It’s 10:30 on a Friday night. You start preparing: You’ve got your favorite tunes blasting from your stereo and you’re raiding your closet for the perfect outfit as you dance through your room. On your dresser, an artistic flyer with nothing but a mysterious phone number is teasing you, beckoning you to call, but it’s still too early. Your friends start arriving, all of them chattering away excitedly, nervous with anticipation. Just before midnight you all gather around your phone and call the info line noted on the flyer. A voicemail picks up with detailed directions to an unknown location. This is it—these are the beginnings of an exciting night ahead. Your destination? A massive rave complete with awesome people, hypnotizing light shows, imaginative backdrops, an intriguing location and the best freakin’ music ever.
Are you feeling it? Those pre-party jitters? Are you ready to strap on your fairy wings and raise your glow-sticks to the sky? It’s time to get your rave on, baby. And if for some reason you can’t get out this weekend—here are twenty movies that will spark some sweet nostalgia.
20. Leave the World Behind (2014)
When the DJ supergroup Swedish House Mafia, consisting of Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell, announced their split in the summer of 2012, their fans were incredibly bummed. In order to soften the blow, they decided to give their audience a farewell gift of a special variety: A feature-length documentary following the DJs on their One Last Tour around the world. Leave the World Behind is an open invitation to follow SHM behind the scenes, to learn who Angello, Sebastian and Axwell really are and to get a better understanding of what brought them together in the first place: Musical Orgasms.
Listening to Sebastian’s account of how he first met Steve is priceless. He paints a perfect picture of himself as the bona fide raver kid—bright orange pants, a glow-in-the-dark batman shirt, Buffalos: the full-on raver kit—whereas Steve was very much the laid-back, weed-smoking hip-hop type who thought techno was “fucking annoying.” It wasn’t until they discovered Daft Punk’s Homework (1997) that they started inhabiting the same world, musically speaking. When they finally teamed up with Axwell, a self-proclaimed “Computer-Nerd-Musician” at the time, they had all the ingredients to cook up their very own sound. They came, they loved, they raved.
Swedish House Mafia: Leave The World Behind
19. Put the Needle on the Recordc(2004)
When writer/director Jason Rem was invited by Shahin Amirpour to attend the 18th edition of the Winter Music Conference in Miami in 2003, he had no idea just how big the world of electronic music really was. As is typical for any musical genre, only the real fanatics will be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to finding artists and tracks that have managed to build a massive following outside of the mainstream. The WMC in Miami is a gathering of electro lovers and DJs who live and breathe by the beat—the go-to place for the real insider tips.
In Put the Needle on the Record, Jason Rem follows and interviews the likes of Deep Dish, Christopher Lawrence, Dirty Vegas, Jesse Saunders and Francois K and learns more about the origins of drum & bass, house, experimental, downtempo and breaks in Miami. Although this documentary may be a bit outdated musically, it offers great insight into the going-ons at the Winter Music Conference, what it means to be a Vinyl Junkie and the Miami music scene.
Put the Needle on the Record
18. Naar de Klote! (Wasted!) (1996)
Wie ben je? – Jaqueline (“Who are you? – Jaqueline”)
Wat zijn we? – Samen (“What are we? – Together”)
Waar gaan we heen? – Naar de Klote! (“Where are we going? – To get fucked up!”)
Naar de Klote takes us back to Holland’s infamous Gabber movement, a hardcore techno style that comes with its very own dance moves, namely Hakken. The movie opens to the couple Jaqueline (Fem van der Elzen) and Martijn (Tygo Gernandt) trying ectasy for the first time. They sit around in giggling anticipation waiting for the drug to finally take effect but grow impatient. So they pop another “halfje” (half) and another. They lay in bed, their pupils dilated, staring into space, still trying to convince themselves that they can’t actually feel anything. Suffice to say, that changes in about a nanosecond and next you see is Jaqueline and Martijn dancing around the house crazily before jumping into a car and making their way to an open-air rave. Jaqueline is dressed in nothing but a pair of panties and an oversized dress shirt, but that doesn’t matter. The X has freed her from all inhibitions.
They decide to move from the small town of Tilburg to the cosmopolitan city of Amsterdam where Jaqueline scores a job in a smart shop. Through the people she meets at the shop, Jaqueline slips deeper into the gabber-sphere until eventually she drifts further and further from Martijn. Although fun, Naar de Klote also heavily relies on the darkness that can spring from the world of drugs.
17. Ecstacy (2011)
“The world is changing, music is changing, even drugs are changing.”
Trainspotting’s protagonist Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) was spot on with his observations back in 1996. Lloyd (Adam Sinclair) and Heather (Kristin Kreuk) put it to the test in 2011 (late bloomers, we presume). If ever there was an author capable of examining—and above all, voicing—the ups and downs of drug use and its accompanying culture, it’s Irvine Welsh. In his 1996 story “The Undefeated” from his book Ecstacy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance, Irvine toys with interesting ideas about the relationships that are based on getting high together. Everyone knows what XTC is capable of. You can hate the world and everyone in it with a stubborn passion but pop an E and suddenly you’re all about spreading BIG LOVE and PLUR and HAPPINESS. You’re bound to fall in love at least twenty times a night on X—even if you’re falling for the pretty lights or just this girls’ blonde sparkling hair. But if you fall in love wasted, will you still love each other when you’re not high?
This film adaptation, directed by Rob Heydon, takes us back to the underbelly of Scottish night clubs where the music booms and the drugs are aplenty. FYI, Trainspotting’s Franco Begbie’s Scottish drawl may have been incomprehensible for some, but that’s nothing compared to what you’ll get from some of the characters in Ecstacy. Subtitles are definitely recommended —and that’s coming from a Brit!
