When I listen or read discussions about ravers on the Internet or in Real Life, I've noticed that a lot of people tend to vilify or glorify ravers as a distinct group:

"Man, ravers are so cool. They're so happy and k-rad and they love everyone and they're so relaxed and easy-going. Some of them even give out free candy!"

"I tell you, ravers suck. Their music is horrible, they dress like 5 year olds, and they're fake as hell. They're just modern day hippies. But worse. And they distribute candy. Bet they lace it wit' all kinds of drugs and bad stuff. They're corrupting the moral fiber of this country."

Both these positions are just silly. Ravers are as unique as every person on this big ol' earth. I've been to ravers a number of times, with a variety of different people. Some people just go to raves to have fun. Good music, good friends, good dancing. Some people go to raves to see the deep mystery and beauty of life, sometimes with the help of powerful hallucinogenic drugs. Some go because they believe in PLUR. And some, sadly enough, go because it's the hip and trendy thing to do nowadays.

I've been to raves with fat ravers, thin ravers, ravers in big pants, little pants, with drugs, without drugs, dumb as posts and deep as hell.

The whole American "rave" thing seems to me -- and bear in mind I'm only going by what I've read and friends accounts -- seems to be a strange cultural transplantation. For once the Americans are trying to ape us, and not the other way around. (Yes, yes, house music, you lot did that first, fine.) You have to remember that the whole thing blew up over here about ten, twelve years ago. The music. The "ethos" (if travelling out to a freezing cold field and dancing like a loon for 9 hours can be called that). And most of all, the ecstasy. White gloves. Whistles. Hardcore will never die.

But like most things that make the cross-Atlantic trip, there is something lost in the translation. When we did it all (and some of us still are), nobody took it seriously. Sure, it was a time-consuming lifestyle, but that's all it was. A lifestyle. We didn't read anything deep or meaningful into it. PLUR? WTF? It was just a way to have a good time and - if that was your thing - mind-bending adventures. I don't think that ravers over here would have been able to make the judgement that somebody was "fake as hell", or that people were only going to raves because it was a "trendy" thing to do (rather, they are less influential now as the laws are tightened and the whole aesthetic has been discarded by the mainstream media - much like grunge: see grunge is not dead and did not fail.)

The thing that irritates me the most about American discussions of "ravers" is the ignorance. OK, you don't see the appeal of electronic music and pilling. But that doesn't give you the right to stigmatise the people who do. They're not a monolithic body determined to piss you off. Why piss on their parade? They don't dis your Hair Metal now do they? OK, some of these kids probably don't quite understand the whole scene or read too much into it. Is this a problem? Is it doing anyone any harm? Not beyond perhaps leaving them with some embarrassing photos ten years from now.

And last of all, and most importantly, I really hate the stupid and blinkered view some people over there take over Ecstasy. No, it's not mixed with anything bad. You might get ripped off, but getting rat poison or crushed glass in your pills is a myth. If you are concerned about what you're getting, invest in a testing kit. I could go on at length about the other stupid, ill-informed Reefer Madness - style comments I have heard, some even from doctors over there who seem to have a heavily distorted view of what ecstasy, chemically, is. On one hand you sneer at the "War on Some Drugs" and on the other you give me all this "it rewires your brain" bullshit. It never did Pac-man any harm. Unlike crack.

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