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post 27. Oct 2008, 19:21
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At raves, young men and women dance to electronic music from dusk to dawn. Previous scholarship treats the rave as a hypertext of pleasure and disappearance. However, such a postmodern view does not attend to the poignant and meaningful spiritual experiences reported by those who go to raves. This article examines claims about altered states of consciousness at raves and the therapeutic results — "spiritual healing" — such states are said to bring. While physiological processes (exhaustive dancing, auditory driving) may contribute to altered states of consciousness, symbolic processes create appropriate frameworks for spiritual healing. such therapeuticism can be more fully understood in the context of other modern western spiritual subcultures. Placing raves within the context of these other subcultures foregrounds questions for further research, [raves, shamanism, youth culture, American spirituality, symbolic analysis]

Ever had an experience that makes you sit up and re-evaluate all your ideas, thoughts and incidents in your life?[ 1]

The question above was voiced by a young man who had just returned from a rave: a dance party, usually all night long, featuring loud "techno"[ 2] music, also called electronica, in which participants often reach ecstatic states, occasionally with the help of drugs.3 Initially, in the late 1980s, when they first appeared in Britain, raves were underground events, taking place in makeshift and occasionally secretive venues such as warehouses and outdoor fields. By the mid-1990s analysts could comment that "the scale is huge and ever increasing" (McRobbie 1994: 168). Fully licensed and often held in nightclubs, raves now penetrated to the center of British youth culture. Combined attendance at dance events in Great Britain in 1993 reached 50 million, which was substantially more than at "sporting events, cinemas, and all the 'live' arts combined" (Thornton 1995: 15). Commercially, the 1993 British rave market brought in approximately $2.7 billion (Thornton 1995: 15). In Germany nearly two million youngsters and post-adolescents united in the so-called "rave nation" of the mid-1990s (Richard and Kruger 1998). Following this initial north European florescence, rave hot spots emerged around the world at Rimini (Italy), Ko Phangan (Thailand), the Balearic Islands (Spain), Goa (India), and coastal Mozambique. Though they have never been as popular in the United States as in Great Britain, raves have been a fixture in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York since the early 1990s and some of techno music's strongest roots are in Detroit and Chicago.

Raves today are remarkably diversified. In fact, in places like London where raves have their deepest roots, the rave "scene" has fragmented into many successor sub-scenes, usually centered on divergent varieties of techno music, such as Big Beat or Drum $'n Bass. Raves in the traditional sense — semi-legal and located in factories and outdoors — are rare. Nevertheless, rave's various offshoots all feature what I believe are the critical elements of rave: dance music, long duration, and ecstatic experience. As in London, most all-night dance parties in U.S. cities with a long tradition of raves have blended into the regular nightclub scene and are no longer called raves. However, in smaller cities and especially in the Midwest (Champion 1998) and the Southeast, raves in the traditional sense are alive and well."

Demographically, most people who attend raves — often called "ravers" — are between the ages of 15 and 25, thus making rave a "youth" subculture (see Epstein 1998). The socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds of ravers are not nearly so predictable as their ages. For example, early raves in Great Britain attracted people of various backgrounds, mostly from the working classes (Reynolds 1998a: 64). This socially mixed tradition continues today in most urban venues. At the other extreme, in the midwestern United States, for example, most ravers are white and middle class. Though slightly more males than females attend raves, the organizers, producers, and musicians behind the rave scene are predominantly male (McRobbie 1994: 168, Tomlinson 1998: 198, Reynolds 1998a: 274; Richard and Kruger 1998: 169).

Much of the academic discourse on raves focuses on the rave as a hedonistic, temporary escape from reality. Writers who support this position argue from a "neoconservative" (Foster 1985: 2), postmodern perspective that emphasizes the prominence of nostalgia and meaninglessness in modern amusements. Though I find this view of the rave both plausible and informative, I argue that it is incomplete because it ignores the poignant and meaningful spiritual experiences that ravers say they get from raves. In this article I attend to discourses in which ravers claim that raves are therapeutic. Based on these testimonials, the rave can be conceptualized as a form of healing comparable both to shamanic, ecstatic healing documented in ethnographies of small-scale non-western societies, and to spiritual experiences in modern western subcultures. Our understanding of the rave, previously approached from a cultural studies or communications studies perspective, might therefore benefit from a perspective attuned to anthropological discussions of shamanism and spirituality.

Notes on Method
The primary source materials for my interpretations come from testimonials posted on the internet from 1993 to 1997, e-mails contributed to listservs, participant-observation at raves and dance clubs in San Francisco and the southeastern United States, and interviews with informants. The use of web-based sources of information exposes my study to the considerations of how Internet or "cyber"-ethnography differs from traditional, real-time ethnography (Fischer 1999). The methodological issue most relevant to my study is the effect of computer-mediated communication on the construction of identity. In other words, the major issue to be addressed is whether people behave differently when corresponding on e-mail or posting messages to interactive web sites as opposed to when engaged in traditional faceto-face communication.

A number of authors suggest that advanced information technology can modify behavior in profound ways (Hakken 1999: 44). The anonymity of much computer-mediated communication removes inhibitions that govern normal social encounters. For example, social conventions such as courtesy and politeness may disappear, leading to what is referred to as "flame wars." According to Mark Dery (1994: 1),

electronic communication accelerates the escalation of
hostilities when tempers flare: disembodied, sometimes
pseudonymous combatants lend to feel that they can hurl
insults with impunity.
Gotcher and Kanervo (1997) note that people exhibit anger on-line more often than in person. In many cases the emotions embedded in on-line communication can be difficult to interpret due to the absence of paralinguistic vocal cues such as stress, pitch, intensity, and volume (Dery 1994: 2). Cues that identify race, gender, and sex may also be absent in online communication, allowing for the Utopian possibility of interaction with others not on the potentially discriminatory bases of racializcd, gendered real-life identities, but on what people choose to write (p. 3). Beyond concealing real-life identity, the anonymity of computer-mediated communication also enables people to enact fantasies and create any number of fictional identities (Turkic 1995: 12).

These considerations suggest that communication on line is affected by largely different norms than those governing face to face communication. However, David Hakken (1999) argues that identity formation on-line, though complex, is not qualitatively different from identity formation off-line. More precisely, Hakken avoids distinguishing sharply between on-line and off-line and instead places computer-mediated communications like email and Multiple User Domains (MUDs) along a continuum of cyborgic, machine-enhanced communications. Hakken makes the point that correspondence through email might be quantitatively more cyborgic than correspondence through a telephone, but both forms of communication are machine-enhanced and not qualitatively different. Most importantly, identity formation in Cyberspace, just like identity formation elsewhere, is semiotic rather than empirical, depends recursively on socializations produced through face-to-face experience, occurs within social hierarchies similar to those found in real-life, and derives from comparison with others (Hakken 1999: 89-91). Dibbell (1994) has noted that even in those Cyberspaces where role-playing and fictional identities are most common, such as MUDs, people soon stop treating the Internet as a vast playpen for their disembodied fantasies and begin acting with the maturity characteristic of real life.

