Graduation Year

Fall 2010

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jonathan Petropoulos


Electronic dance music is a genre that has been long in the making. Starting with disco in the 1970s, dance culture genres evolved into house, acid house, techno, garage, 2-step, hardcore, gabba, san frandisco, electro, and many others. This paper studies the transformation of electronic sound, and the contributing/impeding factors involved. Drug use is heavily related to the creation and enjoyment of music, and features prominently in the history of dance culture. Starting with the use of acid in the 1960s and progressing to the use of acid, Quaaludes, poppers, speed in the 1970s, with MDA featured in clubs toward the end of the decade. The 1980s began the recreational use of MDMA, but not until the late 80s in UK acid parties did it become known as the party drug that it is known as today. MDMA use then spread rampantly throughout the US as the UK culture was exported and emulated. UK acid parties were the precursor to raves, which were illegal, and the backlash from the law was incredible and organized. Slowly licensing laws became more relaxed, and permits became easier to obtain, making future raves more legal, but according to ravers, less fun, ending at 2am instead of 8am, and forcing the drugs scene underground, rather than having them openly solicited. Organized crime in the UK got much worse as gangs realized the potential profits of selling drugs, and the scene forever changed because of this in the early 90s. The raves of the early 90s in New York, the Midwest, and San Francisco, were paradise in comparison. San Francisco enjoyed the most freedom, and beach raves became common. The electronic dance culture found a home in large festivals, and perhaps because of this the future of electronic music remains uncertain, especially with the casualties that have recently happened relating to ecstasy use, and complications in organizing such massive events.