Best Measured Response to an Irrational Crackdown

Intimate Warehouse Parties

The Man can pass laws and can enforce them; he can chase and cite and hassle and intimidate, but he can't keep the kids from dancing, even though for some reason this egregious act scares the bejesus out of him. The recent crackdown on rave culture and that evil electronic dance music -- passing laws designed to target the one-night event parties, hassling clubs that traffic in "rave paraphernalia" such as bottled water (the horror!) and glowsticks, subtly suggesting that club owners not work with those dastardly rave promoters -- successfully (frighteningly) eliminated the big parties and the rampant threat of unauthorized dancing. All the authorities succeeded in accomplishing, however, was a simple dispersal. Gone are the days of the monster underground rave in a beautifully dingy warehouse. In its stead are littler, more intimate parties. A few hundred souls, some great local DJs, a nice sound system (thanks, Jerry), two turntables and, of course, a worn but personable space.

Nice little spaces are easy to find in St. Louis -- vacant car-repair places; storage rooms buried in industrial districts; lofts and basements. It's much easier to find someplace that'll hold 500 than one that holds 2,000. So you print a few hundred fliers and tell everyone to keep it on the lowdown, and, when the night arrives, a sense of camaraderie swells to the surface. The scene was slow this summer, but with a few rumored parties apparently taking shape, the fall and winter show promise. Attention, authorities: The kids are growing up, they're voting, they're thinking, and their brains aren't any more damaged from youthful experimentation than yours was from all that coke, acid and pot. The dancers no longer want to roll all night on pills (though one's nice every once in a while); they want to roll all night on a packed dance floor. And they like tiny secrets, because from tiny secrets come wonderful stories.

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