Hakken's and Dibbell's skepticism toward the revolutionary differences of computer-mediated communication leads me to think that my web informants do not act very different from my face-to-face informants. There is further justification for taking this position. None of the texts that inform my study is angry or hostile, as in flame wars. Authors often used common names that are likely to be actual names, which suggests that they were consciously accountable for what they wrote. There were no indications that authors of statements were role-playing, as in MUDs, and there were no patent incentives for dissimulation. Perhaps the form of writing most analogous to the sources I consulted is the travelogue, or, more appropriately, the "rave-log," in which ravers share their experiences and delights to kindred spirits. Such a form of writing, of course, does not escape all forms of distortion. Testifying about the power of raves on a listsery most often read by other ravers may lead to partisan hype and exaggeration — a sort of community-reinforced boosterism. On the other hand, there is no reason to believe that such exaggeration would not occur in face to face communication.

By subjecting "odd" behavior in our own society to the same type of anthropological analysis that is often reserved for religions of Asia, Africa, and elsewhere, this article joins a growing number of studies that give serious treatment to experiences of healing and empowerment that anthropologists once deemed "inauthentic." After confronting the "intrusion" of Western mass culture into "authentic" and "exotic" traditions of shamanism in coastal Peru, Donald Joralcmon (1990: 112) stumbled upon anthropology's stubborn disposition to "celebrate the exotic and disparage the familiar." As Joralemon explains, anthropologists hesitate to apply to what is culturally nearest to them the same respectful yet detached perspective that they habitually reserve for the culturally distant. For example, when metaphors of healing are embedded in oral traditions of geographically localized cultures, they are seen as legitimate, yet when they come from diffuse, literate and economically empowered Westerners they are seen as ridiculous "psychobabble" (Joralemon 1990). In this article, I join Joralemon and others (Brown 1997; Danforth 1989) in challenging this assumption. Regardless of the authenticity of shamanic idioms used by Westerners, statements about healing at raves deserve serious study. As Joralemon points out, anthropologists who study modern "spiritual healing," rather than pretending superiority and ignoring it altogether, might stand to gain unforeseen insight on behavioral processes.

Approaching the rave with respectful detachment, however, does not preclude a critical analysis. When Michael Brown announced his intent to research New Age channels, his colleagues discouraged him from what they thought would be a "contaminating" research project, fearing that he would "go native" (1997: x). The solution, however, does not seem to be to avoid studying New Age channels, as Brown's colleagues implied, but to engage them in the hope of fashioning a robust cultural critique (Marcus and Fisher 1986). Brown's ethnography as well as other ethnographies, like that of Loring Danforth (1989), in which Greek firewalkers are compared to New Age firewalkers in the United States, show that "unusual" western practices can be successfully and critically engaged by anthropologists. The anthropology of raves is not yet thorough enough to formulate a "robust" cultural critique. Toward this end, however, I include brief comparisons between spiritual healing at raves with similar experiences among fundamentalist Christians, Grateful Dead fanatics. New Age channels, and other groups. Such lateral moves point to areas of research that can be pursued more deeply in the future.

Academic and "Native" Perspectives on the Rave: Meaning, Spirituality, Healing
The postmodern approach views the rave as a culture of abandonment, disengagement, and disappearance. To Fredric Jameson (1984: 60,64), post-modernism is typified by the disappearance of the subject. Lack of subjectivity at raves is said to be reflected in the style of dance (Rushkoff 1994: 121; McKay 1996: 110; Russell 1993:128-129), the relative anonymity of the DJ (disc jockey), the nature of the music (Tagg 1994; Reynolds 1998a: 254, Melechi 1993: 34), the ego-reducing effects of Ecstasy (the most prominent drug at raves, known chemically as "3, 4 methylene-dioxy-metamphetamine" [MDMA] [Saunders 1995][ 5]), and the occurrence of raves in out-of-the-way places at times when the rest of the population sleeps (Melechi 1993: 33-34; Rietveld 1993). Ravers fill the void of subjectivity with a collage of fragments, the archetypal form of postmodernist expression (Jameson 1984: 64). Fragmentation is seen in the DJ's sampling of various past and present styles of music (Connor 1997: 207, Reynolds 1998a: 41-45). Such bricolage of older styles exemplifies Jamcson's idea that, with the decline of the high modernist ideology of style, the producers of culture have nowhere to turn but the past (1984: 65). Informed by this perspective, some argue that the first raves in London were simulacra of past all-night disco extravaganzas at tourist nightclubs in the Balearic Islands of the Mediterranean (Reynolds 1998a: 58-59; Melechi 1993: 30; Russell 1993: 119). Finally, the rave experience is said to be hyperreal in the sense that a multiplicity of surfaces replaces singularity of depth (Jameson 1984: 62). Due to the sensory overload of throbbing music, exotic lighting, exhaustive dance, and sensation-stimulating drugs, the rave becomes a mega-surface that gratifies a relentless and intense desire for pleasure.

Reynolds (1998b: 90), an authoritative rave journalist, summarizes the postmodern interpretation elegantly: rave culture is "geared towards fascination rather than meaning, sensation rather than sensibility; creating an appetite for impossible states of hypersimulation." I find the postmodern approach deficient precisely because it fails to acknowledge meaning. Baudrillard believes that in the postmodern world of simulacra, meaning is exterminated (1988: 10): the joy of Disneyland, raves, and similar amusements lies not in their intellectual stimulation, but in their ability to satisfy, on a purely sensory level, our voracious appetite for surfaces. Once the surfaces are rendered meaningless, interpretation stops. As a result, such interpretations are not very deep (Bruner 1994) and certainly not "thick" (Geertz 1973). The studies cited above do not consider the complex ways in which symbols and surfaces connect, intersect, and/or conflict with the praxis of the real human beings who construct and consume them. Their lives are certainly not meaningless, yet those who write about the rave rarely solicit the voices and experiences of people who actually go to raves.

As an exemplar of the idea that the rave is indeed a very meaningful experience to many of those who attend, I quote a raver named Megan:

The rave is my church. It is a ritual to perform I hold it
sacred to my perpetuality … we in the rave are a
congregation — it is up to us to help each other, to
help people reach heaven …. After every rave. I walk
out having seen my soul and its place in eternity.[6]
Megan's statement exemplifies the religiousity of the rave. The analogy between rave and religion manifests itself at various sites. In Nashville a club known as the Church hosted raves by the name of "Friday Night Mass." Thornton (1995: 90) reports on a rave in Great Britain that was held inside a church; the DJs operated from the altar. In an introduction to rave culture Brian Behlendorf refers to the DJ as "high priest."[ 7] Saunders' London informants refer to the drug Ecstasy as the holy sacrament (Saunders 1995). One raver, commenting on a rave in Orlando, said that the DJ did not just make him boogey, he made him "see God."[ 8]

Noticing the similarities between raves and Christian spirituality, Matthew Fox and Chris Brain, sponsored by the Episcopal church in Sheffield, UK, have fused traditional services with raves in an effort to increase youth church membership (Reynolds 1998a: 242). Brain's services, known colloquially as "Planetary Mass," feature ambient house music, nightclub-style lighting, and video screens with computer generated graphics.[ 9] In the United States a similar hybrid ceremony, also called Planetary Mass, takes place in the Grace Cathedral, San Francisco (p. 316).

Robin Green and other ravers disapprove of organized religion's attempts to co-opt the rave experience. According to Green,

raves should influence people metaphysically outside of the
religious sphere. In actual effect, this is the creation of
a … religion without theological foundation or
unified expression.[10]
Another raver claimed

[On Sunday morning after the rave] I see people headed off
to church dressed in their Sunday best and I just have to
smile because I know that last night on the dance floor I
felt closer to God than their church with all its doctrines
and double standards will ever bring them."[11]
Rave is thus seen by some as a more "direct" form of spirituality than organized religion.

