Blue and Green
Blue and green visuals rain down on the far wall's projection screens. Markus Schulz at 1 to 4 am. Avalon, Hollywood.
A real all nighter.
You don't always know what to expect when you go out to an event. Sometimes it's a super social experience. Sometimes you just spend it with you and the music. I hope tonight works out well. I am testing a new social group – me, Geisha, L, and D. We've never partied all together before, so tonight's like a first date. Some people get really crazy when they party, you know? Wandering off, like butterflies amongst flowers. Some people kinda break down and have to be babied. Hopefully everyone's gonna get along and it'll be great.
Geisha is worried that our bags will be searched. I tell her we all should be fine. Most clubs don't pat you down. Jesus, this is Hollywood. Not some grimy underground rave. Upscale, people, we're talking upscale. I hope.
Walk out of the parking lot, feeling snazzy. Geisha is looking fabulous. Geisha and L's heels make the typical 'pok-pok' sound as they strut down the street. We had laughed in the car on the way here that dancing in heels is like eating chocolate. Sexy but you can't do it too long. And we're here for an allnighter. My heart drops when I see the line. But a bouncer says “Back of the line, and find the presales guy.” This apparently means something. And at the Avalon, it does! Not only do we skip the line, but we get EXPRESS entry! Note to self: please do this again.
L and Geisha are ecstatic over not waiting in line. D and I smile at their little happy dances. I am buzzing already off the pre-workout drink I took. Taurine is a great chemical.
We swagger into the little side room that serves as a lounge and waiting area. Darkness envelopes us like a warm bathrobe after a hot shower. The venue smells of perfume, pheromones, and leather. I lead the way, having been here before. There's a passageway into the main floor that I go down, and with a dramatic flair, I exclaim “Ta da!” as they oogle the lights, the balcony, and the awesome beats already coming out of the DJ booth.
I have left the next part barely edited, for as the night wore on, my chemically enhanced creativity seemed to kick in.
Bathroom break time! The maroon-red wall holds me up and I hold it up. We have an understanding. Everyone here is wearing cheap club wear: bebe, Express, or something similar. It must be casual Saturdays though, because a smarmy guy walks by, woefully underdressed in an overly large button down shirt, chino slacks, and sandals. And, by the look of it, not a hint of a pedicure.
Avalon has a trap, in case you didn't know. The exit lets you out...but you can"t come back in. D and I laugh as people make this mistake over and over, despite the bouncers urging – and a huge crowd gathers around the entrance, shouting and frustrated. Haaaa, losers. You gotta know that when you're at Avalon. But they don't. They end up getting trapped in the upstairs' balcony area, which is great for watching, but sucks for dancing. We had already strolled up there, taken some pictures, and were ambling back to the dance floor. An hour ago. Now there's a clamoring, perfumed mass of people wearing somewhat nice clothes, and acting like children about to get free ice cream cones on a hot day. Feeling somehow smart, we walk back in to the dance floor, smirking at them. But now its time to dance.
Ten minutes into the dancing. I am already sweating – perhaps its from the pre-workout pump up drink I had. This always happens: I dance, and I sweat balls. Not cool.
Fifteen minutes in: I look around, hoping security won't mind if I take my shirt off. I quickly remove the shirt and stuff my vest into my jean's rough belt loop. This is how I always end up – topless, with a shirt or vest for “decency” once I step off the floor. Seriously, I don't know why I need to wear good clothes for a rave. I am wearing my nicer jeans, but they get just as soaked as everything else in sweat. Geisha sees this after a few minutes and being the awesome person she is, actually takes my t-shirt and folds it into her miniscule, yet bottomless handbag. Muses bless her.
An hour in. The beat makes your arm hair tingle. It is as if happiness itself travels up your spine. You feel the bass in your hips, your ears seem to have a life of their own. You don't care what people think of your dancing. You move to the music because it tells you to, not because you're trying to look cool or sexy.
Life itself seems to condense to the dance. One floor, one moment, one beat that moves you. For the next few hours, you're genuinely happy. You don't care about sex. You don't care about your work. Or that you have less than 3 months income in your savings account. The epitome of zen, in a sense. I'm so happy...if heaven could be here on earth, I've found it...I want to die at a rave...it's the only time I'm really, really happy.
I'm on the floor as I write this. What people don't understand about EDM events is that they are friendly and not scary. Everyone is friendly. However, there is a distinct difference between this crowd and the semi-underground raves I've been to. Where most undergrounds are very friendly, and you actually get to know people, greet them in line, talk to them as you're waiting, and even become friends after, the older club crowd often does not socialize as much.
In many circles, there is also a distinct fear that the rave scene is becoming less and less underground and more mainstream. But other groups believe that good music should be shared, and that no matter what happens, the real raves with their the kandi and plur culture will, remain still underground. Popular culture and the media may twist it, publicize it, and mainstream it, but the purists will stay strong...at least that what we all hope.
