I remember my first rave…
I remember my first rave. That’s not sarcasm. I really do. It was Lucky 2012 in Seattle. I remember going only to see Calvin Harris and not even being aware of who was headlining. Even if I had been, it wouldn’t have meant anything. I remember I spent a lot of the time trying to find the people that I came with. I got a pretty good recorded video of “We Found Love.”
My decision was all inspired when a friend brought me to a mini rave in an Irish bar a few weeks earlier. I know, right? I Shazaamed a lot of the music and liked the lasers, so naturally I wanted to see more. At first everything was pretty superficial. At Lucky, I didn’t go crazy, but just did my best to take everything in. On a much larger scale, there was something in the music and the lights, but most of all the people, that resonated with me and I knew this was something worth my time.
And so I went back. Seattle happens to be pretty lucky with the festival circuit, and once Foundation Nightclub opened and the proverbial EDM bubble started to expand, there was something to go to every weekend.
I remember going out a lot. Sometimes it was very intentional and important. Other times it was completely indiscriminate and it honestly didn’t even matter who was playing.
I remember a lot of overindulging and I remember burning out, but at the same time I couldn’t really stop myself. Collecting stories almost became an obsession.
At a certain point, I don’t remember a lot. Although I do know that the smell of phở still makes me a little naseous.
I remember my first outdoor fesitval at Paradiso 2013 and sneaking into the pit. I remember feeling sick after a long day of too much sun, not enough water and too many drugs. I remember asking security for a garbage and he pointed at the gutter. I remember being on my hands and knees throwing up and thinking that this was probably a low point in my life. I remember the security guard telling me that I needed to leave and I remember running back into the crowd instead. I mean, it was Porter Robinson and Tiesto. There was no way I was missing that. I remember somehow stumbling across my friend Lindsey and dancing under a maelstorm of strobelights and confetti. I remember that as one of the best nights of my life.
I remember watching the sunrise with some people who’s names I don’t.
The following night I remember standing on the hill at the Gorge and looking down into the pit where I had spent the previous evening. And it was at that point that I remember a shift. I had always been fairly active in school, wanting to do as much as I could by trying out new things and clubs and teams. And as much as it made me who I am and I developed lifelong friends, this was the first time I ever felt like I really belonged to something. I looked down on the sea of bodies and back up the hill at thousands of people that had all come here for the same reason and it all clicked. What this community meant to so many people, and ultimately what it meant to me, came into focus.
I remember that moment when my entire perspective and approach to the scene changed.
I left Paradiso doing a lot of self reflection. For the past year of my life I had thrown myself into this community, and while I’m not sure if I would have called anything I did selfish, I definitely took a lot more than I gave back. I was fortunate enough to be welcomed into a culture that was so accepting and free of judgement, granting me the opportunity to develop and grow on my own. Those around me were patient enough to allow me to learn what it really means to be a part of this lifestyle.
Spending a lot of time in the scene acting like a bit of a shitshow gifted me with a lot of perspective. Knowing where I came from, I can recognize where others are in their journey. Everyone needs to start somewhere and not everyone not everyone has been doing this for 10 years. If someone needs to shut off in the back and absorb the environment, that’s absolutely what they should do. If someone wants to go to a show just to jump around to bangers and take selfies, that’s important too. I can’t let myself get too hung up on allowing other people’s experience affecting my own personal enjoyment.
I think that 2012 me would be very surprised to meet 2014 me; evolving from a bit of a rambunctious sponge to now always bringing a camelbak full of diffraction glasses, kandi singles, water, protein bars, balloons, and anything else I can think to enhance the experience for those people I meet. I’ve gone from being attached at the hip to my friends to developing a self confidence that comes with a tendency to ghost at shows, and almost find myself more at home when I inevtiably get separated from my friends and can connect with complete strangers. What used to be completely about me has grown into being completely about others, or at the very least, how I interact with them. Stories are great, but the real value comes in the relationships that you can live them with.
Back when I started going to shows you couldn’t have paid me to leave the mainstage and now I love actively seek out glitch hop and deep house. I relax by making kandi singles. I feel connected, alive, at home, passionate, and just part of something. Something I want to share with everyone. One of the best feelings is bringing other people into this world.
And now I go to shows sober. Not always. But a lot. Definitely a lot more than I used to. And I realize that shouldn’t really be something to brag about, but experience and perspective brings a different kind of appreciation by being able to connect with the music on a very personal level. This music and what it represents has gone from a passive hobby to an excuse to party to an irreplacable core of my life.
I remember thinking two and a half years ago that everything was about to change. And did it ever.
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