Light and sound underground: a study of rave culture
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Pulsating colors flash, beat throbs deeper, deeper down, lift me up into this ecstasy: the world of rave. Rave culture is a strikingly significant, subversive subculture of recent and current times. Unique to the subculture are: rave music, rave dance, rave fashion, as well as specific tools and machines (i.e. technology used), behaviors, rituals, mind-altering drugs, jargon, and above all, the ecstatic community events that are raves. A subculture must provide for its participants something that may well be unavailable to them from the dominant culture. This starts with a sense of belonging to a "group" that appeals to them rationally and aesthetically. Rave in particular provides inclusion in an international community, as well as senses of festivity, intensity, emotional release, and collective experience; these in turn invoke alternative ideas/modes of thought and behavior/ways of living. After the death of anti-culture with the punks, effective subculture required a new direction: enter rave, endorsing on one hand a technology-glutted futurism ruled by machine-human interfaces, and at the same time a return to ancient tribal beats and nomadism. Rave's innovation lies in its extraction from culture of the essential: collective experience, festivity, and transcendence; and its exclusion of the superfluous "meaning" centers: politics, ideology, religion, race, ethnicity, even geography. The meaning of rave as a subversive art is not, as many critics claim, merely escapism, but an acute reaction to dominant culture in its offering of the experience itself. The cultural value of the rave lies in its construction of a working and contemporary transcendent collective experience, a space for being-in-the-moment. Within and with that act (which is art) a rave gains power to influence the future evolution of human thought and society, and to cut a path back to a once supernatural past, simultaneously in the moment and utterly timeless.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 75-77).
Harrison, Summer Gioia (2002). Light and sound underground: a study of rave culture. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from