[PREV - RAVES] [TOP]
September 15, 1992
A late VISION...
Sorry if this
is hard to read. (It wasn't easy
to write either.)
I recommend using
something like emacs Or just
to look at it. think of it
as one easy-
I'd been staying away from the expensive raves, but "The
Gathering" folks came highly recommended by some sfravers,
so I thought VISION might be a good one to try.
The end of the message
at the VISION number: I thought: Exactly!
"Peace. Keep it alive." The rave spirit,
such as it is,
seems a fragile thing.
This made my friend
want to vomit.
And I can understand his point of
view. That "Peace" bit turns me
off: it's a very retro, Whatever the sixties were
self-conscious, neo-hippie thing. about, it wasn't nostalgia.
The gas station at the Livermore
exit was overrun with young
ravers that night. I talked with
one of the locals about things:
"What's that big party up
the road...". Oh, just a dance party. (Nothing to worry
about sir. Really.)
"Any live bands?" No, just DJs, playing (Just like a
records. high school dance)
"How far away are people coming Well, we're from Palo (Rich suburbs only.
from?" Alto. No sleazy urban
"They're going to sell lots of Actually there won't be (A non sequitur.
beer here tonight." a lot of alcohol I was playing
there. Because then my tapes at him.
you have to hassle with Got to watch
liquor permits. that...)
Still, it was one happy
Indian dude behind the
cash register, looking
at everyone buying
Talked with some guys in the parking
lot, locals getting off work, they'd
found the bus making a supermarket
stop, and picked up on the energy of
the bus riders. They'd heard that it
was going to be $15 at the door.
It was $20.
This was really annoying, but
We Were There Already, so...
And from the desk you could see
the bright green Argon laser
flashing through the dust and
smoke, behind a long row of
silhouetted pillars. Shadowy
figures were moving around in a
space literally the size of a
few football fields.
We bought tickets. Then I
noticed the no in-and-outs rule.
I tried to ask a security guard if
they'd mind if I brought in some
water bottles. He immediately
assumed I was asking if I could go
out some time later to get them.
And in general he acted like a I worked out a way to smuggle in
serious jerk. (He said, in a low, water inside my leather jacket.
threatening tone: "Are you trying This was completely unnecessary,
to give me a hard time...") If I but the security pinhead had made
hadn't bought my ticket already, I me paranoid.
would have left right then.
Later, inside one of the
porta-cans, by the light
of my flash light, I
found a little wad of You can take this as my
cash lying on the floor. life in microcosm:
Enough to pay for the
evening. To find this money, you needed to
be anal retentive enough to
carry a flashlight around with
you, but not too anal retentive
to pick something up off of a
rather slimy, grimy floor.
Like a friend said to me
once: "You seem like a
weird mixture of laid- And maybe I'm
back and compulsive." also a mix of
Overall my friend was much impressed:
"This looks like a scene from Blade
Runner, except we're *here* we're
walking around in it."
He was also much impressed by
the money involved. You could
practically hear the sound of a
cash register, and see the
dollar signs lighting up his
At least two thousand people,
at $20 each, that's a gate
value of at least $40,000.
He came up with a high
estimate of the costs to the
promoter of around $12K. I tried to argue that
$28K in profit, in one night? he must be underestimating
the costs, probably by
a factor of two or so,
as people often do.
Later, he talked about this with Could there be considerations
various people. Turns out his boss we don't know about, like
knows someone who puts on raves. bribing the authorities?
The guy said he was really nervous
about the first one he put on, but I notice that I know, this
after that he knew he couldn't many ravers is America.
lose. Supposedly it only costs seem to have You can't
about $8K to put on a typical rave. a similar bribe The
The most he's ever made in a night: attitude: Man here,
$65,000. "Hey, the right?
Also, a friend of his knows a guy these are There are crack
in Sacramento who organizes good people, houses out there
raves. This guy is also raking right? They that don't get
in money, using the fact that he wouldn't rip hassled, but
can get DJs to work for him for us off, raves do. Why?
next to nothing, out of right?"
friendship, or for "the good of
the scene" or something. So our first impulse
is to make excuses for
So-- much as I hate being the the $20 cover charges.
voice of doom in rave
paradise-- watch out for
these people. There are
really good guys around, but
there are also people quite
capable of poor-mouthing
about all the money they're
losing so their workers won't
gripe about being paid zilch.
