Peter Wohler - The Source

Where have all the Ravers gone? If you have been in seclusion for the last three years, praying, fasting, and practicing your glow stick martial arts, and are now ready to search out the local Raves to be that glow stick in darkness... then you may feel a little cheated by the scene. The scene has progressed (or digressed?) and has evolved from the organic-grass roots movement to a commercial nightclub scene.

Techno/Rave Outreach

We started FUSE (Techno/Rave Outreach of Source) in 1997. Two 22 year old Christians Dave and Matt had been in the scene since 1990. They were drawn in by the incredibly creative and unique music and parties and eventually were performing and producing Live PA music. The scene seemed to progressively become more about the drugs and partying than the music. In 1996 they were contemplating if they should even still be involved since so many of their friends and acquaintances seemed to be oppressed by the drugs and bad choices.

After the two were involved in a discipleship group and lived in the Joshua House, Men's Discipleship House, for a year we decided to form FUSE (Focused Underground Spiritual Environment). We formed a team around reaching out to the Rave scene. We rented a house where four young men lived that became the hub for FUSE.

Fuse was a great example of the relational philosophy of Source. The outreach philosophy was:

  1. Going out and meeting people where they were at,
  2. Hosting drug-free events with local performers (that are safe, welcoming, and do not allow preaching or testimonies from a stage
    • we believe very much in presenting who Jesus is, but have seen doing this in conversations as relationships build be effective
    • - kinda like Jesus did), and
  3. Inviting people to spiritual discussions, dinners, and Bible Studies (this also allows individuals to move at their own pace - they come back when they are ready for more).

We saw many that had to attend parties a few times before they would trust us enough to begin to talk with us. And the eventually they would show up to the spiritual discussion groups and Bible studies.

Every summer we took part in a 3-day Rave fest called Furthur put on by a proclaimed satanic group. They knew what we were about, but we had gained favor with them. Their leader also knew about the horror of the parties and appreciated someone being there with hearts to look after people.

The last one we attended 2 different young people died from drug overdoses. We also witnessed a young man on a bad acid trip jump into a fire that had 30-ft high flames. He was totally engulfed and you couldn't see him for several seconds. When he came out his pants were melted to his skin and his hair was smoldering. He was so out of it he was about to jump back in again when another guy and me tackled him. It took us 45 minutes for us to get him to the gate of the campground. The promoters were more scared of being shut down than giving him help. If we would not have been there he would have run off into the woods and died. He survived, but has lost half his lungs.

At Furthur we hosted a side tent that would play music during the day, provide soup and bread at night, be an oasis for those who desired to be drug free, and serve thousands of free pancakes during a Sunday Morning Worship service.

Attending raves, Dave and Matt performed at many, creating a Zine, hosting drug-free parties (that were creative and treated people with dignity), weekly spiritual discussion nights, Bible studies, telling Christians who found out about FUSE that they couldn't come back because they were preaching at kids, having young people who were not Christians refer their friends to us when they needed help, being covered by the local "City Pages" (and them writing a positive article about a Christian group), seeing former Satanists receive Christ, providing shelter and referrals to homeless youth, many conversations about what our faith is about, seeing Christian young people who were in the scene using drugs go clean, and hosting the last Rave in Minneapolis called Redemption in 2001 were all a part of FUSE.

The summer of 2001 we threw an event called Redemption. It was said to be the last Rave in Minnesota. Over 1,000 attended the event, which was held on a farm 30 minutes west of downtown Minneapolis. We flew in national DJ's - most we were unsure what they believed, but were confident that they knew what we were about and wouldn't do anything inappropriate.

We had three stages, interactive art, large canvases, sculpting, chain saw carving (the chain saw was not interactive), and a 50-ft high mural on a side of a barn. The whole event was to be a concert of prayer for God to bring Redemption. We had zines, an introduction of who we are and the event on the shuttle bus to get in, and a prayer and chill room. We passed out 15,000 flyers throughout the Midwest with text that asked, "what ever happened to PLUR (Piece, Love, Unity, & Respect)?" "Why is everything in a downward spiral getting worse?" "What will turn things around? How will individuals overcome?"... "God we need redemption. Somehow do what we as individuals cannot."

It was an incredible event that ended with a storm coming where the rain actually washed off paint from where the mural had been graffitied. The Mural Miracle is too long to tell, but check out www.sorucemn.org to see the details.

At the time we did not know it was going to be the last Rave in Minnesota (there have been other parties but nothing outside of a nightclub of any considerable size.). The attendees were amazed at how incredibly creative it was, that is was drug-free, and that Christians threw it. It got voted the party of the year in 2001 and we still get in conversations around town about the party and the mural.

We continue to use FUSE as part of a production name mainly because of the positive recognition from the past. We no longer have the FUSE house, but now we have an Urban Art Center called the Fallout (www.falloutminneapolis.com). We have the same philosophy of outreach and hosting events. The events are not so techno centered anymore, but more like interactive warehouse theme parties that usually have elements of techno in them as well as bands and performers.

The model that we use could be done anywhere. What made it effective was being in culture, being a light in darkness, and being salt without dumping the whole salt shaker on it at one time.

Where have all the Ravers gone?

To nightclubs. Raves began around a counterculture movement that gathered around music that was not accepted by the mainstream. The early days of Raving parties took on their own distinct look and personality. Like many counterculture movements the scene drew those feeling isolated, misunderstood, and looking for identity.

Adding to the movement was the fact that any small group of teens or young adults who could be a little organized, produce a great flyer, and come up with some seed money could throw a Rave. The national and international performers were accessible if the price was right. The events were held in warehouses in industrial areas and all the proper permits would be obtained. No alcohol would present and the crowd was very manageable compared to a drunken rock concert. If there was a problem with a Rave as far as the building owner or authorities were concerned about it usually was not discovered until the next morning. And most places a rave was never held twice.

As it grew into the 90's drugs became more and more a part of the scene and most the time the promoters were also a part of dealing drugs at the parties. By the mid 90's most urban areas had "Rave Laws," and Raves began to be held 30 minutes to 2 hours outside of metro areas (at some unsuspecting small town empty warehouse).

As Raves entered the new millennium, many of the noble roots seemed to have given in to corruption. The scene that started around a motto of PLUR (Peace Love Unity & Respect), was about new creativity and music, was about being a refuge for those who did not fit in, was a place to receive community, acceptance, support, and even purpose... now seemed to be suffering the consequences of indulgence and being out of control on drugs.

Probably like most counterculture movements the next generation did not have the values that were the initial inertia of Raves. The average age of parties became younger and younger (in the mid 90's the average was probably above 20, where in the year 2000 we were seeing a majority of parties be attended by 14 & 15 year olds). The average Rave-goer went more thinking about the drug experience they would have vs. going to experience community. Promoters were more concerned about making money. National and international DJ's became popular enough to sign contracts with national promoters, which only allowed them to play big time venues and nightclubs. The small promotion group bringing in a big name is obsolete. Small town and rural America, especially the police forces, were aware of Raves now and on the look out for groups trying to conceal such permits. In the Midwest the National Guard in Minnesota and FBI in Wisconsin shut down Raves by greeting people as they arrived.

I hope this article doesn't discourage those into techno/electronic music/DJ's. It is very much a valid art form and certainly there exist remnants that reflect the techno roots of experimenting and creativity. We are to "Go into all the world," and I certainly hope that God continues to raise up individuals to bring His Kingdom to this subculture.

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