The ravers' own explanation of why they interpret their experiences in spiritual terms centers around the concept of "technoshamanism." The term was coined by Fraser Clark, who helped organize two prominent London dance clubs, UFO and Megatripolis, and edited Evolution, an underground magazine focusing on the culture of house music in London (Rushkoff 1994: 121). Technoshamanism refers to the DJ's role as "harmonic navigator," "in charge of the group mood/mind." The DJ "senses when it's time to lift the mood, take it down, etc., just as the shaman did in the good of tribal days."[ 12] In other words, through a tapestry of mind-bending music, the DJ is said to take the dancers on an overnight journey, with one finger on the pulse of the adventure and the other on the turntables[ 13] (Rushkoff 1994: 123; Thomton 1995: 65; McKay 1996: 111). Though such a description of the technoshaman does not match all of Eliade's criteria for the definition of shamanism (the technoshaman, for example does not appear to control "helper spirits"), the DJ's mastery of the techniques of ecstasy qualify him/her as a shaman in the more general sense of Eliade's definition (Eliade 1964: 4-6).

With the help of the DJ's ecstatic techniques, ravers like Edward Lantz claim to enter "areas of consciousness not necessarily related to everyday 'real' world experiences."[ 14] Though Ecstasy enables altered states of consciousness, drugs are not necessary (Reynolds 1998a: 9). In this sense, raves are similar to the trance dances of the Dobe Ju/'hoansi, which do not involve any mind-altering substances. In both cases, altered states of consciousness are stimulated by a combination of upbeat rhythmic drumming, exhaustive all night dancing, and flickering light (Lee 1967; Katz 1982). One raver remarked that techno music itself (especially genres like Goa and the suitably named "trance") is enough to cause an ecstatic experience without even dancing: "It's the only music that lifts you out of your body without putting something down your throat first."15 According to another raver, techno music returns to you "the human ability to dream while awake."[ 16] The experiences recorded by ravers in ecstasy, specifically flying, also recall shamanic experiences documented ethnographically. In one particular trip San Francisco promoter Mark Heley claims to have visited the dead and transformed into a puma and then an eagle (Rushkoff 1994: 140), recalling the type of peregrinations that shamans all over the world experience as part of initiation (Eliade 1964).

Much more than a fantasy simulacrum, the altered states of consciousness that are part of the technoshamanistic journey are said to heal: according to an anonymous raver, "Our means of healing and growth is ritual celebration, where we gather once in a while to expand our consciousness and celebrate life with rhythm and dance."[ 17] Ravers most often attest to healing of a psychological sort, as the above quote on consciousness expansion implies. The technoshamanistic journey is said to bring calm: "After the trip, when we finally arrive back home, the inner peace and contentment we so deeply desired settles our restlessness."[ 18] Raves restore "general feelings of happiness and grooviness … raving brings me up when I'm down."[ 19] Themes of self-empowerment are also common in raver's reflections on their journeys: according to raver Sean Case, "The goal of the techno journey is for people to see themselves without the crushing ego, to know the possibilities of the self."[ 20]

It is through dance that I have found transcendence. Music has
taught me to fly using wings I never knew I had. It is through
music and dance that my soul is free to soar amongst the
heavens … allowing a clearer vision of the world that
I am creating.[21]
Because the rave experience is so often described in religious and spiritual terms, and because the type of healing is of the spirit as opposed to the body, I refer to the type of healing discussed above as "spiritual healing."

Raver testimony of "spiritual healing" also bears a family resemblance to experiences of evangelical conversion. There is a long history of evangelical conversion in North America, of which the exemplary form appeared in the British colonies during the Great Awakening of the 1740s. The testimony of Nathan Cole of Connecticut serves as an early example of Great Awakening conversions (Cole 1970). After hearing itinerant preacher George Whitefield, Cole felt doomed to Hell and endured two years of misery and inner turmoil. Finally, God appeared to Cole, precipitating an unearthly disembodiment: "Now while my soul was viewing God, my fleshy part was working imaginations and saw many things which I will omit to tell." After the moment of conversion, Cole writes, "My heart and soul were filled as full as they could hold with joy and sorrow: now I perfectly felt truth … and all the air was love." Other accounts of conversion show that those in crisis were not as lonely as Cole, receiving support from small, like-minded congregations (Calhoon 1994). Though evangelical conversion since the eighteenth century has become much more peripheral and, according to Brushman (1970: xi), "commonly disdained," the structure of conversion remains approximately the same. Ethnographers of southern Baptist communities Susan Harding (1987) and Carol Greenhouse (1986) note that, similar to Cole's crisis, a period of questioning accompanied by a sense of being "lost" often precedes the conversion. Conversion, which may take years or minutes, replaces emptiness with a therapeutic sense of comfort, meaning, and purpose.

Three aspects of Evangelical conversions like that of Cole resemble raver testimony: 1) raw, personal emotions of a spiritual nature, unstructured by the norms of the church; 2) out-of-body experience, sometimes involving hallucinations that bring the convert close to God; and 3) healing and mental hygiene experienced after conversion. Despite such resemblances there are two major differences between spiritual healing at raves and evangelical conversion. The first of these differences has to do with context. Despite the raw, personal emotion associated with evangelical healing, the conversion takes place in an institutionalized context. In the Great Awakening a clergy devoted to the spiritual revival's advancement placed conversion in a commanding intellectual and theological structure (Brushman 1970: 67). In Baptist communities of the 1980s conversion was contextualized through hell-fire-and-brimstone preaching (Harding 1987) and close attention to the scripture (Greenhouse 1987: 75). Furthermore, fundamentalists of the 1980s were part of a community that, by giving witness of God's grace to the unconverted, provided those in crisis with a normalizing structure. As I will demonstrate below, raves do have a doctrine, codified as "Peace, Love, Unity, Respect" (PLUR) which is reinforced by exemplary behavior at raves and testimonial witnessing on the Internet. Nevertheless, the institutional context of rave spirituality is not nearly as serious, perhaps because eternal salvation is not at stake. PLUR is a four-word slogan not nearly so well developed or thorough, as evangelical theology. Also, passive witnesses on the Internet cannot compare to ponderous, hell-fire-and-brimstone preaching nor the extended, face-to-face witnessing that characterizes evangelism.

The second difference has to do with the process of transformation. For evangelical Christians, a burdensome period of guilt and despair, characterized with deep intellectual questioning, precedes salvation and transformation and is triggered by a crisis. Though disillusionment with society often precedes the positive spiritual transformation at a rave, the process of transformation, which I will discuss below, is usually neither painful nor triggered by personal crisis. Also, conversion is such an important milestone for evangelicals that it is called a second birth. Though rave experiences are remarkable, they occur frequently and are not as biographically salient as birth itself.

Physiological and Symbolic Processes of Healing
The previous section provided native testimony on technoshamanism and how the technoshamanistic voyage releases anxieties, builds self-empowerment, and brings peace and contentment. In this section I discuss physiological and symbolic processes that, though not described by ravers themselves, might also contribute to the "spiritual healing" that ravers claim to undergo.

