Subculture/Counterculture of Raves

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  • Topic: Rave, Sociology, Electronic dance music
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  • Published : April 12, 2013
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Sami Piper
Kelly Davis
Sociology 100
10 October 2011
Raves and Ecstasy
Rave. What does one think of the word rave? Does ranting and raving come to mind as a way of communication or does flashing lights, dance music, and the use of drugs come to mind? If the youth of society were to be asked this question, every single of one of them would refer the word rave as a party filled with dance music and ecstasy. This youth movement has evolved into an electronic music subculture known as rave (Morris 1). A subculture is a separate world within the larger dominant culture that has the same values of the dominant culture but is different enough to be classified as a subculture (Henslin 46). The rave subculture can be also be classified as a counterculture, defined as a subculture with values and norms counter acting the values and norms of dominant society (Henslin 47). Rave culture can be classified as a counterculture where the youth involved partake in multiple acts of deviance and violate the social norms.

Deviance is the term used to refer to any violation of a norm in society (Henslin 134). Raves are deviant in multiple ways because they violate many norms in society. Raves violate norms to such an extent that crimes are being committed. Crimes are such extreme acts of deviance that they are written and made into laws by society (Henslin 134). Many of these laws are broken at raves. The crime most commonly committed and associated with raves is drug use. Among all illegal drugs, ecstasy use is the most prevalent at electric dance music concerts, otherwise known as raves. Ecstasy is the common name for the illegal substance known as MDMA. MDMA is a methamphetamine that gets one going and feeling good. Ecstasy is often referred to as a “feel good” drug because it gives you a heightened perception of sensation due to high amounts of serotonin that MDMA causes the release of (Hess). Other effects of ecstasy include elevated mood, calmness, sense of well-being, congeniality, compassion, and heightened sense of sexual pleasure (Hess). Ecstasy also suppresses the need to sleep or eat; one can stay up for multiple days without eating when on ecstasy (Hess). Jason Tackaberry, the author of “Rave new world”, stated that, “every youth will tell you it’s about the music. But really, ecstasy is what makes a rave a rave” (1). The music is a very important part of the rave, it is what the crowd thrives on and what keeps the party going; but in reality, the culture is so embedded with drugs like ecstasy that without these drugs, electronic dance music would not be popular among the youth. Ecstasy is essential to a rave just as much as LSD was essential to the hippie culture of the sixties (Tackaberry 1). The youth take ecstasy when going to raves just as hippies took LSD when going to music festivals. Ecstasy use is extremely prevalent among raves and it is what the raves thrive on.

Ecstasy is the most frequent drug used at raves. According to a study done in Baltimore regarding the prevalence of ecstasy use among a sample of rave goers, 89 percent admitted to lifetime ecstasy use (Adolesc 1). Out of the sample of rave attendees, twenty percent tested positive for ecstasy, meaning they took the drug with in the last forty-eight hours (Adolesc 1). This study concluded that rave attendees are at high risk for ecstasy use and are more likely to abuse multiple drugs, not jus ecstasy (Adolesc 2). The increase use of ecstasy among the youth has “sparked the attention of health officials and policy makers” (Adolesc 1). Such attention has been sparked regarding the rave phenomenon that the “U.S. has taken a new approach to its war on drugs -- it has declared a war on ‘raves’”(Kardan 99). The government is well aware of the rave counterculture and they are well aware of the prevalence of ecstasy in the scene. Government believes that the deviance a rave causes to be great enough to write it in law and make...
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