Tales from the Net

a work in progress

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Save the Rave: A community coming together on Facebook

Save the Rave logo“We’re dealing with the most difficult-to-motivate generation ever. People today feel so powerless, like they can’t have an impact on anything that matters. But you can! So one of the things I’m trying to share with the community is that when you come together, we can make a difference. ”

— Save the Rave organizer Liam Shy

Save the Rave had been in the planning stages for a while, an advocacy organization for Bay Area electronic dance music community to push back against the “war on fun“.  It kicked into overdrive in December, when Assemblywoman Fiona Ma’s proposed Anti-Raves act of 2011 (also know as AB 74).  Matt Haze began organizing a protest; Liam saw the announcement on Facebook and connected with him; and it’s snowballed from there.

To their credit, Fiona and her staff quickly realized that the proposed bill was badly written, withdrew the bill (at least temporarily) and reached out to the community. So the protest got put on hold. Instead, the Save the Ravers met with with Fiona, and convinced the SF Entertainment Commission and the SF Youth Commission to have a joint hearing on the issue. Pretty remarkable progress for a nascent activism campaign!

Of course, Save the Rave starts with some pretty big advantages.  The electronic dance music and rave communities are used to having to fight for our right to party — several of the people involved have worked together on similar issues as part of the SF Late Night Coalition and the California Music and Arts Coalitions. And Liam’s a former SF Youth Commissioner himself, well known both in the community and the political world.

And as if that’s not enough, they’ve got Facebook.

Save the Rave: open group“Facebook and social media let us communicate like we couldn’t before,” Liam told me. “It used to be that we’d print out flyers at Kinko’s and hand them out at events. But that only gets the word out to a few people at a time.”

I found out about Save the Rave from seeing an update from Liam in my newsfeed, and I follow what’s going on via the Save the Rave group. Facebook reworked their group’s functionality in October, and this is the first time I’ve seen an activism campaign really take advantage of it. The discussions in the group are great. We’re starting to see people posting from around the state, and I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until Central Valley, LA, San Diego, and Mendocino start having their own meetings — and their own Facebook groups too.

Share: Post Link Photo Video Event“The group’s great for engaging people: discussions, shared links and documents, videos,” Liam says. “It goes way beyond the feed and mailing lists.”  With over 5,000 people, it’s the biggest “new group” I’ve been in, and it’s been impressive how well it’s working.

Make no mistake, Facebook and other social networks like change.org (where over 8000 people have signed Jesse Alonzo’s petition) aren’t a substitute for other kinds of organizing. Liam credits phone calls and letters from group members to Assemblywoman Ma for helping show how much people care about the issue.  And the San Francisco group is holding community meetings as well; there’s no substitute for getting together in person.

This issue’s come up again and again over the years, both in San Francisco and nationally with the RAVE act.  Everybody wants to solve the underlying problem.  It’s not a good thing when people are are getting arrested or dying at raves.  And I think all the stakeholders want California to be the kind of place where it’s cool for people to get together and dance to the music they love.  So it’s a great chance to turn things in a positive way and come up with some sensible solutions that focus on harm reduction.

Save the Rave’s next community meeting is Wednesday, February 16. At the state level, Fiona’s convening a stakeholder group with representatives of the nightlife entertainment industry, youth, law enforcement, local government, and emergency medical responders — the kind of people you’d want involved.  And the San Francisco hearings are also an important next step.

If a revised version of the bill is introduced, then we’ll be need to prepare for legislative and legal battles which may well go on through the 2012 elections. So now’s a good time to be organizing.  It’ll be tricky for groups in different areas to get together in person, but hey, there’s always Facebook.   At some point, it may make sense to pull together a statewide meeting in Sacramento. Can’t wait to see the set list!

Stay tuned!

posted by Jon at 8:41 pm  


  1. Here’s an example of a Facebook group making communication easy:


    Liam gets a notification whenever anybody replies to his wall post in a comment; and so do other people who have replied. Everybody in the group also gets notified when there’s something new, so when they’ve got a few seconds they can check to see what’s up. It’s far from perfect of course — Facebook’s default settings for the group generate a lot of email and they constantly change how it works so it can feel spammy — but it works surprisingly well.

    Comment by Jon — February 16, 2011 @ 9:03 am

  2. Echoing Liam’s point about Facebook being a way to reach younger people who haven’t been involved in politics, a new University of California study reports that youth who pursue their interests on the Internet are more likely to be engaged in civic and political issues. Indeed!

    PLUR :)Case in point: on Save the Rave’s wall, Jay Miller posted an event he’s organizing with Jacqy Edwards and Karrina Morrfor: The PLUR March in Sacramento.* The organizers write

    When people think of Raves&Ravers, negative stereotypes instantly come to mind. I for one am SICK of people thinking we are just a bunch of E-Heads. It’s also unfair that Raves are getting shut down. Clubs aren’t being shut down for getting “rowdy” so why are raves? We need to march and inform people who Ravers REALLY are!
    We are planning on marching through the Capital area (K-street mall, not through the capital garden. Don’t want anyone getting arrested!)
    Passing out Kandi and fliers and showing our true AMAZING colors!
    Support the cause and come have fun 🙂

    Remember, we are showing the PLUR and want all POSITIVE light shown on us. Anyone who is suspected to be under the influence of ANYTHING BUT LIFE, will be asked to leave.

    Sounds pretty engaged to me!

    * PLUR = Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect, a credo of American rave culture. Frankie Bones P.L.U.R. Explained and Defined has some great historical perspectives on how the term evolved.

    Comment by Jon — February 25, 2011 @ 7:23 am

  3. Here is the official event page for the hearing on March 22nd at SF City Hall. We need everyone to be there!! Boomin ♥

    There were about 14 attendees when I first saw Liam’s post. Now, there are 391 “yes” and another 277 “maybe”. Hope they’ve got a big room 🙂

    From the event invitation:

    We need YOU to come down to City Hall and speak out or make a presence March 22nd, 2011

    • This hearing is in response to the discrimination that electronic dance music events have been facing.

    • We are tired of our events being shut down, having hours reduced or being treated as criminal.

    • This is our chance to finally speak out about the importance of dance music culture to City Officials and Elected Representatives.

    • By packing City Hall with people demanding change, we CAN and WILL make a difference in the policy and politics that impact us!

    • This is going to be a historical event. Be a part of changing the future and protecting our right to dance!

    Bring all your friends, a positive attitude and a 2 minute speech about why edm events are important to you.

    Comment by Jon — February 25, 2011 @ 7:54 am

  4. Save the RaveWrapping up the weekend on a good note, I just got a call from Save the Rave double-checking whether I’ll be atCity Hall for the Tuesday night with the San Francisco Entertainment and Youth Commissions. Good organizing work! In the two months since I last last blogged about Save the Rave, the 5000-person Facebook group continues to be an effective communication forum. SF is a city where the “rave/nightclub” vote is enough to decide a lot of elections and it’s exciting to see a new generation of activists start to flex their muscles. See you at City Hall!

    Comment by jon — March 20, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

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