How to Throw a Rave (In the Woods): The Ultimate Checklist


How to Throw a Rave in the Woods: The Ultimate Checklist
Large events of thousands are quite the struggle to throw, but a small rave in the woods isn’t that hard.
They need to be isolated, and discreet, and have a good generator or two, a decent sound system, some lights, and some stage setup. 

It will take a few folks to coordinate, some trucks, the gear, and word of mouth. 

You can host a forest rave very easily by following this simple checklist.

  • Find a location
  • Find the right crowd
  • Choose the right sound system
  • Get proper lighting
  • Learn how to act if someone gets hurt
  • Learn the legal stuff
  • Learn how to deal with the police

Let’s get into it.

How to Find a Location

The key is to look for sensible locations, forests, quarries, somewhere miles from civilization. Don’t use the spot on top of a hill because the sound would travel much further. 

If you don’t piss anybody off or keep anyone awake with your music and keep it on the down-low, nobody would even know the rave is happening.

Scout your location forward. Use Google Maps; drive around the area. 

Drive out there with just yourself and maybe one more friend, blast your sound, and see if anyone comes by. Do it on the same day that you plan on throwing the renegade. 

Do it multiple weekends. If no one comes by, you’re ok. Your problem will be other people in the area who are annoyed by you. Be a good neighbor.

Release the Location on the Day of the Event

The location is released on the day or the day before the event. If you’ve been to a few raves, you’ll figure out that they typically use the same sites, but switch them frequently. 

Now the drive through the woods is always quite the adventure. Because it’s so deep in the forest, it’s best to rely on map points to get there. 

It should go something like this:

“Drive approximately 9.8 miles, and you will come upon *****, which you want to turn right onto.
The entry to the venue spot is about 20 miles north on ****** from the last paved road in **** National Park. Continue down ** miles.
At about 12-13 miles in, you’ll see a giant rock on your right to know you are on the right path.
At about 19.5 miles in, you’ll see a wooden sign on the right that says **** in front of a large rock with a graffiti cross.
You are now 4.3 miles from the rave entrance. The turn into the venue will be subtly marked with a couch resting on a stone.”

Clean the Space Afterward

I’m so angry when people trash the ground and just leave. That resulted in one of my buddies being done for fly-tipping, which was a heavy fine, and now a potential jail sentence. The thing is, I helped clean up after that, and I thought it was neater than before the party, but the police disagreed.

Check the Weather for Rain 

This is crucial, and many parties were canceled at the last minute because of this. Also, a lot of parties ended because of this in the middle of the rave. 

The season is generally running from April to a little after Halloween.

Adding a Fire Can Make the Mood Even Better

Some kind of fire is key to establishing the appropriate ambiance. A good fire is a centerpiece to the whole thing. There will always be people that get tired of dancing or just want to talk with each other. 

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It’s usually a lot colder in the woods, so even in the middle of summer, you can light it up.

But you have to be smart about it. A brawl is a danger. One time, a guy fell into the fire, and the other guy jumped in on top of him and kept throwing smacks.

It’s also essential to have the right materials for putting a fire together. Wood pallets work great because you can just stack them together like Jenga blocks and light it up. But you can basically use anything flammable.

How to Find the Right Crowd

Don’t just plaster it all over Facebook or Instagram. Do a private event, invite friends, and tell friends to invite friends. By all means, tell people to keep it low. 

If people are talking about it, not only might you attract attention from the police, but you will also get some right nob heads to turn up. Also, try and ensure nobody under the age of 18/21 shows up. Police really don’t like that.

Dealing with Criminals

Have fun, but keep in mind what folks are doing. It might be worth asking any friends who are quite stocky to keep an eye on people, and if they see any fight, split it up. 

I’ve only ever seen three fights at these parties, and all of them have been guys who had arguments before the renegade or were well justified. 

But make sure you tell people it’s not the place for aggression! Most people come to enjoy themselves. Also, keep an eye on your gear! There are criminals out there. With smaller numbers, I’d think there will probably be people you know so that you won’t have a problem.

How to Choose the Right Sound System

If you have never organized a thing like this, you’ll probably need some help choosing the right PA system. 

In general, four tops and two subs are enough. If you’re only kicking it with your buddies, even 2 tops, 2 subwoofers will get you through. 

Whether you’re sourcing the sound system or buying your own, for throwing a forest rave for 50-150 people, you’ll be good with this kind of combination:

If you can double your subwoofers, even better. I throw an outdoor party for 100-150 people and the same speaker-count works.

When we’re talking about hardcore rave, the crowd is very dispersed. And when dancing, people will likely gravitate toward the bass and dance floor area.

Thus, factoring in that it’s outdoors, an additional sub would add something more significant. 

The reason is rave sound and full effects, especially for techno in an open-air setup with more people.

So four tops are excellent, but for the best sound quality and loudness, I would do at least 2×18″ subs per side. And get the tops in the air, if possible! 

Just don’t blow them up, make sure you watch your levels. Speakers being redlined will have more reduced performance than speakers being driven comfortably.

