Wannabe: Raver

You never really realize how dumb you were as a kid until you find some strange rag in your old room at your parent’s house and you try and jog your memory of what it is and what it entails and you secretly pray this is part of some old life you left behind that was so infinitely exciting and adventurous you couldn’t throw away this one artifact that held an esoteric and personal association but you try and be reserved and restrained in this hope for bringing it into the light may be looked down upon by SuperGod or SuperGod just decided it’s bad luck 5 minutes ago or whatever, and then you realize you played tug-of-war with this rag with a rather obese girl at the WBCN River Rave because Fatboy Slim threw it from his booth seconds after wiping the amphetamine-induced torrent of sweat off his face with it.

I had Technics 1200s with a Vestax PMC-03A. I bought big beat records at Boston Beat and this weirdo drum n’ bass only store upstairs that always had kid smoking joints on the sofa. Those kids were so cool though, and I remember trying to name drop some of the more specialized drum n’ bass artistes that I knew, and I asked if that had that knew “dilluh-hana” record. “Do you mean Dillinja?” Of course. In my impromtu cram session I not only did not remember the correct spelling I also assumed the jumbled constanants in my brain must be pronounced with an exotic soft J, because these are worldly, intelligent folk, and it would be absurd to assume it’s just a “dumb-spell” allusion/coattail ride from notorious gangster John Dillinger.

This was the late 90s/early 2000s and America had techno-fever. The Chemical Brothers were on various soundtracks to computer-related movies, Cassius played in JC Penney, MTV played AMP at 3am on Sundays, life was good. Grunge was on it’s last legs, Ska was discarded like a cheap prostitute to the hilarious dismay of it’s followers, and people weren’t bored enough to restart the garage band. Of course we were a decade behind from the UK, but we’ll let them sort out all the painful innovation from Goldie and Lo-Fidelity All-Starrs and export the Roni Size and Tricky’s, and we’ll, um, repay the debt with the Crystal Method and that Josh Wink song.

I made a very temporary friend of mine go to a rave in Springfield, MA a few weeks into our freshman year of college. He was a little reluctant to because he finally found a girl that like to be strangled as much as he did, but I digress. I saw a flyer and knew he liked ‘the scene’ so we drove out with stilted conversation and made a few half-assed attempts to buy drugs off anyone at our new school who looked like a drug dealer. I think we had one beer in the parking lot the entire night. It’s cool I can get high off the posi-vibes, but Halcyon days there were not. There were gaggles of overweight girls dressed like anime characters continuously prompting each other if they “feel it yet”, chugging water bottles and smoking cigarettes.

Bored cops patrolled the hallways between the ‘chill-out’ rooms, anticipating the multiple overdoses, drug-testing tables, and junkies with superhuman “XTC Strength/homicidal rage” hysteria associated with the scene, raves having been the national media panic/epidemic du jour ever since GO hit theaters. I wonder if there was a special info-dissemination session for the cops assigned to this detail, where they discussed the best way to disable a pack of “E-heads” (aim for the head), why ravers suck on pacifiers (because it’s proof they’ve killed a baby), and how to mentally detox after hours of 140BPM exposure (Budweiser, King of Queens). We both looked at each other and seemed to resonate the same sentiment: “Shit, we missed it.”

There was brief excitement when the audio over the PA contained portions or remnants of a song I like, but it was possibly just feedback, because it’s terribly déclassé to play something popular or known at these places. I was jealous of the way this music affected the minds of these people, the looping beats with some ambient variance was all they needed to feel great and dance all night and ‘connect with their friends’ and ‘build posi-memories’. That and the pharmaceutical seratonin-manipulating leg-up to forget the rampant strangeness around, like the shirtless dude looking to fight someone in the drum n’ bass room despite the fact he’s all by himself and his girlfriend is laying on the ground outside. I still listen to a lot dance music, despite the fact I do very little dancing. It’s cheap, it’s accessible, it’s fun, it’s intended to blend seamless and provide a constant tempo, it works for a variety of solo preoccupations. But saying it’s not just the soundtrack to doing drugs with a lot of other people is when it gets really corny. Get Busy Child!

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