Raves 101


Courtesy of AJR

Guardian Staff

Infographic by Sophia Huang
Infographic by Sophia Huang

We all probably know at least one person who has come back from a rave, gushing about how nice the people were and the way the lights and music “took them to a higher state of being”. Whether it’s the lights, music or some other substance, the UCSD Guardian is curious to learn how raves have become the social and cultural phenomenon that they are today.

So what is a rave? Everyone’s trusty pal Google defines a rave as: a large dance party featuring performances by DJs and the occasional live performer playing electronic music, particularly electronic dance music. The term “rave” started coming into use around the late 1980s to describe a subculture that grew out of music with a “squelching” bass sound. Raves may last for up to ten hours and are largely associated with the use of MDMA (otherwise known as ecstasy) — which is why the location of raves started primarily underground to prevent police interference.

Nowadays, raves and rave culture is hardly kept a secret. Outdoor electronic music festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas and Tomorrowland in Belgium have become internationally sought-after events. Ravers travel from all over the world for these large-scale outdoor festivals that promise unforgettable light shows, music and atmosphere.

Another important part of raving is rave attire. Women generally dress in bedazzled bras, bright colored fuzzy leg warmers, possibly a fanny pack and stockings. Men’s attire is not as defined and is often as simple as a brightly colored bro-tank and shorts. Accessories play a big role in rave culture and the community that ravers believe it creates. Often ravers will wear several beaded bracelets, which they call Kandi to exchange PLUR (peace, love, unity, respect) with a fellow raver. These random acts of kindness are initiated by a shaking of hands and the following gestures:

  1. Two people make peace signs (Peace)
  2. They form their hands into hearts (Love)
  3. They join their hearts (Unity)
  4. They slide their bracelets from hand to hand (Respect)


  1. Go with people you know and trust. Of course many of your friends can be fun to be around at a rave, but people who have been to a rave or music festival before make the best company.
  2. Don’t separate from your friends, decide on a meeting spot in case someone is lost. Not exactly like Disneyland, but you get the idea — travel in packs and always have a bathroom buddy.
  3. Hydration is key. So many factors can dehydrate you — summer heat, strong drinks, intense dance moves. Raving requires always having water with you, so consider taking a water bottle with you or even a camelback.
  4. Respect people around you: Do not be violent, and help people who fall in the crowd, including those who are dehydrated or who are just tired. Chances are, you might be the one who needs a Dasani, nap or LifeAlert to get you going again, so be conscious of those around you and get some altruism circulating in the rave.
  5. We recommend that you consider sober raving, but if you decide to drink or take drugs, do it responsibly: do the research on whatever you are putting in your body, check your substances, never mix them and have a responsible and experienced friend to take care of you in case something goes wrong.
  6. If you are sick, don’t be afraid to go to the EMD tent, they are incredibly friendly folk. They are there for a reason, and they probably won’t ask for what insurance plan you carry.
  7. Think what your mom would take with her to the beach when you were 10. That is what you need to have with you if raving outside during the summer season when you are in your early 20s. Pack a sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and aloe vera gel. No need for a swim ring this time though.  
  8. Comfortable attire is a must. Understandably, sweatpants and hoodies aren’t the go-to here, but just know that moshing for 24 hours in leather leggings and six-inch platforms may not be your best strategy.
  9. Make sure your phone is sufficiently charged at all times. To facilitate the charging process on the go, consider investing in an external battery. There are even power banks that get energy from the sun — just Google solar charger and chose an option you can afford
  10. Before going to a festival, please research and pack for the specific rave you are attending. Check the list of allowed items as every festival can be different. For all you J-type ravers out there, this is probably already on your pre-checklist, but for the P-types, take a hint from your friends and at least plan to pack your ticket, and know how to get there — at the very least.