My first real rave went exactly how first real raves should go.
Skrillex was headlining The Warfield in San Francisco and I was at the ripe age of 17. The event was around the time of Halloween in the year 2011 so, naturally, skimpy outfits were completely acceptable. No, encouraged, so long as you went the extra mile with either a tacked on bunny tail or cat ears. Alongside my then-boyfriend and three of our very best friends, we strode through the heavy double doors into the subsonic layer of mind-shattering music. The sea of bright kandi bracelets, colorful tutus, and frayed fishnet leggings felt brutally unfamiliar to me as I slid my way through the relentless crowd. It was hot. It was loud. And we were packed in like sardines, but for the first time in my teenage life, I felt liberated.
It was a congregation of the masses. It was a sanctuary for misfit toys. It was a sweaty mess of swaying arms and sticky foreheads. It was my first real rave and it was exactly what it needed to be.
When I was 17, American EDM (electronic dance music–by now, this term has become so pervasive that I genuinely worry for those of you who are in the dark and I will rightfully assume that you live under a rock) was in the midst of its ascent towards widespread domination. While the international roots of underground electronic music spanned far earlier than 2011, this era took bits and pieces from prior disk-jockeys and transformed it into something we’re proud to call our own. Music festivals like EDC were just starting to become mainstream and PLUR was just a skipped pebble that would soon create ripples in the stagnant water of our lives.
As a Junior in high school, I had little direction. I had always been the goodie-two-shoes-too-afraid-of-disobeying-authority girl and whether I wanted to or not, it was time to do some growing up. Unlike drawing or writing or choreographed dancing, I was finally able to loose myself in the squeals and wubs of Sonny Moore’s music. Like shedding the first of many layers of self-doubt and inhibitions, I began to molt into the butterfly I undoubtedly deserved to become.
Now, four years later, I revel at the passage of time marked by the hundreds of raves and shows and festivals I’ve attended. Like a constellation, those blips of time have carved deep patterns into the fibers of my existence. While I have written a good amount of works in an attempt to convey my whole and wild affection for what the EDM world has given me, it’s excruciatingly hard to appropriately translate feelings into something tangible. All that radiates from within me is gratitude– thank you to the unquestionably talented DJ’s, thank you to the undying fans, thank you to the highs and the lows and the supporters and the haters. Thank you to the people out there who never gave a fuck. Without you all, I would never have had the chance to rage my face off and become the person I am today.
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