Brave enough to rave?

By Tom Collins
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 4, 1996

Arizona Daily Wildcat


The problem, you see, is that I look like a narc. Now I've heard different from different people. I've heard that I look like a baseball player and a priest, both of which are major American establishment icons, much like police officers, it is a police officer that I most look like.

We're going to a party. I thought they were called "raves," but that is not the case. If you are jargon conscious and afraid of being unhip, yes indeed, afraid of being mistaken for a cop, know this. It is a Party.

I parade several party-ish ensembles in front of my roommate. We settle on a yellow jersey that reads Florida in script and has white stripes on the sleeves. I was going to wear a hat, but it made me look like a narc.

At 12:45 a.m. an Arizona Daily Wildcat photographer and his friend Sid putter up to my place in a Volkswagen bug.

I tell them about my cop stigma problem, but Sid approves my look.

"The stripes are good," he says.

Off we go. Driving out on the highway, heading to the Pima County fairgrounds.

I've only been to the fairgrounds once before. It was the only date of my freshman year in college. We went to the county fair on wristband night. She was weird. I got ill on a ride. They had cows in big warehouses.

But there are no cows tonight.

After we present our $15 tickets, the photographer tells the bouncer that, yes, we have permission to have a camera here.

"Ask the reporter," he says.

And I, the reporter, nod yes of course. And who doesn't trust the nod of a cop.

The corrugated metal walls of the warehouse are clanging, with sounds ricocheting, shooting you in the eardrum. What is a party without music?

[RECORD IMAGE] Now, I suppose you know that this whole party is about music. Electronically sampled spinning records. See, it's a psychedelic sock hop, and not just because everybody here looks younger than 18.

Younger than 16. As young as 12.

Either I got real tall on the drive down, or there are some young 'uns here.

Thirteen-year-old girls in cheap, greasy early morning make up, with young hands bringing cigarettes to old looking lips.

A pre-pubescent girl is down on her hands and knees throwing up behind a tree. She must have had a bad Big Mac. I don't ask.

Now this is later in the evening

In the men's room, there was a thick guy about 5 feet 9 inches tall. He's leaning up against the sinks.

"I take it you're here to watch the bathrooms," I say. I say it loud, because my ears were ringing. He just raises his finger to his lips.

I must look like a reporter. Or maybe something else.

They come for music, piece and love

And so to the dance floor.

[CROWD IMAGE] The floor is large. Surrounded by big screens with flashing images on them. Ren and Stimpy. Hello Kitty. The Smurfs.

As you enter, on the left is a close up of Jane Fonda in "Babarella." She keeps opening and closing her mouth. She's a sex kitten.

The floor is partly filled with kids in baggy clothing. They look like the same kids I saw at the mall that afternoon.

Then there are those dressed for the occasion.

There's a super space age dig-it dancing queen. He's got super sparkle green and white make up on and has glittery lashes. Beautiful. Super sequiny shirt. And then, the shoes: silver spray painted leather Converse One Stars with 6-inch black and white lay ered foam platforms. Those must have cost him $150 a shoe. And it was worth every penny. He's in the middle of the floor.

Huge speakers sit in the corners of the floor. Next to them are the "bassheads." They grab on to the speakers and stomp their feet.

Every so often the big beefy security guards, and occasionally even a cop, swing through the warehouse, pointing their flashlights, looking around, keeping everybody safe.

There is one girl who just can't dance. Now , if you can't dance, this is the place to come and do it. Every body is feeling so...good, they won't look at you funny.

The girl is wearing a short black dress and combat boots, and she is skipping. I think she's trying to skip to the music. Maybe she's just skipping because she likes to skip. She's trying to keep up and she's doing all right with the housey Dee-Litey, lig ht and airy music being spun when we arrive. But that all changes.

Wait for Ron D. Core - the hard core

[RON D. CORE] That's what I heard.

Ron D. Core. He's a disc jockey. He spins records. He spins hard core.

Ron is 5 feet 2 inches tall. He looks like he's in his 40s. He looks creepy, like late-night bus driver.

Hard-core dance music has more beats per minute than a knocking Plymouth Reliant engine. Fast and furious. Ron spins a version of the bird. You know - everybody's heard about the bird. The skipping girl is skipping faster. the skipping girl is skipping like a wind up toy, the skipping girl is skipping like its going out of style.

Ron said he's always spun his "mental" music.

One of his "lackeys" said to me "You should come see him in L.A. We were in L.A., there were so many people. It was crazy, you wouldn't have wanted to be there."

A group from L.A. put this party on

I guarantee that they believe in piece and love. I heard they wanted a thousand people to show up. There are about 400 people there.

As the night wore on the crowd begins to thin. Young men and women begin to pair off. That's all right. It's Free Love. Everyone I meet here gives me a hug.

I ask the dancing queen, the guy in with the platform shoes, if the party scene is dying. He says it is.

I ask Ron. He says every time he comes to Tucson it gets "crazier." It's "cool" he says.

His lackey puts it like this ,"The scene changes, it morphs into something else, but it's still very big and very positive."

Yeah it's real positive. It's real positive because there weren't any fights. It's real positive because there was no booze, that this big posse of security guards went looking to find the guy selling roofies. It's real positive.

Where to find out about raves:

You'll usually find fliers in trendy coffee shops, where tortured writers and musician brood over unfinished works, and others just drop by to watch them brood. Event organizers also drop off fliers in smoke shops and thrift stores.

What to take with you:

What to leave home: