By: Amy Skodak, Contributor 

When it comes to having a night out, the popularity of today’s rave culture suggests that being a shut-in might not be in your best interests.

Raves are stigmatized for connecting electronic dance music, known as EDM, with drug use. But what’s overlooked is their ability to elicit a sense of inclusion and acceptance.

Gillian Carrabre, a PhD student studying rave culture, has been to over 50 raves throughout the GTA this year alone. She explains that the philosophies behind rave culture come from the acronym PLUR (peace, love, unity and respect). While alcohol and drug use is evident, there is a growing conglomerate of people attending such events sober.

“The ethos PLUR comes from that point in time when young people in Europe and Britain were unable to work because their jobs were being lost,” Carrabre says.

“It’s always been about minority groups coming together and feeling a sense of belonging and respect for one another, especially for people in university," she adds. "It may be their first time away from home, it’s a place where they can get together with other people their age and feel a sense of belonging.”

The idea that raves may create this sort of collective energy implies that they are in fact important to maintain balance between school work and social fulfillment.

I think it really is about time management,” Carrabre continues. “You shouldn’t put the blame on leisure activities as a reason for not being capable of doing the things you need to do for your degree.”

Hilary Koum, a first-year student in social sciences, attended her first rave at the DVBBS concert during Western’s Homecoming.

“I don’t usually go because I don’t really like EDM,” says Koum. “I’m not into raves but I figured I’d try it.”

Her risk was ultimately worth her while. The spirited energy of Homecoming, coupled with the intense sound and bold flashing lights of the performance, made a good first impression.

“It was different compared to other concerts I’ve been to,” she gushes.“The vibes made it fun. I got a very energetic vibe from it, everybody was very friendly.”

Koum said she is planning on going to more raves in the future, as it was a great way to relieve stress.

But she isn’t the only one who’s been influenced by the rave scene in London.

Andrew Fedyk and Joe Depace met when they were Western undergrads and have since been growing their career as DJ duo Loud Luxury, living proof of the underlying impact and passion of raves on and offstage.

“The first rave I attended was the first London Block Party that was thrown in 2011 featuring Avicii,” says Fedyk. “I was already into electronic music but the energy and ability for someone to control a crowd and take them on a musical journey only reinforced my interest in becoming a DJ.”

“If you are passionate about music, one of the most freeing things you can do is to be able to share that passion so intimately with a group of total strangers through DJing,” he adds.

So what about those who are new to the scene? Fedyk sympathized with newcomers since jumping into a fanatic crowd of music enthusiasts and throwing your hands in the air may seem a bit intimidating.

“For anyone who is hesitant about attending one, I would say just give it a try,” Fedyk says. "The worst idea people have about the scene is that you need to engage in risky behaviours to enjoy it. It's your night and you need to make it on your terms — for us that was a few shots of Jameson, that's it. As long as you are enjoying yourself, don't feel obligated to do anything.”

So whether you choose to participate in illicit substances, letting loose once in a while may prove beneficial. Raves are about having a good time, seizing the moment and enjoying that bass drop.

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