Nightlife, Raves, and Community in Cities

Exhibit by: Riley Shae

It has been found that nightlife is an important aspect of cities.  The night life scene is believed to help create a city’s own subculture and variety of music, art, politics and performance (Fischer, 1975; Grazian, 2009: 909 ), increase the amount of people wandering the streets at late hours–creating a potentially safer environment, and contribute to economic growth and *social capital. Within the nightlife scene, urban rave parties have emerged, and with it, so has its own cultural and social aspects to cities.

*”Social capital – that is, the collective benefits gained from the growth, intensity, and variety of interpersonal relationships and connections shared among fellow citizens and their social network” (Grazian, 2009: 909).

The Crazy Horse Saloon nightclub in Chico, CA. Photo taken by: Cameron Gutierrez

The Crazy Horse Saloon nightclub in Chico, CA. Photo taken by: Cameron Gutierrez

Nightclubs and raves are very similar in ways that they both involve dancing to music played by a dj or music producer, alcohol consumption, socialization. The difference is that night clubs are establishments–typically a bar– that requires their patrons to be of the legal drinking age or older to enjoy its nightlife activities. Raves are a type of party that can take place in numerous settings with attendees ages varying from young teenagers to older adults. Raves can take place in nightclubs, concert venues, stadiums,residential homes, and many more; the location of the rave determines what ages are welcome. Those that attend raves are commonly known as “ravers”.

An example of women's rave outfits. Photo from:

An example of women’s rave outfits.

Raves are recognized by the electronic dance music, also known as “edm”, that is played by djs or music producers. Ravers dance to the music, wearing bright or neon articles of clothing, “kandi” bracelets, and various other rave accessories. Within this rave party scene, ravers have created their own subculture of night life known as P.L.U.R. (peace, love, unity, respect).

2 people bracelet clad arms wrists, holding hands, and exchanging bracelets.

P.L.U.R. is a part of the rave culture that can be represented and shared by two people sharing beaded bracelets.

P.L.U.R. is a belief shared among those that are a part of the rave community; it is this motto that shapes the culture of the urban rave scene. A study done by Tammy Anderson in 2009, found that raves were seen as inclusive environments within the nightlife scene that emphasize the value “diversity, acceptance, and equity” (Anderson, 2009: 310; Grazian, 2009: 909). These urban rave parties have taken place in numerous settings throughout cities and adding to their nightlife; now, rave parties have become a growing industry of mega-nightclubs, stadiums, and festivals. (Anderson, 2014).

Electric Daisy Carnival 2013. Main Stage in Las Vegas

Electric Daisy Carnival 2013. Main Stage in Las Vegas

Insomniac Productions is one of the largest industry leaders in the edm community based out of Los Angeles, CA. Within their span of more than 20 years in the edm business, they have produced over 250 festivals, concerts and club nights, which has brought in over 4 million attendees to California, Colorado, Florida, Mexico, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the United Kingdom. Their most well-known event is the Electric Daisy Carnival; this festival in Las Vegas alone, brings in more than 400,000 attendees for over 3 days to the large city in Nevada. For more information about Insomniac:

Photo: -

A picture of the Ultra Music Festival crowd with downtown Miami in the background. Photo: –

Other large scale urban raves, like Electric Daisy Carnival, include: Ultra Music Festival, Hard Fest, and Tomorrowland. All of these events can bring up to hundreds of thousands of people to the center of cities such as Miami, Dallas, Las Vegas, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and many more. Cities can benefit from rave events by way of economic growth, increase of potential social capital, safety in numbers at night on the street, and the cultivation of culture; however, there are also great risks that are posed to those cities that allow themselves to play host to these rave productions. Raves, in any setting, whether in a small residential home, or in a large stadium, can bring the risks of alcohol consumption, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and drug-use.

A view of Hard Summer Fest in downtown Los Angeles.

A view of Hard Summer Fest in downtown Los Angeles.

A community of ravers within cities all across the world have banned together to help protect their fellow ravers and all who come to their city, in order to safely enjoy all that comes with urban rave nightlife.

DanceSafe's Logo

DanceSafe’s Logo

DanceSafe is a national health organization made up of professionals, fellow ravers, and volunteers. DanceSafe was originally founded in San Francisco in 1998, and now has chapters in many cities across the United States. The organization is a peer-based, harm-reduction and public education system that aims to promote health and safety within the electronic music community. They work with the promoters and stakeholders of these edm events and festivals by providing free water to prevent dehydration, sex-tools to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the spread of stds, and ear plugs to prevent hearing loss. For more information on the services they provide and specific locations, you can look at their website:

DanceSafe's festival booth.

DanceSafe’s festival booth.

DanceSafe has taken an interest in protecting cities from the risk of raves. There are many more organizations located in cities all over the world that are made up of concerned citizens that want to help protect and inform their peers. RaveSafe is a similar organization located originally in Cape town, South America and has spread across Europe. You can find more information and specific locations here:

The culture created around the urban rave party scene has grown in cities through large edm productions. These rave events bring many people into each city, contributing to the nightlife scenes in both positive and negative ways. Cities that have a rave community within them can benefit from increasing economic, cultural, and social growth; however, the number of potential health risks and safety issues increase as well. It is from the drawbacks of raves that community members have further come together, in cities all across the world, to help make nightlife scenes, like raves, safer.

Please party responsibly and safely.


Anderson, Tammy L. 2009. “Understanding the Alteration and Decline of a Music Scene: Observations from Rave Culture,” Sociological Forum 24: 307-336.

Anderson, Tammy L. 2014. “Molly Deaths and The Failed War on Drugs.”Contexts 13 (4): 48–53. doi:10.1177/1536504214558217.

Fischer, Claude. 1975. “Toward a Subcultural Theory of Urbanism,” American Journal of Sociology SO: 1319-1341.

Grazian, David. 2009. “Urban Nightlife, Social Capital, and the Public Life of Cities.” Sociological Forum 24 (4): 908–17.