16. From Jack to Juice: 25 Years of Ghetto House (2011)
Following her 2009 documentary Whatever Happened to Hip Hop, Sonali Aggarwal now looks into the origins of ghetto house or booty house, if you prefer. While everyone seems to agree on Cajmere’s It’s Time for the Percolator being the original template for Juke House, the origins and timelines of ghetto and booty house are up for debate. Boolumaster says the up-tempo booty house came from the South Side, while the West Side DJs were all about the house; DJ Spinn says the exact opposite. But they all share one common opinion: area codes no longer matter. Everyone is bouncing ideas off of each other; it’s no longer an East Side/West Side thing, it’s the Chicago thing. While other major cities like Atlanta and Detroit have adopted the Juke/Ghetto style, Chicago is where it’s really at—this is the true Juke House Mecca.
Featuring interviews with Tha Pope, K Starke, DJ D-Man and DJ Skip, we learn all about 140/160 BPM “House Music on Speed” and get to see some impressive footwork.
15. Jungle Fever (1994-2014)
When high techno frequencies made way for low frequencies and exaggerated bass lines in the London rave scene, the jungle movement was born. In the extended documentary Jungle Fever, we’re taken back to where it all started as a “small exclusive underground scene” and watch it turn into the “main sound on the streets.” With a growing increase of “Junglists” flooding the rave scene, even the BBC’s Channel 4 wanted to know what all the fuss was about and released the three-part documentary Jungle Fever. The first part of the documentary features Peter Harris, founder of the independent label Kickin Records, which released music by artists such as Blak Prophetz, DJ Hype and Grant Nelson. We also get to hear L.T.J Bukem and Fabio’s take on what constitutes jungle: reggae bass lines, speedy beats, raga break beats and reggae/soul samples. In fact, Peter Harris goes as far as to say that jungle is all about the samples.
Last year, Dazed magazine commissioned Ollie Evans to film part four of Jungle Fever for Channel 4. It takes us to the very source of London’s jungle scene: Belgrade Road, the home of . Break beat, hardcore, drum ’n’ bass and jungle—it all started in Belgrade Road.
14. Groove (2000)
Ever wondered what the underground rave scene in San Francisco might be like? If you don’t have the means to get there for the weekend, the 2000 movie Groove is as close as you can get to a bona fide SF night of raving. Groove starts out with the overall excitement behind planning the actual party in an abandoned warehouse. The neighborhood is studied carefully, making sure that ravers will be left to dance in peace, without unwanted interruptions from nosy, irritated residents or worse yet, cops. But as Ernie (Steve van Wormer) rightfully points out: “There are no obstacles, only challenges.” With one single email and a cryptic voicemail message, the shindig is set in motion, and the warehouse transforms into an orgy of laser lights and shiny, happy people.
Groove features real-life DJs Digweed, Polywog, DJ Forest Green and WishFM spinning their decks, so get ready to turn your living room into party central!
13. Go (1999)
We must admit we were a bit puzzled when we first heard about Go, the crime comedy that involves a rave, a smoky hot ménage à trois and a strip joint. Not because of the variety of unlikely locations this movie might take us to, no—because we still can’t quite get over the words “Katie Holmes” and “Rave” appearing in the same sentence. All of our preconceptions aside, Go is a fast-paced black comedy that couldn’t have been made any better. Yes, even Katie Holmes rocked her role as—surprise, surprise—Ronna’s (Sarah Polley) naïve and wide-eyed side-kick/co-worker Claire. Following a 24-hour timeline, we follow the respective adventures of Ronna, Simon (Desmond Askew) and soap opera actors Adam (Scott Wolf) and Zack (Jay Mohr) who, in hindsight, kind of started this crazy road trip in the first place.
Due to its random order of story-telling and timelines, Go has often been likened to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Roger Ebert referred to Go as a “clever black comedy that takes place entirely in Tarantino-land.”
12. Modulations – Cinema for the Ear (1998)
We’ve already had a detailed look at the history of electronic music genres such as Juke/Chicago House and Jungle. Modulations – Cinema for the Ear covers all bases of “organized noise.” Kraftwerk said it best back in the day: “We have a soul even though it’s electronic and mathematic.” This perspicacious documentary by the director of Synthetic Pleasures gives us a better understanding of what electronic music really constitutes. “As soon as you enter your car, you’re in a musical instrument.” Showing live footage of infamous parties such as the Rainbow Rave on Mount Fuji (2000) and performances by the likes of Squarepusher at the Essential Festival in Brighton, this documentary is guaranteed to get you buzzing.
You even get a better understanding of the toys and tools renowned DJs like Photek, Ed Rush and Doc Scott like to play with to create their tracks.
11. Tomorrowland – 10 Years of Unity, Love and Magic (2014)
When the Dutch entertainment and media enterprise ID&T first set out to organize the electronic music festival Tomorrowland in 2005, they didn’t think it would reach further than Belgium and perhaps The Netherlands. Ten years on and Tomorrowland is known as the biggest electronic music festival in the world with more than 400,000 people having attended the 2014 edition! With the first two editions having gone down so well in 2005/6, the third festival saw more than 100 DJs take to the stage and turn their audience into a fury of stomping feet and massive smiles. As Steve Aoki said: “Tomorrowland is based, essentially, on love. The love of this music, this culture and this community.”
This documentary is going to give you a taste of what this community life is all about. You’ll applaud the people who took time out of their dancing schedule for a quick visit to the Church of Love, you’ll get all cheesy and emotional witnessing a proposal and you’ll feel big love when a teary-eyed Armin van Buuren announces the birth of his son to a crowd more than willing to celebrate (new) life.