Illuminating Darkness / Or 3 Thoughts on Rave Culture
We deal with various kinds of darkness this month. It seems rave fits right in, but it is not about the darkness in an underground club, it is more about the lightness of a message rave culture brings. We contemplate with Skirmante Jaryginaite, the student at Vilnius Academy of Arts, who is bringing this social phenomenon to the academic level.
28 January, 2019
by AGNETE VOVERE & SKIRMANTE JARYGINAITE
Rave started as a revolutionary subculture, fighting for freedom and equality. Now when proper clubbing is legal, weed is making its way to the full legalization in some parts of the World, is there anything left to fight for? While in the Western world we take our freedom as given (different story with the Baltics, but still) there are places, where a party is not just a party – some still struggle for their freedom by dancing together. Ukraine and Georgia represent a few examples. Last spring in Tbilisi a sequence of raids to various nightclubs led to the so-called ‘rave revolution’.
Tbilisi has a booming music scene and club culture developed by the pro-western youth. It is their safe space – be part of LGBT, be anything you want – Tbilisi seemed to be like one’s safe haven. But many recent raids were of far-right wing, against the LGBT people and as part of anti-drugs campaign. People went out in the streets to protest and soon it became 20 000 people rave. If we dance together, we fight together.
Rave with political connotations is an exception today; generally, the concept of rave is more like a trend – fashion or music one. The spirit of original rave has disappeared with some cigarette smokes, but the main value of freedom is alive and well.
Trends come and go but rave fashion from day one has revolved around fantasy and freedom. Rave fashion is not strictly defined – it is about standing for your unique self and feeling accordingly that way.
In the beginning, there was a strong trend in designer clothes, mostly to notify your existing or desired social status. But as drugs became a huge part of this culture, the wardrobe needed to be modified as well. Along with drugs, came high physical activity, sweating and a need of great comfort. As a result, oversized and loose clothes came into the picture. Also, not to forget vivid colours, contrasting clothing and accessories. These days, it’s becoming rare to wear iconic intense colours, lenar pants or neon accessories in one outfit though. Rave culture admirers now wear carefully styled clothes, use more subtle colours and a substantial dose of nakedness.
Today the term rave is being used as a generic title of alternative events, parties. Various studies say this culture defining an environment where people of artistic nature are the most often exposed to. In other words, in this culture we can see more courageous, freer, more creative people, as well as face some inspiring style solutions. And although cultural glances of rave are visible in Lithuania as well, we still have a long way to go, compared to other European cities, where extravagance, freedom and relaxation can be found in “better shape”. Nevertheless, it is noticeable and expected that the alternative music scene in Lithuania will continue growing and rave will play an important part in this regard. Let us hope for the nightlife environment, which is legal and safe, for starters.