My friends in San Francisco introduced me to raving. No drugs, just the grind of dubstep bass, the pounding vibrations of trance and the eclectic sounds of, well, eclectic. It was about the freedom, the catharsis, the heaven. The family atmosphere that exists in the bay area is not as strong here in southern Cali. But where I am, where the music comes from, it releases the happiness that we all strive to find. It's therapy for the stress of the week. The month. Sometimes the year. The rave culture is perhaps the most sane in the world...there's no division inside this fantasy, this alternate world. No religion. Few, if any, cultural boundaries. If only more people in this world could dance together, there would be less war. If Jew, Muslim, Christian, and Atheist can all coexist together for 4 to 12 hours, share friendship, and actually learn about each other, how the worlds problems would fly away! Imagine that – DJs becoming diplomats. Forging a peace treaty because we admire each others talents.
Despite our globalism, despite our Western 1st world superiority, we do not acknowledge this yet. But a day will come, I believe, where the music will bring us together and we will finally realize how it makes is feel as one.
(Geisha, D and L are so awesome. While I write this, they form a slightly protective circle around me, preventing random dancers from slamming into me.)
A rave-name is based on many things...sometimes it's just what comes to mind and what feels good. But at other tines it's hard to find. I am Mystic Reynard. I am by trade, a massage therapist. But at times...I am glad for the mystical side. I just calmed a girl down that was having too strong a trip. Held her hand, my other palm on her heart chakra...I asked the universe to move through me and she calmed down right away. I love my name. Now back to dancing. I never got her name. (Note: I found her through mutual friends after. Lovely person. Now a great friend!)
Three hours in: one great thing about these events is the incredible emotional closeness you feel with people during and after you experience it. However, it sometimes leads to strange effects. A few times, it has made one of my tribe members actually NOT want to be touched. Something of an over stimulation. This proved to be true again, because Geisha later yelled at me, asking not to touch her hair...it's strange because we were touching it before...but everyone's different I suppose. Who knows, right? Strangely enough it felt a bit weird...like a rejection of sorts...again perhaps I'm rather kinesthetic (a byproduct of being a massage therapist) but ya. Made me sad for a bit.
[Added from later conversations with Geisha] Let's take a second to make a small conversational aside here: there are truly several types of ravers. There are ones that feel the music. Serotonin seems to react differently with everyone. Me, I become more kinesthetic than normal. This is typical of many ravers. Geisha and D, however, have the second type of experience – where the music becomes enjoyable, more than the kinesthetic sense. Why this is, I don't know. But it does become somewhat of a differentiation. And now back to our story...
I walk out to the smoking area. Smoking areas are always the impromptu cooling down places in clubs...like a misty oasis of blue (and sometimes purple) haze.
Deep breath, I tell myself. It's just me being emotional. I am unduly frustrated. It's silly. But none the less real. After I calm down, I walk back in. Markus has been spinning our worlds round and round for several hours now. Geisha smiles at me and rubs my back a bit. I try to lose myself to the dance again. However, it doesn't quite make it. I decide to find S, a instant friend we made a few hours ago. I find him, eyes closed, hands low and outstretched, like a mortal receiving the touch of a god. We dance for a while. We barely know each other. But the feeling of mutual friendship is such an amazing experience.
The music goes on.
Friends made over the night: 6 – that's only the ones I found on Facebook after. Not counting the lightshow kid I named (Exist), and his girlfriend. Not counting the British guys that we met, and to whom I gave a bracelet that I had bought in London. I told them that it came from London, and I wanted it to return to London. They smiled at me. I hope they understood me amidst the raging music. British guys dance so strange. Hilariously, one of them mimes caling Markus to ask him to play another song. It doesn't make any difference though, as Markus plays well past 6am.
Markus really does make our world spin round and round. Like a master puppeteer, he knew exactly when to slow the beat down, or give us simplistic groves because we were tired. Then he would bring it back up to a raging party jam. It was supposed to be a 3 hour set, 1am to 4am. By 5am, L is just standing there, utterly tired. D is still going, as is Geisha. I am dancing my heart out, after slowly drinking a Gatorade. Those things really work. Had we not stopped, I would have danced till 7. I'm told that he spun till 7:30am. We stumbled out of the club into the semi-bright morning. 6:30am. The morning sunlight makes us blink in surprise. It's so quiet outside. The only sounds our lambasted ears process is the more important ones. The car coming down the street. The birds singing nearby. A roar of our car engine and our excited loud talking as we begin the drive home.
D pulls up to my house. I don't want to leave. It will be several long weeks before I can see this family of mine again. I hug goodbye to each of them. Geisha's not feeling well. L's passed out next to me on the backseat. The car wheels crunch on the old asphalt as they drive away.
If I close my eyes and try real hard, I can still hear Markus playing. That pulsing beat teasing me like a candy store to a fat kid. “You'll be back,” he's saying, “you'll be back.” Markus, you have no idea. I will be back.
I collapse in my bed at 6:45am. All in all, a great night. I cannot wait for more.
- Jonny #33