Punk is believed to have started in the early 1970’s from the garage rock scene which emerged at the end of the 1960s. The beliefs and ideologies held by those involved in the subculture, while varying depending on the sub-genre they belonged to, usually maintained the ideas of anti-establishment and non-conformity and rebellious youth. The genre started among the disillusioned urban-based working-class youth who had little hope of employment and betterment. Although as punk originated in the UK around the same time as it did in the United States (there was even a notable scene in Australia), some of the beliefs held by those within the punk subculture varied. In the UK for example where the Sex Pistols were one of the first notable punk bands to emerge, they promoted an almost nihilist philosophy. Bands like Minor Threat promoted their drug free ‘Straight-Edge’ lifestyle while some bands even supported a neo-nazi message.
The music was based around 3 or 4 piece bands which normally contained distorted guitar sounds and simple 3 chord arrangements. Vocally punk music consisted more of a ‘shouted’ style as opposed to the more traditional melodic and harmonised vocals of previous genres, as the lyrics of punk songs were usually quite blunt. Punk songs were also quite short, usually around two minutes long. Notable acts in the UK would include the Sex Pistols (as mentioned above) as well as Crass and The Clash. In the United States Minor Threat (as mentioned above) as well as The Ramones were seen as fore-runners of the movement much like The Saints were in Australia.
It could be argued that the views of the punks were expressed as equally visually through their look as they were through their music. The stereo typical look synonymous with punks is the tall Mohawk haircut, the ripped denim jeans and the black leather jacket, usually heavily adorned with buttons, band logos, patches and spikes. The idea behind the look in the punk sub-culture was to rebel against whatever was considered the norm at the time. When the sub-culture increased in popularity in the late 1970s/early 1980s, piercings and tattoos were also encompassed into the punk look.
While punk is not a sub-culture which would spring to mind when the subject of dancing is brought up, punk rock gigs would usually see crowds engage in ‘moshing’ and ‘crowd-surfing’. In New York the club CBGB would house the base of many of the punk bands in the United States. While the club was started as a venue for County/BlueGrass/Blues music (hence the title) it nevertheless attracted a more hardcore crowd and would later become almost a symbol synonymous with the punk sub-culture.
The term ‘rave’ was originally used by the Mod culture in the 1960’s to describe a party, similarly ‘ravers’ was a name imposed on people who were party animals. Although the word itself was not noticeably used until the introduction of the Acid-House movement in the 1980s. Much like many of the musical sub-cultures that preceded it, rave provided a platform for the working class to come together at a time when the economy was in decline and their prospects seemed limited. While famous in the United Kingdom as a result of DJ’s like Paul Oakenfold and Danny Rampling bringing a sound they had heard in Ibiza back to the country, rave was also popularized in many countries across the world including much of those in mainland Europe as well as Canada, America and South Africa.
With the influence of technology on music ever increasing (as did the technology) the mid to late 1980s saw the introduction of a wave of psychedelic electronic music in the United Kingdom such as Acid House and Techno. Rave music was usually quite fast-paced with repetitive beats and would be accompanied by with a light show, a sign of the increasing use and effect of technology. Much of the music was created using loops for drums and pianos. Parties playing this new electronic music would usually take place in not only clubs but also in free parties in warehouses in particular in the Manchester area at first later spreading to London. One of the first songs to achieve mainstream success during this time was Jack Your Body by Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley which is arguably considered the first ‘rave’ number one song.
The clothes that accompanied the rave sub-culture were usually very vibrant and non-conformist such as bright fluorescent shirts, gloves, even boiler suits and gas masks. Some of the accessories worn by ravers also originated as accessories used while taking recreational drugs. Items such as baby pacifiers were used by people who felt the need to chew, which can be caused by taking ecstasy. Similarly the popularity of glow-sticks grew to entertain those under the influence of different recreational drugs such as acid.
- Dancing and Drug Associations
Much of the dancing at rave parties was usually based on that of club dances as well as incorporating an element of free-styling. The warehouse rave parties were famous not only for the music and style which it housed but also, and more notably for the police authorities, for the use of illegal recreational drugs which were associated with the movement, such as Ecstasy, MDMA, and Acid. The recreational drug-use which accompanied the music allowed for ravers to lose themselves in the music, giving rave a certain intimacy. However it was the police authorities actions in the United Kingdom against the rave sub-culture with the introduction of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act in 1994 which would go on to effectively end the previous freedom enjoyed by ravers. The act called for fines and up to 3 months imprisonment to be imposed on those attending a rave, or even on those attempting to start a rave, or waiting on a rave.