The One Where I Went to A Rave:
It was June 2009, during The Worst Summer of My Life, and I was a fairly innocent freshman. I had just moved home to Vegas to work a couple jobs during the break, and that very week a friend of mine invited me to hang out one day. He, another friend of ours, and I met up at In-N-Out (naturally) where they informed me we would be going to a rave that night. I had been to college parties before, but none as large and intense as I imagined raves to be. "Where is it?" I asked.
Friend 1 shrugged. "Some warehouse downtown," he said.
"Do we know anyone that will be there?"
"Just [a friend from high school], he's the one that invited us," Friend 2 responded.
"Oh...well, am I even dressed right for something like this?" I raised my arms to reveal a black silk H&M top, whitewashed bootcut jeans, black flats, and a large turquoise tote. The boys just shrugged again, confused as to why I would think my outfit choice was relevant to the situation. I realized that, based just on my initial attitude, I was already not cool enough to go to a rave.
I went anyway. If it were my first legit rave in any other situation, I would've given it a little more thought, but the guys I was with were a) good friends of mine and b) Mormon, so it wasn't like they would get blackout drunk or OD on some purple things a guy gave them in the bathroom or go home with some girl with gauges and a glow-in-the-dark leotard or something. We got to the warehouse--large, dark, and looming with graffiti on the outsides--where a short line began forming at the door. Everyone immediately had to pee (naturally), so we ducked into a nearby Del Taco. On our way out the guys got hungry looking at the colored fluorescent menus (naturally), so they got a few burritos and we sat and ate for about a half an hour. By the time we left and went back to the warehouse, the line had exploded. We managed to find High School Friend and some of his rave buddies, so we did that thing where you're not actually "cutting," you're just hanging out in line with people you know as the line creeps along and pretty soon you realize, Oh, hey, we're at the door, we'll just go in with you!
For those of you who have never been to a rave, this is all you need to know: Every single rave stereotype is true. I was getting a few odd looks from people in tutus, knee-high socks, cornrows, painted faces, false teeth, pacifiers, whistles, bikini tops, and glo sticks for MY outfit, which looked like it belonged at a Rick Santorum campaign rally. This was not helped by the fact that Friend 1 and Friend 2 had removed their shirts, which appeared to be customary for male rave-goers. I wish I had been able to go home and change because I felt like an idiot. And yes, a lot of people were high. I wish I could go into detail about what kind of drugs they were or were not doing, but I don't know anything about drugs (which has provided my Oregonian pothead friends with endless amusement) so I won't be of much help there. By the way, is it "popping Mollys" like the girl's name or "popping Malis" like the country in western Africa? In case you haven't realized this by now, I am very, very uncool.
Inside, the warehouse was divided into several rooms. In the largest, there was a short stage with a DJ spinning out dubstep, house, techno, and other types of music I don't really care about. People were dancing everywhere; High School Friend handed me some glo sticks and we all joined.
My rave experience was a blur, and I wasn't even on anything, I was just too busy staring at everyone's outfits and taking lessons on how to spin my glo sticks and trying to look like I belonged even though I was dressed like somebody's mom. Eventually I just decided, hey, I was at a rave so I might as well make the most of it. I climbed into a cage and danced with a guy in leather shorts and biker boots, which amused Friends 1 & 2 very much. High School Friend had brought some fancy gloves with built-in LED lights and gave everyone close-up light show performances that are supposed to look beyond amazing when you're trippin'. At one point we started talking ("talking" meaning screaming at each other over the music, of course) to one of High School Friend's friends, who told us that in the rave scene everyone has a "rave name," or a code name of some sort that they use only at raves instead of their real name.
"What's your rave name?" I asked.
"Chocolate," he replied. He was black. Friend 1 & 2 and I later shook our heads over his lack of creativity.
My boyfriend at the time called me, and I answered my phone with, "I'M AT A RAVE WITH [FRIEND 1] AND [FRIEND 2]!"
He just replied with, "Don't touch anything. I'll call you later." We broke up a few weeks afterward.
Right before we were about to leave, and Friend 2 pleaded, "One more song," I noticed a girl dancing on the stage. She wasn't just dancing--she was literally throwing herself around to the music. Her hair was in long, ratty braids (a sick attempt at growing out dreads?) and she was wearing a skin-tight leopard print body suit. I was instantly shocked and impressed by how violently she was dancing. Mid-song, she stopped and jumped into the pit of people in front of the stage, right in front of us. And of course, since I stuck out like a sore thumb, she made a beeline for me.
"HI!" she said to me, grinning wildly under her crazy hair. I noticed that she was completely covered in sweat. "I'm Noodle! What's your rave name?"
"Um..." I began, "Kat?"
"CAT!" she exclaimed. "RAWR!" She made a claw with her hand and pawed at me. Then started dancing, just as violently, not exactly with me--it was more like she was dancing at me. Friend 1 and Friend 2 found this hilarious, and I was left with no choice but to dance right back at her until she got distracted and we headed for the door.
I ended up having fun that night, which is all that matters. I learned to stop worrying if I stood out because of my clothes, or if I wasn't wasted, or if I wasn't able to dance to the weird-ass music they were playing. Bizarre experiences like this have served me well when I'm in unfamiliar surroundings.
So thank you, Leopard Lady, in advance for preparing me for when I'll repeatedly find myself out of my element in Albania. I'll know to just dance back at you and try to have fun.