If you’re in search of a place to revel in music, moments and memes, the Shrek Rave is the place to be.
With this being my first rave, I had no idea what to expect. In this ethnographic study, I explore the rave scene by becoming one with the thump and embracing the opportunities for exploration being granted to me.
The best way I could describe the Shrek Rave is by likening it to a high school dance. While that statement may come across as scathing, for context I went to a high school that actually put on enjoyable events. The sold-out show was hosted at The Regency Ballroom on October 7, 2022. With a max capacity of 1,400 attendants, compared to my high school’s student population of ~2,700, the whole aura of the night felt familiar to me.
Similar to my high school dances, most of those who attended the Shrek Rave dressed according to the occasion. My favorite one is probably the most simple, but I was a giggling mess every time I came across the person wearing that giant, inflated Gingy costume. I was also a big fan of those who fully committed to the bit by dressing up as the man of the moment, green body paint and all. A moment I found funny is that while the bathroom proved to be a bit crowded, the line was being formed around one person who was doing their body paint.
The music was a good mix of the remixed hits of today and the certified club bangers that defined yesteryear, including one of the many hallmarks of Shrek, “All Star” by the San Jose legends, Smash Mouth, which was played at least three times that night in different variations. I was expecting to hear more aggressive beats with drops that induce astral projection, but regardless of that I was still able to release my inhibitions by dancing with my tall self in my 3 inch boots.
What really made the night for me were the people. The slogan emblazoned on all Shrek Rave promos, “It’s dumb just come have fun!”, as laconic as it is, it really does capture the essence of that night. It really did feel like a place where anyone could come as they are – a place where mutual respect is already a given, and never betrayed. Expanding on that note, there was a moment when deindividuation got the best of me, as a mosh pit formed behind me during one of the songs. I have never been in a mosh pit before, let alone thrash about in shoes that are an evident tripping hazard, but I thought “Carpe diem!” and involved myself in the commotion. I had no clue what I was doing, where I was going, nor could I control either of those decisions, and wound up slipping on someone’s beverage and falling right on my behind, glasses and everything. I was lucky that my glasses weren’t stepped on, and immediately someone came to my aid and helped me up. But I would definitely do that all again. I woke up the next morning with a gnarly bruise, and it was sooooo worth it! And throughout the night, the energy never died. During moments of personal stillness, I could feel the floor shake.
Onto miscellaneous notes about the event, I noticed that at around 11:00 PM, the crowd started to dwindle down. I theorized that it could be due to BART stopping its service at midnight, and the venue being about a 15-minute walk from the Civic Center station. I myself had to call it a night at 11:30 PM because I still had to drive back home to San Jose and make it to work the next morning. But even with people having to leave early, the vibrancy of the crowd never wavered. Ka5sh, the founder of the Shrek Rave, also brings out local DJs whenever they bring the event to your area. The Regency Ballroom itself was a great venue. Its intimate nature corresponds well to the vibe of the Shrek Rave, and I couldn’t picture the event being in a different venue. Extra points for having great staff, an easy check-in process, and clean bathrooms.
I’m part of the generation that witnessed the organic memeification of the already established cultural phenomenon my peers and I grew up with. We’re the generation that had Shrek and Shrek-adjacent movies premiering throughout the formative years of our childhoods. That said, Shrek is an icon we hold dear to our hearts. It was clear that those attending the Shrek Rave were there to enjoy the nostalgia, and that sense of togetherness we share in moments like these are really what Shrek is all about.
Shrek is love, Shrek is life.
Written by Joseph Edwards