What happens in a rave party?

A rave party is an all-night dance event where people gather to dance to electronic dance music. Raves emerged in the late 1980s and peaked in popularity in the 1990s. Here is an overview of what typically happens at a rave:

When and Where Do Raves Happen?

Raves are usually held in secret, unauthorized locations like abandoned warehouses, open fields, empty buildings or basements. Often the actual location is not revealed until the night of the event. Raves tend to happen late at night, starting around 10pm and continuing until the next morning, sometimes as late as noon the next day. They are most popular in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, London, Berlin and Ibiza.

What is the Vibe and Setting of a Rave?

Raves have an underground, renegade vibe. The setting is dark, with pulsing laser lights, strobe lights, black lights, glow sticks and disco balls. Decorations like neon paint splatter, beaded curtains, graffiti and psychedelic imagery create a surreal atmosphere. There are often chill out rooms with couches and bean bags for taking breaks from dancing.

What Kind of Music is Played at Raves?

Raves feature electronic dance music spun by DJs. Popular genres include:

  • House – 120 to 135 BPM with repetitive 4/4 rhythms
  • Techno – 130 to 150 BPM with a robotic, mechanical sound
  • Trance – 130 to 150 BPM with melodic synth pads andminimalist arrangements
  • Drum and Bass – 160 to 180 BPM with heavy bass and fast breakbeats
  • Dubstep – 135 to 145 BPM with heavy wobble bass rhythms
  • Hardcore – 150 to 200 BPM with aggressive styles like happy hardcore, gabber and speedcore

The music is loud and fast-paced, designed for high-energy dancing. The DJs mix the tracks together seamlessly to create a hypnotic groove that can go on for hours.

What Do People Wear to Raves?

The dress code for raves is neon, glitter, costumes and anything colorful and outrageous. Popular clothes include:

  • Fishnet tops
  • Neon face paint
  • Furry boots
  • Sequined miniskirts
  • Crop tops
  • Glitter hair spray
  • Kandi bracelets
  • Eclectic costumes
  • UFO pants
  • Colorful wigs

Anything flashy and eye-catching goes. Rave fashion is about expressing yourself creatively through your clothing.

What Kinds of Dancing Happen at Raves?

The main activity at raves is dancing for hours. Popular rave dance styles include:

  • Freeform – flowing, interpretive and improvisational movements
  • Liquid – smooth, fluid waving arm and body movements
  • Shuffle – fast footwork coordinated with arm swings
  • Tecktonik – robotic, angular arm and hand movements
  • Gloving – waving LED light gloves in synchronization with the music
  • Hakken – jumping rhythmically from leg to leg
  • Drum ‘n’ bass step – fast lower body stomping and running man movements
  • Hardstyle – kicking your legs rhythmically to the beat

Rave dances are designed to match the high tempo music and let people express themselves through movement. The dancing usually happens in groups in big open spaces.

What Kinds of Drugs are Used at Raves?

Illicit drug use is common at raves. Some popular rave drugs include:

  • MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly) – Provides euphoria and energy. Increases feelings of empathy and connection with others.
  • LSD – Causes hallucinations, perceptual distortions and an altered sense of time, emotions and self-awareness.
  • Cocaine – Boosts energy, feelings of confidence and mental alertness for dance marathons.
  • Amphetamines – Increase stamina and reduce fatigue so people can dance all night.
  • Magic mushrooms – Alters thoughts, emotions and perceptions which pairs with the psychedelic atmosphere.

Ravers take “party favors” to heighten their sensory experience, lower inhibitions and give them energy to dance all night. However, recreational drugs always carry health risks like dehydration, overdose, impure ingredients and dangerous interactions.

Is There Separation Between Genders?

Unlike some dance club scenes, raves often do not have separation between genders. Men and women dance together in the same spaces. However, women still need to be cautious of unwanted touches or advances in the dense crowds. Some raves have started designating women’s only “safe spaces” for breaks from the dance floor. But most of the night, men and women party together in a freewheeling environment.

How Do People Stay Hydrated and Cool?

With constant dancing under hot lights, ravers take measures to stay hydrated and cool including:

  • Bringing water bottles to drink in between dancing
  • Taking breaks in cool down rooms
  • Wearing breathable clothing
  • Tying up long hair
  • Splashing water on their face and arms
  • Fanning themselves between songs
  • Going outside occasionally for fresh air

Some raves havecooling stations to mist overheated partygoers. Staying hydrated is crucial since drugs and dancing can quickly lead to dehydration.

Do People Do Drugs Out in the Open?

In spite of rampant drug use, blatantly doing drugs in public spaces is usually frowned upon at raves. People typically sneak away to more private areas or bathrooms to take their party drugs. Security staff may kick out people who are caught openly popping pills, snorting coke or selling drugs.

However, it’s common to see groups passing around weed joints or vape pens in the open. And some ravers subtly slip small doses of molly or acid discretely in the crowds. Overall though, the most obvious drug use happens in hidden corners, privacy booths, back rooms or outside the venue.

Is There a Come Down After the Party?

Because raves go so late and involve extensive drug use and dancing, there is almost always a “come down” phase after the party winds down. The highs from ecstasy and adrenaline drop off, leaving people feeling depleted and depressed due to serotonin depletion. Other post-rave symptoms include:

  • Fatigue and sleep deprivation
  • Dehydration and hunger
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Impaired cognition and focus
  • Muscle aches and pains

The rave comedowns can last one to two days. Some ravers take “suicide Tuesdays” off work after intense weekend raves. Taking health supplements, hydrating, eating nutritious meals and resting can alleviate the post-rave crash.

Do Fights and Violence Happen?

