Raves: Devious Subculture

Raves: Devious Subculture

In the late 80s and 90s in the United Kingdom, people start to witness the emergence, explosion and decline of a distinctive deviant subculture known as ‘rave culture’. Raves were organized by ordinary people that wanted an anti-establishment and unrestricted dance parties all night long. Raves typically feature electronic dance music, genres such as techno, house, trance, and drum and bass. Rave culture was set up as an alternative way to life that opposed the mainstream ideals and norms. (Reynolds, 1999) Some behaviors that tend to be common at raves are the use of illicit drugs, noise and public order ordinances being broken.

Due to this it had a huge spread of popularity, bringing attention to authorities. As a result, authorities planned to try and contain/control these raves through different polices and laws to help dictate a penalty. The styles, mannerisms, and actions of a deviant subculture are used in order to find a solution to the problems faced through a lack of material capital and lower social standing (Clarke et. Al., 1975) Thus, the rave culture can be represented as such, having ordinary people come together to experience a chance to escape reality of their social status.

Set up with no rules or boundaries people are able to take part in certain vices that enhances their mood as solutions to whatever problems they may be facing currently. Raves were essentially set-up to provide people a new world, where people were free to express themselves while indulging in certain drugs. The use of illicit drugs was and still is a key characteristic to as why people choose to attend these raves, as well it defines the state of rave culture currently. The added use of drugs, loud music, arrays of colorful lights, and rave fashion ultimately encompasses a surreal place for people to be away from the thought of everyday life.

Routine Activities Theory

Raves often will have a majority of attendees taking part in the use of illicit drugs, thieving, and sexual harassment as many people repeat this kind of behavior when attending events like this. Attendees will usually not come empty handed, as there are certain stigmas about enjoying/going to a rave sober. With a majority of the crowd on mind-altering drugs, they are easily seen as targets to steal valuable items from.

Many females are subjected to being harassed by others based on how they are dressed or act at these events. It has become a routine to some people who attend these rave events, this ties into the idea of routine activities theory. Routine Activities Theory was developed by Lawrence Cohen and Marcus Felson, as this theory states that there are three key factors needed for a crime to be committed. The offender needs to have motivated reasons for their actions, the victim or target has to be fitting for said crime to be committed, and there needs to be an abundance amount of authorities from preventing the crime. In society there will always be a person or group that strays off from the social norms and engage in deviant behaviors.

By following a routine such as this many people fall under punishment for their actions. Typically, people who steal items or those who sneak in drugs are more likely to get arrested for breaking certain rules and laws that were prohibited. Looking at an event like Electric Daisy Carnival, a three-day event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway brought in a crowd of 410,000 attendees roughly over the course of three days.

Police reported 90 felony narcotics arrests for the three-day event. (Kudialis, 2018) Many harassers at these kinds of events victimizing many female attendees, giving the rave culture a bad reputation. Nearly half of female festival goers (43%) under 40 say they have faced unwanted sexual behavior at a music festival, a new survey suggests. Overall, 22% of all festival goers have faced assault or harassment, rising to 30% of women overall. (BBC News, 2018) Sadly, many man will often routinely harassment towards females at these rave events, becoming a growing issue in the culture. Having a lack of security or law enforcement in crowds to enforce any rules or laws many people are likely to harass another people without the fear or repercussions on their actions.

Rational Choice Theory

Rational choice theory starts with the idea that individuals have preferences and choose according to those. (Levin & Milgrom, 2004) People will often think and plan out their deviant behavior, weighing out the risks and rewards before committing in law-violating offences. For most attendees at raves will often have to face to challenges when it comes to the use of illicit drugs, they would need to understand the risk and punishments for trying to sneak in illegal/banned substances into the event with the consequences of arrest for possessing narcotics.

Drugs will inevitably find its way into the events as it is impossible to prevent 100 percent of the time. If the rewards are strong enough to persuade you with a low presence of risk, will most likely be higher likelihood of the deviant act to be committed. Personal experience can play a huge factor to whether the crime will be committed. For instance, the main demographic would be people who enjoy listening to electronic dance music. People have an opportunity to enhance their experiences with the use of illicit drugs and alcohol. By sneaking in illicit drugs into rave events they become more cautious on how to go about their deviant behaviors.

Criminals appear to be more impulsive and to have less self-control than other people; they seem unaffected by fear of punishment. They typically are under stress or are facing serious personal problems or conditions that forces them to choose risky behavior. (Siegel, 2010) Most of the people that go to raves are looking for a chance to get away from their societal problems to experience a surreal atmosphere completely detached from everyday life. In the end, most of the people who rave with drugs will engage in deviant behavior when the right moment presents itself.


The rave culture movement has come a long way to what it was in the late 80s and 90s. Now most raves are set up with a mass presence of security and other authorities such as medical staff or law enforcement on the event site. As for many of these people engage in Routine Activity and Ration Choice they should be punished for the deviant acts they’ve committed. Even if we look at the person’s environment or background it does not excuse their actions, the environment does not give a free pass to do things like illicit drugs, steal, or even harass others. People should understand what the norms are in our society, when engaging in deviant behaviors such as these people need to understand and live up to the impending punishments ahead for them. If the person has committed a crime they should be held accountable for their actions no matter the circumstances.


  1. Clarke, J., Hall, S., Jefferson, T., Roberts, B., Subcultures, Cultures and Class. London: Routledge, 1995.
  2. Kudialis, C. (2018, May 21). More than 400,000 attended Electric Daisy Carnival. Retrieved from https://lasvegassun.com/news/2018/may/21/more-than-400000-attended-electric-daisy-carnival/
  3. Levin, J., & Milgrom, P. (2004, September). Introduction to Choice Theory – web.stanford.edu. Retrieved from http://web.stanford.edu/~jdlevin/Econ 202/Choice Theory.pdf
  4. Reynolds, S., Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture, London: Routledge, 1999.
  5. ‘Shocking’ level of sexual harassment at music festivals. (2018, May 18). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-44518892
  6. Siegel, L. J. (2010). Criminology: The core. Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.