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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Eagle

D.C. rave culture: The new 21st Century speakeasy

Bikinis and fur boots covered the grimy asphalt sidewalks at the Echostage on Sept. 14, a common rave location and D.C.‘s largest concert venue.

Lying in the dark, desolate industrial parks of outer D.C. right by the Rhode Island Metro stop, resides some of the capital’s most burnt out streets and warehouses. Throughout the day, these dead end cul-de-sacs and back alleys make up a desert of cracked roads and crumbling buildings.

But once night falls, these burnt out sections of D.C. become as colorful and noisy as the Las Vegas strip itself. Colors and costumes like you would see in the Nevada desert city become all the more present as D.C.’s rave scene takes the night away.

As the line progressed into Northeast’s Echostage, security became a key element after the death of a UVA student earlier this September. Many suspected their deaths were the result of the common rave drug MDMA.

Doors opened at 8:30 p.m., the club floor was empty at first. Performers included big names such as Datsik, Doctor P, GZA, Dodge & Fuski and a few local artists as well. It was around 11 p.m. when the party of only a few hundred turned into a rave of several thousand.

Comical horse head masks, V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes face plates, multi-colored beaded mouth masks and a whole tacky wardrobe of hats and scarves took to the dance floor as it seemed Macklemore’s thrift shop generation came to life.

The music featured Trap, Dubstep and other electronic genres. Clashing with the jumbotron behind the DJ, flashes of bright and dark seizure-inducing luminosities lit up the crowd. Bright laser lights shot out into the crowd as all conversations came to silence.

Colorful glow sticks and LED tip lit gloves wildly caressed through the crowd as the music played. Among all of the bright lights the rave gloves seemed to be capturing the most attention as they mesmerized and distracted fellow dancers to appreciate the movement of exotic colors.

Throughout the night, ravers exchanged Kandi, a colorful beaded wristband that symbolizes gratitude and respect to another. The exchange of Kandi is done through a Peace, Love, Unity and Respect handshake, or PLUR, each word representing a certain hand gesture.

Throughout the night there were no signs of anger, sadness or jealousy that most would find in a regular party setting or social gathering. Other than the bass, excitement and pleasure filled the room.

It was almost like a 21st century speakeasy, hidden and ignored by the inner circle of high society, a place where one could become intoxicated by the atmosphere and other such commodities, where the weird and strange were celebrated not ignored.

Acceptance without judgment is a rare thing to find today, but it is definitely present in D.C.’s rave scene.

 Hosts Sara Winick and Sydney Hsu introduce themselves and talk about their favorite TV shows. This episode includes fun facts, recommendations and personal connections. 

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