Electronic Music

A contribution by Hans Cousto

The art of experiencing electronic music in a pleasurable way is mostly passed on in a ritualized form by experienced partygoers to inexperienced interested people. The first party in a techno club or at a festival often has the character of a ceremonial initiation into previously unimagined dimensions of consciousness. The transcendental and mystical experiences triggered by the hours of ecstatic dancing, as well as the changes in perception and consciousness experienced during this process, often have a formative influence on the development of the personality. Therefore it is an advantage if the older people who introduce the young people to the party culture are experienced and trustworthy partygoers in order to be able to guide the novices safely and gently to their self-imposed goal.

The transcendental experience perceived in an ecstatic dance ritual often exceeds the limits of previous experience and the previously sensually recognized. The word transcendent is a composition of the Latin verb scandere (to climb, to ascend, to ascend to something) and the preposition trans (beyond, over). Transcendence is a process of a temporary nature in which one can go far beyond everyday consciousness, but the state of altered consciousness is always temporary. In contrast, transformation, change, reconfiguration or remodelling is a permanent change in the structures and functions of consciousness.

A boundless rapture in harmony with the highest enthusiasm is often experienced on a dance floor in a state of ecstasy. The term ecstasy was borrowed in the 16th century from the equivalent Church Latin word ecstasis (Greek ékstasis: to look out, to get out of sight, to rapture). Ecstasy is a transcendental experience and is characterized by a rapture of the mind from all sensory impressions as well as by the absence of the contrast between the outside world and the self. The ecstatic person experiences, without the use of his/her senses, the immediate fusion with the divine that is inherent in him/her. Dancers report experiences that are surprisingly very similar or even equal to those reported by devout believing Christians after the experience of a sacrament.

The practices of the dance culture to electronic music generally take place collectively in special cultural spaces (clubs, festival grounds) and are regarded by the practitioners of ecstatic dance culture as an integral part of their life culture or cultural heritage. The art of ecstatic dance as well as the associated rites are still passed on from one generation to the next. The rites are constantly being recreated by communities and groups in their confrontation with their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and they convey a feeling of identity and continuity to those who participate in them. In this way, the different rites in clubs and at festivals help to promote respect for cultural diversity and human creativity. According to the definition in the UNESCO Convention, the rites from the field of electronic dance music are thus clearly part of the World Cultural Heritage and thus also belong to the scope of protection of the UNESCO Convention.

Hans Cousto

Hans Cousto, musicologist, mathematician, psychonauticist and author of books, was born in 1948 in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. He has lived and worked in Berlin for many years. He is co-founder of the association Eve&Rave, which was founded in Berlin in 1994 and pioneered, among other things, drug-checking.

Already in the late 1970s he discovered the so-called Cosmic Octave, to which he dedicated many years of his life. He has also made a name for himself as an author of non-fiction books. His most famous publications are “Das Weltkulturerbe Psychonautik – Ein drogenpolitisches Manifest” (eng. The World Cultural Heritage Psychonautics – A Drug Policy Manifesto) and “Psychonautik, Hedonismus und Ekstase” (eng. Psychonautics, Hedonism and Ecstasy), both published by Nachtschatten Verlag, and “Die Kosmische Oktave – Der Weg zum universellen Einklang” (eng. The Cosmic Octave – The Path to Universal Harmony), published by Synthesis.

BiographyNachtschatten VerlagLecture

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