As we pulled into the parking lot, I said something like, You feel anything yet?


Before my friend could answer, I felt the first effects of the drug wash over me. This was going to be my first rave, but Id done ecstasy before and already knew what to expect. Id spent one Saturday several weeks before, rolling and hanging out with a bunch of ravers.


The most striking difference between roll parties, a sort of mini-rave, and regular alcohol based parties was in the peaceful vibes I felt. Any time you have 20 or more drunks in a single dwelling, theres bound to be some sort of argument, or more likely a physical confrontation. And invariably some property damage. This difference is probably owed both to the calming effects of ecstasy and the general beliefs of ravers. PLUR, a word any raver knows, is an acronym for Peace, Love, Unity and Respect. These ideals, coupled with the use of ecstasy, dancing and techno music have led to the birth of a new culture: the rave culture.


After my experience with the roll party, I thought that a real, full blown rave would probably be fairly enjoyable. As I lurched from the entrance to the dimly lit area around the dance floor, I expected to be walking into the great Freak-dom. Instead, there was security everywhere. The constant feeling of being watched was heightened when the cops came in and searched someone.


Apparently, he didnt have anything on him because they let him go, but it still reminded everyone that the security wasnt just there for looks- they really were watching. All this gave it kind of a high-school dance feeling. The controlled atmosphere kind of disrupted any true notion of fun. The sad irony behind it all is that the ravers, by nature, are completely against authority and commercialism.


The whole philosophy of Peace, Love, Unity and Respect has no room for anyone being in charge. The idea is that everyone just treats everyone else decently. While I know that this isnt practical for the real world, I had hoped that in a building full of like-minded people this would happen. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. I decided to ignore the security and try to have a good time. I talked to the most obvious ravers, those with eight or more glow sticks and the sort of outfits that could stop traffic.


Ravers, in general, are really friendly people despite their outrageous appearances. There is no specific background that ravers come from. In general they are very individualistic. They simply choose to show their individuality by forming one individual group.


While one cant call anyone referred to as a member of a group a true individual, they try very hard.


Where the other common youth cliques (Skater, Jocks, etc.) tend to have a certain dress code, ravers tend to wear anything that doesnt identify them as a non-raver. The only thing that truly sets ravers apart into their own group is their beliefs. A whole lot of people use ecstasy, dress conventionally, and dont even dance (I prove this point). There are also a lot of people who dance to techno music, but have never even smoked a cigarette or drank a beer. The ravers are what have really made raves more then just parties.


Personally, I really couldnt follow any sort of ideals based more on music and drug use than reality. Perhaps, I am far too grounded in reality to ignore it.  I cannot see raving as anything more than a recreational activity. Despite this, I still have some respect for anyone who can follow their ideals, whatever they may be. Because of this, it was a rather depressing experience to see the naivety, and rebelliousness of the rave culture clash with the cold reality of life in America.


While none of the ravers expressed any dismay or even acknowledgement of the ideological conflict, Im inclined to believe they are starting to feel the vibes. As a group, they remind me of a child when he very first starts to suspect that Santa Claus isnt real. While its sad to see the rave scene on its decline, its a just how the wheel turns. The beatniks, the hippies, the punks, and now the ravers all eventually fade, only to be replaced by the next generation of rebellious and idealistic youth. This is what I felt, as I drove home along the highway in a haze of euphoric thoughtfulness.