I loved reading Hebdige because conversations about society and culture always fascinate me. I think it was so interesting that we could not really pin point a subculture in today’s society that we can see based on their style. As I was mulling over this I began to wonder if we can consider ravers a subculture. Just in case there are any different definitions of raves, I mean concerts where people listen to dance/electronic music, dress in neon colors, and are usually characterized by drug use.
When I first started hearing about raves in high school it seemed really isolated. It was not something that many people seemed to be doing. There were a few kids interested in raves, but interestingly enough, for the most part, I could not identify them as ravers directly from their appearance at school. Instead, the internet became the platform where I found out about people who were ravers. Online it was easy to distinguish ravers from their crazy outfits. There were people in neon shirts, tutus, bright colored pants and shorts, and a lot of bright makeup. Ravers were definitely the “other,” during most of my time in high school, and they were frequently demonized. I was warned against going to raves because I was told that all anyone did at raves was take drugs and have sex. Then, it seems as if one day that all just changed.
All of a sudden the rave culture wasn’t a subculture in the shadows anymore. Everyone was a raver. Big name venues like Red Rocks started holding raves, artists like Deadmau5 and Skrillex were becoming more mainstream, and raver clothing was becoming more prominent in clothing stores. Tickets to some of the big concerts happening in Colorado, like Decadence and Global, for instance, can cost up to $200. Suddenly this exclusive subculture wasn’t so exclusive anymore. This was addressed in the novel when Hebdige discussed the commodification of subculture; “The conversion of subcultural signs (dress, music, etc.) into mass produced objects (i.e. the commodity form) [. . .] Each new subculture establishes new trends, generates new looks and sounds which feedback into the appropriate industries” (94-95). Anyone could be a raver now as long as they could pay for it, and this is a trend that I have seen continuing in the past few years.
I don’t have an answer as to whether I think that mass culture subsuming subcultures is malevolent or coincidental, but I do think that exploring this subject is fascinating and worthwhile for scholars.
Hebdige, Dick. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. TJ International Ltd., 1979.