Traditions: The History of Rave Culture.
The article “Traditions: The History of Rave Culture” by Holotropik was first published on TheScene.com.au in October 2000.
Lineage of Raving.
Through coincidence or fate I have become aware of an almost continuous lineage of Raving throughout mans’ history. Perhaps this is a reminder to some or perhaps you never realised the complete history of Raves. Most are aware of the general culture of Raves and the guidelines for Rave etiquette, but, not many would be aware of the tradition that accompanies these values.
Raves are of a spiritual nature, nearly always celebrating a particular event or occurrence in nature and sometimes as a form of worship or communion ‘with the Gods’. Music and drums have always been the cornerstone of these events. The rhythmic trance-like nature of the drums promotes a unity within and throughout the gathering.
An obvious example of ancient raves would be that of the North American Indians. Popularly known to have held Sun-Moon dances and Dreamer lodges as well as Gatherings to respect religious and seasonal events. Word would be sent out to the different tribes notifying that an event would be occurring on a specific date. The tribes, who received word, would organise a crew to attend the ceremony and send them on a great journey to attend the important event. The crew members would dress in ceremonial attire that reflected the tribes heritage. The dress code was one of individuality and symbolic significance with flamboyant and colourful styles that promote a state of mind. Supremely hand crafted adornments were attached that included head-dress and jewellery of every kind. The venues were also held as sacred and often located in unique ‘out of the way’ locations. Venues were chosen for spiritual significance, ancestral history and geographic location. The preparation of the venue was also steeped in ceremony and presented to the gathering a symbolic statement of the event. I should also stress the high regard the crews kept for the venue. It was common practice to care for the venue in respect for spiritual beliefs.
It is important to mention the attitude that these tribesmen held when attending a ceremonial dance. The significance of these ceremonies were connected to the religion of the Indians. This religion relied on a strong interconnectedness with nature via a complex array of deities and wisdom. So the ceremonies they organised certainly had a strong religious influence. The entire event including the journey to the venue was considered a mission by the crew and the tribe. They believed that events would occur during the journey that revealed omens or messages from the spirit world. These messages helped them to be in tune with their environment and true nature. Much of the compassionate values promoted in some Raves today stem from the attitudes of these most ancient stompers.
The music used for these ancient ceremonies held the other key to opening the door between this world and the next. Some of the crew members provided instruments and musical talent depending on a selection ceremony. The sound produced during the event was an important link between our ‘normal’ level of awareness and the ‘Second Attention’ of awareness. The constant rhythmic nature and tone produced a trance like state in many who attended these events. One was said to liken it to ‘stand up dreaming’ as the participants would access the dream-world with the assistance of the music. During these trances they would experience a dream like world linked to reality but symbolic like a dream. There the individual communicated with all types of phenomenon and often receiving a message that had some significance in an aspect of his/her life. The structure of the ancient music has obvious connection to the modern ‘doof’ heard in Raves today. Primarily being loop/phrase based rhythmic cycles all superimposing and polyphonic. The best sounds were produced when all the musicians fell into a unifying trance like state.
The North American Indians utilised many plants and herbs within the framework of their society. Some of these were for the purpose of spiritual ceremony. They employed a modest collection of carefully prepared plants for ingesting or smoking to produce a changed state of awareness. An alternative method for producing a heightened sense of awareness was through fasting or sitting in sweat lodges. Interestingly, they determined that not everyone was suited to using mind altering substances. They were generally only taken by shamen or warriors who possessed enough authority over their own minds as a result of following strict spiritual beliefs. The selection process was particular and the partaking of substance was guided by religious tradition. Due to the powerful nature of these substances, the visions they produced and the toll on the physical body, these rituals were carefully guided. The visions were believed to be connected to our dream state and hence the Indians developed powerful techniques for dreaming that are being studied to this day. It was also considered important to ‘Scatter’ correctly after the event. Careful recapitulation was required in order to keep the memory of the dream and prevent any possible behavioural variances caused by venturing into the ‘spirit world’.
Even though I have only used one brief example, being the North American Indian, the Rave culture can be attributed to a range of others. There is evidence of similar traditions throughout the ages from The Celts, Australian Aborigine, Pacific Islanders, Central & Sth Americas and Voodoo cultures. These cultures all have similarities with the Rave scene of today, only now, we have a whole new ‘kettle of fish’. Consider these ramblings as brain candy to consider when next venturing out to appease the senses. Remember, don’t limit yourself to the traditional 5 senses, but include your limitless 6th sense.