Flashing lights, dancing, and repetitive percussion, each of which are prominent features of the rave, may physiologically produce altered states of consciousness. Walter and Walter (1949: 63) note that rhythmic light can cause visual sensations (color, pattern, or movement) unrelated to the stimulus, non-visual sensations of kinaesthetic (swaying, spinning, jumping, vertigo) and cutaneous (prickling, tingling) varieties, emotional and physiological experiences (fear, anger, disgust, confusion, fatigue, pleasure), hallucinations, epileptic seizures and "clinical psychopathic states." Lights that flash to the rhythm of the music and other elaborate visual effects, such as spinning lasers and wall projections of fractals, are frequent components of raves in both areas of my participant observation.

Dancing is an important physiological factor because it is a motor activity. Extended rhythmic dancing and bodily movement brings on physical exhaustion, vertigo, hyperventilation, and other physiological conditions that may alter consciousness (Lee 1967: 33, Rouget 1985: 118). Csikszentmihalyi (1975: 43) argues that dancing and other forms of play are intrinsically stimulating because they produce a holistic sensation of total involvement — a sensation that he calls "flow." Dance as flow merges the act with the awareness of the act, producing self-forgetfulness, a loss of self-consciousness, transcendance of individuality, and fusion with the world (p. 49).

With regard to repetitive percussion, Andrew Neher argues that trance states and unusual behavior observed ethnographically in ceremonies involving drums result primarily from the effects of rhythmic drumming on the central nervous system. Neher found observations from laboratory studies on the effects of rhythmic stimulation and accounts of stimulation from anthropological drum ceremonies and found that the responses, which included unusual perceptions and hallucinations, were comparable. Neher believes that stimulation is the result of auditory driving: that the sensory and motor areas of the brain not normally affected are activated through the stimulation of the sensory area being stimulated — in this case the car. Neher notes that drums are most successful as auditory stimulants because the sound of the drum contains many frequencies. Because "different sound frequencies are transmitted along different nerve pathways in the brain," the sound of a drum should stimulate a larger area in the brain. Furthermore, drum beats with main rhythms accompanied by slightly different reinforcing rhythms produce the strongest responses. Under Neher's criteria, techno music would be extremely successful in promoting auditory driving because percussion is a major feature of techno and because techno tracks have at least three complementary rhythms.[ 22] In their own testimonies ravers state that music is a key to their journey.

Michael Harrier (1990: 50-51) has seized upon Neher's study to support his claim that the drum and the rattle are the basic tool for evoking and maintaining altered states of consciousness. Other scholars question the universality of Neher's results. Gibert Rouget (1985), who reviewed an encyclopedic range of ethnographically documented ceremonies involving spirit possession, found that drums are not always used to initiate altered states of consciousness. This and the common observation that two people react very differently to the same music at the same event within the same culture lead Rouget to conclude that music does not have any straightforward physiological affect on consciousness. Rouget does not deny the importance of music; he simply cautions us not to generalize its specific effects. In considering Rouget's critique, it is important to remember that spirit possession is a specific altered state of consciousness not described by ravers. Nevertheless, none of the aspects discussed above — flashing light, dancing, music — is a necessary condition for altered states of consciousness. However, when combined, as at a rave, they are more likely to have an effect: "rhythmic stimulation in more than one sensory mode aids the response" (Neher 1962: 155).

The physiological interpretation does not explain the rave as a social event. If an altered state of consciousness is the only prerequisite to "spiritual healing," why do young people go to the trouble of attending raves when they could attain an ecstatic state more easily by staying at home and taking drugs? To begin to understand how raves might "heal" — how they create a framework for therapeutic spiritual transformations — requires close attention to the symbols surrounding the rave and embellishing ravers' descriptions of their voyages. Much of the symbolism has to do with idealized versions of small scale "primitive communities." One rave website is decorated with pictures of people wearing loincloths, headdresses, and bodypaint, and holding spears.[ 23] The official Ibiza rave website is cluttered with images of Native American masks.[ 24] Music is often described as "tribal," and one genre of rave music is called "jungle." At some raves, like those sponsored by the New Moon collective or the Gateway collective, pagan altars are set up, sacred images from "primitive" cultures decorate the walls, and rituals of cleansing are performed over the turntables and the dance floor.[ 25]

A second theme at raves is futurism. Renegade Records, which feature drum 'n bass producers Future Forces, claims to market "future beats for future people." Eklectic, a weekly San Francisco drum 'n bass club, subtitles itself "San Francisco Futurism," and decorates its fliers with what its organizers call "neo-Tokyo" fashion: women enhanced with space-age graffiti. The name of the DJ/producer/artist responsible for the neo-Tokyo style, UFO!, highlights a prevalent motif of futurism — outer space. Among the most common outer space icons, which range from planets to fantasy space ships to actual satellites and satellite dishes, is the friendly extra-terrestrial. Anthropomorphic, neo-tonized, with massive forehead and long, slender eyes angled together in "V" formation, this friendly martian icon appears in a range of places — T-shirts, fliers, music videos, album cover art — and is the symbol of drum 'n bass record label Liquid Sky. The rave scene is also futuristic in that it embraces advanced technology. Production of techno music is an almost entirely digital affair, requiring thousands of dollars of synthesizers, samplers, mixers, and computers. It is no coincidence that the wide variety of rave musics are referred to collectively as "techno" or "electronica." Ravers are also savvy Internet users who design websites, who engineer webcasts of live events, and whose attentions have been targeted directly by Internet firms such as Gomo mail and Eradio. Futurism also shows in the preference for sans seriph, machine-like fonts and abstract, geometric, digital imagery.

The juxtaposition of primitives and martians appears to exemplify the random, superficial play of postmodern cultural expression. However, I argue that the predominance of these two genres of symbolism-future and primitive-is neither random nor meaningless. Both genres share a sense of distance from and disdain for the present age and reveal an attraction to alternative possibilities. Fondness for distant societies is in fact an explicit feature of rave discourse. Raver Jason Parsons yeams for "a memory of a time before cement cages and aloof societies; a humanity that was pan of the world, not apart from it."[ 26] For raver Chris Newhard the journey involves reuniting with "the ancestors."[ 27] For others, the rave is about going back to ancient history (Rushkoff 1994: 120). According to raver Scan Casey,

techno [music] brings us back to our roots … [it] sings
to a very viscera! ancient part of us deep down inside. H draws
from the "reptilian" brain, past our egos and beckons us to
dance with abandon.[28]
For just about everybody, the return to tribal roots is characterized by total unity and harmony, a "vibe" of collectivization.

