Electronic dance music is rooted in the principles of peace, love, unity, and respect. For a lot of ravers, that means sharing your molly with friendly strangers, or giving out kandi (colorful, beaded bracelets) with sayings like “legalize cocaine.” Rave culture is synonymous with heavy drug use. The idea is this: How are you supposed to dance until five in the morning if you’re not high?
DJ and producer Luke Solomon claimed in an interview, “the greatest problem we have in this industry is that drugs and alcohol are recreational and celebrated.” Raves offer a safe, judgment-free zone to those who choose to imbibe. However, the experience can and should be about a lot more than just using drugs. Raves are where you can find some of the most kind-hearted, accepting people. You can listen to music that makes you feel good and want to shake your butt. You can wear full-body glitter with nothing else but a tutu, and you can find some truly amazing artists you’ve never heard of before. You can do all of this while completely sober, and some organizations in NYC want you to.
The Get Down is one party that comes to mind. DJ Tasha Blank is the mastermind behind it. Drinks are not allowed on the dance floor, and neither are phones. It’s truly a space where you can focus on dancing your heart out. The focus is on music and movement, wildly dancing until you’re drenched in sweat is encouraged, as is connecting with your inner self. It’s a safe space where people from all walks of life can come together to listen to inspiring DJs and create meaningful relationships.
Sobriety isn’t a requirement, but the timing of the party encourages a clear frame of mind. The Get Down happens twice a month, starts at 6 PM and goes until 10 PM, so the idea is you can dance for hours and still wake up the next morning feeling refreshed. Because it doesn’t happen every night or even every weekend, each experience feels special and unique. Their next event is October 10th, and again on the 24th. Tickets can be found on their website.
EDM is unique because it inspires creativity in a way other music doesn’t. You can wear your craziest, most colorful, decorative, over-the-top outfit to a rave. You can get your face painted, find cool art, pins, patches, and flags to take home with you or give to friends you meet along the way. The Get Down managed to foster this kind of environment without bringing drugs into the mix. You and all of your talents are welcome here, and the drugs are just excess noise that distracts you from the real reason why you came to the rave. More often than not, what people are looking for is a connection. A powerful way to connect with someone is to enjoy the same music while moving your body without anxiety, discomfort, or judgment. This movement can be an intimate experience that doesn’t involve getting drunk or high with someone.
For a lot of ravers, drinking is a way of easing the anxiety that comes with being surrounded by strangers in a closed-in space. It sounds counter-intuitive, but The Get Down eliminates some of that social anxiety with their no drinks rule. If you know everyone around you is dead sober, drinking feels strange and almost wrong. It doesn’t fit with the vibe of the environment. You could drink, but it feels more natural to dance and find your way to enjoy the music while you’re there.
Ecstatic Dance is another sober rave with a cult following that encourages conscious partying. Most of their events happen at Judson Memorial Church in Manhattan, so dancing with them feels like more of a spiritual, sacred experience than a typical night out at a club. Drinking, drug use, taking pictures, wearing shoes, smoking, and even talking is strictly prohibited on the dance floor. These rules allow you to be in full control, a feeling you don’t often get at a rave. Events happen 2-3 times a month, with their next event this Friday the 11th October.
It doesn’t matter if you think you’re a terrible dancer. There are no value judgments at these parties. Both Ecstatic Dance and The Get Down are spaces where you can fully be. It takes a special kind of person to allow themselves to exist in a party atmosphere without using drugs to lower inhibitions. These spaces are teaching people that music is the drug.
If you love electronic music but are still skeptical about dancing sober, some yoga classes throughout the city incorporate electronic music into their practice. Trap Yoga Bae, from California, pops up in New York on occasion with energetic yoga classes that use trap music as the soundtrack. This unlikely pairing further proves it’s entirely possible to enjoy electronic music in a wide variety of settings. Don’t miss her next event at Saks Fifth Ave. on Friday the 11th. It’s bound to be packed! If you can’t make it to her class, Deep Beats Yoga also fuses underground electronic music with traditional yoga practices. The mixture creates a spiritual connection between your body, the music, and everyone around you. Get groovy at their next class at House of Yes in Bushwick on October 19th.
A class like this can be a great introduction to the world of drug-free electronic music experiences. Through yoga, you can get comfortable with moving your body to dance music. You can feel what it’s like to connect with your breath and emotions while sober enough to legally drive a car. It’s a liberating experience.
Life doesn’t stop when you stop using drugs; that is the message of a sober rave. These events are proving the dance floor is a safe, welcoming space for sober people, too. Electronic music isn’t just for drug users. Remaining sober while in an area most people link to excessive drug-use can lead to an enlightening experience. EDM has always been cool because it started underground, but the rise of conscious clubbing has put it in the spotlight in a different way.
The Get Down, Ecstatic Dance, and electronic music yoga classes are bringing rave culture back in touch with its roots. It was never really about the drugs. It’s about respecting each other, coming together to enjoy a shared taste in music, and creating friendships. A sober rave experience causes you to take a step back and evaluate why you’re going out in the first place. If your goal is to get as messed up as possible, why not just put on your headphones and stay at home?