The Latest Rave (Hard, The Shrine, Last Bit Of October 2011)
Editor's Note: "The Latest Rave (Hard, The Shrine, Last Bit Of October 2011)" is part of Michael Juliani's poetic series, "From Young Rooms."
(After): This weekend nobody died, as far as I know. Today it’s the day after Halloween, All Saints’ Day if you’re Christian and into solemnities.
(Ecstasy): The rave, I’m sure, transcends a lot of doubt the way a surreal work of art enlivens simple feelings. The costumes, drugs, recommended filth and flailing dancing—it points toward the release of senseless desires, the kinds that appear in dreams and embarrass you when you wake up to a wall that reminds you of your mother or the norm. Raves are Halloween (which has become scandalous itself) turned on raw by libido, sweat glands, testosterone and estrogen and all the intersections of the two (not to mention a bit of hyperactive, exhausted spinal fluid).
To say that everyone who went to Hard skyrocketed on drugs is a bit of an overreaction. An ex-girlfriend of mine went two years ago sober as Nancy Reagan (she had plans to work in the government and wanted extremely clean pee) but she’s that kind of person—put her in a room with vibrancy and all the endorphins go to her eyes to sparkle.
Ambulances, two of them different colors, park on opposite sides on the street behind the Shrine, face opposite directions as if they’ll have to leave at the same time. “This isn’t music, this is just noise,” a lot of Facebooks say, while a lot of others contain all CAPS and !!!!! to indicate how good it sounds to them. I knew someone, the ex-girlfriend’s best friend, whose instincts had been so instilled by her experiences “rolling” on Ecstasy that exposure to the heavy thump of bass and electric rhythms set her face into a cult-like trance of pure excitement and giddiness. It was like a hypnotist had snapped his fingers, it changed her instantly as if waking her up to a doll’s consciousness. A smart girl, too, Pre-Law.
The cliché fear of Ecstasy remains the vivid image that it’s like “taking ice cream scoops out of your brain.” It lies on the more serious side of narcotic divisions that young people create and stick to: it’s chemical rather than organic, a pill or capsule rather than inhaled herbs. People who can scratch E off their list (and/or keep scratching) carry a heavier credence in the party world than those who come boozed-up or stoned on boring old weed and hash. I think people like it because it’s a hardcore drug you can use periodically (heroin, meth, coke are all obviously hazardous to the splitting of self-respect—they tend to become part of the continual condition).
Modern “molly,” as it’s nicknamed, is often laced with meth and sometimes even heroin and god knows what else. With an aerial view of a rave, breathing hot dog and popcorn air, cigarette remnants, and neon light, you must consider the possible ingredients in all those bloodstreams. Everything that’s popular and lucrative has more authentic antecedents. Raves used to be totally underground, held in factories and unmonitored (purposefully) by any kind of health board, permit organization, or security force.
How mixed those early ravers, ten or twenty years older now, must feel about the phenomena of stadiums charging $75 a head, preppy DJs styled as mixed bags of popular culture, the phenomena of L.A. Times articles on dead 15-year-old girls, dehydration, noise pollution, noise violence.
People say that the old factory/garage raves were avenues for creeps and rapists, a few strong stories creating a stereotype—like the one about the people who walked around pricking stoned people with HIV-infected needles.
(The wall said “HARDER” in lights that lit a letter at a time): At the corner a guy with spindly arms and legs thinned and elongated by a t-shirt with short sleeves and long shorts with knee-high socks took the cigarette from behind his ear, lit it from his mouth, and swore at the 10-second countdown of red numbers on the pedestrian scale. I stepped back from him nervous he might accidentally spit on my shoes.
His arms and the arms of his friends were lined with “candy,” the glowing beaded bracelets frequent ravers make and share in order to create community and commemorate the many functions they've been to.
The Hard versions of raver kids distinguish themselves from the one-timers like nocturnal animals do from anything active during the day—the ravers have sunken eyes, candle wax skin, a level of physical distortion either to their hair or in the ornaments in their skin. They look “damaged,” but also seem to have more of a life than you, more of a place, an obvious niche that tingles the bone bell of envy in the pedestrian on the curb who’s going to get a Friday night time-filler coffee or to meet a friend he doesn’t expect to wow him. They hop from rave to rave. There’s at least one big one every season.
They’re now forced to contend with the wealthy student crowds who dip into their psyches for the erotic nymphlike costumes, the Disney character exploitations, the one ghost ride on E to find bliss in a stranger’s eyes and then ruin their Sunday empty of serotonin and leg strength.
The DJs like being God at the helm of a party. They’re like frat boys with an outlet. The subculture carries a subconscious Orwellian bind that holds the thousands of personal freedoms in images and sounds that to a sober, distanced person couldn’t be more predictable. A lot of the music runs in a loop of build-ups and breakdowns, explosions—pop songs chopped and interwoven to an odd stimulation because you expect their certain climaxes from all the times you’ve heard them on the radio. People cheer loudest at the recognizable hooks that appear, quickly to be morphed and taken away.
Three stacked rows of port-a-potties in the back of the parking lot yard, all the ravers pressed together toward the stage like garbage compressed in a truck. The audience turns into a choral reef jumping and shaking, interspersed with neon twirling that indicate a “light show,” when someone moves their glow-in-the-dark fingers in front of your eyes to help you hallucinate.
Two sections of tents against the Shrine wall say “WATER” in big red blocks to direct the staggering to what the organizers want you to want so you don’t need hospital rehydration/bad press. I’m sure they hand it out free.
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