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Abstract

Raves have historically referred to grassroots organized, antiestablishment and unlicensed all-night dance parties, featuring electronically produced dance music, such as techno, house, trance and drum and bass. Since their late-1980s origins in the UK, raves have gained widespread popularity and transformed dramatically. Consequently, their many cultural traits and behaviors have garnered much sociological interest, which mostly falls into two competing perspectives: cultural studies and public health. In this paper, we review what raves look like today compared to their high point in the 1990s. We then discuss how the cultural studies and public health perspectives define raves and have studied them over time, focusing on the ‘pet’ sociological concepts each has sought to advance. Our analysis of these literatures reveals important differences in rave research by country and over time. We end by discussing the politics associated with the shift in rave research.