Also, ensure you have sufficient generator power and test everything out at full tilt before, so you don’t trip the breaker/generator in the middle of the renegade.

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A Few Lighting Solutions

My friend does light and sound for small events and raves, so I’m pretty well-informed on this. I don’t know if you have your own lighting or your budget, but the ADJ Products Stage Light Unit is a heavy hitter for below $350 (worth it!).

There is also the Party Lights Projector which is still an excellent laser for around $70.

You can always check with a DJ/instrument store around your place if you have one.

Also, if you want some beautiful rave lasers, Big Dipper is the way to go. Prices go anywhere from $199 for scattering beams to $5000 for full-color animation lasers.

How to Act if Someone Gets Hurt

Know that safety is the main priority. Don’t be lured to prioritize your rave over someone else’s well-being. 

Call 911 in the event of an accident, and don’t worry about an ambulance at your location. They are not there to end your rave, but to make sure people are safe.

The first and foremost here is to be proactive. Don’t let folks do stupid things like climb on trees or hang from a tent, that stuff is only fun in photos. 

If the guy is over-intoxicated on any drug, get him out of there, pay for the taxi, refund his money, whatever, but get him out of your rave. 

Among our group of friends, we have a nurse practitioner who serves as our EMT and hires trusted mates for security.

But you can always outsource one or more off-duty EMTs and security – gatekeepers who are needed to check bags at the entrance. 

For example, say “Open any drawstrings/backpacks” and flash the light to check for anything you don’t want at your party. They can also do a pat-down.

Legal Stuff

Know your rights. Use as much time as possible to read up, because the police will think you know nothing, and approach to do stuff that isn’t in their power. 

The same goes for the crowd at the rave. Educate them about their rights, and what the authorities can and can’t order them to do. Raves are illegal, but you should still do your best to keep it as legal as possible.

USA

You won’t need a license if you don’t get caught, but you should think about how you would deal with the police before they even show up.

Are you on federal land? Check here.

If not, go to Municode.com and look up relevant laws. Know your local/county/state codes/ordinances.

Go to forest service dispersed camping areas, or BLM dispersed camping areas. You can check with your local offices or online maps to find where you can camp. 

In dispersed camping, you can bring up to 75 people with no license as long as it’s away from a riparian zone. 

Of course, it’s not precisely legal to bring the sound system out there, but if you’re in a country-dispersed camping area, it’ll be easy to get away with it as long as you’re in an isolated area without other people nearby.

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If you start having larger parties, you can become a charity organization (codes 501c3 and 501c4). 

You’ll have to donate a portion of ticket sales to a charity afterward. Still, there are considerable advantages to this because you’re throwing a charity ball in the eyes of the law. 

This means that the police legally can’t intervene unless there is an emergency requiring it. Note that if you choose to do this, the ticket for the event becomes a year-long membership to the charity organization.

UK

Be very cautious and use Google Maps to check for the nearby property. 

You’d be amazed how sound can travel at night, and often in strangely odd ways. I’ve worked at large festivals where people just outside the fence can’t hear a thing, but people in a town/village 6 miles away are all calling in to complain. 

The police cannot technically enforce the infamous “Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994”, particularly Section 63, which gives them a much more infamous “repetitive beats” definition enshrined in law, granted you’re on private property with permission. 

However, the police will cluster the place and use the opportunity to get you on all kinds of other things. 

If they find anything, that’s enough for a warrant, multiple arrests, and all your gear seized.

Even without police presence, extreme noise (which isn’t a police matter but a council one) can point to a Noise Abatement Notice. This isn’t anything to overly bothered about. Still, it can follow you around like a bad smell and lead to penalties, your parents’ planning consent for an extension being declined, etc.

How to Deal With the Police

It would be best to tell people not to run/scatter if the cops show up. It makes you look guilty of something. They’re not coming to arrest 50 people. Underage drinking and public drug use are what will really mess a renegade over if the cops show up.

Your gatekeepers should be showing the police the binder you have, explaining what measures you’ve taken to make sure that the environment is safe and that illegal activities are not taking place. At least until the person in charge can get to the gate and deal with them. 

This includes special wristbands for under 18/21’s, bag checks, off-duty EMTs, security, event insurance, etc. 

If it’s a noise complaint, then you show them the documentation you have on current laws that says there is no noise ordinance. 

Something I didn’t mention before is that if you fail to find a venue in an area without a noise ordinance, then you should be very familiar with the exact terms of the law, and if you’re lucky, there might be a stated decibel level in the ordinance. 

If there is, you can pick up a sound level meter on Amazon and have it at the gate to show that your event does not exceed the stated noise levels in the ordinance.

While the cops are at the gate, it can be helpful to stealthily notify your guests that the police are in the area and could be doing a drive-through (if you’re at a campground anyway). 

People should be discouraged from publicly doing illegal things anyway (that’s what your security team is for). Because if the police do a drive-by and see an illegal activity taking place, the party is probably over.

Tray Fiddy

Tray has come to terms with the fact he will probably never be a famous DJ.... but that hasn't stopped him from mixing and researching audio equipment. Tray has over 12 years of experience DJing at home and events.

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