Raves or rave parties refer to dance parties that often last through the night and consist of a variety of loud and fast-paced electronic sound coupled with strobe and psychedelic lighting effects and high-tech equipment. Typical rave venues feature a number of artists on the bill and often flyers are circulated (or word-of-mouth promotes the venue). Raves can attract hundreds – even thousands — of participants.
Growth of raves
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the underground rave culture began in Europe in the 1980s. Locations where raves originally occurred in England included large, abandoned warehouses and open fields, attracting thousands of participants. In the 1990s, club promoters and entertainers brought raves to the U.S. and the attention of young people, drawn by the opportunity to experience the loud music and the popular dance scene at the same time.
The explosion of the Internet made rave promotion an infectious virus. No longer was it necessary to rely on a paper flyer or passing along a tip when you could blog anonymously and alert via “viral” messages literally thousands of rave intenders. It’s no accident that rave clubs zoomed in popularity with the introduction of a rave drug favorite known as ecstasy or MDMA.
Raves are lucrative
Another reason for the popularity of raves is that they’re cheap to put on and net the promoter tons of cash in return. Promoters can be local, national or international. They hire the bands, disc jockeys, advertise via numerous venues (Internet, radio, flyers, telephone and other means), secure the venue (or own it), and, voila – the ravers will come. Parents may even be conned into believing that a particular rave venue is safe because it’s advertised as “alcohol free.” While it’s true that alcohol may not be officially served – after all, serving alcohol to teens is illegal – that doesn’t stop the unofficial sale and distribution of alcohol on any given night.
Criminal element ever-present
Despite the fact that many ravers don’t seek to participate in drugs and/or alcohol, the fact is that the rave is a hotbed of criminal activity – with drug pushers, sales of pharmaceuticals for nonmedical purposes, and individuals seeking to promote and/or commit sexual assault, and engage in property damage. This is not a safe environment or one that’s conducive to the well being of our young people.
Drugs make raves dangerous
Raves are also extremely dangerous. The wide variety – and inconsistent purity and strength – of drugs available at raves, the fact that social norms are tossed out the window in the heat and excitement of the rave, and the inability or unwillingness to forego the drug experience all combine to make raves a truly dangerous place for any rational individual.
Someone may slip a date rape drug into your drink. These drugs include Rohypnol, ketamine and GHB. The memory problems you may experience with the drug can make it impossible to remember that an attack occurred – until you see and feel the evidence some 8 to 12 hours later.
The pill you pop or stick under your tongue may have additives that can cause hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, disordered thinking. Your heart rate can increase, your respiration become shallow, your limbs may begin to twitch and spasm uncontrollably. You may suffer a heart attack, stroke, or have convulsions. You may even overdose and slip into a coma.
Combining drugs with alcohol at raves only intensifies the risk. What if you’re allergic to one of the drugs? The drug and alcohol cocktail can prove fatal – and no one will pay any attention if you fall on the floor. They’re too busy “feeling the beat” and doing their own thing. By the time someone does notice and tries to get help, precious minutes have passed. It may be too late. Parents who have lost children to these unsupervised events may never recover emotionally from the guilt.
A wide variety of paraphernalia can be found at raves – all intended to enhance and promote the use of the illicit drugs. Glow sticks help to intensify the effects of ecstasy. Candies such as M & Ms and Skittles help to hide drugs. Vicks Vapo Rub, menthol nasal inhalers, surgical masks, eye drops are everywhere. You’ll also see people sucking on pacifiers and lollipops – so they won’t clench their teeth while under the drug influence. Drug testing kits are all over so that participants can check their levels – thinking they can get away with “just a little bit” of the drug. Water, juice, sports drinks and other liquids are sold by promoters at exorbitant prices – so ravers can stay hydrated and stay longer.
According to DEA information, security consistently ignores the rampant and open use and sale of illicit drugs at raves. MDMA, for example, is taken right out in the open with no attempt to conceal it.
The dangers of raves are becoming more documented as law enforcement officials work hard to get the word out. But parents can do an enormous job in helping to ensure their children are well aware of the dangers that raves pose.