Longform

The Rave's Back, Baby

Page 5 of 6

Before the law took effect, Gale already had a working relationship with Waas and his Euphoria Project, which held regular raves at the club. But once Gale lost his most profitable nights, he let Waas take over more nights and started allowing all-ages, no-alcohol raves.

"I've worked with hundreds of people," he says, "and Mitch is probably the most honest person I've ever dealt with. Mitch must have an incredible love for the scene. He's like an angel to the scene. He knows all these people, looks after them all. If someone's hungry, he'll say, 'I don't have much, but come to my house and I'll share what I've got. '"

He confirms that Waas is personally making almost nothing in the arrangement — that Waas frequently ends up paying more in expenses than he takes in.

But what about the use of the word rave? Doesn't it invite trouble with the law? "We have internal security and our own undercover guys. There's no trafficking in the club," Gale says. Still, he allows that "if someone consumes something outside and comes inside, there's nothing I can do about it." As a deterrent, he charges patrons a $5 reentry fee.

He claims that the police have sent undercover officers into the club on multiple occasions and that he hires off-duty officers to work security details. The police, he says, know that "if you ask where you can get drugs, we'll escort you to the door and show you where you can get them — somewhere out there."

Has he seen the kids sucking on pacifiers? Are they sucking on them to relieve the teeth-clenching side effect that comes with ecstasy use?



Alboniga chimes in: "I don't know if they do it for any reason other than to look stupid. It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen in my life."

Gale is more charitable. "It's a little different — but people laugh at my fashion. People say, have you seen the guy in the white V-neck shirt and shorts?

"The kids have their baggies and their little colorful beads. It's a different blend — everyone comes in here, kids in hip-hop clothes, in baggies, in techno style, with their colors on. The bracelets! The girls come over and put a little bracelet on me."

But Gale sighs and looks a tad bewildered. "I never pictured myself running a huge nighttime daycare," he says. "This is probably the largest babysitting institution in the city."




Now entering Gale's institution: Sean Whisnant, 21, wearing a curious ensemble — a black fedora hat on which someone has used fluorescent orange puff paint to draw stars and write "Projection into an alternate reality." Whisnant's shirt is a mustard color, with a print of marijuana leaves. And his wrist is wrapped in bracelets made of cheap, multicolored plastic beads.

"All these bracelets were given to me," he says, sounding less like a hipster than someone who's just come from a science fair. "They're called candy." One spells out "PLUR."

"It stands for "Peace, Love, Unity, Respect," he explains — the raver motto. A lot of partiers are wearing them. If one feels a connection with another, they'll pass a bracelet, or sometimes a necklace, along.

More interesting than the bracelets are Whisnant's gloves — they're black, with tiny red and blue lights that blink. "I made them myself," he explains. "I used a chip called an NE555 timer with an astable multivibrator. I connected the output to high-intensity LEDs — light-emitting diodes — so you see traces." Altogether, they cost $20 to make.

"I started getting into electronic engineering in the fourth grade," he says. "I wanted to make a desk alarm so people would stop touching my stuff." These days, he's working on a "top-secret automated device. I'll be able to tell you more about it when I get the patent."

Whisnant goes on to say "I'm sort of a loner" with an endearing frankness, adding, "I don't have too many friends."

Except here, where people entering and exiting the club keep interrupting to say "Heeeey! Haven't seen you in a awhile!" and "What's up man?" He answers them with little eye contact and soft hellos, like he's shyly surprised to be greeted at all.

"I was surfing the web on March 27, 2004," he explains robotically. "I started talking to this girl, and she invited me to a rave. She showed me what raving is about, and I got hooked on it."

So what is it about? And what's up with the pot-leaf shirt? Although he says that people do "little things to heighten their experience, raving isn't about drugs. It's about community. For me, it means friendliness. Raving is about enjoying your life to the fullest. It's a gathering for people from all walks of life. A gathering of misfits."

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Deirdra Funcheon