Together, idealization of the past and interest in the future creates the incendiary combination of 1) what is seen as a model society (the past), and 2) the prospect of such a society's reenactment (the future). This combination recalls what Eliade (1960) has termed the "myth of eternal return": the nostalgic desire to return to an original, primordial time and place — a paradise. The blend of characteristics that informs the ravers' conception of the primitive experience — the destination of the technoshamanistic voyage — resembles many features of this primordial paradise. A paradise is a timeless land of perfect and total joy, a pre-sexual age of innocence where there is no social discord, no differentiation between the self and other.[ 29] There is little doubt that raves are joyful, even hyperjoyful. Raves are timeless in the sense that they are long and that they occur in the interstices — the "carnivalesque inversion" (Reynolds 1998a: 66)-of normal time, in that dark void where most of the population is asleep. Ravers describe how time stops.[ 30]

Perhaps the most important clement of the raver's paradise is non-differentiation. Non-differentiation, unity, solidarity, and similar themes figure prominently in raver discourse. Explaining Unity, the third pillar of the rave motto PLUR (Peace Love Unity Respect), the mission statement of Cloudfactory, a San Francisco rave collective, states that

we all share a lot in common, regardless of age. gender, race,
[sexual] orientation, whatevah. We all need other people. Though
we may have differences, we all arise from the same source."
According to raver Mike Brown, you could have dance music and laser lighting, but it is not a rave unless it is unified." In short, "We rave because boundaries must be broken."[ 33]

What matters is the inclusive gestures that recognize the groove
across cultures, whether technologically literate or aboriginal."
Further statements about inclusiveness at raves indicate that transcendence of individual identity brings ravers to a therapeutic, non-differentiated state of being, in unity with the gods and the world.

Once purified, you can join in the dance of the celestial beings
within the kingdom of the ultimate and enjoy the freedom of
existing anywhere."
According to raver Charlene Ma, if a rave is successful, it all "melds into one cosmic soup and everything is one and you can't separate the music or the moves or which came first."[ 36] Drawing on quantum physics, an anonymous raver states that "the dancing gives a sense of oneness as we all become part of the same uncertainty wave equation."[ 37] Raver Alice Braley claims that

The effect is to align the physical, mental, and emotional bodies
with the oneness of All That Is. This results in a downflow of
force from above … [which] causes vivification and
definite illumination.[38]
Rushkoff (1994: 120) writes enthusiastically that ravers are "phase locked": by being on the same drugs, on the same nocturnal schedule, and under the same music, they have reached complete synchronicity. Organic and familial metaphors are also used to express the sense of unity and reunification. The group of friends one makes at a rave is often referred to as a family.[ 39] To quote raver Jason Page,

Throw yourself in the winds of transformation and sow the seeds for
a new world — one where the family is together again,
when people respect and care for each other as a community
— an organism.
The sense of unity that ravers claim to attain resembles communitas (Turner 1967: 96): Raves blend homogeneity and comradeship in a moment in and out of time. Just as Turner wrote that communitas feeds the spirit, one raver claimed that raves nurture the soul.[ 40] The feeding of the spirit is what might make the rave so therapeutic. By crossing over into a communitas state, rave culture dissipates the tension of entering a world of wage slavery, underemployment, and shrinking opportunity. Thus, by manipulating symbols of tribalism, ravers enter communitas where they reaffirm what they say the world ought to be — liberation, freedom, union, communion, harmony, warmth, peace, love, family, euphoria, bliss, happiness, godliness, and health. They confront with renewed vigor what they say the world actually is — violence, fear, hatred, racism, poverty, injustice, hunger, greed, performance, achievement, competition, enterprise, judgment, division, comparison, differentiation, distinction, distraction, isolation, impotence, and alienation.[ 41] In other words, the rave, like most "authentic" rituals, successfully unifies the "ought" and the "is" through symbols and experience.

Communitas cannot be a permanent state, however, because structure and social differentiation are necessary to maintain the physical body. Without the allocation of roles and resources, the division of labor, the organized, restrained, rational considerations necessary to meet daily needs would not be met. (Turner 1967, cited by Myerhoff 1974: 246). This may explain why few permanent raver communities exist, despite the abundant chatter about forming a new world (see below). One raver/DJ even recognizes the inevitability of the return to structure: "raves are good because they don't happen all the time."[ 42]

To complete the description and explanation of rave transformation, I would like to contrast the experiences described above with the very similar phenomenon of group consciousness induced at Grateful Dead concerts. Citing Victor Turner, Robert Sardiello (1994: 129-131) states that Grateful Dead concerts are secular rituals which "symbolically separate individuals in both space and time from their ordinary social lives." Both Deadheads (loyal fans of the Grateful Dead) and ravers refer to their events as escapes from reality. According to Anthony Pearson (1987: 419),

large numbers of Deadheads report a psychic connection with the
band, often reporting Jungianlike synchronicities and other
esoteric phenomena in the concert setting.
The altered states of consciousness recounted by Deadheads, referred to alternatively as hypnosis and catharsis, seem quite similar to transformations described by ravers. Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart acknowledges these ecstatic states induced at concerts, stating "we've got transformation going on here" (quoted in Pearson 1987: 419).

Pearson notes that drug use is high at Grateful Dead concerts, but, as I argue with regard to similar drugs at raves, Pearson (p. 426) argues that drug use cannot be simply viewed as the cause of the cognitive experiences reported by Deadheads. Rather, he believes that the Grateful Dead concert experience is triggered by feelings of psychic connection between band and audience (see also Sardiello 1994: 128). Audience members often feel that the band played a particular song because of the way it relates to a specific problem or situation in their lives. Or, a poignant Grateful Dead lyric may simultaneously coincide with a fan's own, unrelated thought, causing the fan to assume a causal connection between the two. The connection between Deadhead and band recalls the shamanic connection between raver and DJ. Sardiello (pp. 124-126) adds a symbolic interpretation to Pearson's psychic explanation. Omnipresent symbols such as tie-dyed T-shirts and colorful icons of skeletons, roses, and dancing bears work to unify the audience and create a shared text with mythical and philosophical meaning. Though neither Sardiello nor Pearson discusses the physiological mechanisms I propose for altered states of consciousness among ravers, the symbolic aspects and ritual nature of Grateful Dead concerts closely resemble raves and produce a similar ethos of communality.

Subcultural Capital
It is difficult to accept ravers' statements about non-differentiation, unity, and oneness because a certain "political economy" underlies the rave scene. Thornton (1995) points out in her ethnography of club cultures that, despite the mantras of unity and collectivity, there is noticeable selectivity and exclusivity in the rave scene, based on a scale of hipness. Unable to compete with adults for occupational status, but in many cases still supported by parents, young ravers derive self esteem by competing for what Thornton calls subcultural capital, a concept founded in Bourdieu's notions of cultural and symbolic capital (Bourdieu 1977, 1984). Hierarchies of prestige and standards of authenticity develop based on familiarity with the latest music, the latest slang, the latest fashions (Appadurai 1986: 44-45). Those who make a living from subcultures — connoisseurs of rave authenticity such as club owners, promoters, and professional DJs — must uphold such hierarchies of subcultural capital in order to be successful. For example, to attract the best crowd, a club owner must be selective about which DJs can perform and who can enter the club (Thornton 1995: 102-105). The resulting exclusivity conflicts with the language of unity. Even London's first raves, held at the club Shoom, were restricted to a small clique (including some celebrities), despite an ethos of love, peace, and unity (Reynolds 1998a: 61). Though Thornton's research might not apply to the many raves organized outside the club scene and its selective door policies, it certainly demonstrates the presence of difference and distinction within the rave.

