A rave is an energetic dance party that features fast electronic dance music and a stupefying array of flashing lights, projected images, fog machines, glow sticks, and other psychedelic theatre meant to help dancers achieve and maintain a trance-like mood. Raves first appeared in the UK in the late ’80s and have endured as a way for youth to gather and enjoy the new forms of electronic music that disc jockeys were inventing, such as house, acid house, trance, drum and bass and dubstep.  By the early ’90s promoters in London and beyond were planning semi-spontaneous, often free and sometimes massive raves–raves with several thousand attendees were not unusual–in large, open locations like warehouses, abandoned industrial areas and even empty fields.

As raves grew and grew throughout the ’90s–accompanied by a substantial amount of psychedelic substance use–British officials developed laws to reign them in. According to Wikipedia’s entry on raves, the British Criminal Justice and Public Order Act “empowered police to stop a rave in the open air when a hundred or more people are attending, or where two or more are making preparations for a rave. Section 65 allows any uniformed constable who believes a person is on their way to a rave within a five-mile radius to stop them and direct them away from the area.” While police were successful in moving most raves into licensed venues, authorities have not been able to completely stamp out non-licensed (“illegal”) dance parties. (Haven’t they ever seen Footloose?)

In class we’re going to listen to some house music and hold an unlicensed, illegal rave. Come on British police–just try and stop us!

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