Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Return of the Rave

At Chicago's recent Resonate 3 arts event, which was beautiful by the way, I talked to some party kids who felt "left out" of the Burning Man scene for lacking the resources to get to the great Black Rock Desert. It was interesting synchronicity for me, for as of late I have been ruminating on an old concept-- the rave.

Party alert: Bounce is going down May 10th(

I guess raves are coming back. Raves. What a concept!
I know you think you know what a rave is... I guess everyone has their own idea. But I am curious what a "rave" is like today. Could it be a world untouched by the near omnipresence of Burning Man in our hyper-contemporary 21st century culture? I mean, Jesus, BM gets shout outs in everything from Malcolm in the Middle to Reno 911 to Lil Bush, and Sean Paul's highly commercial "We Be Burnin'" video takes place on a cracked-dirt playa with flame-belching glowing vehicles in the background (watch it at: How any techno-loving psychonaut party kid could miss the concept of Burning Man ("mother of raves") seems incomprehensible to us grizzled veterans, but then, we remember-- there was a time when we too were age 18-22, economically deprived youth who rarely ventured to Indiana for a new party, let alone outside the jurisdiction of the midwest raves database on-- shit, what was it--

I have a new adventure in mind-- to Rediscover the Rave. It might be hiding under a rock here in Chicago (I highly doubt that; the local government used to crush more raves before breakfast than most governments would their whole lives, and anyway, this place is big enough that Burning Man has taken root and shaded out the less talented and visionary groups-- it has served as braindrain to the rave tribes). It might be in a field in Wisconsin (anyone remember the mighty Drop Bass Network?), or it might be in a musty on-campus gym located in Iowa City.

Even though Burning Man is the current Champion, with its subversive way of sneaking into pop culture discourses, snaking into mainstream music, and insidiously promoting the values of civic art, environmentalism, non-consumerism, and vegetarianism (well, when it's not in sausages-cooked-over-a-burn-barrel mode), there once was a time when a virtual generation of candy kids believed to the bottom of their serotonin-enhanced hearts that the Rave was going to change the world. Then, raves were smashed-- depending on which old-schooler you ask, by either the authorities, the popularity of trance clubs, or mere creative burn-out-- and of course, it was all presided over by a legion of 16 year old cuddle puddles, so yeah... that didn't help, did it...

The Wise Ones looked out from under their cowled UV-reflective robes and uttered a prophecy: "The scene will be driven underground, where it will continue to thrive, someday to take a second stab at bringing PLUR to the masses." Okay, it's not house, techno, and drum & bass, it's electro, breaks, and psytrance (or is it already dubstep, baile funk, and bmore gutter-- it's hard to keep up), but our recent Resonate 3 was based on an older archetype. I wonder how many other fellow Burners out there used to be hardcore Chi-Town ravers? Do they remember the turning point when UFO and Caffeine and happy hardcore and the "legendary" Dalton venue gave way to the "ghetto" styles of Ecko and random shit like Fox Racing shirts and Harvey? And remember when the fashions shifted again, to glam parties at the Congress where guys stood around in cashmere turtlenecks talking about the classic Chicago House music?

Oh, you don't? Ahh, well. I didn't make you drive to Iowa City last weekend for Mindoutpsyde's Raindance either. But I personally believe that the myriad rave, club, and Burning Man scenes are all joined by the same roots, together constitute a genuine global culture (the only good prototype that we have for a global culture that isn't based on McDonalds and Britney Spears), and aspire to the same goals of changing the world. So guys, parties like the Midwest Electronic Music Festival, scheduled to go on in the Chicago area ( are things that we should not miss this summer. You can say "no" to Iowa City, but not to our own backyard, right? And, Resonate was lovely and gritty and holistic, and it bore the fruit of our local labors, but had it been any other weekend we could have been jamming with DJ Icey at the Florida WMC. Actually, our friend Jami made it to Miami AND to Resonate-- and she reported that the WMC rave-ups were "Burning Man caliber". Equal but different.

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