||Sex. There's no sex here. I mean, the room is full of teenage boys and girls in the throes of hormonal upheaval and there's enough pretty little things playing at being virgins to keep me in fantasies for a month of East Brunswick jail time. But what's missing is the interaction. Nobody's tonguing anybody. Nobody's hitting on anybody. The kids dancing don't care anything about anything but their own groove. Even the ones dancing in groups are still pretty much dancing by themselves. And the only people holding hands appear to be doing so mainly to make sure they don't lose each other as they make their way through the crowd. Missy and me seem about as close as they come. And that's not saying much. Not yet, anyway. It's something I've noticed before from doing X. It makes you at one with the world, a marvelous distortion of sober reality and no mistake. But it doesn't make you one on one with any one. The universe suddenly looms too large, your own place in it too insignificant and yet so utterly relevant, to be able to address the mating aspect of it.
The music keeps pumping away. It's altered now from those hyper breakbeats to a purer techno, the kind I used to hear Skippy play back at the apartment. The kick drum is constant, a hi-hat rotates furiously around it, hand-claps punch in and out and the occasional crash cymbal announces a new theme.
All this percussion goes straight to my head, which periodically experiences miniature, drug-induced orgasmic explosions of pleasure at the unrelenting circle of sound. But it's the textures that really get me. All around these constant beats I can feel and hear other instruments - synthetic ones - moving through electronic filters, like they're taking a journey through a tunnel that keeps shifting directions.
When I'm on acid, I see music break down into its individual components - tiny colors and miniature shapes - but when I'm on acid, I never listen to music like this. And this music, on this drug, is not about miniature fractals but galactic wholes; the sound is complete, like it was designed for me, for this night, for this moment, right here right now there's no place I would rather be it's unbelievable, oh! I feel like I'd like to take my skull off, give my brain room to breathe, bring it in closer contact with the world around me, but the world around me's doing just fine without me within me....Whoosh! Another snare roll, another crash, another winding line of synthesized acid melody, another miniature orgasm of the mind.
A young boy in a shirt decorated with psychedelic logos comes dancing up to us waving a couple of flashlights, with long fluorescent green shades on them. Like miniature versions of Darth Vader's sword. The faster he waves them, the longer their images stay suspended in mid-air; if I took a picture right now, he'd look like he had a dozen in each hand. He's sweating profusely, and his eyes are somewhere else entirely. Like mine, no doubt. But he makes Clever Missy laugh. And when she does, he gives her the flash lights. She has to break from me to take them and I should be pissed at that but I'm not. I'm too happy for that. She starts waving them a little in time to the music, and then her feet start tapping a little in time to her arms, the Adidas stripes on her sneakers moving to their own little tempo. It's like an engine getting into gear. Different parts of her body start popping, like all the joints need checking. Her shins shift forward and her thighs glide backwards, her hips move from side to side, her shoulders start wiggling and her arms extending, the elbows angling, the hands pulsating and even the fingers twitching. Her head seems keen to free itself from the body below; man I swear even her nose has got its own thang going on. It's like epilepsy, and with the flashlights dancing across her personal space she looks crazy okay, but she looks fucking fantastic, truth be known. At this moment in time, she's soaring. I want this moment in time to last all night.
But as quickly as she takes flight, she is shot out of the sky. The music stops dead. The house lights come on instead, illuminating the mass in fluorescent white. Through the middle of the room march a dozen or so well built, heavily-armed gang members, in the uniform of their affiliation. NYPD, Fire Department. We've been busted.
Led by a man wearing a jacket inscribed Fire Marshall like he's the prize Latin King, the uniforms make their way to the dee jay platform, which turns out to be on the far end of the room, the only side we hadn't got to yet. Though this seems like a good time to get out of here Clever Heather instantly leads me across the room behind them. She nods subtle hellos as she goes. Nobody's dropping anyone's name anymore. There are a bunch of record crates behind the decks, a lot of people who look like they had their hour lined up to spin, but suddenly nobody's claiming ownership of anything.
"Who's in charge?" demands a cop with too many decorations for comfort.
"No one," comes a predictable answer. "Until you came in."
The cop turns suddenly on his heels to catch the agitator but he's faced only with anonymity. With the lights up, the crowd looks even younger than it did before. More wasted, too.
