Understanding Rave Culture During COVID-19

Raving has been a part of my life for almost 15 years, and in its most common form, it’s easy to recognize. It’s a bunch of kandikids waving around glowsticks, sprinkled with some DJ drama, and maybe a new psytrance track or two. Simple, right?

Our scene is one that is unique in today’s atmosphere, simply because it’s one of the only ones based on non-sporty, in-person interactions. I mean, what’s a rave without a party? Now that COVID-19 has been causing a major crackdown on parties, things have gotten more complex. Here’s what I’ve personally witnessed in the scene…

PLUR means that you *don’t* attend raves.

Multiple DJs and promoters are now facing arrests, fines, and lawsuits. This alone isn’t that big a difference because raves weren’t always legal. What is new, though, is the massive blowback from fellow ravers who caught wind of it. Ravers are now calling people out on risking others’ lives by attending these parties.

Though not all ravers will call people out, the majority of the scene does. In other words, promoting a show in a cramped, mask-free area is a great way to commit career suicide right now. Don’t do it.

The scene has become even more close-knit than before.

This is one of those moments where you regularly see people reaching out to one another, just to make sure that they are okay. While this was always part of my experience as an EDM fan, the sheer amount of outreach has been phenomenal.

Somehow, drama seems to have taken a bigger turn.

Between all the backlash artists have gotten from playing raves during COVID and all the revelations of predatory behavior from known artists, life has been kind of a shitshow on many EDM forums. Many people who were once pillars of the community are getting ejected after their pasts have come to light.

This seems to be a byproduct of being cooped up inside and waiting for things to get better. Now is the time that people are trying to make sure that the rave scene they have is going to be safer and more honest. That, and spending time on the net seems to attract drama. I’m not sure which reason it is in its entirety.

Networking took on bigger meanings.

The cool aspect of the increased focus on online outreach is that it’s leveled the playing field. There are not as many gatekeepers that you need to bypass when it’s all online. It’s also an international level. So, we’re starting to see a lot more collaborations between coasts and even across different nations.

This is a great thing, since it’s opening the door for relatively new people to gain the clout they need to rise through the ranks.

Streaming concerts are now the thing to do.

I can’t name how many Twitch streams I’ve watched featuring DJ lineups I’d kill to see in person. It’s been amazing, and for DJs, having a regular Twitch stream is the only safe way to have concerts. It’s also become a source of income and a way to connect with fans.

You can get subscribers to pay you for your content, and while subs are pretty cheap, it can add up over time. The hardest part, for most DJs, is actually committing to a set schedule so that fans can enjoy you…and occasionally playing to empty crowds.

New skills are required just to stay relevant.

Learning how to work through social media, how to work with Twitch, and how to handle your own online promotions now is a must. If you don’t know how to use OBS to create a nifty frame, how to upload tracks to Beatport, or how to use Ditto, you’ve got some learning to do. Otherwise, you’ll either have to pay lots of money or lose your relevance.

Smart DJs are using this time to produce new tracks.

If you take a quick look at Beatport, you’ll notice that the number of songs exploded. This is not a coincidence. It’s what happens when artists realize they now have extra time on their hands and can do something productive.

Some things never change.

Even with the world currently falling apart at the seams, there are some things that will never change about EDM’s culture and music. There will always be online debates about whether hardstyle or DNB is better. There will always be people making new artwork out of Perler beads.

And of course, we’re all planning out the next time that we’re all going to be able to see one another. And we’re already saving up for the moment where we get to see our favorite artists take the stage. Why? Because we’re ravers, and that’s just what we do.

Oh, and we’ll always love pretty-looking visuals.

As of right now, I’ve noticed quite a few Twitch streamers and casual music lovers using SYQEL to get the visuals they need. It’s a trip, and might just be one of the newer pillars of online raving.

Here is a sample visualization, for your viewing pleasure:

Originally published at https://blog.syqel.com on August 26, 2020.

SYQEL: The music visualizer. Fully automated VJ app that reacts to and visualizes your music in real-time. Try free at SYQEL.com

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