Rave culture is dead. I don’t care what you say; there is no sense of community or camaraderie in NYC that has not been squished into sewer rat roadkill by money, the need for money, the need to use money to pay rent to rent out your rave-space, etc.
You get what you pay for. If you’re paying fifty bucks to get into a rave, prepare to pee in a filthy plastic toilet covered in slime and to drink bottom shelf liquor that will leave you contemplating suicide the next morning.
I did dance. Though my descriptions are long and lacking any indication that I danced, I did do a good deal of dancing. I am not a total scrooge, only mostly.
The crowd of people paying fifty dollars to get into this super-awesome-super-creative-oh-my-god-so-wonderful-and-outer-space-unicorns-forever party are mostly vanilla cubicle dwellers who will try to sexually molest you because they don’t know how to handle their liquor and/or drugs.
A small group of us congregate at an apartment in Bushwick to put the finishing touches on our outfits, which are more like costumes, and though we are always in all stages of life wearing costumes these are more blatant, more shameless, freer from judgment of being too strange and under pressure of judgment of not being strange enough. We take acid from tiny vials of liquid and chew up tiny squares of paper and the girls change clothes four, five times, parade around in their underwear, drink shots of tequila and vodka, and wait for something to happen.
Someone asks me if I know if a DJ named Shpongle has gone on yet and if he even got into the country and if he’s still stuck at the airport because it’s after midnight and we’re still waiting for a few people to show up and I don’t know the answer. I’ve never even heard his music before but his name alone will come to represent my disdain for everything I will feel disdain for in the evening to come.
When we arrive, two of the other DJs have already played and I have a feeling it won’t make a difference because I don’t care about dubstep and a few of the girls lament at the thought of missing Shpongle, and I keep thinking sponges and smuggle a plastic glass out of the apartment into the cab ride over.
Outside the warehouse, it is dark and a handful of stiff, indifferent security guards stand demanding IDs and tickets and hand us our wristbands. Bags go unchecked and by unchecked I mean each patron is asked to open their bag as they stroll past security and whatever lies beneath their coat is left unseen. I immediately regret not bringing more vodka. It is the bottom shelf for me from here on out.
Hundreds of people stomp and slide and stagger across the wet concrete floor which glistens with alcohol and sweat and more water than is normal for most parties and they’re jumping up and down, grinding their crotches on one another with spastic movements through shiny sequined pants and fuzzy short skirts. A section of lone amateur ninjas move in slow motion dances alone in the back of the crowd.
We retreat to the corner where ten foot high crystal formations have been fashioned from wire and thin fabric and lit from the inside out with light pinks, soft yellows, lavenders. A dirty white sheet surrounds the floor beneath them and we sit.
To the left is an unlit pile of debris which is guarded, blocked off by metal police barriers and it is among that wreckage I hide my dirty blue sweater, a thing I brought for the cold and expected to lose. Beyond that is a makeshift hallway of paper and white poster board lined with rapidly flashing silver lights which move at seizure inducing speeds to universally assault the senses of the inebriated regardless of what they have taken.
Through that hallway is a dark section of warehouse, quieter and dedicated to a few dozen hammocks crafted from ropes and elastic fabrics to look like alien nests, vibrant underwater networks of green and yellow spongy organisms. Arms and legs dangle out of them all askew, and a crowd of patiently jealous onlookers sit behind the small village, waiting for a some warm and sweaty spot to open up and accept them.
Behind the bar and to the side of the black hole hallway is a small doorless room whose walls are constructed of many small television screens piled atop one another, glowing the same ambient colors as the crystals we sit beneath. People wander through it, pressing their faces against the colors, reaching out to touch the screens.
3AM and everyone is on drugs. The men have grown aggressive, restless with substance and desire and assuming the same of everyone else, groping and inappropriate.
What can be said about the bathrooms? It amazes and amuses me that the bathroom area is a corner stacked with port-a-potties side by side, each filled more than halfway with shit and piss and vomit and wet paper towels and empty bottles and each sprayed all over with piss fermenting in the heat and everything is wet and trash rustles as you step into any of these dark little vessels. This is what we have all paid $50 for, these tiny cells of excrement. That and bottom shelf liquor.
At 5 in the morning the party is mostly MDMA veterans but among them are tired wanderers and first timers, a boy in the smoke-filled backyard that is devoid of fresh air is mumbling about telling his friends they could leave without him, it’s his first time on Molly, he’s not going home yet, he’s going to stay and party, he’s got to take a piss.
This is what raves have become: overpriced and loveless rooms filled with lost and flailing childlike adults, amazed to be anywhere in contrast to their offices and the nearby bars they are used to, and college students embracing the whole thing as some sort of profound art. But it’s cheap and awkward and filthy and the filth is the only part of it that makes me feel comfortable and I wander through the crowd alone, tiptoeing through makeshift aisles of trash and empty bottles and crushed up plastic cups and soot from the warehouse floor and cellophane wrappers, through the more sparsely populated area of land behind the crowd that is peppered with fake ninjas and their slow motion Matrix dance movies, all with comically somber looks on their faces, swaying like strange little trees in a foggy field, those of them who are coming down standing still and wide eyed with exhaustion and resistance among their silent comrades.
Featured image courtesy of Unicorn Meat