Top 6 Studies on Techno Music (or what Academia Taught us about Rave Culture)

Ever wonder what happens to your body when you listen to techno or how it creates a sense of community and belonging? DJB looked into the most interesting research on the physical, sociological und cultural aspects of rave culture. Many studies will debunk widely held myths while giving you some food for thought.

1. Techno transcends racial and class boundaries because it takes us back to our tribal routes
Beatrice Aaronson, 'Dancing Our Way Out of Class through Funk, Techno or Rave'
Aaronson suggests that in contrast with nightclubs, which are elitist institutions, techno dancefloors are open to all and remove the hierarchy between race and class. “These dancefloors have become a secular ritualistic locus of emancipation and liberation from society’s ever growing stranglehold,” she suggests. “The dancefloor generates a sentiment of community that virtually satisfies the sensation of isolation and constraint engendered by society due to its percussive and repetitive nature that recalls the frenetic drums of African tribal dances. Due to the out-of-body experience dance can generate, it is suggested that someone who dances to techno, moving to percussive and repetitive music ‘is freed from society’s rules.’”

2. People rave to escape and dance among other like-minded individuals who form an exclusive community allowing themself to manage the ‘self’
Christina Goulding et al, 'Working Weeks, Rave Weekends: Identity Fragmentation and the Emergence of New Communities'
Goulding argues that the consumer experience at a dance club is linked to a series of behaviors, which are related to fragmentation and identity. These include narcissistic identity, the emergence of new communities, the need for escape, engagement and prolonged hedonism. Her research seeks to answer two questions: Why do people go to raves and what is the nature of the rave experience, from the perspective of the ravers themselves?

The author discovers that raving is an experience that helps individuals and groups create meaning out of confusion by offering an alternative way of being which allows for the construction of, and the management of the self. It creates an experience that involves a process whereby one is transformed from being an ‘outsider’ to becoming a member of an exclusive community. Those who are admitted to the club are made to feel special, different and worthy of notice.

“The dance club is a hyperreal environment where individuals can escape and get high on dancing"

Rave evidences formations of ‘neo-tribes’, which are transitory groups where there is a constant back-and-forth movement between the tribe and the masses. What links members of rave neo-tribes is not a formal code but ‘shared emotions, styles of life, new moral beliefs, senses of injustice and consumption practices’. On weekends, people congregated to engage in a collective experience, to form a temporary community, which disperses after the experience is over.

This behavior highlights core cultural values that include child-like innocence and a refusal to grow up. “The dance club is a hyperreal environment where individuals can escape and get high on dancing. In effect people feel safe,” explains Goulding. The fact that someone might just want to dance, makes it perfectly acceptable to go to a club alone.

3. Your Facebook profile can indicate whether or not you take drugs while clubbing
Margaret Breuner et al, ‘Music to my Ears: Connections Between Club Drugs and Electronica Viewed Through Facebook’

Users of drugs in clubs provide several indications of club drug use on Facebook profiles. Findings from a sample of 338 college students, suggest club-drug users display more references to electronic music, indicate attendance at electronic music events more frequently, and have more Facebook friends compared to non-club drug users. This suggests that one can potentially predict someone’s club-drug use based on the content of his or her Facebook profile.

4. Techno music can be an effective treatment of pain
G. Gerra et al., 'Neuroendocrine responses of healthy volunteers to ‘techno-music’: relationships with personality traits and emotional state'

Music has been shown by many studies to be an effective treatment for pain.  In their examination of the effects of techno-music, Gerra et al. (op. cit.) found a significant increase observed in beta-endorphin, adreno-corticotropic hormone, plasma norepinephine, growth hormone, and cortisol.  The conclusion was that listening to techno-music induces changes in neurotransmitters, peptides, and hormonal reactions related to mental state and emotional involvement.  Music cannot only lessen pain, but can change your emotional or mental state and actually even help you to grow. But this only applies if you like techno music, as otherwise it has the ability to worsen the emotional state. Thus your personality will determine how you respond to techno music.

Further, due to the techno-music induced biological effects and its proven ability to increase endurance and buffer the immediate negative effects of exercise, it is easy to understand the strong link between techno and all-night dancing.

5. Not everyone who goes to techno parties takes drugs
Tossmann et al., ‘Drogenaffinität Jugendlicher in der Techno-Party-Szene’

A study conducted in Austria in the late 90s suggests that only half of an average audience at an electronic music event consumes illegal drugs. The most consumed drug at a party is cannabis and around 15-20% take ecstasy or amphetamines around 1-4 times a month, although there is a correlation between drug consumption and involvement in the techno party scene.

6. Rave culture has falsely been associated with the youth, but is equally as common among people over thirty who refuse to conform to the family ideal associated with their age
Christian Goulding et al., 'Age is just a number: Rave culture and the cognitively young ‘thirty something’

Having analysed consumer behavior and the rave experience, the research suggests that in contrast to popular belief, one which classifies rave culture with that the youth, there are many more mature over-30 clubbers. These thirty-something ravers fall into two categories. First are those who started with the scene and have remained faithful who are generally single professionals with few family responsibilities. The other group consists of latecomers to the scene who have only discovered the experience after going through the process of establishing a career, getting married and then ‘finding themselves’. The findings are consistent with Featherstone’s research (1999) that youthful lifestyles are sliding up the scales. Such people, it is suggested, are reluctant to conform to the thirty something ideal, in respect to family orientation and leisure activities.