RHYTHM AND CHANGE - RAVE, DRUGS AND THE CYBERTRIBE
In the nineties the life-feeling of a large part of the youth found
expression increasingly in the Rave- and Techno-culture. The original
features were the departure from traditional musical forms of expression,
the overcomeing of the star-cult as in pop-music as well as the
distinctive need for creative development and self-determination.
The Rave-culture also reflected also many peoples search for ecstatic
states of mind and changed conditions of consciousness. A good Rave-party
corresponds to a big trance-ritual. As in several traditional cultures
people dance to monotonous rhythms to fall into trance.
The most important event of the Rave- / Techno-culture is the Love
Parade. Every year on a special Saturday in July people from all
over the world come to Berlin to party the whole day and night long.
The Love Parade describes like no other event the development of
the Rave-culture from a pure Underground-scene to youth movement.
In the period of eight years the number of the ravers climbed from
hundredandfifty to more than a million. First the Love Parade in
1989 was mainly ignored, nowadays it’s sponsored by the industry
and politicians use it to get a progressive image.
In 1992 a process began, which increased in intensity, that is characteristic
for almost all youth movements of the last decades and the connected
music styles like Rock’n’Roll or Punk. After the commercial
potential of a new cultural development becomes clear, a phase of
sellout and integration by the music buisness and large companies
of the cigarettes- and clothes-industrie begins. This development
led to a degeneration of the mainstream culture into a market-oriented
and largely meaningless style. The counter-cultural ideals at the
beginning become debased. Characteristic are the so-called Techno-songs
in the charts which combine Techno-elements with pop-melodies and
Side by side this development there still exist different underground-scenes,
which in some cases still have an important role in breaking ground
both musically and in content. However here also the spectrum of
projects is great. Some projects orientate their work primarily
on the goal of commercial breakthrough, some others are basicly
interested in good music and intensiv parties. But there are also
groups which represent a clear countercultural point of view. They
understand for example their parties and events as social free spaces
in the sense of a temporary autonomous zone, which is based on collective
and non-commercial values
The concept of the Cybertribes comes from this kind of underground-scene.
It’s the idea of a network of small, decentral groups, which
replaces authoritarian structures by collective ones. Like a modern
tribe the Cybertribes refer to the knowledge of old cultures as
well as to the developments of the present. Shamanistic rituals
have as much place in the Cybertribes as Internet-surfing. The useing
of psychedelic substances has as much place as resistance against
repressive political structures. According to the Cyber-tribe-concept
these tendencies form no conflict, rather they are a step to a new
The use of drugs is obvious for many persons from the different
Techno- and Rave-scenes. They particularly consume Cannabis-products
and different synthetic drugs specially Ecstasy and LSD. Many people
have a conscious relation towards drugs, but specialy young people
often have only little information about the effects and the risks
of different drugs.
The open relationship towards drugs by the Rave-culture is by no
means an exception. People of most different ages used drugs to
get into relaxed or stimulated states. In old cultures they were
often used as a part of rituals to change the state of mind. The
reasons for the present widespread use of drugs in the Techno-scene
but also generally in western countries are different. Often the
usage corresponds to a flight from reality, which is a consequence
of the structural sociopolitical situation. Many people see no perspective
for themselves and experience an interpersonal coldness as a result
of a system, which gives profit more importance than the individual
The ruling drug politics are based essentially on the demand for
abstinence in relation to drugs, which are defined as illegal. The
people who deviate from this standard become criminalised by the
state. Evident is however, that these politics neither limited the
consumption of drugs nor the increase of the numbered people who
are addicted to drugs. The contradictions in the official drug politics
become very clear in the case of alcohol and nicotine. Both drugs
are legal despite their obvious negative health consequences and
their addictive potential.
A new changed drug politics must correspond to the actual conditions
and the real needs of the people. It must include the possibility
of a self-determinded decision on the use of drugs. Necessary for
a conscious relation towards drugs is the ability to get basic information
about the different substances and their effects.
In this context the availability of public founds for independent
grassrooted initiatives is necessary. In Germany there are different
examples of projects such as Eve & Rave, Alice or Soluna. In
a way these groups work as little Cybertribes. They spread around
information about the usage of drugs and they often critically reflect
developments in the Rave-culture. They neither demonise drug use
nor do they idealise it. They have the point of view that everyone
should have the possibility to decide about drug-consumption in
a selfdeterminded and conscious way. In 1999 they organised themselves
in Sonics - Cybertribe-Network for Rhythm and Change.
Simultaneously these groups make clear, that reflecting on the situation
of the Rave-culture can lead to the development of structures, which
are oriented to the local needs and oppose themselves to the widespread
attitudes of passive consumption. Additionaly it’s necessary
to criticise the conditions in many clubs and raves, which in some
cases, especialy in connection with drug-usage greatly increases
the health-risks. For example there is often no appropriate ventilation
or the prices for necessary liquids are very high.
A further decisive contribution to the limiting of risk in useing
drugs would be the legalization of Drug-Checking through named groups
and selected organisations. Thereby for example different Ecstasy-pills
can analysed and the users can beware of risky pills. In long terms
the drug problem could only be solved if drugs become legalized.
Measures which would necessarily accompany such a decision would
include among others constant examination of the content substances
and the availability of essential information.
The support of grassroots initiatives and the legalization of Drug-Checking,
as well as in the long term the legalization of all drugs as part
of a new drug politics are fundamental requirements for the development
of a changed relationship to drugs. Far away from panic reports
on the one side and mystification on the other this would mimalise
the health risks and lead to a more reasonable relation towards
drugs It would be a step on the long way to a society, which is
no longer based on restriction but on autonomy and self-determination.
The Rave-movement always developed always an intensity, when the
process of the internal development was in close relation with the
goal of outer change and found particular expression in the music.
It will have furthermore only there a real perspective, where the
experience conditions of expanded consciousness is connected to
the experience of a new feeling of community. But it’s obvious
that the process of integration and commercialization will inevitably
lead the mainstream Rave-culture into a dead end and increasingly
rob it of its real potential. Or to say it in a more symbolic way:
It’s possible to reach the stars. But some of them doesn’t
shine anymore, even if you can still see their light for a while.
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