Sunday, June 23, 2013

Raves: Where I'm In My Element

Last night at a rave, while I was taking a break from dancing and people watching, suddenly the thought hit me: I am really in my element here.  I feel very comfortable in this environment, and I am so happy to have the opportunity to be a part of it.  This is a fairly recent thing for me -- I attended my first rave in December 2011.

Of course, the biggest reason I like raves is because of the music!  I liked electronic dance music long before it had such a term.  For example, side 4 of the 1978 double album Bad Girls by Donna Summer (produced by Giorgio Moroder, who was responsible for the sound) was always my favorite side of the album: all of the songs were electronic.  One of my favorite dance songs of 1983 was "I Love You" by Yello, a song in which I can hear clear foretastes of today's pulsating EDM.  The music has evolved since then, and it's even better than ever, so I am definitely enjoying the music these days.  The only kinds of EDM I know I don't like is Drum'n'Bass, and some kinds of house.  My favorites are trance (especially melodic vocal trance), dubstep, and happy hardcore...but again, I like pretty much all of it except Drum'n'Bass and some house.

Another reason I like raves is because of the colors and lights!  This, too, goes way back for me.  Back in the 1960s, I loved the psychedelic colors and designs that were popular then, much of it associated with the music known as psychedelia, and some with acid rock.  The stage performers would have behind them a big backdrop of psychedelic colors in ever changing patterns.  In the late 1970s, dancing in a disco provided the experience of colored flashing lights, though at first it was mostly lighted dance floors and mirror balls -- very primitive by today's standards.  Now at raves, there are fabulous laser lights and the newer amazing LED dance lights, providing awesome colors, designs, and visual excitement.

In addition to the colors of the dance club lights themselves, there are the bright colors provided by the PEOPLE!  On the dancefloor, people bring their glowsticks, LED finger lights and other kinds of colorful flashing devices.  Plus, many people wear brightly colored clothes, which is right down my line, because I like to wear bright colors on a daily basis.  A number of girls wear brightly-colored knee-high fur boots (even now, in the heat of summer), accompanied by other brightly colored clothes.  Even many guys wear bright colors -- which, since normally I am very much the oddball for wearing bright colors, is one of the reasons I feel like I'm in my element at a rave.

Last night I was thinking also about all the different kinds of things people wear and have with them.  There was a couple where the guy had on a bright yellow hooded sweatshirt, with the hood being a Pokemon head, and the girl wore a Japanese schoolgirl uniform.  Another guy that was there last night, who I've seen at raves before, has a Pokemon backpack that he wears.  It's not unusual to see Hello Kitty attire.  I saw other cartoon head gear, including one girl wearing a dinosaur head piece with the ridges of the dinosaur's back going halfway down her back.  Girls often wear tutus.  At the other end of the spectrum from the cute stuff, I saw a guy with an army helmet on, and another one wearing a gas mask.  I saw a guy dressed like a hiker carrying a big walking stick.  I saw a guy dressed in a kimono.  Some couples were dressed in attire that seemed to be based on something from literature.  But not everyone dresses up in something special like this.  Others wear lots of general outlandish clothes that I love -- bright colors, shiny or vinyl clothing, lace, and bold designs. Still others wear normal clothes, of varying styles, from plain old jeans and t-shirt to something nicer looking.  What I like most of all: Anything goes.  You can wear outlandish costumes, or you can wear normal street clothes -- it doesn't matter what you wear, you fit in.  That's something I noticed last night that I really like about raves.

I also like their comfort with various toys or gadgets.  I've already mentioned the glow sticks and LED finger lights; there are also glow bracelets and necklaces, and other things with flashing LED colored lights.  One item sometimes seen is something like a long, tubular wig that lights up and flashes.  There’s a girl who comes to many of the raves and has a lighted hula hoop, which looks awesome in action. Last night I saw someone with a flashing LED pacifier.  People have toy guns, swords, and other items that light up with all kinds of colors.  Candy pacifiers and lollipops are not at all unusual.  Last night I was appreciating all this, savoring the fact that with these people, you can have fun in a childlike way and not be ridiculed, as is too often the case in the rest of society.

Lighted hula hoop in action

This anything-goes freedom applies to the dancefloor too.  Rave dancefloors tend to have a guy-to-girl ratio of about 10-to-1, which is completely different from the ratio of any other kind of music environments I've been in, where female dancers are clearly the majority.  Some of the guys are fabulous dancers, able to move their feet incredibly fast, and they're amazing to watch.  Other guys barely move on the dancefloor, just swaying a bit to the beat.  And there's everything in-between...and nobody cares.  Nobody cares how you dance; there's no pressure to be a good dancer as in some other music environments.  So this is another way I really appreciate the rave community.

Finally, I have found that people at raves are mostly really nice.  When I first started going to raves, I was apprehensive, afraid I wouldn't be accepted or would be viewed as the freak because I was 20 to 35 years older than everyone else there.  But I quickly found out that people did not treat me differently, but struck up normal, friendly conversations with me.  I've even gotten some compliments.  Last night, upon arrival, as I was walking through the group of people smoking outside the doors, one girl who was not conservatively dressed said to me enthusiastically, "I like your shirt!"  I smiled big and replied heartily, "Thank you!"  That put my night off on a good start!  Outside afterward, one guy said, "You're a good dancer," a compliment I've received from time to time in various word forms.  My favorite version of the compliment ever was the guy who said, "Man, you rave like a mofo!"

Yes, even though I've known since my first rave in December 2011 that I love this environment, last night it really hit me how glad I am to have the opportunity to experience being in a place where I feel so comfortable.

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