The legacy of the rave and why music is political

by Poppy Bullen

It’s brilliant to see DJ’s use their platforms to speak up about what is right. Whether it’s about speaking out about raves being a safe space for everyone to the need for having more women on lineups in a male dominated industry.

It’s cool to see DJ’s using their platform to speak out against Brexit and creating a mobile rave at the people’s vote marches!


But time again when popular DJ’s like Artwork start posting on their social media about something other than music you can see the same whiney comments:

‘why have you got to make music political?’

The thing is music, in particular the underground dance scene, is and always has always been part of political social movements. The different sub-genres of dance music have been born from people finding a way to escape negative social constructions during times of political tension. The dance floor is traditionally a place for people from all cultures and classes to feel freedom together.

Dance music was born from Disco which started as a movement in the late 1960’s as a counterculture to rock and roll. It was actually illegal for two men to dance together in New York until 1971, so the new form of dancing in crowds rather than couples had a big impact for New York’s gay scene. The opening of the famous club Sanctuary was when DJ’s began mixing records with no gaps, influencing the high energy movement and beginning this legacy of dance music. Disco was a place that welcomed people from all kinds of backgrounds who otherwise faced discrimination in everyday life.

House and Techno were born in Chicago and Detroit, created and celebrated by the African American community, The music was made as a protest movement, seen as a way to escape the struggles of society. Techno music has always been a way to seperate the subjects of class and race, creating spaces open to everyone, alternative to the societies many faced as part of everyday life.


By the end of the 1980’s, the Detroit scene was influencing others countercultures across the pond. When the Berlin Wall came down the 1989, Techno took over many abandoned soviet buildings and the relief that the cold war was finally over was celebrated through non stop parties from a strongly gay and arty underground scene.  

The famous Second Summer of Love saw Acid house and rave culture hit the UK at the end of the 1980’s. The events were a reaction to the hard times brought by the thatcher era and again brought the countries youth together, cutting across previous embedded boundaries of social class and geography.

So you see the underground dance music scene has historically been a response to the struggles facing society and a space where people are not defined by their class, culture or ethnicity. So it makes sense that dance music should be against something that has not only divided the country, but continues to cause threats to the UK’s vast community of immigrants, who have in fact contributed to the foundations of what it actually means to be ‘British’.

It is important that we don’t forget that as we continue the legacy of the rave.

Poppy x



photo credit to miche

Previous Blog features w/ poppy;

Out and About w/ Poppy – Love International Festival 2018

o key’s International Women’s Month 2018 – Part 1


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