Underground Raves in Southern California Research Paper

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The first is the actors in the setting. The researcher will collect variables such as age and gender so as not to interfere with the natural setting of the revelers. The second category is the behaviors being carried out by these actors. These will be recorded as acts which are small units of behavior, activities which are a set of related acts and events which are a set of related acts in a sequence. The third category is the space that is occupied by these actors. This will essentially be an understanding of the setting of the underground rave. Information on ventilation, lighting, cleanliness, and setting of the underground rave will be collected. The fourth category is the arrangement of objects in the space. This will seek to collect information regarding the arrangement of tables, chairs, bars, and other items in the underground rave. The next category is the time of the observation which will give crucial information regarding the timing of the underground raves. The sixth category is the goals that are associated with the behavior of the actors. Here the researcher will seek information regarding the reasons behind the activities being undertaken by the revelers. Emotions and feelings of the revelers is the last category. The researcher will seek information on whether the behaviors being undertaken by the revelers have any level of emotions or feelings behind them. Other items that the researcher will observe include the language used by the revelers and their interactive patterns.

The researcher will also conduct interviews with promoters, DJs, and bouncers for these events. This information will help to understand the organization and operation of these underground raves and thus enable the researcher gain information regarding the raves. A standardized interview form will be used to ensure consistency of data collected.

Data analysis

Data collected through participant observation and interviews will be analyzed through concept analysis to find emerging patterns, themes, concepts and meanings which will then be presented systematically. It is expected that since this ethnographic study uses the natural human social setting or encounter, routinized patterns will be recognized which will be the emerging themes sought in this analysis. The researcher will also be able to find the social norms applicable to underground raves which will create an understanding of the broader socio-cultural context of the society. Information regarding the deep structural interactions of revelers at these events will also be studied to pick up stimuli for these interactions.

Data presentation


Data collected from the DJs, promoters and bouncers informed the researcher that the Southern California underground rave scene has become popular since 2010 when the law was passed to prevent raves in public places. Promoters have the role of organizing these raves which begins from hiring the location, printing informational leaflets and passing word-of-mouth communication to revelers. They also seek musicians and DJs to mix in the event and from the two promoters interviewed, one had personal experience in underground raving as a reveler while the other was a famous DJ before assuming the role of promoters. The promoters have the task of keeping up with local, national and international trends in organizing raves that create huge hype and give huge returns.

The DJs are the personalities in the rave and they help to pull the crowd. When a popular DJ is mixing at a rave party, revelers flock the event. They have an artistic personal that comes from the intricate relationship between them and the revelers at these raves. DJs need to be smooth in their transitions from one song to the other in order to maintain a continuous beat which allows the revelers to dance continually for hours without stopping.

Bouncers are the event security and they have the job of ensuring everyone at the underground rave is safe. They prevent brawls from happening during the event as well as overdosing on drugs or alcohol. They also ensure the security of the musicians, DJ and promoter at the event by using crowd control measures. Bouncers also collect entry fees and issue tickets to revelers to prevent unauthorized entry. They also keep a look out for police or other forms of law enforcement that may show up at the event.


Revelers in the underground raves were aged between 19 and 21 years of age with 54% being female revelers and 46% being male revelers. The revelers were dressed up in distinctive rave style which consisted of clunky shoes, oversized clothes and old fashioned night caps. Males had large pairs of pants common in the hip hop culture with bottoms being un-hemmed and cutoff. Female ravers wear the scantiest dresses and tops that expose as much as is possible. They also are heavily clad in ornaments such as earrings, bangles, and necklaces. Rave dancing is also unique and different from dancing in clubs and music videos. It is an individualistic experience that lacks sensuality. Ravers are often high on drugs and lose themselves in the music. They do not dance to relay any form of sexual messages to other ravers.

The raves had smart bars as well as alcoholic bars. The smart bar was a booth that sells nonalcoholic drinks which as the researcher found out are integral to the worldwide rave culture. These nonalcoholic drinks were made using fruit juices, powders purchased legally at health food stores, proteins, vitamins and stimulants such as caffeine. These smart drinks are promoted as enhancers to the psychedelic experience of the revelers since they increase their ability to dance for long periods of time. The researcher also found that smart drinks have been in the market for many years but they only gained popularity as a result of the rave culture. The smart bars also sold "smart drugs" which were referred to as blast capsules by the revelers. These contained caffeine and phenylalanine which are also advertised to give fast energy to ravers allowing them to dance for long periods.

The alcoholic bar is the more popular bar. Lines for alcoholic drinks were found to be much longer than those for nonalcoholic drinks for both raves attended. The rave organizers take the same precautions to prevent underage drinking as in other clubs. Young ravers had yellow wrist bands that glowed. In these raves, the young ravers have a harder time getting older ravers to buy drinks. Hard drugs were such as ecstasy which was referred to as 'E' or 'X' by the revelers was in sale at both raves and the researcher observed 100 different ravers purchase the drug at the raves from the alcoholic bar within a span of 1 hour. LSD was also on sale and was referred to as 'pig' or 'orange' by the revelers. In the same 1 hour, the researcher observed 20 different ravers purchase the drug.

Other aspects of the rave parties included laser lighting, visual stimulation through film loops and virtual reality, permanent and temporary tattoos and interactive phosphorescent art. During the rave, the dance floor was always fully packed with ravers only taking brakes of few minutes to catch their breath before resuming dancing on the dance floor.


The researcher found that ravers use alcohol and drugs to enhance their psychedelic experience which was consistent with information collected in the literature review. Ravers head straight to alcoholic counters to purchase their psychedelic enhancer which may be alcohol, ecstasy or LSD. This enables them to stay on the dance floor for long periods of time. Raves have, however, failed to differentiate between reality that is altered through the use of electronic and technological means and reality altered through the use of drugs and alcohol. This is seen in the presence of both reality alterations which has led to loss of distinctiveness of the psychedelic enhancers in this setting.

Information collected from secondary data informed the researcher that the profitability of smart bars is very low and as a result they are usually contracted out to other rave entrepreneurs. Most of the drinks in smart bars are more expensive than the alcoholic drinks. Ravers also argue that alcoholic drinks give them a better feeling as compared to these smart drinks. Scholars have also argued that smart bars are attempts made by rave cultures to redeem their lost image by trying to promote nonalcoholic behavior.


Rave culture has grown since the 1980s when it first began to become a youth culture that is centered on maximizing the rave experience. Today, raves are marked by latest technology in lights and loud music as well as dancing to fast-paced music. They are also marked by fear of violence which leads to tight security at these events. Event promoters also have concerns over their legal liability which has enhanced the exclusivity of the raves. Mass media portray raves as hip events marked by state-of-the-art technology and other youth cultures such as environmentalism, computer generated art, alcohol and drug abuse, and loud music. The picture painted by mass media is…

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