The world according to Abel: Raves

What’s better than dancing to loud dubstep, bright laser light shows, and being in a room full of strange people who you’ve never met before hugging you and saying how much they love you, all while wearing crazy clothes and sharing their beautiful glowing kandi “braclets”? Nothing if you ask me! I love the music, the people, the clothes- everything! I go through this experience almost every weekend. I’ve spent many days driving around Austin, Houston, and Dallas with my friends looking for the rave of the night. It’s pure joy getting to experience new places and people.

Now I know what y’all are thinking… what is a “rave”? Well it’s just a place, any place, where people can come together to dance, with hypnotizing light shows. There aren’t enough words in my soul to fully explain my love for raves. To me, raves are a place where I can go dance for hours, and talk to someone dressed as Sailor Moon about their life. It’s really about the people. At raves I don’t feel like I’m the only peacock in a flock of pigeons. I feel like it’s somewhere I belong. It’s a place where I can see other people with their arms full of kandi, tutus on their hips, rainbow leggings on their legs, and synthetic dreads on their heads.

Yet, ever since I started going to raves, I have heard a lot of stereotypes about the people who go to them. When I think about it though, I can see how the image of a “Kandi Kid”, as us rave-goers are called, can be perceived to be promiscuous, pill-popping, freaks. I’ve been hitting the rave scene for about a year now and I’ve experienced first hand what raves are like and it’s far from the stereotype.

“Kandi Kids” are what some of us call ourselves. Being one myself, I truly thought about what it said about me. Most people think raves are only about taking hallucinogenic drugs, revealing outfits that degrade women and wild out of control teenagers. Raves are not defined by those things though. As I listened to what people have to say about “Kandi Kids” I can’t help but feel offended.

At the same time, I couldn’t help but face the fact that in some way those stereotypes were, to a degree, true. When I’m out dancing, I notice there may be some tabs getting passed around, but nobody is forcing them on anyone. Raves aren’t just a place for stoners, junkies and freaks; they are a place to meet people and have fun. There is no more “bad behavior” at a rave than a concert or other type of club.

Personally, I find the outfits amazing. They show how creative people can be! Most people make their own outfits and theme them to something they love. At one rave I went to in Houston called “Hard Summer” there was a guy dressed as a Smurf. When I went to talk to him so we could exchange kandi he explained his outfit to me. “I love the Smurfs, I grew up watching it and it has a special place in my heart.”  I thought that was awesome! As we traded kandi,  I felt like I had made a new friend, I may never see him again, but he is going to stay in my heart forever.

The music is of its own genre. My friend explained to her sister what dubstep was, and I love her definition; “it’s techno chopped and screwed”. That is a good way to describe dubstep, but there is so much more than just that. Most raves have separate rooms for different types of music. There is hard-style, industrial, techno; so many different groups and DJs. When I went to “Spring Love” in Austin, the main room had DJs with GoGo dancers blasting techno, while in a room up stairs they played hard-style. Finally, outside they had dubstep going. The music is in a world of its own.

With the whole “teenager” thing, it’s so not true! I’ve seen people younger than me; but I’ve also seen adults in their 30s and 40s jumping around, fist pumping just as hard as me. Parents can be seen sometimes with their kids on their shoulders covered in day glow paint dressed as butterflies. I couldn’t believe that I saw a real family of ravers! I can walk around and see beautiful pregnant girls who aren’t afraid to show their bellies. I thought that was moving. Even now, my godson falls asleep to dubstep. Those children are going to be a whole new generation of ravers. So many people of different ages, different views, and different backgrounds brought together by P.L.U.R.

What’s P.L.U.R you ask? Well it stands for “Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect”. At raves everybody is an equal, and everybody loves each other. I’ve gotten to know some amazing people at raves and it blows my mind that up to 500 people can all be together and how much love I can feel in the room. I can’t count how many times I see people who may be complete strangers to each other sit there and help each other with their problems. Maybe you’ll never see this person again, maybe you’ll see them next weekend. Who knows? But it just gives me a little hope for the world every time I step through the doors in my neon orange tutu, anime pigtails, and wrist full of kandi!

Raves aren’t for everybody, I know, but if one day you find yourself in front of a huge speaker with Skrillex, Dead Mau5, or Kaskade blasting into your face, just keep an open mind and an open heart.

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