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At X-it, the parties can go late, even with a DJ, because with all-ages shows, alcohol sales are prohibited anyway. With no booze, the rave goes into the wee hours, and Mara's law isn't a concern.
Whatever the situation in Hollywood, Waas would put on events in South Florida and do his best to keep the groove going no matter what. It's just the way he's wired. But there's no doubt that a unique set of circumstances a city's uptight law, a struggling nightclub owner, and youngsters wanting to bring back a movement they missed the first time around has helped the rave scene attain a kind of critical mass in Hollywood.
A graduate of Cooper City High School, Waas was the quiet kid who threw huge parties while his parents were out of town as a way to become more popular. "In 1986, the first party I threw, my whole senior class came."
After a several-years break for a computer tech job, Waas started hosting parties again in 2001. That year, at his house, he threw a "way too crazy party 350 people, a three-day-long party with 75 DJs. It really made a legend for me in the scene." It also got him arrested when police came to bust the party and found acid, weed, drug paraphernalia, and Xanax.
In 2003, Waas approached the owners of Lumonics an art gallery in Fort Lauderdale whose collection consisted of trippy light sculptures. "That was the Euphoria Project right there," Waas says. "It was exactly what I always wanted to do. There was this beautiful, hippieish vibe. It was a beautiful fusion of light, music, and art." However, the facility had been suffering since the Fort Lauderdale Police Department's now-defunct "Rave Task Force" raided it in 2002, and Lumonics stopped hosting regular events in 2004.
In 2003, Waas found X-it. "It's the only club I've ever felt at home at. It feels like a real chill house party: no attitude, no bullshit, no dress code, no velvet ropes."
After every party, Waas says he spends $200 to $400 paying DJs and security guards and setting aside money for fliers for the next event. If there's anything left, he pockets it. "If I make $50 on a good party, I'll be ecstatic."
He supports this obsession on a small inheritance left to him by his father. "I own my own house," he says, "and I rent both bedrooms to roommates. I sleep on a recliner every night, in the living room."
Luxury can wait. It's the rave that matters. "I'm not really concerned with [making a profit now.] I plan on doing this over the long, long, long term."
X-it Nightclub's back patio the only place a person can hear herself think. Rich, with long, dirty-blond dreadlocks pulled back with a bandanna, is sitting in a plastic chair talking to a group of his friends. It doesn't take him long to go deep.
"I'm a kung fu raver, being in touch with the chi of it. Raving is a way to express yourself physically, not verbally. It's like dancing, like an art. But like a martial art. Like the Tibetan monks that come down from the mountain."
Groovy. But what about the bad rap, that "rave" is really about underagers dressing up their drug use in baggy pants and glitter?
"People think they can make money and sell drugs and fuck it up for everyone," he says. But really, it's just "a way to express your inner self with lights. Ravers are just hippies with lights."
He and his friends claim not to be on anything tonight and in fact, they all seem pretty lucid. But if they aren't doing drugs, they sure don't mind talking about them.
Rich's girlfriend, Mandy, a chatty almost-18-year-old with a syrupy voice, says the two met "at a party we were the only two under 19 at a friend's apartment getting wasted."
She "used to be more of a rock girl," she says. "Techno was too repetitive. I wasn't used to music without words. Then I started rolling [taking ecstasy], went to rave parties, and there'd be 30 kids fucked up. I started to really listen to the music, and I started to love it. Now, I actually like it sober."
For her, raving is about "the people you meet in the scene." And it's not only at X-it, she says. There are the three-day campground parties that happen every few months. "The more people you meet, the more excited you get. It's an extremely random mix of people. And everyone has a different style, uses different lights, has a different way of dancing. You might think, 'Oh, she's into hip-hop,' but next thing you know, they bust out some crazy moves."
Their friend Greg is known for his skills in glowsticking. Old-timers might be shocked to learn that newfangled glowsticks now come with on-off switches (though Greg prefers the old-fashioned kind, which are less prone to break). A new-school raver, he buys his toys online, of course.
"I like Brookstone," quips Rich.
"You don't have to be on drugs to glowstick," Greg says he even does it during lunch hour at school. He does, however, enjoy acid (on it, "you can hear techno in the cash registers at Wal-Mart") and ecstasy. Acid goes for $10, when it's around, and for E, Greg says, "The most I've ever paid was two for $30."