What Became of Manila’s Squad-Based Rave Culture?

Before the onset of the pandemic, the rave scene in Manila was a multifaceted network of ravers originating from different cities in the metropolitan area. This intricate web of party-goers began with the establishment of RAVE.PH and NMR during the emergence of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) in the Philippines in 2014. Over the years, the community grew as smaller groups were formed “squads” based on geographical location and shared interests.

However, these squads were much more than mere assemblages of revelers; they represented brotherhoods formed through a shared passion for music and nightlife. In this community, they frequented festivals, local bars, and clubs, partaking in shared experiences and building lasting friendships. #PLUR

As the community grew, it also developed a competitive edge, leading to online feuds and rivalries that further fueled their involvement in the rave scene. Despite this, the scene remained tight-knit, with shared experiences and a passion for the music bringing people together.

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Images that you can hear.

Before the pandemic, Manila’s rave squads consisted mainly of young music and nightlife enthusiasts. However, as time passed, many members grew up and became adults more focused on making a living, particularly during the pandemic. This shift in priorities led to the discontinuation of the tradition of keeping these squads together, as members no longer had the same time or energy to devote to squad-based rave culture.

Squad culture was not unique to Manila alone; it was present in various parts of the world. The concept of squads in the rave scene started in the underground dance scene and quickly spread to other parts of Asia.

Manila's Squad-Based Rave Culture

One of the unique features of squad-based rave culture was the strong support for local DJs. DJs were not just performers but also friends and members of the community. They were integral to the squad culture, providing the music that brought people together. Some like the Philippine Shuffle Squad and Luminescence were even incorporated into the actual performance on stage, making the experience even more thrilling and distinctive.

The pandemic had a significant impact on the nightlife industry, resulting in a major shift in the dynamics of squad-based rave culture. With no parties, festivals, or raves, the traditional way squads operated was disrupted. The pandemic brought in a new party-goers more interested in socializing and escaping their daily lives, replacing party-goers who attended events for the experience.

Dan Calingo of Hell Squad

These new party goers were more transient. They were more interested in attending events to take Instagram-worthy photos than immersing themselves in the music and culture. This shift in party culture has led to a decline in the squad-based rave scene in Manila, once a significant part of the city’s nightlife.

Squad-Based Rave

Despite differences in squad culture between Manila and other countries, there were similarities in how squads were formed and operated. The culture was built on a sense of community, where individuals with a passion for music and nightlife came together to form a brotherhood. Squads were not just groups of people who attended events together but also friends who hung out outside parties.

The support for local DJs was also present in different regions, as it was in Manila. DJs were the lifeblood of the rave scene, playing an important role in the squad culture. They were viewed as cultural icons who had a significant impact on the electronic music scene, like ManilaBombSquad and Those Damn Nerds, who actively involved various rave squads in their big events, or just casually hanging out and drinking at someone’s rooftop.

Manila's Squad-Based Rave Culture

All in all, the pandemic has significantly impacted the squad-based rave culture in Manila and worldwide. The once-vibrant community has been disrupted, and the future of squad-based rave culture remains uncertain. However, it’s essential to remember the unique culture that existed and hold onto memories of the pre-pandemic era. As the world gradually returns to normal, perhaps a new generation will create a new type of squad-based rave culture, one that honors the past while embracing the future.

Memorable mentions: Neverland Manila, Hydro Manila, Chroma, Raveolution, BASS N’ BACON, YoungGunz,Cove Manila, Chaos, House Manila, In-House, Close Up Forever Summer, Unleashed, ADHOC, Road to Ultra PH, Valkyrie/Palace, Maskipaps, Happy T at Taft, URBN QC, Rave Manila, Hell Squad, Team Lowkey, Solo Ravers Unite, iPlur, Team Solo, BLVKVRMY, Gang Vibes Ph, Lipadcrew, Hydro Manila Splashmob, No Ego, Chai Cruz, Nick Hernandez, Drew Reyala, CB Bautista, Kevil Pableo, Art Oca, Ace Ramos,…comment below if we are missing a name.

Featured Image: Hydro Manila Music Festival – Sai Zacarias
In-Between Article: Young Gunz / Chroma Music Festival – JaCas
In-Between Article 2: Hydro Manila Music Festival – JM Gonzales


Hey, I'm a music producer, DJ, and event curator for BASS N' BACON, and run a record label. I can speak English, Tagalog, and Bisaya, and I enjoy writing about music and culture. Whether it's through my music or writing, I bring a unique perspective and lots of experience to every project I do. Thanks for checking out my work!

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