The cop takes the lone record off the turntable. I'm wondering if he'll be corny enough to smash it but before he gets the chance a face from the crowd behind the decks there steps forward.
"That's 'The Outlaw,'" whispers Clever Heather to me.
"That's confiscated," says the cop to the Outlaw.
"That's fucked up," says The Outlaw back to him.
"That's out of order," says the cop in return. "One more word and you're in jail. The lot of you, stay here," he says to the ones behind the decks, those who have some evident say over what's been going on. "We're going to need some details." He signals for a bullhorn from an underling and addresses everyone else. It doesn't take long.
"This is an illegal party. There were no cabaret licenses for dancing."
"That's 'cos this ain't a fucking cabaret," comes a voice from the back.
The cop ignores the remark, but hardens his voice. "The party's over. Everyone, leave quietly and there won't be any trouble."
A few people turn to find friends. Some of them are probably keen to hide drugs in case of a body-search on the way out. But just about all of them boo. And most stand their ground. A few, out of direct eyesight - but not earshot - start clapping. It starts as the slow hand clap of disgruntled sports fans, but soon a few people add some variety, like they're trying to replicate the rhythm they just had taken away from them. Others begin stamping their feet. All of a sudden we've got kick drum and snare. One big human fucking beat box. A couple of tougher-looking older kids with scraggly hair and piercings, the kind who've seen much heavier situations than this, do something even more provocative. They start dancing. To the sound of stomping feet and clapping hands they pick up the groove they just left off.
The cop in charge tries shouting down the crowd through the bullhorn. It doesn't work. The other cops and the fire crew begin conferring. Radios are crackling. They're debating whether to call for reinforcements. Meantime, a chant makes its way from the back of the room to the front, rising in pitch and clarity like one of the synthesizer tracks I was just taking in. "Freedom to dance, freedom to dance, freedom to dance...." These wasted looking ravers are turning their bust into a political demonstration. This is getting seriously surreal. The craziest thing about it is that they're not aggressive, not remotely violent. They're just on it and out of it. And that's something these officials have never seen before.
The Outlaw is talking to the fire marshall. The fire marshall taps the cop in charge. The cop listens to the Outlaw, shakes his head, audibly curses, looks around at the noisesome crowd, curses again, confers with the fire marshall, shakes his head and hands the Outlaw the bullhorn.
"Yo, listen up," says The Outlaw over the bullhorn in a thick Brooklyn accent. The crowd cheers when they hear one of their own on the mike, but gradually quiet down at his request. "It's over. For tonight. We tried. You know, we tried. You all tried. You all did great. We ain't gonna let this die, but we have to go back underground for a while." The crowd roars now, a combination of approval for the Outlaw and disapproval for the bust. I let out a joyous whoop of my own. "Get out of Manhattan, away from oppression, follow the beats back to the streets." The crowd roars some more. This demonstration is now becoming a rally.
"Back to the parks, yo! Back under the bridge, yo! We gonna take it to the bridge. To the bridge. Gonna take it to the bridge. Peace!"
The crowd roars again but the whistling and clapping quickly dies down. They all start conferring, gathering jackets off floors, finding friends and getting ready to get the hell out of here.
"The bridge," says Clever Heather, as soft as she can, and I catch on.
But the cops don't. They just oversee the crowd dispersal. Watch closely as dee jays claim their crates. Write down names and addresses, talking loudly and clearly about criminal charges should any of them turn out to be fakes. They want to know about the PA, the lights. They're looking for the big boys. But, as Clever Heather tells me, the equipment is rented from mainstream, otherwise respectable companies who the promoters paid cash up front. There's no real trace as to who was in charge. The police have closed the party, but for them it's a hollow victory.
And it's an equally frustrating defeat for those who came to dance.
The uniforms have pissed off a lot of people. None of them, it would seem, so much as The Wire.
"Fucking cops, man," he says as he comes over to the decks, where he knows most of the dee jays by first name, if not by kind. "They'll fucking bust any party, man. But our buddies get shot and they don't give a shit. Do they Holy?"
Before I can respond, he turns to The Outlaw. "I tell you man, soon it's gonna be the only raves you can go to will be in the nightclubs. I swear, man, that's the way it's going." He sounds really pissed off about it, too. The Outlaw just stares at him with a look of pure hatred.
(END OF HEDONISM, PART ONE.)
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