The Rave's Back, Baby

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"This scene is based purely upon unity and respect and love of music," he says. "It's people who truly love music and are really passionate about it, passionate about dancing, and who are looking for a positive vibe at a club. My goal is to bring the entire scene together."

Waas spends nearly all his time thinking about and marketing raves. Most days, he says, "I wake up at 9, and I'm on the computer until I go to sleep at 10 o'clock at night to promote these parties. I advertise on about 600 websites." He keeps a MySpace page and obsessively edits his company's site, euphoriaproject.org. He archives old e-mails and posts attendance records online. The "Back to the OldSkool" rave drew 725 people. "Awakening" attracted 78. But Waas seems conflicted about how to describe his events. His website refers to "Florida's rave culture," and some of his e-mails end with "Mad respect to Florida's rave scene!" Other dispatches, however, carry the disclaimer, "THIS IS NOT A RAVE!" and he keeps the word off fliers because he doesn't need the hassle. He also doesn't really need the money. Waas says there's no real profit motive behind his promotions. "Most of my parties lose money or break even," he says. He charges $5 to $25, depending on the night and the time and whether it's an all-ages crowd or not. He splits the gate with the club.

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?

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Deirdra Funcheon