How Rave Culture Got its Groove Back, Inspiring Everything From Fashion to Party Drugs
Ibiza wasn't always about expensive bottle service and luxury clubs. The culture of Ibiza was inspired by an need for artistic expression of anti-establishment, Sabrina Maddeaux details its evolution in this feature for The National Post.This article originally appeared on National Post
For a long time, there was no cooler place to party than the Spanish island Ibiza.
The tiny mass of land in the Mediterranean sea was home to the biggest dance floors (both legal and illegal) and an endless stream of world travellers looking to get high on electronica and ecstasy. So-called “super-clubs” like Space and Amnesia kept the hedonism going 24 hours a day and hosted up to 20,000 revellers at a time. For any serious raver, the pilgrimage to Ibiza was a right of passage.
Despite the scene’s enduring reputation for Caligula-esque debauchery, raves of the ’90s might better be compared to religious experiences than the drink-to-get-drunk nightclub culture that took over at the turn of the millennium. As much as it was about the music, drugs and fashion, it was also an escapist movement reacting to Thatcherism, Reaganism and the takeover of capitalist ideals in the ’80s.
Raves were anti-establishment and espoused the values of peace, love and unity. Ravers made their own clothes and partied illegally under bridges and in abandoned warehouses. There’s a reason why most churches incorporate music into their sermons; nothing connects a community like joining together in song and dance. It’s a tactic to strengthen social bonds. The rave scene used music to similar effect – granted, with larger subwoofers and looser morality.
By the early 2000s, the party was over. Authentic raves all but disappeared in favour of licensed nightclubs with towering bouncers and overpriced bottle service. This was in part due to a string of highly-publicized deaths related to drug use and the infiltration of the scene by younger, inexperienced partiers more interested in vice than virtue. Raves were no longer symbols of freedom; they were parents’ worst nightmares. Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman infamously instituted, then later repealed after public outcry, a city-wide rave ban.
Photos courtesy of David Ramos/Getty Images