Rave culture and style
by Sara Melvi, queensjournal.ca
March 11th 2011
Just a few short years ago, the concept of an international headlining DJ passing through Kingston on tour was unheard of. Intense dancing to dubstep or drum&base would have been regarded as alternative chaos. Thankfully, Kingston’s electro-party-raving scene has expanded well beyond Steve Aoki’s overplayed annual show. European DJs like Avicii and Skrillex, Canadian DJs like Designer Drugs and Zed’s Dead, and an explosion of student DJs such as Alfie’s Wednesday’s iKilledKenny have dominated the party scene this year. Too bad their set doesn’t extend into the fateful hours of the after party.
With thousands of students attending rave-based shows where water is the new vodka-cran, there’s a noticeable and dynamic shift in the fashion style of partygoers. Nowhere in site are preppy girls in low-rise jeans sipping beer from red plastic cups and bopping around to Journey. Club cultures are transient, ‘ad hoc’ communities that define themselves through shared tastes in music. Raver’s sport lively and unique outfits that parallel the symbolic and embodied experience of the electronic music they love. Vibrant neon colours, vintage sunglasses, costume apparel, accessories like pacifiers or slinky’s, and edgy textures like mesh, sequins, ripped denim and lace-up boots are ever-present.
Although rave culture has significantly transformed since it’s underground emergence in abandoned British warehouses, the style still carries a similar message of youth-subculture resistance. North American ravers have been compared to the hippies of the 1960s and the new-waves of the 80s due to their interest in non-violence, free love and music. Wearing clothing that you can’t dress in at work or in a lecture can be a liberating experience, just like losing your mind and body in the throngs of pulsing and blasting beatz. Is rave style anti-‘the man?’ Or is it just a fun way to express your personal look? Below are profiles of a few Queen’s student rave-goers, so see for yourself!
Greg Hovanessian, ArtSci ’12 and Kalina Sutaroski, ArtSci ’12 are a ‘dance-till-your-dead’ power couple that have hit up almost every show this year, and start a dance circle wherever they go. Although both Havanessian and Sutaroski practice a wide variety of dances, such as hip hop and break dancing, they contend that raving has its own genre of dance and style of expression. Hovanessian describes his look as grimy and raw, and likes to make a statement.
“You almost want to come off kind of intimidating, but intriguing and the right amount of approachable.”
He also said being colourful is essential, but to the point where it’s not overdone.
“My favourite show was LA Riots at Joy in second year. I wore black skinny jeans with these high tops, a long chain necklace, my Raybans, and I had finger cut-off leather gloves,” he said. “The energy in the club just says it all really.”
Sutaroski likes wearing anything that gets a reaction out of people. If someone asks, “why are you wearing that?” she said she knows it’s a good outfit.
“Every time I get dressed, I don’t ask for my housemates advice,” she said. “They normally give me weird looks.” She describes her style as dirty royalty.
“You gotta wear something steazy, you know? I like bringing my style of dance to raves. And I like to bring more of the classy aspects to rave, like sassiness,” she said.
And the badass hair that turns heads everywhere she goes?
“I feel like my hair emulates the whole rave look in itself. It brings back the whole punk look from the 80s. I love my Mohawk.” Sutaroski said.
Moving over to the more playful, hippie ravegirl look, I met Hadley Taylor, ArtSci ’11 and Julia Jones, ArtSci ’12 at the Zed’s Dead show during Frost Week. Toronto’s dubstep-based DJs set up their show in a church just north of Princess. Hadley wore black high waisted pants, a crop top and one feather earring. It was an intimate and unique venue. Raving in between pews and with Jesus hovering over the mosh of dancers was a paradox in itself!
Taylor says she always tries to look a bit silly because raves are not a place to take yourself seriously at. “I’m always wearing fun textures, like fur, sequins, silk, lace, velvet, and shoes to be able to rock out in. Heels do not belong at raves. Lipstick always. And really bright nail polish. At least one thing that glows in the dark, should there be a black light. You need something noticeable so your friends can find you in the dark!”
Cynthia Oh, ArtSci ’12 and the wesavetherave.com photographer said there are no words to describe her style. She said she gets looks from electro music blogs, and is inspired by designers like Vivienne Westwood, Jeremy Scott and Korean designers like Kuho.
“I just mix everything. Sometimes I try to be edgy and sometimes I try to be retro, or vintage-y. I just be myself and love to dance,” she said. Cynthia said she thinks the Queen’s rave scene is still in its infancy.
“I don’t think that people know about a lot of DJ’s or artists, but they just go to have fun and party with their friends,” she said. “Queen’s kids need to study more about the scene, but I do think its getting big and improving day by day.”
Syd Senecal-Tremblay, ArtSci ’12, describes his grungy look as monochromatic.
Unlike his fellow ravers who stock up on sunglasses at Urban Outfitters bi-weekly, he said, “pretensions arise out impracticality so I won’t ever wear sunglasses inside or anything like that. But letting my 13.5” of pure lion mane down can be rad.”
Keith Niine, ArtSci ’12 and a born-Burhmese-gone-rave-kid describes his style as ‘homeless comfort chic.’ Since music at raves is fluid and continuous, accessories for a more sensual and dynamic experience are necessary. Niine said his essential accessory for any night is his pack of ciggys and his blackberry, not to mention sailor hats, stress rings, long necklaces and white freezies.
“Style is definitely more about individuality and how I’m feeling so when I dress for a show, my outfit is based on my mood that day and the songs I’ve listened to while dressing,” he said. “Either that or I just throw on the most random assortment of shit I see in my closet and run out the house.”
When asked about how he feels about Queen’s rave culture and emerging style, Niine said, “It’s actually a bottom up approach in terms of the culture and emerging style. When I first came to Queen’s I didn’t really see a lot of great street fashion or style but four years later with the increase of shows each term, I’m starting to see a lot more personal style trickling out of the shows. I think it’s a symbiotic relationship and that’s great!”
So head over to Value Village for some wild pieces, Dollarama for glowsticks and American Apparel for your basic neon. Then you’ll be ready to pop, drop and roll.
Original Page: http://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2011-03-11/supplement/rave-culture-and-style/
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