By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
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By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
"E-tardedness," Rich pipes in. "People on E are dumb, stupid, and clingy. It's a negative vibe. An evil drug."
Mandy says that she hasn't done ecstasy in awhile but that it "and acid are the main rave drugs," she says. "Oxy, pills not so much. Bars [Xanax] make you just want to sit around."
But drugs, Mandy points out, are a part of teenaged culture, not rave culture. At her wealthy school, some kids get weekly allowances of $100. "They've got the money, got the time... what else are they going to do? Almost everyone at my school smokes weed," she says, shaking her head. "People come in high or drunk. They'll do coke in school. Not rolling that's gonna make your eyes all big and noticeable."
Liz, a smiley girl with a skull tattoo, a bikini top, and a short red skirt, describes herself as a former "hardcore death metal chick" who "used to put hooks in my back because the adrenaline hyped me up." But then she "went to a campout in Clewiston, and I had never experienced a group of people like that. People were just so good with each other. It was about love."
Mandy nods. "Anyone I've ever brought to a rave has described it as the best night of their life," she says. "Rave lifts you up and teaches you to be unique. I used to think I was so different from everyone else. Now I don't give a fuck. I used to have insecurities being myself, but I don't care anymore. It just teaches you that there are always people who are going to like you. The first time I took 'shrooms, I cried because I realized how much I had changed since I got into this scene. I cried my eyes out to total strangers."
But Liz cautions: "Don't think that everyone who goes to X-it has to take drugs to have a good time. You'll find that some people get fucked up by the music."
Speaking of which: X-it's favorite DJs include a couple of jesters named Rabbit and Mad Hatter who see themselves as vanguards of a newer, better rave experience. "When fans go see Rabbit versus Mad Hatter," says Hatter, a.k.a. Jason, "they expect exciting hard trance light and happy and progressive. High energy." But part of their appeal is also their antics. The pair come out from behind the decks and jump around with the crowd. They have so many followers, Jason says he spends "two to three hours a day talking to fans" on MySpace. The duo also just landed a coveted slot in Miami's biggest dance event, the Ultra Music Festival, scheduled for March 25.
"These two are the wildest DJs I have ever met," says Dan, their lighting man. "They'll leave the decks alone, say, 'I need a beer!' jump around, go in the middle of the crowd. They perform at the same level as a lead singer. One party at X-it, they drew close to 1,000 people. The vibe is unreal."
"Once I stop serving alcohol, I can have DJs all night long I can have DJs 24 hours," says X-it Nightclub's owner, Bob Gale, who still seems confused by the logic behind Mayor Mara and Hollywood's bizarre anti-DJ law.
Gale's an affable guy with a jolly belly and squinty blue eyes, his gray hair combed neatly back. "This was the original City Hall and police department. It's where the City of Hollywood was founded," he says as he leads a tour of X-it, which looks like it was cobbled together from the remains of several buildings from different eras. "The city sold it when they built a new City Hall. It was various nightclubs, and then it was most famously known as a restaurant called Hemmingway's. In the old days, when the old Diplomat Hotel not the new one but the old one was the hotel, it attracted Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and all those guys. They've all eaten here." And while it was a fine dining establishment downstairs, upstairs, Gale says, Hemmingway's was a brothel.
Newspaper clippings, yellowed with age, and photos of Tiny Tim visiting the restaurant hang on the walls of a back hallway. Gale's general manager, a burly but friendly 30-ish guy named Juan Alboniga, says, "If Tiny Tim and them were hanging out, then this must've been the place! We'll get regulars coming by here to reminisce. It's awesome. We let them walk around, and they'll say, 'The piano was over here; here's where Frank Sinatra was at. '"
As for the club's present incarnation, Gale explains that Hollywood's government practically forced him into hosting raves.
After buying the place in 2000 with a partner he refuses to name, Gale ran it as a nightclub with a 4 a.m. license. But Hollywood's draconian DJ law meant that he'd have to spend a lot more money to bring in live musical acts if he wanted to keep serving alcohol past midnight. But a band is out of his price range and wouldn't be practical considering the club's layout four separate rooms on two stories.