Raver is a word that has been used since the 1960s to describe people who are enthusiastic attendees of parties. For this purpose, the term is most common in the UK.
The popularity of the term has ebbed and flowed in reflection of the constant changes in youth cultures in each decade. The meaning has also altered slightly as different youth cultures have adapted the word (and related words) to suit their milieu and lifestyles.
In its original 1960s incarnation the word was a synonym for the American slang term “party animal” – a gregarious fun-loving individual. In its second incarnation (from the 1980s onwards) the word has come to mean anyone who attends extended night-time music events known as “raves”. In the post-1980s meaning – the essence of the word relates primarily to the type of events the person attends rather than to the personality of the individual.
The word first came into popular vogue in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a derivative of the original meaning of the word “rave”.
“Rave” was a word that originated in the late 1950s with people of Caribbean descent living in London. It was used to describe a bohemian party. The word was co-opted in the early 1960s by the burgeoning mod youth culture of the era. An especially wild party would be described as a "rave" or "rave-up". By way of example, the British rock group The Yardbirds released an album in 1965 titled Having A Rave Up.
People who were gregarious party-goers (the type often described as being “the life and soul of the party”) were described as "ravers". For example, pop musicians such as Keith Moon of The Who and Steve Marriott of The Small Faces were self-described "ravers".
One of the leading British consumer pop music papers Melody Maker named its weekly music gossip column The Raver in the 1960s. The Raver column was created and originally written by journalist Bob Dawbarn. After his departure from the paper in 1970, the column was written by journalist Chris Welch who has revived the Raver name for an online music gossip column in recent years.
With the rapid change of British pop culture from the Mod era of 1964–1966 into the hippie era of 1967 and beyond, the term fell out of popular usage. From the late 1960s till the word's resurrection twenty years later, the term was not in vogue. Its use during that era would have been seen as quaint or ironic use of bygone slang. A term as patently "sixties" as the word "groovy" and therefore “old-fashioned” in the 1970s.
In the 1980s, a new youth culture evolved based initially on acid house music and all-night parties. Adapted from the earlier usage of the word – these events became known as raves – and the participants at raves were invariably called ravers.
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