Underground Raves in Southern California Ethnographic Paper Research Paper

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Underground Raves in Southern California

Ethnographic Paper On Underground Raves

Raving has become an increasingly fashionable form of recreation for the youth in the United States. California is not left out of this. The rave phenomenon which began in England in the 1990s spread to the U.S. through Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Chicago. Raving refers to the dance that is held in a clandestine location and is open to all ages. It is marked by a sound track of fast-paced, high-volume synthesized dance music. The music has over 120 beats every minute and the typical parties went on into the wee hours of the morning at about four or five in the morning Hier 36.

Organizers of raves would break into warehouses and tap into their electrical circuit in order to power the turntables, film loops and laser lights, as well as other easily mobile equipment. Notification of a pending rave would be passed on by word of mouth to rave aficionados which would create hype and add on to the exclusivity of the event thus increasing the attendance of the event Gibson 20()

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Most revelers in the raves are young people who say they are attracted to the raves since they feel it belongs to them and not to their adult counterparts. This is a fact that is recognized by rave party promoters many of who are 20 to 21-year-old college dropouts and not mainstream entertainment industry executives. Young people who are fond of the rave scene usually celebrate the blunt rejection of adult, corporate rock and roll as a testament of their independent authenticity and identity as members of the youth with a culture that is centered on cyberpunk rock Wilson 401()

The ideology of the rave stems from the past but it remains a phenomenon for the 1990s in its expression of the cyberpunk culture. Within this culture, high-tech gadgets and machines are used in non-traditional ways. The members of this culture have forged strong alliances with the technical world which has led to revolution of the rave to what it currently is Wilson 403()

Research Paper on Underground Raves in Southern California Ethnographic Paper Assignment

Literature review

Tepper (279)

argues that the Southern California rave scene has been thriving with a wide range of events for revelers to choose from. These include small underground events with capacities to host between 100 and 200 people to the larger street events which have the capacity to host thousands of revelers. The rave scene has been fast growing and it has attracted the attention of mainstream media. The media has, however, majorly concentrated on the negative impact of these raves such as drug abuse, alcoholism and unprotected sex rather than the showcasing of musical talent which had helped grow some of today's most known musicians. Despite this negative image of underground events perpetrated by mainstream media, these events are one-of-a-kind musical experiences.

In the Southern California underground raves as in other raves around the world, music plays a huge part in the party. It has developed greatly since house was first introduced to the world to trance which is a flagship genre that became rather popular. Trance has attracted many new comers to the Southern California underground rave scene and has also influenced the rave scene greatly. Apart from increasing the number of revelers, trance has also made them enjoy the raves night after night. House has also stayed as a popular form of music for these underground raves Sommer 76()

Despite the huge prosperity of the underground rave scene, the argument put forth by Marsh (423)

states that irresponsibility has been a major phenomenon in Southern California underground raving. This has been focused on by the media which has highlighted the stereotypes of the rave scene which are drug abuse, overdrinking, and unprotected sex. Promoters of the underground rave scene have, however, argued that there is much positivity in the scene. They have pointed out to the acronym PLUR which is used in most, if not all, advertisements of underground raves. PLUR stands for peace, love, unity and respect and has helped revolutionize the Southern California rave scene by making people act what they preach. The true ravers are those who uphold these values but what the media highlights are the few who are irresponsible and these are the people who are presented to the world by the media.

Drug use in underground raves

The opinion regarding underground raves has been biased as a result of the negative image of underground raves promoted by mainstream media. The majority of the members of the public who have never been to these saves think of them as massive drug festivals since the media have painted underground raves in this picture. Marlin-Curiel (155)

argues that though use of drugs in underground raves is common, there are other places where drug usage is higher than in underground raves. Furthermore, Demers (408)

adds that many of the revelers in underground raves go there for their love of the music rather than the drugs or alcohol.

The most common drug that has been associated with underground raves is ecstasy. Ecstasy is a hallucinogen that produces stimulant effects similar to those of amphetamines. The drug suppresses the need to eat, drink and sleep allowing revelers to be able to hit the night scene night after night and endure all night parties. The use of ecstasy began in 1987 when it was used as a 'fuel' for all night dance parties also known as raves in England. Ecstasy led to the rapid growth of raves since they allowed people to attend raves two or three nights in a row. Five years after the continued use of ecstasy in 1992, raves continued to become popular which led to increased popularity of ecstasy. Other drugs that are commonly used in underground rave scenes are Ketamine, GHB and LSD. Hutson (40)

noted that the worst thing about drug abuse in underground raves is that the purity of the drugs being taken is lacking. Many of the drug peddlers mix the drugs in order to make its effects stronger. These harmful mixtures have been known to lead to severe complications such as dehydration, lack of thermostatic controls in the body leading to hyperthermia and hypothermia, and even death Anderson 324()

Laws regarding raves

Prior to 2010, there was no legislation that governed raves. Legislation introduced in 2010 by the California legislature led to the prohibiting of raves at publicly owned venues. This came about after death of a teenager and dozens who were injured and rushed to hospital after overdosing on drugs during a rave. The argument was that raves foster an environment that is harmful to the health and safety of the youth and it was felt that this law was the first step towards elimination of these dangerous events. The bill also sought to reduce the effects of common rave drugs such as ecstasy, methamphetamine, GHB and LSD. This law has greatly led to increased popularity of underground raves which are less regulated and provide revelers with a chance to experience the same situations they had in previous raves which are now banned McGreevy ()


Study design

This ethnographic study uses qualitative methods. Qualitative research involves the creation of an objective, formal and systematic study to study the variables in underground raves and find the relationships that exist between them. The qualitative research design is best for this study since it allows the researcher to gain a rich and complex understanding of the underground raves and not simply obtain generalized information from the larger group. It also helps the researcher to understand the natural environment of the behavior or characteristic being studied in a way that cannot be changed by either the researcher or the interviewees thus allowing the researcher to record human behavior and experience that uncovers the deeper meaning and understanding of underground raves.

Study population and sampling

The study population is all revelers in Southern California who are aged between 18 and 21 years of age. This age group was chosen since according to the literature found, they form majority of revelers in underground raves. According to Aronson, Wilson and Brewer (99)

, sample size is not an important consideration in qualitative research studies since they focus on collecting information on the attitudes, experiences, and behaviors which shape the phenomenon being studied. The researcher will seek information regarding two underground raves and attend the raves to collect information for the study.

Data collection

Data was collected through participant observation which involved the ethnographer participating in the underground rave activities in addition to observation. This data collection method allows the researcher to engage all senses while studying the underground raves. According to Creswell (17)

, this method will allow the researcher to gain an indigenous sense of the social setting being studied thus allowing them to be involved in the socio-cultural dynamics of their participation in underground raves.

In participant observation, the researcher will carry out descriptive and detailed observations of the phenomena… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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