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A raving review: judging others is checked at the door

On March 25, 2014

Ever since I saw “Miss Congeniality” at age 10, I’ve been intrigued by the thought of a rave. When our high school senior class was in charge of the annual Sadie Hawkins dance, instead of the traditional hay bales, plaid and cowboy hats, we went for glow sticks, paint splatters and black lights. So it should really be no surprise to anyone that at the ripe old age of 23, I decided to attend my first real rave, and it was awesome.

Now, I by no means have turned into a rave expert overnight, but I’m guessing just by showing up, I know more about it than at least half of those reading this column. So here’s a bit of what I saw, smelled, heard and felt. And keep in mind, the first cardinal rule of raving: no judging.

I saw skin and a lot of it. How to dress was something I stressed about hardcore, but in the end, I decided to dress “conservatively” in a black t-shirt and turquoise, shiny leggings that look they came out “Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century.” Once you’re there though, you realize no one cares what you’re wearing at all.

Walking into the venue at Saltair in West Valley felt like walking into a movie. I panned from right to left, just taking in the lights, the people, the smoke, and I smiled because it looked really, well, cool.

Throughout the night I saw people making out, making friends and making enemies. There were people exchanging kandi, those bracelets made from beads you’d use in elementary school. I saw people drinking and smoking, and I saw security guards telling people when they were out of hand. It made some of my friends nervous to hear I was going to a rave, but once I got there I wasn’t afraid at all. People are just people, and if you’re cool with them, they’ll typically be cool with you.

I smelled a lot of smoke — the kind that comes out of machines to set the mood, the kind that comes from a plant now legal for recreation in Colorado and the kind that’s berry-flavored. I smelled people who could have used a little more deodorant, like you usually do when you go to a crowded place. I smelled the food they sold for people with the munchies. It made me laugh.

I heard the music. Some songs were familiar, but I didn’t know the words to most of the stuff. It’s been very recently that I’ve actually chosen to listen to EDM, but the set list had some pretty well-known names on it: Above & Beyond, Tritonal, Manufactured Superstars and Pegboard Nerds. It was so loud I could literally feel my nostrils vibrating with the beat of the bass. I heard the difference between the dubstep and trance music. After the show, I couldn’t hear much of anything for a bit.

I felt the energy from the DJs and how much they connected with the people there. I felt the confetti raining down on us after they fired the cannons. I felt the love ravers have for each other. It gave me the impression that one of the best parts about raving is that everyone belongs. No one is going to force you to do anything you don’t want to do. You’ve got to be cautious, duh, but shouldn’t you act that way anywhere? I definitely felt accepted. I felt confident to be amongst friends, trying something new. I felt tired from being in there, moshing for the better part of six hours. But mostly I just felt happy because of the combination of it all.

Look, I understand raves aren’t for everyone, and I bet your doubts are all valid. But if you have a friend you trust who’s familiar with that scene, I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to try at least once. Go with them and try to see past the stupid choices people make to try and fit in. Hopefully when you do, you can see a little bit of what I saw and you’ll feel like you belong, too.

Maybe you’ll even get some kandi.

Mariah Noble is a junior in the JCOM department and a proud Hoosier. She tries to keep it real and see things as they are. For comments, concerns or whatever else, shoot her an email at or send tweets to @mnoble127.

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