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I Went to Phoenix Comicon to Learn About Raves, and All I Saw Was a PowerPoint

Some ravers from Bubble Bobble 6. Full slideshow here.
Some ravers from Bubble Bobble 6. Full slideshow here.
Benjamin Leatherman

Phoenix Comicon is currently going on, and the "Premier Pop Culture Experience" in the Southwest is really delivering this year with more vendors, more cosplays, and more music based events. One such event was Friday's "Raving Is Fun" panel. The way it was described in the Comicon programing guide was "Learn everything you need to know to get started raving. We'll talk about everything from what to wear, music, dancing, and more! The Renegades will show you how to make the most of your rave experience. You don't want to miss this panel!"

So I thought the panel would be discussing the local rave scene. From what I understand Phoenix has steadily maintained a solid scene for the Candy Kids, and though it occurred to me that Comicon promoting underground parties seemed weird, I overruled the thought by thinking about how many anime tie-ins there are in the rave scene, and the fact that everyone loves dark rooms with strobe lights, right?

I expected an 18-year-old decked in beaded jewelry to lead the panel, to tell me where to scope out all the best underground dance parties, and how to seamlessly blend into them, me being the non-raver that I am. At the very least, I was hoping to have a good chuckle at a rave promoter struggling to maintain sanity while leading the panel on MDMA.

I know, it was stupid to expect that, but what I found was just bizarre. The discussion had nothing to do with the local rave scene, or any rave "scene" for that matter, and was instead more of a procedural on attending the official Comicon rave.

The panel started, as all quality presentations do, with the lights being turned out to set the mood (to obtain that drug-induced orgasmic euphoria that rave culture is known for.) This was to accommodate the PowerPoint presentation. That's right drugs, sex, and PowerPoint presentations.

Upon finding out about the PowerPoint presentation I became apprehensive. There was just no way that the gatekeepers to the hedonistic paradise that are local raves would use a PowerPoint presentation. But then the first panelist spoke and he said, "We are going to talk about how much fun raving is," and of course I was sold once again that this group of renegades would show me the way to where the candy kids roam.

They began by talking about the different types of music one might encounter at a rave. Their list included electronica, dubstep, techno, trance, hardcore trance, and "many many more." So this seemed once again like a good omen. They knew the names of a bunch of different styles of music; they had to be deep in the scene. No matter how out of place they seemed discussing underground dance parties.

Following the brief discussion of music, which did not include the playing of clips of Bassnectar's remix/ to "Light" by Elie Goulding, or "Ravers Fantasy" by Tune Up as promised, the discussion, and the PowerPoint, switched to glowsticks.

This is when I really began losing faith in the panelists. First and foremost they did not bring any glowsticks, and from what I've seen of people in the rave scene, they are always ready with some light-up toys, maybe even some fire juggling. But thanks to a nice furry in an army costume who happened to bring some, the panel was ready to roll (not in the drug sense, of course -- more on that later).

The sole male panelist discussed how to properly duel wield the tiny plastic cylinders of light, and taught the crowd some basic glow stick "tricks" like the "outline," which was simply running the glowstick in one hand along the opposite arm and over the head, and the "flurry," which involved moving your hands in a circular motion while holding the glowsticks.   It was during the glowstick demonstration that I realized, with the help of a determined troll who interrupted the presentation as much as he could throughout, that this panel had nothing to do with the Phoenix rave scene and was actually about the Phoenix Comicon rave scene. The idea that the panel would be strictly about the raves at Comicon, more specifically Saturday evening's "Panty and Stockings Fan Service Pajama Rave," had never crossed my mind, but I remained in my seat to watch the rest.

I was fully excited to hear more. The panel continued on to discuss costumes. They talked a lot about picking clothes based on function instead of fashion, but what really stuck out was the fact that their list said no binkies (pacifiers), due to the fact that they are "drug paraphernalia." I've always sort of associated binkies as more being baby paraphernalia, but hey, I'm new to the Comicon raves.

With the no-binkie policy covered, the panelists moved on to dance moves, which, like music types, included a long list on a PowerPoint slide. One panelist decided to show off each dance move on the list, and then led a small group of attendees in mixing some of them together, set to the song "Party Rock" by LMFAO.

Next up was a list of things to avoid, at the top of which was "drugs." One of the panelists even suggested that if a audience member were to see someone with drugs at a Comicon rave that they should "narc" on them. Now I'm no rave expert, but aren't drugs popular in rave culture? Also, and once again just a rave layman here, I can't imagine many people who attend underground dance parties spend a lot of time talking to police, especially when it pertains to drugs.

The rest of their no-nos included alcohol, being drugged, leaving with people you don't know, leaving your friends with people they don't know, dehydration, and "things you think are funny but the po po don't."

By the end I fully realized I knew nothing more about raves outside of the realm of nerd-dom than I did when I entered. I came to learn about true, underground raves; I left having learned about Comicon-approved, board room-certified "raves." Go figure.

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