This past weekend, Red Rocks Amphitheater once again played host to the 12th Annual Global Dance Festival, Colorado’s biggest and best electronic music event. Neon-clad ravers from all corners of the state and beyond flocked to the legendary venue for three insane days of dancing and partying to the sounds of some of the biggest names in dance music including headliners Adventure Club, Destroid, and Zedd.  We were there, and we learned some pretty valuable lessons.

1. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to dress for Global, but there are plenty of good and bad ways.
There are really no strict rules when it comes rave attire, but some styles are more popular/acceptable than others. Of course neon colors, light-up accessories, and goofy hats are key elements of any good outfit. So are shirts with kittens or wolves howling at the moon. The 90’s look is making a comeback with bucket hats and fanny packs being popular for the first time since N’Sync won a VMA. On the other hand though, there are some fashion faux pas that should be avoided at all costs. For the common good, spandex and pasties are not necessarily made for all shapes and sizes, and they are definitely not unisex. Tattoos are not a substitute for clothing—neither is body hair. 

2. Apparently, there is no age limit on raving.
Despite the fact that the primary audience for EDM is 18-24 year olds, they really mean it when they say Global is an “all ages” event. Now I am generally not bothered by youngsters running around chewing on their light-up binkies, but if you bring your child who actually needs a binky because they are teething, that’s a different story. On the one hand, maybe the rugrats I saw at Global could learn a thing or two about peace and love from being there, but more than likely all they are picking up is a taste for skimpy clothes a predisposition for drug use.  Leave your kids at home, people!

3. Contrary to popular belief, white people can dance.
It’s a myth as old as music itself: white folks just can’t dance. Oh how wrong we were! Turns out, white people can cut up a damn rug if you play the right music; they just never had the right beat until EDM came along. Fortunately for us rhythmically-challenged types, EDM is incredibly easy to move to. All you have to do is be able count to four, wiggle your arms and legs, and shake your ass a little. And boom!—you’re dancing the night away.

4. There’s a difference between getting a little rowdy and being an asshole—know the difference.
We shouldn’t really have to elaborate on this point, but there is fine line between getting rowdy and being a complete dickhead. Unless escaping from the cops, there is really no need to run, push, or barge your way through a crowd, but if it comes to that, the least you could do is say “excuse me.” And yes, we’re all hot and sweaty, but that is not an open invitation to shower everyone with your water bottle, shithead!

5. Look, but DO NOT touch!
Global, like any other EDM event, is a veritable feast of sexy, tanned flesh dressed in next to nothing. Now we understand that the male brain is a relatively simple thing. Like a child at a toy store, we see something we want and we want to touch it. Well don’t!  Gentlemen, get it through your heads: look all you want, but keep your sweaty paws to yourself.

6. Good rave preparation is the key to success.
One does not normally use “raver” and “on the ball” in the same sentence, but thorough preparation is guaranteed to make your Global experience infinitely better. Bring a jacket. Make sure you have plenty of money and your ID. Hydrate before you start taking your drugs. Wear comfortable shoes. And if you’re an irresponsible dipshit, make sure you have a friend that is willing to take care of your dumb ass. 

7. Drug slang is confusing—brush up on narcotics terminology beforehand.
“Rolls” or “Pressies” means ecstasy pills. “Shards,” “moonrock,” or “sass” means molly (or something similar). “White girl” or “blow” means cocaine. “Doses” or “Lucy” means acid. “Boomers” or “fungus” means mushrooms. And if someone meows at you like a cat, they’re either offering you ketamine or are just really high already. (Disclaimer: Rooster does not condone nor encourage your drug use…now get a job, you burnout!)

8. There are two types of people at Global: Front People and Back People.
At Global, or any similar event, there are two types of people. There are “front” people, and there are “back” people. Front people are those who like being packed in tight with other sweaty, smelly, gyrating people; they like to be in the thick of things where it’s easier to see the stage or be groped. Then there are back people. Back people like to hang where there is something called fresh air; they are generally older, wiser, and less willing to have their genitals pressed against any passing stranger. Both types of ravers are perfectly acceptable. The trick is finding out which type you are and sticking with it.

9. How to spot a rave virgin.
There are two types of rave virgins. The first type is so nervous and excited about finally being at a rave/festival that they ingest any and all drinks and drugs that pass their gaping mouths and then proceed to pass out, puke on themselves, or a combination of the two. The other type is also nervous, but instead of assuaging their nerves with narcotics, they simply stand in the corner, terrified, limiting their dancing to light toe-tapping, and thinking “where the fuck am I?” Both types are really fun to watch.  

10. PLUR is alive and well if you know where to look for it.
Given the bursting popularity of EDM among “mainstream” audiences, it’s pretty easy to be cynical about the scene and say that PLUR—which stands for “Peace, Love, Unity, Respect”— is a thing of the past. Sure, there are plenty of douchebags and snotty bitches in attendance at Global, but after seeing so many people trading Kandi, hugging it out, and loving each other, I can say with certainty that PLUR is definitely still kicking around. You just have to look in the right places.

11. Wanna be a good DJ? You better follow these rules.
Being a good DJ (‘good’ is the key word) is tougher than it looks, and if you have any hope of ever making it as a DJ, you better keep these rules in mind. First off, showcase your music collection; there’s a shit ton of music out there beside the Top 40 on Beatport. Pay attention to what other people are playing, and then play something different. And most importantly, shut the fuck up and play some damn music—no one came to hear yelling at us to put our hands up for an hour.

12. EDM is definitely not going away anytime soon.
I’ll be honest, I had my doubts about the longevity of EDM, thinking that it would be popular for a bit and then fizzle out. That’s definitely not the case though. My weekend at Global revealed that EDM has some of the most passionate fans in the world. Fans who still go nuts for a song they’ve already heard a thousand times. Fans who live and breathe electronic music. Fans who would sell their blood and/or semen to attend as many shows as possible. What I’m trying to say, is that EDM is not even close to fizzling out. In fact, it’s still just getting started.

13. If you willingly bring your teenager to Global, you are officially in the running for Best/Worst Parent of the Year.
I was a little surprised by how many parents I saw at this year’s festival. Surely, their teenager begged and pleaded to go to Global until they were finally given the go-ahead on the condition that dear old Dad was also going as a chaperone. I commend (and question the common sense of) the fathe’s we saw sitting patiently while their teenage sons or daughters slipped away to bump Molly and a twerk the night away. Gentlemen, you are both incredibly trusting and incredibly naïve.