Beat Culture and the Rave Scene Essay

Submitted By threshaxe
Words: 1620
Pages: 7

The Beats and the Ravers

A cultural movement can be defined both by the people it attracts and by the way it makes its participants feel. The Beat movement and the Rave scene, although very different, strive to bring both their communities together into one shared state of being through their preferred artistic mediums. Each community aimed to use drugs, music, and art to create a shared feeling of community and belonging for a group of people who feel as if modern society has made no effort to include them. Timothy Leary summarized the ideas during a conversation with Allen Ginsberg when he told him to “turn on to the scene, tune in to what is happening - and drop out... and follow me”i, which reached to the core ideals of both moments. There was no proper way to experience either one; all you had to do was open up your mind and experience what they had to offer in your own way. The Beat Generation and the modern Rave scene are very much geared towards achieving the same type of altered state. The Beats found love with the Be-bop jazz movement of the 1940s and 50s because jazz has a flow and a soul to it that other musical genres lack. They could go to a jazz lounge, buy a few drinks and listen to the artists take the emotion they felt and let it flow through their instruments in a way that paralleled Kerouac’s idea that there should be “no periods, no structure separating ideas.”ii The Beats were attracted to the musical idea that all that was needed to convey a feeling or a state of mind outside of the actual notes you used because they viewed their own writing in a similar way. To them their written work was merely their preferred medium of expression of their own mental picture. Just as the jazz musicians turned the lounges and clubs of the mid 50s into dens of wild free existence, so did the DJs of the early rave

scene use their own musical knowledge and talents to captivate the crowd during the underground parties that helped to define the rave movement as it is known today. The Beats fell in love with Be-bot jazz not only because it was new and edgy, but because as a musical art form, it represented everything the Beats loved and closely paralleled their writing style. The pop music of the mid 50s was found to be lacking to the Beats. It had no taboo to attract them, no energy for them to feed off of and no soul to keep them interested, so they went out in search for a musical scene that would help to inspire and inform their writing. The early ravers of the 1990’s longed for a similar musical culture that could draw them in and inspire them in a way that the generic mass-produced Disco-pop could not. They had become disgusted by the commercialization of the once edgy and underground dance music that ruled the 80s and sought out new musical styles and ideas. The anti-conformism of the beat generation was largely due to the people who made up the generation wondering why they were being asked to live a certain way by the society at large. They wondered why they needed “proper” jobs, why they needed to get married and why they needed to start a family in the suburbs. To their dismay, they found the answer to be simply “because that’s just what people do”, an answer they did not like. They chose to rebel against this idea through their lives, literature and general outlook on their future by existing as a more mobile, liberal and open-minded group. The beats moved around the country, living wherever they happened to find themselves drawn to, and leaving a wake of written work and attracting a stream of followers as they went. The drugs a cultural movement adopts as their toxin of choice can be very telling about what the movement as a whole was really about. The Beats did not have much choice when

choosing their inebriant when they were still in their infancy, as not many drugs were widely known that would help feed their love of socializing in jazz clubs for nights on end while still fueling their creativity