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Anna Cafolla

The Zine Teaching People How to Rave Safely and Ethically


Amidst headlines of drug overdoses at popular music events throughout the world, Rave Ethics zine is looking to teach new and old party-goers alike how to stay safe and respect the scene.

This article originally appeared on Dazed

Clubbing is endangered: we’ve seen nights for marginalised people targeted in the Orlando shootings, spurred on for hatred of the LGBT community. We’ve witnessed the erosion and ridicule of safe spaces, threatening how minorities rave, and our governments threaten the most important cultural institutions with closure. But Rave Ethics is a zine that’s setting out the guidelines for something we could all contribute to, with safe, ethical raving: because after all, safe spaces make better parties.

Rave Ethics was born from the want to celebrate, as well as the need criticise. Clubbing, as many of us know, provides the opportunity to socialise, and find one’s own identity among sweaty bodies on a sticky dancefloor, to one syncopated beat. Nevertheless, the clubbing enclave isn’t always smooth, good vibes. Netherlands-based editor Catherine Hilgers explains what influenced the zine’s creation: “It was inspired by the good raves: comfortable, free to dance, looking at the smiling faces of my friends with their eyes closed around me, euphoria; and it was made urgent by the bad raves: disrespectful behaviour on the dancefloor, groping, bad drugs with unknowledgeable and messy drug-takers – or worse, drunks – commercialism, boring ‘stacked lineups’, out of touch white male DJs, promoters, and club owners.”

The zine was originally inspired by a quote from Oprah – maybe the most non-clubby cultural figure out there: “Take responsibility for the energy you bring into the space”.

It really reflects how I want to approach and how I want others to approach a rave: carefully,” says Hilgers. “Raves aren't just a place to forget yourself, they can also be community, culture, home, family, and an introduction to alternative or anti-capitalist lifestyles. They can be instruments of tangible social change! To produce any effect, raves have to be a place where everyone – women, queer and trans people, PoCs – can feel comfortable, relaxed, and above all respected. I wanted to make something to reflect this.”

Though not overly familiar with the culture surrounding zines, it was a medium that afforded the message something that was shareable and portable. And with just the title, Rave Ethics, to riff off, Hilgers invited a team of mostly women contributors to interpret it for themselves. I think it's meaningful that in making this zine we took control of how we're represented and made ourselves heard in a scene that often gives us little say but still expects us to show up and dance,” she explains.

Rave Ethics explores behaviour in the club environment, and the factions that surround rave culture: drugs, incidents of harassment and personal safety all being taken into account in its pages. Contributor Anabasine explains that, because a blind eye tends to be turned towards the subject of drugs in the club, there's a serious lack of safety measures and general misinformation.

“In the spirit of harm reduction – and sure, also the spirit of valuable and fun experiences – it seems that just opening up a few topics, to think about inside the complex, highly subjective, and personal world of drugs is one idea to hopefully start a bit more open communication between friends or strangers about these things,” says Anabasine. Exploring the parallels of drugs and raving, the guildelines are a “conceptual strategy”, made up of thoughts along with important resources for people to educate themselves.

Anabasine continues: “Somehow talking about drugs is a lot like talking about ourselves, as we wonder about or notice things being different than ‘normal’ and react to and ponder on that. At raves, there’s a looseness to experimenting with new versions of things, of experience, of self, dance, sound, light… there will never be a one size fits all approach to anything.

“Sharing whatever knowledge we have with those around us, not only about drugs, but about things we think we’ve learned from being in these environments is the sweetest way to support dance communities and keep each other safe.”


Read the full story by Anna Cafolla at Dazed

Photos courtesy of Catherine Hilgers

Tags : Dazed Raving