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Around the World in 80 Raves: Rebel Rebel, Rome

Watch out for the pyrotechnics. And the Italian stallions.

NAME: Rebel Rebel

LOCATION: Rome, Italy

RECENT HEADLINERS: Scuba, Tale of Us, Nina Kraviz

VIBE: Hundreds of dilated pupils and endless hours of undulating house music

VENUE: Warehouse, an industrial (you guessed it) warehouse in the outskirts of Rome

WHEN IT HAPPENS: Saturdays, once a month


The second I found myself stranded on the side of the highway in the outskirts of Rome, I realized I might have been out of my element. I was trying to find a ride to Rebel Rebel, a monthly dance party beloved by Italian locals. Unfortunately, it was located exactly in the middle of nowheresville.


Well, Google Maps was telling me that the ambiguously named "Warehouse" where the party was going down was actually as far as the airport. But was it at an actual warehouse, or a venue called "Warehouse"? Also, why was there no address—just a street name? All these sketchy things seemed surprising for a party with such a well designed flyer.

When I arrived, the door girl actually laughed in my face when I asked if she had a guest list. I was clearly as out of place as I felt. There was a crowd of 99% dudes waiting to get in, and I was already feeling defeated. Some guy even used me to get himself in, but that actually turned out to be great, because it got me in hassle-free.

Turns out, the venue is both a warehouse, and called Warehouse. The legality of this rave wasn't very clear. The bar appeared to be a DIY job. The drink tickets for Red Bull cocktails weirdly said "anal," which I have no explanation for. I think I was the only tourist there, which is cool, except I couldn't really communicate with anyone, which made all these Italian dudes even more persistant in trying to spark a conversation with me.

Redshape at a recent Rebel Rebel party

Apparently, Romans really like dancing. Like, the kind of dancing your dad would do if you took him to a rave (that he would probably call a discotheque). I couldn't tell who was trying to pickpocket me, and who was just trying to grab my ass, but I had to applaud people truly adopting the "dance like no one is watching" approach. I later realized this was probably the result of drugs.


The bathroom was an experience in itself. Very well-equipped.  An authentic rave experience.

There are drunk raves, and there are drug raves. Rebel Rebel, with its less-than-packed bar and affinity for endless Joy Orbison tracks, gave me the sense that it was definitely the latter. Thankfully though, there was no American-style PLUR tackiness in sight. The four-year-old rave attracts die-hard local techno heads who would never go to a party in Rome's tourist and exchange student-flooded city center.

As 4AM crept up, I decided to head home. The party was sure to stretch on to the point where my jet lag and the fact that I was stranded would collide for guaranteed disaster. There was an adorable pink food truck outside the warehouse trying to sell pizzas that everyone was clearly too fucked up to even consider. I considered asking a random person for a ride after being solicited by about four fake taxi drivers, but an Italian stallion of a security guard dressed in all leather saved the night and called me a cab that, after an hour of waiting, drove me home in one piece.

In the end, it doesn't seem to matter how far off the beaten path or potentially illegal Rebel Rebel is. When in Rome, rave as the Romans rave.

UNFORGETTABLE MOMENT: When I tried to casually sneak up behind the DJ booth and these spurts of fire shot up everywhere (check out the image up top), which was both terrifying and amazing because they actually got me nice and toasty.