My Second Rave Anniversary: America’s Outlook

Originating in the 90s in Southern California, Audiotistic added a second location in the South Bay Area at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountainview, California. Though the festival doesn’t have a return date, within its past years, it was welcomed by those ravers who grew up in the underground rave scene of SF and hip-hop lovers who grew up with the Bay Area culture. I was fortunate enough to have this festival be my first authentic experience within the EDM scene in 2021, which allowed me to share a piece of what the bay represented. Recently, my second rave anniversary passed in November of 2023, and there is a ton that I have learned as a raver since then.

Personality is such a big part of the festival scene. You will see people walking around the festival with a “free hugs” shirt, a “come up to me for motivational advice” totem, and friend groups headbanging together while screaming, “Ay!– Ay!– Ay!” while circled together in the crowd. So PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect) is eminent and will be something anyone can learn early on since it is spread across the board from ravers, crew members, and artists. PLUR spreads across the EDM scene in emotional and physical ways, which I discovered over the last two years.

Totem made by Maya Lew for Audiotistic Bay Area 2022

One way ravers show PLUR outside of personality is through kandi. Kandi is another main factor of EDM and has become a more intricate development as ravers have delved into the craft of kandi by making kandi cuffs, bucket hats, facemasks, and so much more. One of the first things that shocked me and made me overjoyed within my first few festivals was getting traded for my first-ever cuff. Being the receiver of something I knew took so much time and skill to create made me want to pass that feeling on to more ravers as I went further into the first year of raving.

Couple captured with kandi galore at Bass Canyon 2023, @TheKandiKouple on Instagram

Dance moves are one way people connect with others they came to the festival with or are just meeting. A few of the main ways I have seen people share their love for the music depends on the music playing at that stage. There are plenty of different styles of dancing to EDM, which allows others to create circles where they take turns showing off their skills or starting a moshpit to get rowdy (in a festival-safe way). When the stage is bumping house music, you can expect to see tons of shuffling with dance routines like the running man (one of the easiest shuffles to learn when starting to learn) choreographed at home by individuals and set to show it to other individuals who appreciate the art form of shuffling in the EDM scene. Hardcore has some fans opting to punch the air with a bass face while the music plays, and another popular dance style for hardcore is muzzing. This style gained more popularity via TikTok within the last year and is a fun way for people to dance to hardcore together in the crowd. Bass music, of course, has its moshpits, headbanging, and rail riding. It makes for a great collection of photos as people sometimes wear a neckbrace after events.

Objects like light whipping, hula hoops, silk veils, light-up orbs, glove shows, and much more are different forms of art that festival attendees love to bring to entertain people within the festival grounds. It is seen especially in the back parts of the stages outside the filled GA pits, where there is plenty of space to toss the light-up hula hoops in the air and not hit any bystanders.

Left to right: Maya Law, America Maples, and Reia Mar at Audiotistic Bay Area 2022

The colors people choose to have to glow from their light whips or outfits can mean a lot to the person wearing them. One thing some people within the rave scene take seriously is their outfit game. There are squads of people who choreograph their outfits to match each other through color or costumes. One popular choice that ravers have dressed up as is maids or grandmas with canes, and when the beat drops, they all bust into dance moves or headbang so aggressively that onlookers can’t help but be amused. Some people make their outfits, support small rave businesses, or choose to support some of their favorite corporate brands to make sure they look good at their favorite events of the year.
While I have all around developed my skills in dancing, kandi, outfits, writing, and personality of PLUR within these two years that I have had the luxury of raving as much as I have, I am thankful for all of the people I have met and seen the growth in myself since becoming a raver. Thanks to the Electronic Dance Music scene, I have developed a more fabulous personality for myself and the EDM world in southern California. I have connected with many people who have offered me jobs and life advice, and I have done the same for them. I appreciate the warehouse afters, LickNDip, The Melrose House and Inertia Events, Blind Tiger, and Radiate for keeping the rave going non-stop for me this past summer in the Los Angeles area. I was allowed to support local artists who had attended music school in the area and were learning how to produce more EDM music. Being in the scene not only within the grandest times of festivals but also in the nitty-gritty of where it all starts for artists has been such a pleasure to say I was in attendance for the first time in my EDM life.

Here’s to my second year as a raver, and I am so pumped for this upcoming festival season of 2024.

America Maples and Sara Vepley at Hard Summer Los Angeles 2023