Most raves promote PLUR, which stands for Peace, Love, Unity and Respect. Fights and overt violence are rare due to the euphoric, empathetic mindset drugs like MDMA induce. However, with huge crowds, tightly packed spaces, accidental bumping and drunkenness, minor scuffles still occur. Larger raves have security teams who handle any violence quickly by removing aggressive people.

Women still need to be cautious of groping in the close crowds. Theft of wallets and phones can also happen in the chaos. But overall, raves do not tend to feature the violence you may see at regular nightclubs. The vibe centers on escaping society’s problems through music, not amplifying them.

Do People Ever Have Sex at Raves?

Hookups and casual sex are fairly common at raves. The sexually charged atmosphere and reduced inhibitions lead many ravers to indulge their carnal desires. Some typical rave hookup activities include:

  • Flirtatious dancing and bumping and grinding on the dance floor
  • Making out in dark corners or chill out rooms
  • Exchanging massages that lead to more
  • Group sex and partner swapping
  • Hooking up transactionally to get free drugs
  • Sneaking off to cars, restrooms or secluded areas for sex

However, the music and dancing still takes priority over hooking up for most ravers. And some ravers follow a PLUR code of focusing on deeper connections rather than casual sex.

Are Photographs Allowed at Raves?

Most raves prohibit any photography or videography to protect the identities of partygoers. The underground locations also must remain secret. Professional photographers need special permission. And security will confiscate any cameras or cell phones used to document the rave.

However, some more commercial EDM festivals allow photography in certain areas. But pictures are strictly forbidden in private VIP areas. And night vision or flash photography that might harm the visual experience is prohibited.

Do Raves Provide Health Services?

Responsible rave organizers have medical staff on site in case of any health issues from dehydration to bad drug reactions. Some health services at bigger raves include:

  • Free water stations
  • Chill out rooms
  • Misting fans
  • Nonprofit drug counseling and screening
  • Harm reduction education
  • Emergency medical technicians
  • Bodywork and massage

However, downside of underground raves is they often lack adequate safety and medical services. Dangerous venue conditions, tainted drugs and dehydration pose serious risks that partygoers must manage themselves.

Are Minors Allowed at Raves?

Most raves restrict entry to ages 18-21 and up only, depending on local laws. Some all ages raves allow minors with guardian consent. But entry fees for underage ravers are usually prohibitive to limit their numbers. And minors have to leave by 1-2am. Security guards use wristband colors to identify any minors and remove them before the late night hours.

What Happens When Police Shut Down Raves?

Since raves often happen in unauthorized spaces, police raids to shut them down are common. Tactics during a rave raid include:

  • Entering with overwhelming force and K9 units
  • Blocking exits and restraining partygoers
  • Confiscating drugs and searching people
  • Issuing tickets for drug possession
  • Making arrests for outstanding warrants
  • Identifying and investigating organizers
  • Towing illegally parked cars

Once police declare the party over, ravers scatter quickly to avoid hassles or arrests. The police crackdown can turn an euphoric night into a stressful, chaotic mess in seconds.

Do Raves Ever Get Out of Control?

The rampant drug use, huge crowds and general lawlessness of raves can sometimes lead to hazardous scenarios. Some potential risks include:

  • Riots – Angry crowds turning violent against police.
  • Sexual assaults
  • Dehydration and overdoses requiring hospitalization
  • Unsafe venues with fire hazards and blocked exists
  • Gang violence and turf wars
  • Stabbings, physical fights and aggressive behavior
  • Drug dealers pushing research chemicals and tainted drugs

Irresponsible rave promotion and lax security can enable dangerous situations. Though most ravers just want to party in peace, mob mentality and sketchy actors make violence a possibility.

Do Neighbors Ever Complain About the Loud Music?

Raves are notoriously noisy which leads to noise complaints from nearby residential areas. Thumping bass vibrates through walls and echos for blocks at late hours. Frustrated neighbors will call the police reporting noise disturbances after hours. This gives police probable cause to enter and shut down illegal venues.

Complaints spike when raves happen in vacant properties in commercial or industrial areas that border housing. Responsible promoters soundproof venues and close outdoor areas at 10pm to minimize noise issues. But underground raves often ignore these precautions, angering communities.

Has Anyone Ever Died at a Rave?

With rampant drug use, dehydration, violent crime and unsafe conditions, rave-related deaths do unfortunately occur. Some notable cases include:

  • A 20 year old woman overdosing on ecstasy at UK’s Gatecrasher Rave in 1995.
  • A 19 year old Dutch woman dying of an ecstasy overdose at Innercity in Amsterdam in 1999
  • Six drug-related deaths at parties organized by UK’s Raindance in 1992.
  • Three partygoers dying of heatstroke at Australia’s Big Day Out in 2001
  • Teen ravers crushed in a 2010 stampede at Germany’s Love Parade while trying to exit through a tunnel

These deaths illustrate why adequate safety, security, medical services and harm reduction education are so essential at rave events.

What Happens at the End of the Rave?

As morning light breaks through, the rave winds down with the following sequence:

  • Music shifts to slower, chillout vibes.
  • Crowd thins as many people go home to sleep.
  • Diehard ravers keep dancing as morning commuters pass by.
  • Last call is announced for alcohol sales.
  • Staff starts cleaning up trash and decor.
  • Any back rooms or private areas are closed.
  • Music stops and lights come on around noon.
  • People straggle out squinting into the daylight.

The energetic atmosphere fades into fatigue as partiers disperse for the day. The surreal rave world evaporates with the rising sun.


Raves provide an opportunity to dance into ecstatic bliss amid pulsing beats, shimmering lights, creative outfits and disinhibition. However, their underground and unregulated nature also fosters risk. Maintaining personal safety while embracing rave culture’s creative expression presents an ongoing challenge. But dedicated ravers will likely keep seeking that transcendent, utopian dance floor community as long as governments and law enforcement try to crack down on it.