This contradiction between the egalitarian unity claimed by ravers and the hierarchical divisions documented by Thornton can be reconciled by conceptualizing the rave as a temporal process. I believe that the rave process can be understood as a sort of journey, a term which ravers also use to characterize their events. The distinctions of hipness that Thornton observes best characterize the behavior behind the organization of a rave — when decisions are made as to which DJs are given the chance to spin, who gets on the guest list of a club, or who gets invited to secretive events — and possibly at the beginning of raves — when bouncers might be selective about who they let into a club and when egos may interfere with the proper vibe of Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect (PLUR). To repeat, many of these distinctions only pertain to raves held in nightclubs. After these distinctions have been made and the technoshamanistic journey progresses, remaining differences are slowly eliminated through dance, drugs, and other rituals that transform structures of subcultural capital into antistructure. Specifically, egos can be shed and inhibitions erased by MDMA, which is renowned as a harmony inducing drug (Saunders 1995; McRobbie 1995; Redhead 1993). Also, ravers suggest that dancing to trance music can bind communities together.[ 43] Similarly, Rietveld states that you can lose yourself in "the anonymity of fellow ravers and in blinding music" (1993: 69). Dance, as a technique of ecstasy, becomes a portal to transformation.

Maintaining the hypothesis that the rave experience is much like Eliade's myth of the eternal return, I believe that the rave journey can be fruitfully compared with a classic journey in the anthropological literature. The pilgrimage to Wirikuta made by the Huichol of Mexico is interpreted by Barbara Myerhoff (1974) as an enactment of Eliade's myth. On their journeys the Huichol and the ravers become one with the world. Barriers between young and old, male and female, and leader and follower are broken. A specific Huichol ritual for achieving oneness in which pilgrims connect with each other by each tying a knot on a string and then burning the string has a parallel in a ritual performed at raves sponsored by the New Moon collective and Gateway collective. At these raves the organizers set up an altar on the dance floor and each raver contributes an item to the altar. The altar becomes an objectification of the community and in contributing to the altar, the raver disconnects from the self and connects to the whole. Also, Wirikuta is a primordial place of origins that is very similar to the primitive tribal village described by ravers. Both destinations are viewed as places where ancestors dwell and places of origins from which human history has diverged. In the case of the Huichol the distinction between human and divine is erased. The rave scene also contains references to identity with gods: the DJ is referred to as god[ 44] and ravers can become gods, as in the Keoki track "Caterpillar,"[ 45] the name of which appropriately signifies the possibility of metamorphosis. Also, ravers claim to see the gods at the end of their journey and come closer to the gods than any other worldly experience could bring them. Finally, the journey to the lost homeland is said to bring positive spiritual transformations in both groups. Like those who return from raves with positive spiritual transformations, Huichol who endure the peyote hunt achieve unity and community, their highest religious goal, and are reassured through visions (Myerhoff 1974) that the world is a happy place. According to one raver, the "project" of the rave journey is also to visualize a world whose people are happy and healthy.[ 46] In sum, both ravers and the Huichol receive hopeful visions" of why life is good in the midst of disjointed times.

The Rave in Context
The rave subculture also resembles other North American subcultures that emphasize spiritual healing and alternative spirituality, such as followers of New Age Channels, the Rainbow People, and cults like the Divine Light Mission. A major point of social or academic commentary on therapeutic activities like channeling and attending raves is the dynamic between individual healing and social improvement. The consciousness movement, of which channeling is one of the most controversial offshoots, is said to have arisen "out of a pervasive dissatisfaction with the quality of personal relations" (Lasch 1979: 27). An individualist and privatist movement emphasizing personal improvement, the consciousness movement "advises people not to make too large an investment in love and friendship, to avoid excessive dependence on others" (p. 27). Channels, who use altered states of consciousness to contact spirits or to "experience spiritual energy from other times and dimensions" (Brown 1997: viii), are also intensely individualistic, sharing a deep mistrust of churches and society as a whole (p. 123). Channels, like the ravers quoted above, feel that their spirituality is more authentic than the spirituality of organized religion. However, the channels' resistance to community organizations exists only on a local, pragmatic level. The concept of a global community, an abstract world universal enough to transcend race, class, and nationality, is a goal toward which many channels claim passionate commitment (p. 124). The Internet has become the primary locus for such community building among channels, and the sense of togetherness fostered by the net is deeply felt (p. 125). However, Brown adds a patent critique of this form of virtual community: channels do not "walk their talk." They fail to address any of the practical, day-to-day concerns of an actual community, such as who will supply water, run hospitals, capture criminals, and collect garbage.

Just like new age channels, many ravers appear to be committed to a global village blind to age, race, sex, and class. One raver desires "that through the rave ritual we can use technology to bring the people of the world together in peace by means of dance."[ 48] According to raver Robert Jesse, "during our shared moments of ecstatic joy, we explore who we are and we advance visions of our harmonious planet."[ 49] Despite the rhetoric of communal harmony, ravers, like channels, do not work toward creating such a community. Aside from

a few disparate groups … [demonstrating] for the right to
carry on getting out of their heads and dancing to weird music
on weekends (McKay 1996: 104),
there is almost no political activism in the rave scene. Ravers do little more than attend late night and early morning parties in out-of-the-way places[ 50]; visions of future unity and global communities remain visions (Hesmondhalgh 1995). When ravers say that "We can only improve the society if we improve ourselves first,"[ 51] or that "consciousness unfolds and expands itself slowly from the individual to a group awareness,"[ 52] they sound very much like the channel who said

We have to have inner communication to figure out who we are
first, then those communities that we want can really happen
(Brown 1997: 124).
The Rainbow Family is also dedicated to the creation of a cooperative, egalitarian, and Utopian community (Niman 1997). However, whereas rave and new age Utopias remain virtual, the Rainbow Family creates real, though temporary, Utopias at their various national and regional Gatherings. Usually over the course of a month the Rainbow Family works to transform park land into actual communities with fully functional infrastructures (kitchens, latrines, infirmaries, childcare). In such a "Temporary Autonomous Zone," everybody is welcome, from yuppies to the homeless, and no money is required. The Rainbow family enacts a working model of multiculturalism, a society whose differences are celebrated and unity achieved (Niman 1997: 99).

Perhaps at the far end of the spectrum of community building we find cults such as the Divine Light Mission, whose members completely renounce previous beliefs, communities (friends, family), and jobs and devote their lives to the preservation and outreach of their cult (Galanter 1989). Though these communities are often totalizing, raves and cults have some things in common. Cults involve spiritual highs and altered states of consciousness, and are highly popular among youths reacting against the uncertainties of the transition to adult society (Hexham and Poewe 1986). As in the rave, the experience of community is a cornerstone of the cult experience. In his study of the Divine Light Mission Galanter (1989: 10) noticed that the more people affiliated themselves with the cult, the more relief they received. Relief reinforces the members' involvement in the group and attachment to the group's principles. However, Galanter (p. 5-7) argues that psychological processes cause the cult members to affiliate with the cult community, whereas I have made an explicitly cultural case for the positive transformations ravers say they undergo. Furthermore, the process of group attachment in cults is circular and self-reinforcing, so that involvement in the cult grows to dominate the cult members' lives. In contrast, ravers detach from their "group" when the rave event comes to an end in the early morning. Though such regular detachment from raves might be expected to produce frustrated feelings of interruption, testimonies of ravers instead reveal satisfaction and excitement about reuniting under the same principles of PLUR the next weekend. Perhaps permanent Utopias are not viable, as Turner and others suggest, and that the superficiality of rave "communily" reflects that condition.

