by: Casie Warkentin
Growing up in the 90s, it was made clear to us as children that the rave scene was something to vilify.
The D.A.R.E. program, television commercials, and any adults who could get you to listen to their view -- usually an opinion not from personal experience but word-of-mouth -- would tell you that raves were a breeding ground for horrible drugs, violence, irresponsibility, and a place only troublemakers frequented.
So imagine my surprise, after turning 34, when I attended my first rave and discovered those things to be far from truthful.
Walking into Das Energi 2021 for my very first rave was both intimidating and eye-opening.
My first valuable lesson: despite my worries, I was highly overdressed.
As I looked around at men and women dressed in ways that expressed their personalities, I found myself in awe, and frankly a little jealous, that my husband had not prepared me for such a sight!
Women in strappy bodysuits, men in fishnet leggings, and some attendees with nothing on but shorts and pasties.
I immediately remedied that by purchasing a handmade two-piece tie-dyed outfit from a fantastic vendor at the event.
The second valuable lesson I learned that night was by watching a man clearly 30 years older than me, 40 to 45 years older than the majority of attendees.
He was wearing gold spandex booty shorts, a white and gold Elton John-esque top, a cape and a sailor’s hat.
This man could be summed up in one word: free.
He danced for hours, only stopping to give hugs, accept kandi, and talk.
If I end up with one-third the amount of freedom that man is feeling by that age, I will have succeeded in life.
My third lesson was one many likely take for granted or even learn before going into a rave: the tradition of kandi.
I walked into Das Energi not knowing what the bead bracelets meant, only knowing most people were wearing sleeves worth of them.
I was still too worried about being judged -- I mean, come on, what raver attends a rave and doesn’t know what kandi is? -- so I asked another vendor to explain the tradition to me.
With a smile, she taught me the raver’s version of a handshake: peace, love and unity.
She then gifted me my first kandi bracelet.
As small as the gesture may seem outside of the rave community, I knew what it meant inside those walls.
I finally felt accepted into the community.
I’m sure I looked like a kid in a candy store to my husband and his siblings as we danced through the night. They’d been immersed in the culture for years.
Now I find myself trying to make up for lost time as I throw away any remaining thoughts of raves creeping back from the 90's knowing I’ve found a community of people who love and respect each other no matter what.
And in this world right now, that’s what we all need.
Whether you're going to your first festival or you're a veteran raver, check out the beautiful outfits here at Rave Bae Couture!
About the author: Casie Warkentin
Casie Warkentin is a former award-winning journalist with a passion for creativity, music, and all things pop culture. Follow Casie on Instagram, @casieawarkentin.