Telekom Electronic Beats

A Techno Veteran Explains Why People Whistle At Parties

Like a golf clap for techno.

We’ve all been there: dancing in front of speakers listening to a DJ who’s doing their job well. As the tension builds, a chorus of foreign sounds seem to fill out the music. No, that’s not your ears ringing from the blaring techno. All around you people have fingers or pieces of plastic in their mouths, whistling.

While the ’90s may have been peak whistle era, the sound has become symbolic of proper peak-time rave madness. It signifies the dance floor’s appreciation of a mix well done. It’s the rave equivalent to a golf clap.

So why the whistle? A Reddit thread has emerged that tackles this often neglected issue. A Redditor by the name of “lakeeffectoperative” has provided a rather helpful—if a little subjective—folk history that breaks down how the rave whistle came to be.

As they tell it, the story actually began on the other side of the stage as a way for acts like CyberSonik, P909 and even early Underground Resistance, to whip up the crowd. With a bit of time, the whistle sound migrated from the stage to the dance floor. Keen ravers adopted it as an alternate form of applause. In the late ’90s, the sound was beefed up with the use of actual whistles, before being largely abandoned by millennial techno heads.

So when you hear a whistle on a dance floor near you, keep in mind that you’re hearing almost 30 years of tradition! Read the entire Reddit thread here.

Read more: Watch rare ’92 footage of Underground Resistance tearing up a rave