Internet brings together ravers
By Sara Lyle
Looking for an all-night party has never been easier.
Around the country, Web sites abound that claim to enrich rave culture and promote the once-underground scene. Logging onto the Internet quite literally puts the rave world at students' fingertips.
RAVEWORLD.net, probably the slickest and most comprehensive site, produces and sells its own music as well as broadcasts weekly shows and concerts.
"By the end of the summer, we'll have a listing of every event in every city across the country," adds company president Mark Lacey.
The tech-and-tunes marriage doesn't surprise Lacey, who says his California-based site has received more than 4.5 million page impressions since its birth in 1997. He says Generation Y is drawn to the accessibility and unity of the scene, which is aided by the Web's interactivity.
"I see electronic music as the folk music of the future," the 30-year-old says.
"The Internet and technology plays a much larger part in this (than in rock-and-roll)," he explains. "It is not a message that's sold-out, it's a real thing that is out there - not a marketing thing put out by Madison Ave. ...
"The record companies don't understand this market," he continues. "The kids are actually part of the (rave). It's not just stand there and look at the stage."
Brent Csutoras, a self-dubbed "old-schooler," produces his site, DC Raves, as an overview of the capital's club scene. Yet he sees the Internet as less essential.
"(A Web page) is nice to have, but not necessary," says Csutoras, 21. "We never had comp(uter)s or email back in the day, and we had more ravers than we do now.
"What I offer on my page is a good amount of links to help DJs find records that are hard to find or clothes that shops might not carry," he says.
DC Raves has a local-hangout feel and offers a profiles list. "So that if (people) go to a club, talk to someone but can't remember a name or ... that phone number is trash after dancing all night, this gives them a chance to maybe check and see if they can see a face or look up an email addy," Csutoras says. "... I never put up this site to pass out info about parties."
Atlanta's Lunarmagazine.com, on the other hand, features an updated list of Georgia's weekly parties and exclusive interviews with popular DJs.
Web developer by day, partier by most nights -- "which gets kind of hard when you have to get up and go to work the next day" -- managing editor Sabrina Sexton Weil is a recent University of Georgia grad. She says she hopes professional-looking sites like Lunar can counteract negative stereotypes about club kids.
"A lot of us are geeks at heart. A lot of people are students, so they have Internet access," she says. "We can update something, and people can find out about it immediately. We really like that aspect.
"I think that most of the people in our generation have grown up around technology, and we're not afraid of it," the 24-year-old says. "We're striving to harness that power and use it to our benefit."
One of Lunar's techno-savvy features is its popular forum. Topics range from "You know you're a raver if ..." lists to drug-abuse questions.
Sexton Weil says of the latter, "It's about being informed. We can't really be responsible for everyone's actions. ... In our forum, a lot of people have gotten on that topic. I think it's a lot healthier for people to talk about than to pretend it doesn't exist, though."
While she isn't concerned that Atlanta authorities will see the site, "we don't want what's happened in Florida to happen here."
What Sexton Weil refers to are crackdowns by Florida police, who have utilized rave Web sites.
The South Florida page on 8up.com now make users agree that they "are not affiliated with any legal enforcement agency" before they can enter.
The site gives the following explanation: "Local police departments have recently busted too many legal events. Promoters have lost thousands of dollars due to these busts. ... We are here for the music. Let us gather & enjoy."
And even though police followed directions on Darren Lensky's ENation site to discover a Tampa, Fla., rave earlier this summer, Lensky says he has no plans for a user agreement.
"My site is open to the public, so it's not that I'm hiding anything. However, I didn't know the police were going to these extents to go against us," says the University of Florida student.
Ironically, Lensky and many who run rave-related sites say they now find it harder to enjoy the parties.
"Even when I go lately, I go to promote my Web site and the live Internet broadcasts we do. Kinda consider it business," he explains. "I haven't really gone to a party where it was just pure entertainment (in the past six months)."
Even so, the 22-year-old doesn't see himself ending his online endeavor anytime soon because there is a growing need.
"People from all over Florida, the United States and beyond can come and see what is going on elsewhere," he says of ENation. "The simple fact is that a wider audience is reached by people looking for this information."