Longform

Rave Review

Page 9 of 9

No need for me here, so I pick my way down to the fire and track down Scotty, the co-organizer of tonight's festivities. Scotty tells me this is the fifth full-moon party, and the second in this location. The one before this was in a ghost town near Wickenburg. Scotty has been into the underground for a year and a half, and funds the free full-moon parties out of his own pocket. He also helps promote the occasional commercial rave, including the Kool-Aid event almost three weeks before.

However, he says the commercial raves and even the underground clubs are never this good.

"I found out after ten months of doing clubs that an every-weekend thing can't be that spiritual," he says. "I want people to see Shiva in the speakers, and at once-a-month parties outside in a setting like this, people are more apt to come prepared to completely let go of themselves."

And if they do, then what? The drugs, the dancing, the lugging of a generator and speaker cabinets out into the middle of the desert--done to what end? Is there a purpose beyond the partying?

Scotty says yes. "The hardest part of this is to get people to leave here understanding that it doesn't have to stay here. That's the biggest barrier people have to break down--to realize that they can take pieces of the vibe from here back out into mainstream society and prove that people can gather and truly love one another and celebrate positivity in peace."

If you look at the underground as a religion, then parties are clearly the equivalent of church services--a place for people of a shared belief to gather once a week, engage in ritual and recharge their ideological batteries before they venture back into a world whose values are, for the most part, antipodal to their own.

This much is for sure: You can't just talk the talk in the underground. You either go to parties or you don't. And if you do, you lead your life well outside the normal parameters of your society. The odd hours alone ensure that.

It's now 5 in the morning, and the scene on the road below the full-moon party is pretty grim as several bands of exhausted ravers struggle to get it together enough to start the long road home.

One poor soul on a bad trip has panicked and locked himself in a car. Instead of coaxing him out, the owner is pounding on the glass and issuing threats. A whole carload of partyers failed to factor in the dirt-road-driving time; their car is out of gas, and the hose they have for a siphon won't reach my tank.

I do my part in the group effort to get everyone home alive by packing two stranded ravers--one of them Eddie Amador--into the back of my car. The road out of the mountains is treacherous, but far less stressful than the highway to Phoenix, which, from Apache Junction west, is jammed with morning commuter traffic.

"Who are all these people?" I wonder as we creep along. I'm in a car full of dirty, spent ravers who can't stop talking--about Brahms and Coltrane, life as a whole. I look again at the workaday drivers all around me--scrubbed, alone, jaws set--and flash on a recent conversation with Inertia, a local deejay, who summed it up so:

"More important than the drugs are the ideas--the philosophy, the desire to connect. It's a tribalistic thing, the idea that you're all tuned in to the same thing at the same time, whereas most people just want to stay locked in their own small worlds.

"People drive around the city all day listening to different stations in their cars; they work in their cubicle all day, then get back in their mobile cubicle and travel to their home cubicle. They do it day after day after day. It's monotony, and it's spiritual death.

"Something important is missing in a society where people think they have to live like that, and this is a way to say, 'No, I'm not going to do it.'

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David Holthouse
Contact: David Holthouse