For years, I've heard and read about raves in Los Angeles. The news stories are always tales of drug soaked dance parties where kids trip and trance dance, clenching pacifiers in their teeth. I thought they were mostly gatherings of kids organized by kids and for kids. Over the weekend, on an excursion to Los Angeles' Chinatown, I got a bit closer to a real rave. What an eye opener.
At first I was flummoxed by parking lots charging $20 per space, when they are normally $5. Then, the area was swamped by kids - not your average t-shirt and jeans kids but costumed kids. Girls wearing bikini bottoms with Conan the Barbarian furry boots and hot pink and traffic-cone orange hair and Sailor Moon getups and... wow. It was bizarre. There were thousands of them, all headed like lemmings toward a big lighted gate and beyond it, acres of tents and stages and thumpa-thumpa flash-flash strobe-lit chaos.
None of the kids I saw looked to be under the influence of anything but fashion madness. But then, it was early in the evening - just after dusk. What struck me was how young they all looked. Kids. Not arrested development adults masquerading as children but honest-to-God kids - with that happy and trusting sheen in the eyes that a few extra years of disappointment will invariably dull.
When I returned home, I did some research on this rave and was infuriated.
In 1969, some hippies wanting to have a big party and make a few bucks begat Woodstock - arguably the world's first rave. Now, those hippies have been replaced by professional promoters, whose sole intent is to strip every kid of every cent they carry - and then some.
The price of admission? $250 got them a VIP 2-day pass. (Such a savings over the $129 one day ticket — that's a whole... 3 percent!) But unlike Woodstock, this rave's "day" lasted from 6 pm to 2 am. On an hourly basis, that's $15.63 per hour of mostly DJ music.
Next were lodging deals the promoters had brokered - not with Motel 6 or Holiday Inn- but very high end hotels. Then there were all the airport directions for those flying in to party.
When it came to the SAFETY regulations, that's where the lambs were lead to the financial slaughter. Of course they won't allow weapons or glass or markers - I get that. But what they also don't allow are plush toys, backpacks, "professional" cameras with detachable lenses, video cameras, candy, food, no "outside beverages," backpacks or oversized purses (in which one might carry the aforementioned items.) They ban these items because they want kids to BUY THEIR plush toys, photos, DVDs, CDs, candy, food and beverages. But it's all in the name of safety. Sure. Additionally, each and every kid is subject to search. Can you imagine the groping goons conducting that? Oh, and as far as I know, that $250 does not include a seat.
Oh, and it was sold out. They made millions.
Rave? Aptly named. You'd have to be out of your mind. Or 18 years old or so.