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ARTICLE
Why old-time ravers are embracing the natural intoxication of the family friendly sober rave – and how mobile DJs can benefit.

As a mobile DJ, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut in terms of the types of events you work or the services you offer your clients.

Over the years, Pro Mobile has offered countless pieces of advice on moving into all-day weddings, for instance, with some DJs – such as Tony Winyard and Terry Lewis – really mastering that sector of the market and, in both cases, winning awards for their proficiency. Children’s parties are a niche area that some DJs choose to specialise in, offering different hours and a less serious vibe than that found at your regular evening function. And then there are the themed parties; the retro campervan booths; the steampunk discos. All brilliant in their own right.

Hold that thought for a minute.

Now, I know that amongst the readers of Pro Mobile there are a bunch of you who were ‘of age’ during the now-infamous British rave scene of the late-eighties and early-nineties. Sometimes, this is a source of great envy for younger music fans, especially when they hear legendary stories about Shoom, the ‘Second Summer of Love’ and the shenanigans involved in actually locating some of those huge outdoor raves. In today’s smartphone world, where our focus is so easily broken and our heads so easily taken out of the room, it’s hard to imagine a cultural situation where people will live quite so ‘in the moment’ occurring again.

But what if there was a way for all you original ravers to relive those heady days while also earning money as a mobile DJ? To come back to the above: there is an alternative to evening functions and children’s parties. It takes elements from both and combines them with a heavy dose of nineties dance culture. It is the sober rave!

It’s probably fair to say that raves aren’t generally thought of as family friendly… or sober. But in recent years rave culture has undergone somewhat of a detox.

After the movement finally dissipated into the mainstream, corporate interest took over. This meant less illegal drugs and an increase in the sale of alcohol, the latter of which was how venues and promoters made big money. But in many ways, that setup has been steadily changing in recent years. Reports show that younger millennials and Gen Z kids don’t drink as much alcohol and have a particular aversion to binge drinking. When you add to this the rising cost of living (including the high cost of drinking in bars and clubs) and a general global focus on health and wellbeing, it’s easy to see why the ‘sober rave’ has become a thing.

But while sober raves exclusively for adults do exist, I’d really like to focus on the family-friendly events that could provide a new avenue of revenue for mobile DJs, especially if you have a passion for rave culture and music.

For Andy Tugby, from SoundONE Disco, and his business partner Ben Phillips (Cornwall Parties), it’s all about recreating the energy and atmosphere of the rave scene in a family friendly setting.

This is what led them to organise their ‘ONE BIG’ parties a few years back, which were family friendly parties and themed events, but with the influence of Andy and Ben’s ‘rave days’ shining through. Andy went on to launch Rave-Kidz, an event company that organises family friendly raves across the UK. “We knew we had countless old-school ravers out there that were just unable to go out like they used to because they are responsible parents with children to take care of,” he explains “So now we organise parties that allow the parents to re-live their raving days and share the experience with their children!”.

So, what if you want to follow suit and venture into the world of sober raves? Well, there are some key questions that will no doubt need answering first. Starting with what these kind of events actually involve...

WHAT IS A SOBER RAVE?

The sober rave basically consists of the same elements that you find in any club, rave or party, but without the sale of alcohol or, by extension, the presence of illegal drugs. There’s loud dance music, often club classics from the rave era, and there are lightshows and effects to create a club atmosphere. People may wear colourful clothes, eccentric outfits and fancy dress. Punters could range from millennials to grandparents to ex-ravers to parents with young children.

WHEN DO SOBER RAVES TAKE PLACE?

What differentiates sober raves from many other events is that they may start in the morning or afternoon, a different timeline to regular club opening times or even the private functions familiar to most mobile DJs. However, just because these events take place during the day, that doesn’t mean they don’t require the same thought and effort as your regular evening function or wedding.

“It actually takes a lot of time and effort, it's not something everyone could do, it's far from it,” says Andy. “Although the parties run for just three hours during the day and the kids will dance for pretty much all of that time, the actual work behind the scenes is immense. Add in the travel time and these events take at least 10 hours or more on the day alone.”

Sounds like a long day. But doesn’t that apply to most mobile DJ work? You guys know better than anyone that DJing isn’t just about performing behind the decks – it’s all the organisation that goes with it, the admin that enables you to function as a business.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 93, Pages 24-28.
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