If you believe in free market
capitalism, you expect a certain Someone was saying that one
rough justice in prices. point of the charity rave
Competitive pressures are supposed was to help overcome negative
to force people to bring prices competitive relationships
down to the level of their costs... among promoters.
prices far above costs are supposed
to be unstable. Things like this don't
have such an innocent ring
to my ears.
So what's going on here?
Can we expect the cost of a
rave to drop soon?
Are the major promoters
But what would maintain
the monopoly? (I have similar questions
about CD prices, but that's
What keeps cheaper guys another story.)
Out on the dance floor, Vitamin B
found me, and said something
about how he was afraid this
might have been like a big LA
rave, but it was a lot better,
the people were great, like if
you touch them it was all
right... you know?
I said "sure", but I hadn't known it
until he said it. At that moment,
I realized I was still warming up,
I hadn't quite blended into the An uptightness example:
raviness of the scene yet. There
was a kind of uptight, nightclub On a typical night in
paranoia going on in my head that the Underground, I
disappeared instantly. was shirtless but
still dripping with
sweat. One of the
women working there
put her arms around me
and hugged me. So, I
start thinking things
like "does she want
to sleep with me, or
is she hustling for
tips or what?"
At a rave there wouldn't
be that sense about it.
She just hugged me,
I said hello to some other
sfravers, and I wound up
over in front of the left Compulsive: I've always
speaker column. Time to put got a handful of disposable
my ear plugs in. ear plugs in my jacket.
Still more compulsive:
I've almost always got
my jacket with me, no matter
how hot or awkward it is.
Dancing in front of the speakers
was an experience in itself.
Moving your head completely
changed the sound.
Up is treble down is bass...
Dancing where your physical
attitude controls what you
With my head right hear...
down in front of
the woofers, it I can imagine a literal
was easy to hear a "sonic space", sound
buzzing distortion beamed in different
with each beat. places so that the
motion of dancing through
So yeah, it would provide the
the only modulation for the
been A subjective interactive
cleaner. experience. The true anti-
thesis of "performance".
I could feel each
beat on my out stretched Which could of course be
hands, like regular made objective (simply
gusts of wind. recorded?) and used as
a musical instrument.
Other people were crowded
around the speakers.
Acoustic energy junkies, A full-body theremin?
who like to feel the sound
against their skin.
One girl was leaning into
the speakers face first,
feeling the vibrations on
her body, while a guy-
friend caressed her from
Interesting people there all
right... But am I really one
of them? They were all
without ear plugs...
I was getting tired of the weight of
a can of jolt cola banging on my
hip. My friend didn't want any, so
I went over to the the next circle
of people in the "chill" region.
I started talking to the guys,
rather then the girls to diffuse any
anti-pick-up paranoia. "Do you
want some of this?" I said, and
opened it in front of them so they (Just bringing something
could see that it had been sealed. to give away is such an
The guys turned me down, but the easy thing to do, but
girls on my left took it from me. people are so impressed
And one of them says "Can I ask you by it... "Thanks a lot,
something? Is there any acid in that was really cool...")
Later on, a tall, pretty, dark-skinned
girl wearing a silver back-pack came
by and smiled at me again, and
offered me a drink of her Cranberry
juice. I said "Is this straight?"
as I took a sip. It took her a
moment to figure out what I was
asking, but then she was emphatic
"No, no, there's nothing funny in it!"
Maybe there's more drug paranoia
than drugs around.
Not far from the speaker column,
a woman started doing things
like clearing a space in the
crowd, and getting people to I've got no problem with
play catch with a couple of silly ice-breaking games,
water bottles with glow-toys and I'm a great joiner-inner,
inside them. so I start playing along.
Just as we were getting into
playing catch, then she
suddenly decides that that's So I could see that she could
enough, it's time for be annoying... I began to
something else. suspect she was really
getting off on control as
much as anything else.
Playing Queen of the Rave.
