Semantics: Musings On The Term “Rave”


I recently made a post on my personal social media that seemed to get an overwhelming response, so I felt it probably needed to be expanded on a bit.

I know for many party go-ers out in “dance music land”, you may not realize it, because there’s just not been as big of an underground scene over the last 5+ years with the massive explosion and growth of EDM, and at this point it’s probably all semantics but *deep breath* …

Going to a club is not a rave.
Going to a concert hall is not a rave.
Going to a massive festival is not a rave.

Those are venues/clubs whose sole purpose is to legitimately throw events and make as much money as possible doing it. While I’d like to clarify and say there is NOTHING wrong with that, the shows held at these places are not raves.

Raves were originally a movement in counterculture held in warehouses, abandoned buildings and the like, because they were “anti-establishment” and viewed as a safe haven and community away the “normal” and pop culture crowd. Some of those feelings like the feelings of community and, yes, even the idea of PLUR have carried over into the current generation of party goers and that’s a good thing. The issue with using a term whose roots are synonymous and steeped in counterculture to describe the current incarnation of the dance music community is that it’s now grossly inaccurate and here is why:

EDM is the new pop culture.

The lines have blurred to the point where they are almost indistinguishable with many artists, genres, and sounds. Pop has leaned its sound toward dance music, and dance music has returned the favor. It’s this reason that makes the term “rave” to describe anything surrounding this new chapter in music is not only inaccurate, but for those of us old enough to remember the early days, cringe-inducing.

I don’t write this to start an argument or belittle anything that’s happened to make dance music evolve. I for one love that dance music has grown beyond what many of us ever dreamed it could be. I’m writing this, not to browbeat or talk down to the current and newer generations of party goers and dance music lovers, but to give some perspective, because it’s important to know your history, or else you may be doomed to repeat it.

About Matthew Dunn

Matthew is a well known and respected DJ based out of Houston, TX. Dunn has over a decade behind the decks, has played alongside some of the biggest names in dance music, and has been a fixture in the EDM community both on local and international level.

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