This is the full 28th chapter of my book Paper Squares and Purple Stars: My Life as a Rave Outlaw. I have decided to share the whole book here for free. The book is already available for purchase at www.raveoutlaw.com, and the mobile game is coming soon, www.immortalgames.co.uk.
Chapter 30 - Summer of Hardcore (Summer 2010)
Things were getting too crazy for me to handle again, but luckily I was about to leave town for a while, which would give me some much needed time to process what I was going through. I had a little tour planned for the middle of summer, something that I set up a few months back when the venue hunt began. It turned out that I was one of the only promoters in the country focusing on hard dance, so by default I ended up somewhere on top of that niche, and that made my expertise valuable to other crews who weren't familiar with the genre. The shows on the tour were booked and promoted locally by my partners, while I would offer my DJs and advertise the shows nationally as being a part of the “Good Vibes Summer of Hardcore” tour. My first stop was Ohio. I set up a party in Cincinnati with a hardcore crew that I worked with out there. The show was at this place called Party Hoppers, it was one of those indoor playgrounds for children, with ball pits and arcade games, kind of like a Discovery Zone or Chuck E Cheese.
I had to get on a flight early in the morning on Saturday for the show that night, but I'm terrified of flying so I took about a quarter-gram of molly to calm my nerves just before getting out of the car in front of the airport. You might think that rolling face at 39,000 feet would cause a panic attack, but it actually did an excellent job at getting rid of my anxiety about the flight, it put me in the best mood. I spent the flight scrawling into a spiral notebook where I had been compiling the notes and ideas for my book. The flight was only about two hours though, so when I landed in Ohio, I was still on cloud nine. A few DJs picked me up from the airport, and they were holding a cardboard sign that had “Good Vibes” written on it in colorful marker like they were some kind of flower-child limo service. When we got in the car, they already had a bowl packed for me, which was amazing because it felt like I hadn't smoked in ages, even though it was only a few hours. I didn't have the heart to tell my business partners for the weekend that I was already faced at 1PM, so I just kept it professional and enjoyed the ride.
We went straight from the airport to the venue, where the other half of the crew was getting set up. The place was just as cool as I thought it would be, and it was huge too. Setting up a show while my mind was in another dimension was nothing new, so as soon as I was done checking the place out, I got to work carrying around turntables and plugging in speakers. By the time that the sun went down, there were already ravers with glowsticks lining up in the parking lot. People drove from all over for this show, and we didn't have any problems from cops all night. My roll wore off by the time the show began, but I managed to score a few more pills to keep the party going into the early morning hours. We ended up barely breaking even, despite the fact that it was a crowded show because the budget was just too high. The next morning, the team went out to have breakfast with the DJs to celebrate and say our goodbyes, and I was still on another planet. I just had an orange juice for breakfast that morning and sat there with a huge smile on my face trying to keep up with the conversations that were swirling around me. I don’t eat much, I actually hate food. It’s a long story, but I have a rare eating disorder that makes me totally repulsed by most food. It doesn’t have anything to do with my weight, I wish I wasn’t so skinny, it’s just hard to make myself eat things that make me want to gag, which is most food. At least with being fucked up, I had an excuse to skip breakfast, so going out to eat with a group of people wasn’t as awkward for me as it usually was. After breakfast, it was time for me to go back to the airport, so I pounded another pill that I saved from the night before to get me through the flight, which went pretty much exactly like the last one did.
When I got back home, I had the rest of the week to catch up on some sleep, but then when the weekend rolled around, it was time for another trip, this time on the road. The next stop was Richmond, Virginia, which was about a three-hour drive from Baltimore. The Richmond stop was at a bowling alley, and even though I had never seen the place, I was excited to be throwing a party in another interesting location. When Enzo and his crew came by my house to pick me up, I had nearly forgotten about the paranoid warnings that Manifest had given me before I left town, but the topic inevitably came up on the ride.
“So, what was up with your boy Manifest, is he ok? I can't believe the dude faked his death like that. Do you think he just couldn't handle his shit?” Enzo asked.
“Well, you know, he was startin to lose his grip I think, I don't think it was the L that did it, it seemed like he was going in that direction. I mean, me and him are both into some strange things, all that shit about the revolution and spirituality, but he got lost in it I think,” I replied.
“Yeah, I think all that shit is cool man, but I know what you mean, he did seem to take everything to a fanatical level,” Enzo said.
We didn't spend long talking about that though, the conversation quickly drifted in different directions as everyone in the car was getting high and rambling. When we eventually pulled up to the bowling alley after a long drive, it was already dark. The place was tucked away in a shopping center in an old part of town that didn't get much traffic, the perfect place for a rave. It seemed like we had the spot to ourselves too, we didn't bother hiring security, and it didn't look like there was any staff there. There was a dance floor that could fit about 100 people in the middle of the room, and it was filled with a few ravers, but most of the crowd was either bowling or laying around on the benches. It was a good party, but once again, at the end of the night we barely broke even. At least we were able to sell enough pills to make it worth the trip though.
After the show, Enzo and his crew had to rush back to Philly to re-up and work a big party that was happening in the city that weekend. I arranged to hitch a ride with Stryda to the next date on the tour, a festival called “Unity” in Coropeake, North Carolina.