(But then, this is
the kind of issue
I'm sensitive to:
She makes another clearing in I'm often attracted
the crowd, and gets a friend to to people who are
play this little game where dominant, but I have
they hyperventilate, then both no interest in
stand facing each other, being submissive...)
squeezing each other's necks
until one goes unconscious and
She comes up to me and tells r
me to hyperventilate, as a
though I'm going to join her n
in this game. g
I joined in as a spotter, instead: l
I was one of the people who caught a
them as they fell. Mostly I was t
catching the Rave Queen herself, i
and she fell a *lot*. They did o
this dozens of times, and she was n
always the one to go under first. .
Her group of freinds tried .
variations of this. Can you .
get four people to do it .
in a circle, a hand from .
two different people on .
each side of your neck? .
They wound up with two crossed .
pairs of people: four people .
at once. So then we were .
short of spotters. .
I tried to recruit some people. .
There were a couple of guys .
dancing behind me. I said .
"These people are playing some .
strangulation games." They .
laughed, shook their heads and .
help up their hands in the .
"hold it" gesture and backed (I'm more anal retentive .
off a bit. I said "No, no, than some, but not as much .
just catch them!" They still as others...) .
backed off. I gave up. .
An old sexual
It features heavily in
"In The Realm of The
Senses", a bizarre
Vaughn Bode -- an early underground movie I've always
comic artist -- died doing this, liked.
using an "automatically" releasing (A sound track
bondage device that failed to from this would
release. be great for a
It's a controversial topic in
places like alt.sex.bondage:
some say it's far too
dangerous to ever consider,
others say that if someone is
really into it, they're going
to do it, so you should
explain ways of minimizing
(A different version
of the safe sex vs.
I'd heard about people doing this
only once in a non-sexual
context. A stupid-things-we-did-
I'd never seen anyone do it
Seemed kind of twisted, but I
suppose it's a more direct
route to hypoxia than say,
sniffing glue, or inhaling
It wasn't likely these people
were going to seriously hurt
themselves. They had some
decent safety features worked However, hyperventilating
out, like the fact that they first strikes me as bullshit.
were standing up, so that you Okay, so you oxygenate your
would fall away from the system first, but you won't go
hands that were pressing on unconscious until your brain
your cartoid arteries. is starved for oxygen, so
possibly do much more than
Even so, I can imagine some delay the onset of
catastrophic failure modes, unconsciousness.
e.g. a clueless catcher does
too good a job of holding you If this game is supposed to be
up, while a slightly dazed competitive (see who passes out
(or unconsciously homicidal?) first), then hyperventilating
partner squeezes you a bit makes sense as a defensive
too long... measure...
What bothers me a bit more about A game where you'd have an
this is the possibility of doing advantage if you happened to
minor, almost unnoticeable know some "pressure breathing"
damage. Be kind to your brain techniques for mountaineering.
cells, I say.
But more than this, I just don't get
the point. I *like* being conscious.
Except of course... the very fact
that it's so extreme makes it work
as a ritual of trust and bonding.
Anyway, I think what I
should've done was direct
them toward a different game.
Some guys near by were dancing
with women on their shoulders.
I could've tried talking this I don't know why I didn't
one Buff Dude in the strangler's exactly... except that I was
circle into picking up his having trouble getting their
partner, and I could've tried attention, and it isn't easy to
to pick up the Queen. This is communicate twenty feet away
a game with much of the same from the speakers. Or maybe I
features -- trust, physical felt intimated by The Queen,
contact -- but I much prefer it and I knew it wasn't my place
to the strangulation ritual. to give her orders.
All in all this was an interesting rave...
I'm much greatful to the folks on the
list who recommended it. But I think I'll
stick to the under $20 range in the future.
I was trying to remember what my first raves were:
First: Golden Gate Park, one Sunday afternoon
Second: A Full Moon Rave -- In August. The route 80/richmondesque site.
By the Wicked posse, of course.
Third: Connection. (the first major sfraves event, at Bonny Doon)
Fifth: The Charity Rave -- Afternoon in GG Park at the Bandshell
Sixth: Alternity (an sfraves event, basement of 1015 Folsom I think)
Seventh: Stand-up -- a Saturday GG Park rave.
Eight: October Full Moon Rave
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