Niman's ethnography of the Rainbow Family highlights a second commentary. Like ravers, the Rainbow Family has conscious roots in the revival of primitivism, paganism, and tribalism (1997: 37). Those who attend Rainbow Gatherings often mimic and alter Native American culture and religious rituals, believing that what they contrive is the real thing. Teepees, sweat lodges, pipe ceremonies, medicine bags, and feathers are central features of the gathering. Rather than dismissing such "fakelore" as inauthentic Indian culture, it might be better, to call it simply Rainbow culture (Niman 1997). Such a move puts us in line with Bruner (1994), who argues with Baudrillard that scholars should not criticize authenticity in the sense of fidelity to an original model because all cultures are caught in a process of copying and reinventing themselves. Instead, scholars should attend to authenticity as it is constructed by informants, particularly when competing segments of society call it into question in the context of uneven power relations (p. 408). With regard to power relations, the Rainbow practice of borrowing Native American customs might reflect a form of cultural imperialism that has powerfully negative consequences, and it is on this basis that a critique of authenticity should be considered. As Niman cogently argues. Rainbow impersonations of Indians trivialize Native American practices such that these practices lose their force. The impersonations consequently undermine attempts by Native Americans to affirm their own identities and thwart legal battles to preserve religious freedom. Though ravers also use Native American symbols, I argue that they are not as complicit in the unintentional cannibalization and trivialization of Native American culture because fakelore is comparatively limited within rave culture and located in highly fragmented contexts. The spiritual aspect of raves does not include conscious mimicry of Native American ceremonies. Unlike some New Age healing procedures, for example, rave rituals do not imitate Native American ceremonies, dress, orations, or props. I am aware of no raves that use Native paraphernalia like sweat lodges or medicine bags. I know of no DJs who, like new age shamans, take Native American names. Fakelore is most often limited to the use of Native American-inspired icons in two-dimensional, decorative contexts, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, and often heavily diluted by other motifs, futuristic and otherwise.

The critique of fakelore foregrounds a key question of this article: whether or not the technoshaman is a real shaman or just a plastic medicine man. Some commentators see the rave as a meaningless simulacrum. For some young people, raves are a form of entertainment not taken as seriously as a religious experience. Nevertheless, this does not eliminate the fact that for many people, the rave is spiritual and highly meaningful (Reynolds 1998a: 9). Based on the testimonials presented here, raves increase self esteem, release fears and anxieties, bring inner peace, and improve consciousness, among other things. When an informant claims that "Last night a DJ saved my life," it is reasonable to accept that this is "spiritual healing." I have elucidated the ritual framework for this therapeutic effect by attending to physiological factors as well as symbols and metaphors that dominate rave discourse. With the help of the DJ, ravers embark on an overnight journey to a primitive paradise where individuality is left behind and communitas is achieved. At their destination ravers claim to find a world of harmony, equality, and communality; a place similar to humanity in its early tribal stage, according to ravers, but diametrically opposed to the modern world. Reynolds (1998b: 86) points out that the myth of unity is just a myth; indeed, as seen in the previous section, ravers can be criticized for not following through on their goals of community building. But as the Huichol example makes clear, myths are powerful. The enactment of the myth of eternal return — a symbolic return to the primordial place where life is as it should be — invigorates the ravers, allowing them to face the sobriety and tedium of daily life, at least until the next rave. The rave experience might be highly symbolic, but these symbols are fashioned and imbued with such meaning that they far surpass the empty, touristic simulacra that some academic commentators consider them to be.

Acknowledgments I would like to thank Byron Hamann. Megan Mooney, Michael Brown, Beth Conklin, and James Hutson for commenting on this paper. A preliminary version was read at the 97ih Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, December 2-6, 1998, Philadelphia.

1 David King, "Why 'Goa Trance?' " in [Internet]. 7 May 1997 [cited 22 October 1997].

2 Techno music includes various forms of pre-recorded dance music mixed by disc jockeys, though it can be produced live. Electronica is a more recent term coined by U.S. media and record companies. The various forms or sub-genres of techno change rapidly; many of the genres that were popular five years ago no longer exist or have evolved into new genres with their own names. Some of the genres of techno that were popular at the lime of my research include house, trance, drum 'n bass, speed garage, trip hop. and big heat.

3 For an insider definition, see Brian Behlendorf. "The official alt.raveFAQ," in [Internet]. May 8. 1994 [cited 3 November 1997]. Hyperreal is the largest and oldest internet resource for rave music and culture:.

4 Though similar to early 1990s raves, these late 1990s raves have many of their own peculiar features, as Champion (1998) elegantly documents.

5 See also Mike Brown, "Techno Music and Raves FAQ." in [Internet]. 1 December 1995 (cited 7 November 1996].

6 Megan, "Coup d'Academe.html," in raves/spirit/ [internet], [cited 16 November 1997].

7 Brian Behlendorf, "The official alt.raveFAQ." in (Internet]. 8 May 1994 (cited 3 November 1997].

8 Anonymous, "DJ_Journeys.html," in raves/spirit/technoshamanism [Internet]. 29 February 1996 (cited 2 December 1997).

9 Bob. "Rave_Mass.html," in culture (Internet]. 28 November 1995 [cited 10 December 1997).

10 Robin Green. No title. In history [Internet], [cited 4 January 1998).

11 "Beautiful_Visions.html," in vibes [Internet], (cited 17 November 1997).

12 Fraser Clark, "Technoshamanism_Definitions.html." in (Internet]. 24 May 1995 [cited 8 December 1997]

13 Brian Behlendorf. "The official alt.raveFAQ," in [Internet]. 8 May 1994 [cited 3 November 1997], and Anonymous. "Perfect_Party.html," in [Internet], (cited 16 November 1997].

14 Edward Lantz, "Otherworlds_Experience." in [Internet]. [Cited 2 December 1997].

15 Zazgooeya, "Why 'Goa Trance?'" in (Internet), [cited 8 November 1997.

16 Jake Barnes. "Why 'Goa Trance?'" in [Internet], [cited 24 October 1997].

17 "Goa trance," in [Internet]. 16 May 1993 [cited 22 November 1997].

18, "Goa trance." in [Internet]. 16 May 1993 [cited 22 November 1997].

19 Noah Raford. "Dance_for_lomorrow.html." in [Internet], [cited 11 January 1998].

20 Sean Casey, "Tcchno_and_raving.html." in (Internet). 28 December 1994 [cited 10 December 1997].

21 Glenn Fajardo, "Dance_to_Transcendance.html." in [Internet]. 15 February 1997 [cited 11 January 1998]

"Glenn Fajardo, "Dance_to_Transcendance.htm." in [Internet]. 15 February 1997 [cited 11 January 1998]

24 See the Ibiza website at [Internet], (cited 7 November 1997]
25 Ann, "The New Moon Altar," in newmoon/altar [Internet]. August 1997 [cited 22 October 1997).
"Jason Parsons, "Vibe.Tribe.html," in raves/spirit/hopeful [Internet]. 23 August 1996 [cited 4 January 1997).

27 Niehls Mayer, "Burning Man 95-Nevada.html." in [Internet]. 27 September 1995 [cited 17 November 1997].
28 Sean Casey, "Techno_and_raving.htm," in [Internet]. 28 December 1994 (cited 10 December 1997].
29 The rave might even compare to the primordial stale of being in the womb, where maturity, individuation, and separation have not yet occurred. The rave also matches the sensory experience of being in the womb. Raves are dark, humid (due to mist makers), and warm (due to sweating dancers), while the dance beat replicates the mother's heartbeat.

