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Sunday October 31st, 2010

A Californian fad has made it's way to Canada, and it's causing some alarm among Suburban puritans. This fad is the Raver Code, an off-shoot of the ancient handkerchief code that was made popular by the San Francisco gay community.

The handkerchief code, which sometimes goes by the name "hanky code", "bandana code" and the more prosaic term "flagging", is a way for gay men looking for casual sex to let other guys know what they're erotic interests are. Want to anally fist a dude? Wear a red bandana in your left back pocket. Looking for a guy to fist you? Wear the red bandana in your right back pocket.

Handkerchief colors and patterns indicate what sexual act you're interested in, while the placement in the left and right back pocket tells other hanky coders that you're either a top or a bottom, respectively.

The raver code first reared its head in the late 90s, right at the height of the dot-com boom. The West Coast nerds mingled with the gay community, and a couple of them fell in love with the hanky code. They started throwing hanky raves -- parties where hedonists of all stripes and colors could buy handkerchiefs to advertise their particular peccadilloes, making it a snap for the well paid geeks to hook up.

The hanky ravers soon realized though, that buttons were cheaper to make then bandanas and, unlike bandanas, they could also be combined. It was far easier to wear five buttons, each denoting a different sexual vice, then it was to wear five handkerchiefs. The ravers devised a new button code based on the old hanky code, and the button raves became the new hanky raves. These parties were always small, exclusive affairs, but over the last few years they've started to catch on and spread throughout the rest of the world.

The raver code uses standard one inch buttons that have an outer border and an inner color or pattern. The border color indicates if a person is top, bottom, or switch. The inner color indicates what sexual act the button wearer is interested in. The buttons are often worn on hats, shirts, and occasionally pants.

Most of the time ravers don't bother to use buttons to denote their sexual orientation, they just wear buttons for the acts they're interested in. However, four buttons are sometimes worn to denote sexual orientation -- a pink and blue intertwined triangle for bisexuals, a male and female symbol interlinked for heterosexuals, two male symbols intertwined for gays, and two female symbols intertwined for lesbians.

Button parties have been held in places like Paris, Berlin, London, Tokyo, Vancouver, and, just recently, Montreal.

One of the newest additions to the raver code are drug letters. These are buttons with letters on them that let the wearer tell people the drugs they have to sell, and the drugs they'd like to buy. When wearing a drug button, only two colors are used for borders -- white borders for people who want drugs and black borders for people who have drugs. The inclusion of drug symbols has piqued the interest of police forces around the world, who worry that the raver code will make it easier than ever for teenagers to get high.

The chart below is a sample of some of the button colors and patterns that make up the raver code.
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