It is a sad fact that Oxford is not known for its raving. Books, yes. Archaic traditions, yes. Grimy drug-fuelled hedonism, no. We simply don’t have the time, even if we had the inclination in the first place. Several hours frenzied dancing, and an exhaustion that can last for days are not conducive to essay deadlines. Thus raving has been something of a minority pursuit, with only a hard core of committed individuals bravely setting forth into their sweJames Kingstonaty basements on a regular basis. No longer. Experts have observed the rise and rise of a new breed of raver across the land, a breed particularly suited to Oxford; the Rahver. You may have seen them; you may even be one of them already. One thing is for certain: they are inescapable. Glow-sticked and glow-painted, the hordes are here to stay.
Luckily, they are easy to spot, even when not wearing their standard uniforms of retro Adidas track jackets, aviators, coloured leggings or, for the more daring, a mild gurn. The average rahver is convinced he is a bit of raver, and this is how we can catch him out. Central to this self-identification is a professed love of drum and bass. (though even this is not always essential – last night at the Coven ‘Halloween Rave’, all the glammed-up rahvers, perhaps confused, danced to 50 Cent and YMCA. Fools.) For those of us unversed in the ways of the rave, drum and bass is, as defined by Wikipedia, a type of music “characterised by fast tempo broken beat drums (generally between 160–180 beats per minute) with heavy, often intricate basslines”. It being a well established genre, there are many different DJs (“disk jockeys” to those OUCA members out there), mixes, mixers, labels, etc, to be listened to. The Rahver, rather sadly given their occasional attempts at authenticity, knows only one group, a group taken as representative of all dnb – Pendulum, the knowledge of whom is used thus in conversation, perhaps as one meets another cool looking kid.
“So what sort of music are you into mate?”
“I’m big into my Drum and Bass, actually – I really like Pendulum”
“Oh cool. What else are you into then?”
“Well I really like seeing Pendulum live”
To be a true rahver you must know this group, know every track name (“Put Slam on! Put Slam on!”), and talk about Pendulum every time raving comes up in conversation. The true raver, however, is not fooled – Pendulum are but one group, and one that may even be (whisper it) a bit…mainstream. Of course, this being Oxford and us students a canny lot, some more dedicated rahvers are aware of this, and despise Pendulum, whilst pretending to know of ever more obscure music. Each preciously aims to go to more and more events, so that he can appear more and more hardcore. Each jealously accumulates a knowledge of increasingly esoteric sub-genres – ‘psy-trance’, ‘liquid jungle’, ’scouse house’ ‘happy hardcore’, ‘raga drum dub’, ‘euphoric trance’, ‘hardcore gabba’ and, of course, ‘drum dub raga scouse’. After all, if you can’t be a bit edgy and feel yourself superior to others, then what is the point of adopting a subculture in the first place? One-upmanship is the essence of true rahving.
So why ‘Rah’ver? And how can we become them, aside from adopting a Pendulum obsession? A Rahver is ‘rah’ because he or she is essentially not a part of the grimy drum and bass scene. Often private schooled, a rahver feels equally at home at a cocktail party, or assaulting a pile of books in preparation for an essay. The true drum and bass fanatic, gurning his way through life in a constant cycle of pill induced ups and downs, most certainly is not. Rahving allows us clean kids to get a delightful frisson of underground cool – and of, course, display our creative side. The rahver, instead of the grimy T-shirt favoured by the other inhabitants of raves, will dress up in fabulously bright clothing. Strange headgear, funky trousers and leggings, brightly patterned shirts, and an improbable amount of glowsticks are key to the rahve uniform.
For it is a uniform. Finding conformity in their non-conformity (exactly like the indie kids they sneer at) rahvers daub themselves in fluorescent paint, just so that under the UV lights they stand out as all the more crazy and unique – though compared to the poor drug-addled wrecks who can occasionally be glimpsed at dnb events (at whom the rahvers cast disapproving glares, shocked by the obvious naughtyness), the rahvers, despite all their attempts, are neither. So, if you too wish to be a rahver, remain sure of two things – your own vibrant superiority, and that it’s only for the weekend.