Underground raves have been popping up all over San Diego and most are happening under freeway ramps or tunnels.

These sort of unsanctioned rave parties have been around for decades, but recently they’ve caught the attention of authorities. San Diego law enforcement agencies shut down at least four just this year, as NBC 7 reported.

As a photojournalist, I was immediately drawn to the visual possibilities: colorful lights, movement and interesting outfits. I’ve been to my fair share of raves in the past, so I was curious to see what the rave scene looks like today.

Here’s what I saw.

A woman walks through a tunnel wearing a costume to an underground rave in San Diego on Oct. 21, 2023. The location of the rave was well hidden among the city’s tunnels. It was a long and dark walk to get inside. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler
Teenagers and young adults gathered late at night dancing the night away to electronic dance music (EDM) inside the tunnel. Authorities have flagged concerns about the secluded location of these types of events. Officials have said it’s difficult for paramedics and officers to get inside in case of an emergency. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler
A man lights a woman so a friend can take a photo in an underground tunnel. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler
A man holds a fan in the underground tunnel on Oct. 21, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler
Outside the tunnel a man sits in front of his phone while a man sitting next to him helps with lighting on Oct. 22, 2023. While I was getting some fresh air, I heard sirens. I was sure police officers were coming to shut the rave down. Then one man yelled,”That’s not for us.” / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Ariana is Voice of San Diego's multimedia journalist.

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  1. They don’t care about the event, they only want a picture so they can put it online and lie to their family, friends, and acquaintances that they live full and interesting lives because that image is preferable to the one where these kids are all anxiety balls on prescription drugs because they are unable to handle real life.

  2. these have been happening since 2013/2015 that I’m aware of. I heard about them at or not so underground circus The Technomania Circus in Barrio Logan

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