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Going to your first rave can be a life-changing experience that makes you question everything you know about life. It can help you learn about new music, meet new friends, and even change the way you see yourself.
You probably already have an idea of certain things that you should do when you're at a rave. You might also know that people are supposed to abide by the rules of Peace, Love, Unity and Respect. But, a bit of a culture shock is to be expected regardless.
Most people will tell you raving is fun, but there's more to the picture than that. Speaking as a veteran raver, here's what you should know before you go to your first rave - whether it's EDC or a random party in the woods.
First things first, there are different kinds of raves.
When most people think of a rave, they think of major club parties featuring headliners like Excision, Galantis, or Scooter - and yes, technically those are raves.
When you think of Galantis concerts, you are thinking of mainstream raves. They tend to be held in legitimate venues with known headliners, well-equipped security, and pricey vendors. Though they are expensive and crowded, these raves are often the safest ones to go to.
Mainstream raves tend to be upbeat and are filled with regular people who are looking to cut loose. That being said, you can go to a bunch of these and never run into the same crowd twice.
Music festival raves are basically what you would call EDC, EZoo, or Burning Man. There's music, they're expensive, and yes, you can camp out there or go to a nearby hotel for more fun.
Much like mainstream raves, music festivals tend to be very safe and free spirited. The only difference is that they tend to be a lot more crowded and that they may not be the best for people who need a break away from all the crowds at times.
Underground raves are a lot less expensive, and most of the time, they are held in venues that may or may not actually be legal eventspaces. With underground raves, promotions are very low-key, typically done through Facebook, and might also require you to be "in the know" to find the venue.
Unlike mainstream raves, underground raves tend to have the same community attending each party. So, if you go to a lot of these, you'll likely end up running into the same people from time to time. DJs at these raves tend to be lesser known, may focus on spinning obscure kinds of electronica, and also will typically hang out with fans.
Generally speaking, underground ravers tend to have more extreme styles of clothing than mainstream raves. There also may be rap battles, graffiti art installations, and breakdancing contests at underground raves.
Outlaw raves are the most dangerous, primarily because there's ZERO guarantee of protection or security. Moreover, even going to them can get you arrested, since they're most often held on illegal abandoned property. Drug deals happen out in the open here, and if fights break out, you're on your own.
Outlaw raves are typically not a good idea to go to, even if you're daring about it. They just attract bad people, and it's too unsafe. After all, it only takes one bad night to end up getting seriously injured in these kinds of circumstances.
Don't try to act like someone you're not.
In many venues, you may feel like you need to act like someone you're not just to impress people and make friends. Raves are not the place to do that. In fact, raves are possibly the one place you can go to act like a nerd without having to wonder about being criticized.
These kinds of events attract the least judgmental people you'll ever meet - and besides, half of them are high and probably won't care what you do, anyway. If you're friendly and nice to people, you will end up with new friends by the end of the night.
Take this opportunity to seriously cut loose. Being that one stuck up person at a rave is never a good thing, and it could end up causing you to miss out on some awesome friendships.
Go with friends that you trust.
Raves are very chaotic, and it's very easy to get lost. In the case of underground and outlaw raves, it's also easy to end up smoking a joint that you later find out was laced. In the case that you're insane enough to go to an outlaw, if a fight breaks out, you may need backup.
What I'm saying is that raves can get a little bit crazy, and you need to be around people who you trust. When you're dealing with a wild party, you never know what could happen.
If you do go to a party solo, make sure that you know the people there, so that you can clique up with them when you arrive there. That way, you've still got people who can make sure you're having a fun time.
Kandi trading is still a thing, yo.
Kandi, as you probably know, are the brightly colored beaded bracelets that people make and trade...or decorate their arms with via kandi cuffs. Before you go to raves, it's a good idea to make a dozen or so bracelets with your friends. That way, you can bond with one another and also get prepped to go at the same time.
That being said, there is a traditional kandi trading handshake you also will end up learning. The easiest way to learn it is to ask a veteran to trade kandi with you. They'll roll you through the motions, and PLUR you in.
Even if you aren't taking molly, you should still drink a lot of water when you're partying at a rave. Dancing all night will make anyone break out a sweat, and when you combine that with all the heat generated from other people, it can be a formula for dehydration.
On another note, drinking plenty of water also can help you power through a rave when you're tired. After all, it does make you need to pee, right?
You may also want to pack a rave bag, just in case.
Most ravers won't get caught dead without the right gear - including a comfortable pair of shoes, a bandana, cash, a cell phone, a water bottle (or Camelpak), and of course, glowsticks. That being said, being a pack rat raver is often a better idea.
If you're renting a room, bring a couple of changes of clothing, some deodorant wipes, rave toys like hula hoops, and some extra condoms. Hippie love is alive and well in the rave scene, so don't be afraid of keeping a condom in your bag just in case.
Should you decide to try some drugs, it's strongly advised that you get a test kit. These kits can tell you what the drugs are cut with - and can potentially save your life from an overdose.
You don't have to be drunk or high in order to enjoy a rave.
Yes, it's true - raves can be enjoyable sober.
Even though it seems like everyone goes to raves to get wasted, you should never feel pressured to get high or drunk if you don't want to do so. The truth is that raving is all about just experiencing community, music, and love. Sure, drugs may be part of raving, but it's definitely not all of raving.
Besides, just about every group of ravers out there will be thankful to you if you choose to remain sober. Designated drivers and "babysitters" are a thing, and being sober can mean you will be able to save someone's life later on.
A huge part of really enjoying raves is dancing like no one can see you. That is, after all, why the music is so good. It doesn't matter if you're 500 pounds or a classically trained ballerina - people will cheer you on when they see you dancing.
Even if you aren't a dancing type of person, you should give it a try at a rave. Let the music flow through you, and just do what you feel is natural. I can guarantee you that you'll be able to bond with people better once you show your skills on the dance floor.
Dress to impress.
Yes, there's a reason why ravewear is so unlike what you might wear on a daily basis. The reason why is because it's supposed to be an expression of who you really are. Rave outfits are crazy, weird, and unique - just like ravers.
So, go ahead and wear those phat pants. Grab a couple of pasties and get wild. Raves are about being you, and making great memories, so why not get into the spirit of it?
If you feel lost or unwell, ask for help.
One thing that will never cease to amaze me is how supportive and helpful fellow ravers really are. If you're lost and looking for friends, ask someone for help. They'll start searching with you. If you lose your jacket, it's very likely that you might find someone willing to lend you yours.
Ravers are like that, and that's part of the appeal.
That being said, if you took something and feel woozy, you shouldn't hesitate to ask someone who staffs the event for help. There's a good reason why most rave venues have EMTs onsite or have very well trained security on premises. They are there to make sure you're okay if things happen!