Exploring Rave Culture at Lights All Night

By Renee Dominguez
Photojournalist

KTSW has graced us with a variety of festival coverage over the years. We have seen the likes of psychedelic festivals like End It End Hip, indie/alternative/folk festivals like UTOPiA Fest, even a hip hop festival, Mala Luna. Something we have never see is coverage from an electronic dance music festival. With the help of Melodia, one of our speciality shows, electronic dance music, or EDM, is often played on our airwaves. It was only a matter of time we would get to experience what the culture of EDM is all about, from trading bracelets, or as they are called in the rave culture, kandi, to feeling absolutely welcomed by everyone — even when you are dressed in a head to toe get-up of your favorite animal complete with a tail.

I have been going to raves since I was 18 years old. I have been to Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) in Las Vegas twice, but getting to cover Lights All Night in Dallas, Texas for KTSW was a completely different experience. I was no longer one of the ravers in the crowd. With two cameras in hand, I was given access to backstage, photo pits, and some VIP areas. I wanted to dress practically and comfortably, so unlike many of the festival attendees, I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Even with all my past experiences at EDM festivals, I was able to experience this festival as an outsider. I observed a lot. I saw how the music would capture people and unite people. I saw kindness occur even when people were complete strangers. I was greeted with kindness myself repeatedly over this weekend. I was lifted up on shoulders to get a better angle for my pictures out of someone’s pure love for photography. I noticed the bond that this music creates as two head banging girls hugged it out after synchronizing their motions. EDM sometimes gets a bad reputation. It is tainted with article headlines reporting another death. It sometimes gets unrecognized as music or art and is just about partying and drugs.

I created this gallery to show the beauty of EDM and that raves and EDM festivals can be more than just partying. EDM is a music genre whether people agree with it or not, and it is going to give comfort to those who identity with the art that it creates. I had a lot of fun watching friendships grow and meeting new people who I won’t forget, all while dancing to some pretty catchy beats.

All images by Renee Dominguez.

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