While some raves may be small parties held at nightclubs or private residences, some raves have grown to immense size, such as the Castlemorton Common Festival in 1992. Some electronic dance music festivals have features of raves, but on a large, often commercial scale. Raves may last for a long time, with some events continuing for ten hours. Due to the association of illegal party drugs such as MDMA (ecstasy) and the use of non-authorized, secret venues for some raves, such as squat parties at warehouses, law enforcement attention has been directed at the rave scene in many countries.
Birth of techno and acid house (1980s)
Rave – Juiz de Fora – MG, featuring bright psychedelic theming common at many raves. In the mid to late 1980s, a wave of psychedelic and other electronic dance music, most notably acid house music, emerged from acid house music parties in the mid-to-late 1980s in the Chicago area in the United States. After Chicago acid house artists began experiencing overseas success, acid house quickly spread and caught on in the United Kingdom within clubs, warehouses and free-parties, first in Manchester in the mid-1980s and then later in London. In the late 1980s, the word “rave” was adopted to describe the subculture that grew out of the acid house movement. Activities were related to the party atmosphere of Ibiza, a Mediterranean island in Spain, frequented by British, Italian, Greek, Irish and German youth on vacation, who would hold raves and dance parties.
Growth of the scene (1990s–present)
By the 1990s, genres such as acid house, house music, oldschool jungle, techno, and electronica were all being featured at raves, both large and small. There were mainstream events which attracted thousands of people (up to 25,000 instead of the 4,000 that came to earlier warehouse parties). Acid house music parties were first re-branded “rave parties” in the media, during the summer of 1989 by Genesis P-Orridge (Neil Andrew Megson) during a television interview; however, the ambience of the rave was not fully formed until the early 1990s. In the UK, in 1988–89, raves were similar to football matches, in that they provided a setting for working-class unification, at a time of union movement in decline and few jobs. Many of the attendees of raves were die-hard football fans. In 1990, raves were also held “underground” in several cities, such as Berlin, Milan and Patras, in basements, warehouses and forests.
British politicians responded with hostility to the emerging rave party trend. Politicians spoke out against raves and began to fine promoters who held unauthorized parties. Police crackdowns on these often unauthorized parties drove the rave scene into the countryside. The word “rave” somehow caught on in the UK to describe common semi-spontaneous weekend parties occurring at various locations linked by the brand new M25 London orbital motorway that ringed London and the Home Counties. (It was this that gave the band Orbital their name.) These ranged from former warehouses and industrial sites in London, to fields and country clubs in the countryside.