Watch a painfully 1995 Madison news report on raves

A dispatch from a time when techno was scary and so were the fonts.

A dispatch from a time when techno was scary and so were the fonts.


Now that Tyga can safely rap on the radio about rolling off molly in his drink, much of the alarm surrounding rave culture has subsided from mainstream culture.

But there was a time, about 20 years ago, when parents didn’t know why their sons and daughters were wearing candy necklaces and Elmo backpacks. They didn’t understand techno. It all seemed like a drug thing. It worried them.

Madison’s NBC15 news team identified that fear and got to the bottom of it.

In a gloriously dated three-part (!!) investigative journalism series unearthed by a user on Madison’s subreddit, Andrea Novotny explores “rave parties” and why teens are drawn to remote locations to dance to the heavy beats.

And hoo boy, does this video have everything, complete with some minor on-screen VHS tracking adjustments. We get to hear 15-year-old Peter describe using the “sleepover” excuse to get away with raving all night long, 14-year-old “Fish” tell us about industrial music, and 16-year-old Kaya lament how really sad it is that her friends dropped out of school to rave full-time in Chicago.

In part two, Novotny cuts the crap and gets down to what raves are really about: drugs. As one off-camera raver describes it, as the words appear on-screen in amazing fonts, it’s mostly LSD and Ecstasy and sometimes Lithium and Morphine.

Sure, the cool camera tricks during interviews with UW sociology professors are sweet. But Novotny is the star. In part two, she says no rave promoters would talk on camera, despite that fact that she talked to rave promoters on camera in part one. She describes moshing as “taking in the beat while ramming into each other.” She tells us that some teens will just keep on raving until they get too old and are not welcome.

Thank goodness someone preserved this report—along with some random footage of gravy being poured—so we can all enjoy it today.

Help us publish more weird, questing, brilliant, feisty, “only on Tone Madison” stories


This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top