The Best Raving Advice, From Seasoned Ravers

Don’t stop raving because you’re old. You get old when you stop raving.
Raves festivals nightlife club party afters house techno EDM advice advise how to pro tips
A rave in Dallas, early 2000s. Photo: Alex 

In the 80s, rave culture emerged from the gay Black club scenes of Chicago. Today, people around the world continue to rave through the night, in storied clubs, fabled festivals, and the dark underground, shrouded in thumping bass, hissing fog, and electrifying laser lights. 


Often made out to be on the wrong side of the law, ravers have had to rely on only themselves to keep their culture alive across generations. Between bass drops and dance breaks, seasoned ravers teach newbies of all ages the sometimes abstract but essential “rules” of the lifestyle—from club etiquette and harm reduction to how to survive a festival and manage a comedown

“I met so many friendly people and saw so many amazing dancers. The vibe was very welcoming and safe. Having grown up in an area where I always felt like an outcast, this community never made me feel likewise,” Jamieson Bruce, a 44-year-old from Ontario, Canada, told VICE about the night of his first rave. 

VICE asked Bruce and other long-time ravers for the most important things they’ve learned on the dancefloor and their best tips for those just now joining the party. 

Wear earplugs

Bruce has DJed in events, attended festivals, and thrown parties around the world, from Montreal to South Korea. Listening to loud music for prolonged periods of time, like people do in raves, is known to cause hearing issues like tinnitus. Now, Bruce says he’s thankful he wore earplugs while raving, allowing him to still enjoy music after years of, well, enjoying the music. 


Big crowds are not always better 

For Bruce, nothing beats dancing in a room with your closest friends while listening to your favorite music. He said he prefers parties where the DJ is dancing on the dance floor with everyone else, and not massive events (known in the culture as “massives”) with big stages and 50,000 people. A good party has “smallish rooms, biggish sound systems, quality crowds, not quantity crowds, and no judgment.” 

“I’ve danced to the top tier of DJs, on the most expensive sound systems, while witnessing the most immersive visual presentations of lights and lasers. Dancing in a room alone with my closest friends is always much more fun,” he said. 

There’s more than meets the eye

Whether it’s in a giant open field or a small room, it’s easy for many to dismiss raves as mindless drug-fueled frenzies. But not all ravers do drugs, and even those who do will tell you there’s more to it than what meets the eye.

Xavier, an executive in his 40s, attended his first rave in the 90s and started raving regularly in the early 2000s. He preferred to go by a pseudonym to protect himself from the professional repercussions of talking about his raving experiences. 

He hasn’t raved in years, but remembers some of the important things he’s learned.

“The most important lesson I learned was about healing. Too many people stigmatize illegal drugs and those who use them, and we do not hear enough about the stories that come from people who have severe trauma but found acceptance and comfort through peace, love, unity, and respect [a set of principles associated with rave culture]—allowing them to talk about, digest, process, and heal from that trauma. Sometimes, you really do need to ‘just dance it out,’” he said. 


Drugs aren’t necessary

Alex, a 38-year-old nurse, started raving in Texas in 1999. In her first year of raving, she did not do any drugs. “I was just literally high off the music,” she said. Alex also preferred to go by a pseudonym to protect her reputation at work.

Different raves are characterized by different genres of music, and it’s a love for those genres that keeps ravers on the dance floor. Alex said she danced her anxieties and frustrations away to genres like gospel house, jungle, and trance, among others.

“My most important lesson I’ve learned is just dance, just appreciate the music,” she said.

Let loose

Jordyn Kortman, a 28-year-old waitress, has been raving since 2016. She also encouraged ravers to move their bodies any way they like, however it might look like. For her, that’s one way to accept yourself and belong in a community that does the same. 

To new ravers, she advised: “Please listen intensely to the music. Please enjoy the show. And please, please, please, please, do not worry about how you may look to other people.” 

Find your scene

Raving has helped Tim, a 27-year-old from Hamburg, learn to love being himself. Tim preferred to go by his first name only to protect his privacy.

“I have been raving for the last eight years. It really is a special community. I’ve never witnessed any violence [at] raves. Parties where alcohol, for example, is the main drug are much different,” he said. “It’s pure joy.”


Tim’s best advice is to find a rave scene that you enjoy. A lot of the time, he said, people do things because the people around them like those things. That’s true for music, clothes, and even the way people dance.

“Try not to do that,” Tim said. “Raves are the perfect environment to experiment with who you want to be and what you really like.”

Moderation is key

Like Bruce and Tim said, many ravers don’t feel like they belong in any community until they discover their particular subculture of raves. But when they do, it can lead to overwhelmingly positive feelings that cause many to dive into the scene as deeply and quickly as possible. Some who did just that say it’s still best to proceed with caution. 

Arizona-based content creator Elena Lopez, 23, started raving in 2016. She went to underground desert raves every weekend in her first two years of raving, then every music festival in her state for three years after. Now, she goes to a few different festivals a year. 

“The most important lesson I’ve learned is that moderation is key,” said Lopez, pointing to how easy it can be for some ravers to fall into cycles of benders, lost time and energy, and lost money. 

“A year or two will pass by and you'll realize you haven’t done anything but party and get fucked up with people who are no longer in your life, doing the same exact thing year over year.” 

You don’t stop raving when you’re old, you get old when you stop raving

Cheeseburger, 40, is a California-based aerospace materials supervisor who started raving in 1999, when he was 17. “Once I started, I never looked back,” he said. He only stopped raving during the pandemic, when he didn’t think it was worth “the risk of dying or killing anyone.” He’s been raving for 23 years now because he loves the music, and because he’s made lifelong friends from around the world through it. 


“The most important lesson is probably [that] you don’t stop raving cause you got old, but you get old when you stop raving,” said Cheeseburger. “I learned this from traveling and meeting ravers from all around the world. I have raved with people that started in the 80s and people that started a few years ago. It’s the passion that unites us no matter what our age is.”

For him, people should enjoy raving for as long as they can, and make sure more people can keep enjoying it beyond that. 

“Once you’re ready to stop, find two new people to replace you and continue to grow the rave community.” 

Remember the roots and keep the culture alive 

California-based 26-year-old Michaela attended her first rave in 2011 and has been raving since. “What keeps me coming back to the rave is the atmosphere and culture. It is truly something you must experience to understand,” she said. Michaela preferred to go by her first name only to protect her privacy. 

As a teenager, Michaela struggled with depression. It was in her first rave that she first felt free, like she could be herself. “I closed my eyes on the dance floor and everything bad in life just faded. I was in the perfect moment.” She said that changed the course of her life.

“I could go on and on about little things I’ve learned like making sure to wear decibel-reducing earplugs, wearing comfy shoes, being respectful while meandering through a crowd, partaking in anything recreational safely, etc. Those are very important things to know and practice as a raver,” said Michaela.

“However, I think the most important advice young ravers should take to heart is to keep the roots of the culture alive. Learn about the history, respect how and where the rave began—that Black and queer creators made this space we now love and enjoy. Know that this is a place built off diversity, creativity, and limitless expression… Let’s all do our part to not let the meaning get lost in the midst of the flashing lights.”

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