Category: raves

Watching DJs live has changed a lot in the past 20 years. The experience of watching a DJ play is very different today than it was when I first started going to live events back in high school. But I don’t know if that’s a function of my location versus a change that is a worldwide one. I’m pretty sure it’s the second, but I’m not positive.

First let’s look at what has changed. My first experience watching a DJ play live came back when I was in high school. I was living in the Seattle area and one of my friends invited me to a rave on the west side of the city in an abandoned warehouse. Funnily enough, it was his younger sister who was into the rave culture and not us. She must’ve been only around 15 at the time. Anyway, she knew about this rave and told her brother. He was interested in going so he let me know. I figured why not?

DJ and lasers at a rave
A “rave” in today’s times. Notice averyone facing the DJ (and the huge stage)

The first thing that struck me were some of the outrageous outfits. The Asian party-goers especially, seem to have gone all out. The next thing I noticed were how hot the girls were. I’d gone to a lot of rock concerts and seen some beautiful women there, but nothing compared to what I saw at this rave. I even enjoyed standing in line for almost an hour. There was just so much eye candy. If one of them had been a singer for one of the DJs, that would have been even better.

I also noticed how friendly everyone was. That brings me to the point of this whole article. There were a lot of good DJs and some of them were apparently quite well known. One, Donald Glaude, was hugely popular. But the crowd almost treated them as if the music was just coming from a stereo system. They didn’t pay too much attention to the DJs. Sure, when Donald took the stage, people noticed and cheered him, but then they danced amongst each other and didn’t really pay much attention to him. They just let the vibes he was creating take over their bodies and enjoyed themselves thoroughly.

The whole rave was like this. People were friendly, were talking and were getting to know each other. Everyone was mingling and hanging out in hammocks and having a great time together. The DJs provided the music that provided the atmosphere that gave us all such a great feeling.

These days when I go to raves or even just clubs that have DJs, it feels completely different. The DJ seems to be like a headlining act at a festival or concert. Everybody stands there and faces one direction, their eyes fixed on the DJ. Sure, they dance, but they dance with the DJ in a way. Nobody is talking to each other, nobody is mingling, nobody even seems to be having that great of a time.

Sure, they’re having fun, but is it really fun. They don’t seem to know how much more fun they could be having. Maybe that’s the key. Maybe they’ve never had the experience I had back in the day, so they don’t know how much more fun a DJ show could be. Because let’s face it, I have a lot more fun when I’m meeting new people and mingling. Naturally, when I say meeting new people, I mean meeting hot girls.

But that can be different for people. The point is people are more aware of other people, they’re not just aware of the DJ. The DJ wasn’t some celebrity back in the day. Yes, he was famous and people were aware of him and even went to raves and clubs to see a particular DJ. But then they just enjoyed the vibes created by the DJ and treated the whole thing like house party. I suppose that’s the difference. Where raves used to be like house parties, today they’re more like a concert.

The question is, is this happening in the US too? The first few years of watching DJs were in the US, but since then, I’ve been living abroad. I’ve not been to any raves or clubs in the US in over 10 years. As a result, I don’t know if this change has become apparent to me because I’m in a different country. I do feel like things have changed abroad, that they used to be similar to the US here, but now they’re like they are today. I get the feeling this is how it is in the US too. This is the era of the superstar DJ. Unfortunately, along with the era of the superstar DJ, comes the era of not being sociable anymore.

For more on the changing rave culture and how DJs, are perceived:


I have had the good fortune to watch live DJs spin music at raves in over five different countries. The rave scenes in these different countries varied greatly, but part of that is also due to the time difference. The raves I am going to mention here took place over a period of 15 years. During that time, rave culture changed in each one of these countries. I only partied at a certain time in each country, so I don’t know what they were like during the other times. This makes it difficult to compare one country to the other directly. But I will try.

The first raves I ever saw were in Seattle, Washington in the United States. They were simply amazing. I’m sure some of this has to do with the fact that they were my first raves, but back then it was the height of the rave culture in the US. The DJs were amazing and so were the venues. They took place in warehouses, but also large public venues. People took ecstasy and danced all night while wearing crazy clothes. The atmosphere was simply wonderful and it has never been beat by any rave or EDM festival I have attended since.

Outdoor rave in Europe
Crowds at an outdoor rave in Europe

Next I’ll quickly mention a rave I went to in Las Vegas in the desert. It was similar to the Seattle ones, but I did not know anyone there, so I didn’t have quite as great of a time. I also did not have any party favors and let’s face it, that does make a difference. The music at that desert rave was great, too, but I have to admit it was very cold at night in the desert and I was not dressed for the occasion. I had a few beers before I went, but there was no alcohol being sold at the venue, because there were people under 21 there and it was in the US. I got tired quickly because of this.

The next rave I went to was in Tokyo, Japan. This was in a gigantic venue right on the waterfront. The music was incredible, perhaps the best out of any of the raves, but the atmosphere just wasn’t there. The whole thing was much too commercial and that definitely took away from the feeling. We did have some party favors this night and I was there with a girl I really liked. This all made for a great night, but I did miss the underground feel of the raves back in the US.

From that point on I didn’t go to any raves for a while. In Europe I just went to clubs, because they did not seem to have real raves. They didn’t need them. You could do anything you wanted in the club. The next actual outdoor music festival with electronic music was in Seoul, South Korea. It was an electronic dance music festival with some large DJs. Some of the biggest name DJs in the world actually. Unfortunately, this being Korea, there were absolutely no party favors whatsoever. There was a lot of alcohol and everyone got very drunk, but it didn’t feel like a rave at all. It felt like a big party. It was a ton of fun, but I would not call it a rave. It was missing everything that makes a rave a rave.

EDM festival type rave in US
Ravers partying at an EDM festival in the US

Finally, I went to a few raves in Shenzhen, China. Being China, there was some weed, but nothing else. They also sold alcohol. I didn’t know anyone there and the parties were very small, so I got bored quickly. The music was fine, but nothing special. It was a nice try, especially for China. This is a country where you really do not have any good clubs at all and the nightlife generally sucks. The fact that someone tried to put on a rave is really incredible. They did a good job, too, but that’s not enough in this country. When you are in China, no matter how good you are at promoting parties and events, you just can’t compete with raves in the US or even Japan.

I just realized I forgot to mention the biggest rave of them all: the full moon party in Thailand. Yes I’ve been there and it was incredible. It also did not really feel like a rave, since most people were getting drunk. I was always against the US policy of not selling alcohol at these things, but now that I see what happens when you do, I actually like it. Raves are about drugs, not alcohol. The drugs fuel the enjoyment of the music and the general atmosphere of love and peace. Alcohol does the exact opposite of that. This is why the best raves I have been to were in the United States. That is probably surprising to you. It definitely is to me.

You’ll find info on raves on the Badass Raves FB page.