30 Jason Parsons, "Vibe.Tribe.html," in raves/spirit/hopcful (Internet). 23 August 19% [cited 4 January 1997].

31 Brad Finley. 1995. "We are all connected," in [Internet]. 12 December 1995 [cited 2 December 1997].

32 Mike Brown. "Techno Music and Raves FAQ," in[Internet). I December 1995 [cited 7 November 1996].

33 Salami and Komouon International, "Why you are here." in [Internet]. 12 December 1995 [cited 2 December 1997).

34 A. Lopez. 1994. "Techno_Subculture.html, in [Internet]. 27 December 1994 [cited 22 October 1997].

35 1993. "Coa trance," in [Internet]. 16 May 1993 [cited 22 November 1997].

36 Charlene Ma. "Telepathic message." in [Internet]. 19 September 1996 (cited 3 November 1997).

37 Lee. "Physics_and_raving.html," in raves/spirit/technoshamanism (Internet). 12 May 1995 [cited 10 December 1997).

38 Alice Braley, "House Music and Planetary Healing," in [Internet). 12 December 1995 (cited 2 December 1997].

39 Jason Page, Unfilled, in DCRaves listserv [Listserv]. 17 November 1997 [cited 13 November 1997). Available at

40, "Goa trance," in [Internet]. 16 May 1993 [cited 22 November 1997].

41 All of these terms appear in raver characterizations of the two worlds.
42 Interview conducted November 1997.
43 Erich Schneider, "Technoshamanism_Definitions.html: Why don't we start with a definition." in raves/spirit/technoshamanism [Internet]. 24 May 1995 (cited 8 December 1997).

44 See liner notes in Doc Martin. 1994. UrbMix Volume I: Flammable Liquid. Planet Earth compact disk P50105-2.

45 Superstar DJ Keoki. 1995 Caterpillar. Moonshine Music compact disk MM 88419.

46 Robert Jesse, "The Monk in Europe," in [Internet]. 16 May 1993 (cited 22 October 1997].

47 Anonymous, "Hopeful visions," in raves/spirit/hopeful [Internet). [cited16 November 1997].

48 "Technopagan_Raveprayer. html," in (Internet). 28 December 1994 (cited 3 November 3 1997).

49 Robert Jesse, "The Monk in Europe," in (Internet). 16 May 1993 [cited 22 October 1997).

50 Most collectives, such as the New Moon Collective, San Francisco ( Daydream Collective. Eugene OR ( Friends and Family collective, San Francisco ( and Catalyst Effusion, Toronto (announced on an email message posted to ihc DCRaves listserv, 18 November 1997), in fact do nothing more than organize panics.

51 Salami and Komotion International. "Why you are here." in (Internet]. 12 December 1995 (cited 2 December 1997).

52 "Goa trance," in (Internet]. 16 May 1993 (cited 22 November 1997).

53 DeZKLR, "Positively Deep," in DCRaves listserv (Lisiserv]. 9 November 1997 (cited 1 December 1997]. Available at

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Sardiello, Robert. 1994. Secular rituals in popular culture: A case for Grateful Dead concerts and Dead Head identity. In Adolescents and their music, ed. Jonathan S. Epstein. New York: Garland Publishing.

Tagg, Philip. 1994. From refrain to rave: the decline of figure and the rise of ground. Popular Music 13(2): 209-222.

Thornton, Sarah. 1995. Club cultures: Music media and subcultural capital. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Tomlinson, Lori. 1998. "This ain't no disco" … or is it? Youth culture and the rave phenomenon. In Youth culture: Identity in a postmodern world, ed. J. Epstein. Oxford: Blackwell.

Turkic, Sherry. 1995. Life on the screen. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Turner, Victor. 1967. The ritual process: Structure and anti-structure. Chicago IL: Aldine.

Walter, V.J., and W.G. Walter. 1949. The central effects of rhythmic sensory stimulation. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology 1: 57-86.


By Scott R. Hutson, University of California, Berkeley
The following 9 user(s) say thank you to darth for this great post:
Captain panda, deerell, DjSoul, kid, Lucio Fulci, overdreamer, ozpin, Sugarfix, WakuWaku
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post 27. Oct 2008, 19:23
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very long, very thorough, very interesting study. I tried to post only a link and citation but the link wouldn't work so.... here it is in full. biggrin.gif
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post 28. Oct 2008, 17:12
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very interesting! ive started it off, ill read the rest later...
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post 28. Oct 2008, 18:27
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yeah it takes a bit to get through as it is an academic research paper but very much worth the read as it supports what most of us know to be true already biggrin.gif. My job has me searching for information in all sorts of databases and places and I came across this in Anthropological Quarterly. It's nice to see somebody take the culture seriously and objectively.
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post 28. Oct 2008, 23:25
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to be able to conceive the hypothesis and bring it all together like this a really impressive.

Ive often had thoughts about such things (not nearly as elequant), ie, a tribal traditional type dance from other cultures being essentially similar to a rave, and that everything in a way, is much more simple than it appears.

Its just all hidden behind a veil of complication, differnt cultures, people and times have differnet interpritations of things, but as this guy has put accross, at the root of it all, its the same, there is no disconection, or great mystery.

i think somehow the same thing could go for things on an even broader scale on the 'oneness' 'connected' idea, like you can marry up religion, material science, meditation, drugs and all this stuff to some kind of epicenter, from which interpretations confuse everything and make them seem opposite or different. It seems only through experience can you sense this kind of thing.
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post 21. Dec 2008, 18:20
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very intersting read!

it's extremely thorough so i skipped a lot of parts but the conclusion is worth reading and holds the essense of th whole study.
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post 21. Dec 2008, 19:08
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Great article, could you post the link if possible? There are many people I would like to show this to tongue.gif
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post 19. Apr 2009, 02:46
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I'm actually a Psychology Ph.D. candidate and a former Med school student and I can definitely say this is a very valid viewpoint about Rave culture. It's basically that Western Society has systematically replaced transformative, ritualistic, rites of passage type events with mindless comfort and individual isolationism. Catharsis of any kind is taboo and all of our medications are made to treat symptoms so that the subject is comfortable while any physiological problems heal on their own and any psycho/spiritual problems slip into the sub/un-conscious. Yes, there are medical professionals that try to actually fix problems and help people, but they are the minority.

The Rave on the other hand can catalyze a person towards change via ritualistic dance, i.e. a raver dances with wild abandon paying no attention to those around them except to note that they are all joined together in the dance and generally attends these dances as often as possible. The rites of passage portion can occur in a number of ways: dancing through an entire party (Or from sundown till sunrise), taking mind altering drugs, etc. The catharsis is the fact that the raver brings themself to the rave in one state of mind and with no regard to pain or suffering that may be brought on in the wake of the party pushes forward to achieve ecstasy (A state of rapture, not necessarily the drug).

And the audio entrainment (Referred to in the above text by the older term, "driving") alone powerfully alters brainwave patterns uniting the entire group under its influence.

Everyone should be a raver. :-)
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post 19. Aug 2010, 08:42
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Thank you for posting this, Darth yes.gif
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post 12. Oct 2010, 17:45
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truly helpful. i'm an acupuncture student looking to facilitate healing and personal spiritual experience, and i think of rave music as a portal to another world (or state of consciousness). thank you.

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