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Rave: The Beat Goes On

Rave: The Beat Goes On

Locale: Britain

Locale: Britain

It is hard to say when and where the first ravers really started happening, because the culture appeared on the offshoot of the dance culture that had already existed. Anyway, many believe that it all started in London in the late 1950s. Then, the term “rave” was used to describe the “wild bohemian parties” of the Soho beatnik set. Thereafter, the term migrated to the golden youth’ lexicon from the modists subculture. Rich boys and girls began to call the rave any reckless hangout. Accordingly, the visitors of such gatherings began to be called ravers.

The term appeared to be part of the title of the “Million Volt Light and Sound Rave,” an electronic music performance held in London in 1967. Specially for it, legendary The Beatles even created an experimental sound collage “Carnival of Lights,” which, unfortunately,  remained unreleased. The hippie and British pop culture times started, and the rave went underground. Its resurrection happened later, in the 80s.

By the end of the decade, the music scene introduced the young sons of mythical working class to acid house and techno. The rave slowly but steadily migrated from clubs to places more suitable for such kind of music, such volume, and such size of audience—warehouses, factories, suburbs, even forests. Early rave parties gathered huge crowds, sometimes up to 25,000 people. Music lovers were flocking like moths to a flame. In this case, the flame was presented by the pungent lights of laser shows.

From the early 90s on, the rave culture ceased to be an exclusively London phenomenon and turned into a mainstream of the British youth underground. The raves in Britain became the new football, new rock music, new street style, new everything. Organizations like Fantazia, Raindance & Amnesia House, and Universe made massive legal raves in fields and warehouses across the country. One such party called One Step Beyond gathered 30,000 people.

Initially, there were set techno, drum’n’bass, and breakbeat at the rave parties, and only later—hardcore techno, happy hardcore, and bouncy techno.

However, although happy hardcore was able to make rave-goers happy, it failed to satisfy the authorities and police officers. They quickly realized that this new passion of the British youth had become too massive and uncontrolled, so they began to commit crackdowns of the raves. In 1994, the British Parliament passed the notorious Criminal Justice Bill abolishing the freedom of assembly and expanding the powers of the British police. The targets of the bill were squatters, punks, hippies, and other protesters. Moreover, paragraph 63 of the bill was aimed specifically at the ravers and open-airs. It also contained a wonderful legal definition of techno and house as music that was wholly or predominately characterized by the production of a sequence of repetitive beats.

Today, we cannot imagine Britain without the rave. As well as the Queen, football fans, rainy weather, and the British pound, it seems like it has always been there.

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