Ethical dance organisations for the conscientious raver
There’s an uncomfortable cognitive dissonance at the heart of underground clubbing culture that patrons would rather drown out in pounding beats and dazzling strobes than responsibly address. Devoted ravers proclaim to share a mindset that defies all genre boundaries: a welcoming, liberal generosity that flourishes in the egalitarian space of the club, wherein all differences are left at the door and everyone unites in a hedonistic celebration of tunes, vibes, dance, drugs and love.
But this mentality - as lovely as it is - often obscures the fact that nightlife hotspots double as hotbeds of toxicity, excess, and insouciance. After the euphoria of the night comes the inevitable fallout, for individuals and wider society. A raver’s lifestyle can wreak havoc on mental health, and the fun accessories (strobe lights, smoke, glitter, costumes, single-use plastics) are a nightmare for environmentalism.
The club might offer a temporary solace, but daylight brings bleak headlines back into a clarity made even gloomier by the previous night’s comedown. So how to ease the crippling dread and guilt that follows a particularly heavy night out? Ethical raving could offer the solution.
Below are just a few non-profit organisations created to give something back throughclubbing. Check ‘em out - they might not cure your monday blues completely, but dancing is a hell of a lot easier without the weight of your conscience holding you down.
Dance for Refuge
Established in 2015 in response to the European migrant crisis, Dance for Refuge runs club nights at hip London venues (including the V&A museum) in order to raise money for refugee support charities. Since then, they’ve donated a phenomenal £25,000+ to their beneficiaries, which include Help Refugees and War Child.
They don’t currently have a regular night or space, so their impressive profit is an indicator of the high calibre of their events. Having attended their third birthday at Five Miles, I can personally vouch for the uniquely laid back atmosphere, friendly crowd, and exceptional DJ talent - the triumvirate of Peach, Lone and Eclair Fifi had the intimate dancefloor bopping all night.
Past venues also include FOLD, Mick’s Garage, and Corsica Studios, with appearances from the likes of Mall Grab, Man Power, and Don Letts. They also sell prints and t-shirts emblazoned with their iconic graphics, designed by independent artists.
Having just hosted another V&A party, they’re yet to announce their next show, but make sure to follow them on social media to stay up to date.
Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
This foundation is worth a mention for its name alone, but fortunately LNADJ has the walk to back up the talk. Their initiatives and fundraising efforts focus on making a positive impact on children in crisis; they support an array of fantastic charities, which tackle issues ranging from Nepalese sex slavery to water sanitation to mental health in the UK. Take a look at their website for more details.
They also run projects such as Get Equipped, a donation scheme which transfers DJ/production equipment from manufacturers to deprived communities, where musical education programmes use it to enrich the lives of underprivileged children.
Supporters include Nightmares on Wax and Fabric, and Eats Everything has just signed on as an ambassador for their Have a Drink on Us campaign. They regularly partner with promoters to raise funds through club nights, so give them a Facebook-like or sign up to their newsletter to stay in the know. You can also donate directly on their website, or even raise funds for them by hosting your own charity event.
DJs For Climate Action
This is a growing coalition of DJs and producers directing their talents into tackling the incoming climate catastrophe. Watch their ambassadors describe the movement below:
They recommend three key steps to limiting environmental impact on their website:
Choose a more (not entirely) plant-based diet.
Switch to renewable energy.
Vote for the politics on the side of the environment.
This last point exposes the US-centrism of the coalition, who take a firmly anti-Trump stance, and host regular events in Brooklyn. This means that the environmental cost of all those air miles would (unfortunately) counteract any charitable intentions for British attendees, but the movement is about raising awareness and making noise as much as generating profit, and the coalition’s values are universal.
Their manifesto sums it up: ‘We remix the climate message to engage and inspire.’
And like all good remixes, this one is going global, with UK talent including Jamie Jones and Bruce pledging their support. Hopefully underground scenes in the UK will be next to join the resistance to climate catastrophe.
Rave & Raise
Based in Sheffield, Rave & Raise is a small but active group using drum and bass to ‘make the world a better place one rave at a time’. Their management and resident DJ team is comprised of only seven people, making for a down to earth, personable feel.
Their comparatively modest operations are no barrier to fundraising: they raised an impressive £1000+ for a local charity supporting homeless youth, and have also made valuable contributions to causes like Mind and Papyrus. Alongside their events, they sell t-shirts printed with their Banksy-esque logo and fierce motto.
They’ve had a break over summer, but the tantalising hints about future expansion would suggest they’re ones to watch.
Initially, Brudenell Groove seems to lack the philanthropic intentions of the above organisations. Marketed primarily as a DJ collective, with associated clubbing events and its own radio show, its non-profit ethos could almost slip by unnoticed.
But despite their more low-key approach to fundraising, community comes first for Brudenell Groove, who donate all their profits to local charities chosen by democratised Facebook polls. So far, they’ve raised money for Mind, CALM, and even individual Just Giving causes.
Their cheeky enthusiasm has garnered attention from journalists at Mixmag and Vice, and having now made several London appearances, they’re gaining quite a reputation.
Furthermore, their pure party origins guarantee that none of the orgiastic joy of partying is lost in moral uprightness; in fact, as Oliver Walkden (co-creator of the collective) observed in his recent Vice interview, ‘Everyone enjoys themselves a lot more when they know it's all for charity.’
Read their Vice interview here to learn more about their ethos.
by Olivia Bignold-Jordon