Tuesday, April 25, 2023

rave, raver, raving

In this Guardian piece around Raving, McKenzie Wark cites me as suggesting that the word "rave" might originate in Jamaican music culture.

And it's true - the word did have currency in early reggae and sound system culture.  Bob Marley and the Wailer's "Midnight Ravers". Steel Pulse's "Ravers". 

But I also say, in Energy Flash, that the all-night rave was a concept in psychedelia. 

Then there's The Yardbirds's Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds - the rave up as the part of a tune where the tempo jumps and the playing gets frenzied. 

Not forgetting Buddy Holly's "Rave On!".

In fact in the  U.K, the idea of being a raver or going to a rave dates back to the trad jazz era - the all-night dance parties of the late 1940s and 1950s: young people dancing wildly to bands playing a hyped-up version of New Orleans hot jazz. 

Supposedly the introduction of these terms came from the musician Mick Mulligan, known as "The King of the Ravers".

But as I say in the earlier post, Mulligan didn't pick these words out of thin air. "Rave" has centuries worth of English language connotations to do with enthusiasm, madness, excessive excitement,  intoxication, uncontrol, delirium, disinhibition, fervour, and half-a-dozen other shades of meaning applicable to the all-night, drug-fueled  party. 

But here's another British example of rave and raver as having currency in the 1960s: the pop magazine Rave, which was founded in 1964 and targeted at young women.

"Raver" at that time seemed to have a meaning specifically related to the idea of a young woman breaking free of inhibitions and social constraints - a suggestion of unbridled adventurousness and thrill-seeking. Abandon - and abandonment of the expected standards of appropriate feminine behaviour and sexual continence. 

This "raver" is the archetype hymned in the Troggs's "Wild Thing",  in John's Children's "Sara Crazy Child", Rolling Stones's "Ruby Tuesday". (Bowie's "Rebel Rebel" is simply an early '70s update, with appropriately Stonesy music, of this exaltation of the androgyne free spirit.)Not forgetting "She's Leaving Home".

 A similar idea on the other side of the pond can be found in The Doors's "Wild Child" ("not your mother or your father's child / you're our child") and (with a gentler, mystical expression) in the convention-flouting heroines of The Byrds's "Why" and "She Don't Care About Time". 

The instinctual insurrection of the screaming tweenage girls during Beatlemania and Stonesfrenzy... coming to a kind of consciousness in late adolescence and early twenties. From the raw eruption of eros to an erotic politics. From maenad to handmaiden of revolution.  That is a shift tracked in the magazine Rave as it goes from a teenybop mag full of full-color pin-ups of everygirl's fave rave, to something nearer the counterculture. 

This April 1968 issue of Rave presents London as the city of ravers. 


This earlier "rave" scene had its own club scene - discotheques 

And just like the '90s London rave scene, it was fueled by pirate radio (at least until the Labour government banned it towards the end of 1967)

Imagined scenarios involving young girls being preyed upon while under the influence of E and LSD circulated during the acid house tabloid scaremongering of 1988-89 - a flashback to the scenarios (often wholly invented) to do with acid in the 1960s. 

Which were just like the stories circulated in the 1920s about flappers, cocaine, and hot jazz. 

More pages from the April 1968 issue of Rave


Before even this, though

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Time will tell...

... and so will Krome. Two legends talk about their whole career from the earliest days. An archetypal story of London B-boys and sound system fiends having their heads turned around by acid house  - they talk about "the acid house tree" whose branches include hardcore, jungle, etc. 

Krome & Time also plug their new Suburban Base album The Anthology, "a collection of their classic tracks, as well as some never-before-heard tracks that are sure to excite their fans".

This is this fan's favorite 

Sunday, April 2, 2023

raving about Raving


Here's a book that will interest Energy Flash readers and that's getting a ton of well deserved attention right now:  McKenzie Wark's Raving, a slim volume that weaves together speculative theory and experiential sense impressions drawn from the micro-raves and queer + trans clubs of Brooklyn, into a seamless rush of readability.  

Here's my blurb: 

"Raving is an electric mingling of memoir, theory and participant-observer ethnography. With loving precision, McKenzie Wark’s eyes and ears pay attention to the innumerable tiny interactions, gestures and rites that make up the all-night drug-and-dance party. This book radiantly understands the rave as a construction site for transitory kinship structures - a pocket in timespace that serves as a haven for fugitives from consensus banality and the intolerable pressures and oppressions of normality - a miniature home world for the aliens already on this planet. Tribal initiates in the night as an adventure playground, ravers occupy the city’s abandoned places and turn them into zones of abandon, where identities dissolve. Where you can lose yourself and find yourself.  Above all, Wark’s work is a font of deliriously inventive and witty language - immerse in her text and learn how a rave can be cute and discover what unearth are speaker demons, rave condoms, punishers, and sidechain time" 

Other testimonials can be found at the publisher's website, where Raving can be purchased. 

There's an excerpt from the book at Resident Advisor

And McKenzie has been doing a heap of interviews and parallel pieces around Raving

Essay about rediscovering raving in her fifties, for The Guardian

buzz in The Cut

interview in Interview

profiling in Nylon

documentation in Document

advising about xeno-euphoria at Vice

another essay about techno rebirth, for Frieze

dialogue with Pauli Cakes at Cultured

podcast with LARB

And that's not even all of it..