largely electronic, and included such slow and somewhat dark styles as jungle; the faster, and more upbeat, happy hardcore; and other mixed styles of what came to be known in general as electronica. These days, music festivals are known for an interestingly reflective variety of electronic music styles -- dubstep, trap, and other genres are popular with the youth these days, but have their origins way back in these early, legal parties.
DJ Equipment Used in the Rave Scene
DJs back then, just like those today, would set up sets on stages and perform for their audiences, who would stroll from stage to stage or stick by this or that set to watch their favorite artists rotate through. Older disk jockeys used analog equipment -- that is, they used devices that played actual phonograph records, which they would mix and scratch by hand on stage. This is obviously a difficult skill to learn, and most DJs back in the day took quite a long time to develop their chops with the analog machines.
Today, DJs use digital equipment and software with which they can mix tracks, adjust tempo and pitch, and perform other such tasks with without the need to adjust the revolution speed of a physical disk, scratch it by hand, or otherwise go through the process of manually altering the characteristics of the record itself. This is not, of course, to suggest that the talent required to DJ has in any way diminished over the years; in fact, there is a legitimate argument to be made for it being more complicated, more versatile, and thus, more difficult these days as compared to in the past.