The boys left me with their last 200 pills so I would have something to work with at the festival. I set up the same deal for this show that I had for the others, they provide the venue, and I bring the DJs. The ride from Richmond wasn't far, it was about a two-hour drive down country roads that cut through ghost towns and small communities where the jobs seemed to have left long ago. When we got close to the venue, we noticed that there were a ton of cops, so I rolled up the end of my bag of pills and looped it through the fly in my boxers, just in case something crazy happened. We kept the windows rolled down to air out the smoke from the ride too. Luckily, we were on top of our game because there was a roadblock and a checkpoint about two miles away from the venue. The cop leaned his head in the window and asked where we were going, Stryda was in the driver seat, and he played it cool, explaining that we were musicians on our way to play a nearby event. The cop seemed satisfied with our answer and waved us through, giving us directions to the festival. It was a close call, but it was not promising that he knew where the party was. When we arrived at the parking lot, we were directed into our spot... By cops. We played it as cool as possible and tried to act like we didn't realize we were walking into a trap. I tried calling the main organizer, it was this older woman named Cindy, no answer. I had to find someone who knew what the hell was going on. When we were walking through the parking lot, I realized that we were basically in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. Before we made it all the way through the parking lot, I saw someone I knew getting busted, with cops rummaging through their car and everything, it seemed like everyone was a target. On the festival grounds, which was really just someone’s yard, cops rode around in golf carts shining flashlights at people. The pills felt heavy in my pants because I realized that at any moment one of those cops could snatch me up and shake me down. I pulled out my phone and started calling some of the ravers who would run pills for me at Galaxy, I knew that most of them would be there. After catching a few voicemails, I finally got through to one of my best runners, this guy named Kody who had been with me since the old days.
“Yo, are you here at Unity?” I asked.
“Yeah, where are you? we’ve been looking for you,” he replied.
“I'm by the stage, but we got devils everywhere. Are you comfortable working tonight? Cuz I’m not, I’ll give you all the profits if you wanna get rid of this shit, just cover my costs. I gotta make sure I pay Enzo and his boys back,” I said.
“That's why we were looking for you, everyone’s dry, and there are sales to be made, I ain’t afraid of a few cops. The campsites are actually pretty chill, meet me by the side of the stage and follow me there,” Kody said.
It didn't take us long to find each other, there couldn't have been more than 150 people there, and there were easily half as many cops. He led me to a small camping area where we were able to duck into the darkness long enough for me to hand off my bag of pills. Then we walked in separate directions and promised to keep in contact through text for the rest of the night. I got that weight off my shoulders, now it was time to figure out why my party was a death trap. I found a few of the organizers up by the stage, partying and acting like nothing was wrong. I walked up to Cindy behind the stage and shouted, “What the fuck is going on out there? How are the cops here already?”
She rolled her eyes at me, then put down her drink and took me aside from the crowd.
“Well, I decided that it would be best to let them know we were coming, you know, that's what they do at Moonscape,” she said defensively.
“At Moonscape they pay those motherfuckers top dollar to look in the other direction with shit. We don't have that luxury, especially in a small town like this. Maybe you can get away with a small kickback when you’re in the hood, but these cops ain’t got shit else to do but bust anyone that comes through their town with a dime bag,” I shouted.
“Well, it is what it is now, I'm just trying to enjoy the party,” she said.
“It's not our fucking job to enjoy the party, it's our job to make sure people don't get busted, and we have failed, YOU have failed!” I said.
Just then I got a call from Kody’s phone, I walked away without saying anything and answered the call. It wasn't Kody on the other end, it was one of his friends.
“Yo, John, Kody just got busted! Some hot rave chick came up to him wearing fishnets and a fuzzy hat asking about a ten pack, and as soon as he reached into his pocket, a ton of cops came out of nowhere with night vision goggles and everything! I think she was a cop! They searched through his shit and found close to a hundred pills and a whole bunch of money, but I had his phone cuz I was using the flashlight,” he frantically explained.
My heart sank, he got busted with a pile of individually wrapped ten packs, and it was my fault. It was a weird feeling, I felt guilty and horrible, but at the same time I felt grateful that it wasn't me, and relieved that the cops didn't have his phone which might lead him back to me, then I was filled with fear that he might snitch. The rest of the night was horrifying, I tried to have the show shut down at that point, just cut off the music and send everyone home, but the other promoters insisted on letting the show go on, they didn't seem to think that the situation was as big of a disaster as I did. We had nothing on us, so I was no longer in any immediate danger, but some kid's life might be ruined now, and it was my fault. I couldn't leave with a clear conscience, I felt like I had a responsibility to protect these people, but I was helpless, all I could do was sit there and watch all these people get scooped up by cops like lambs to the slaughter. There were dozens of arrests that night, and many of them were people who I had known for years, but there was nothing I could do to stop it. At one point, as the sun was coming up, we packed up and left, knowing that there was nothing that we could do.
The 6-hour ride home without any weed felt like an eternity, but at least we were riding clean. I was lucky I made it, but I still had 1,000 bucks to answer for the next time I spoke with Enzo. It might not seem like that big of a deal, but I was already really broke, and this wasn't the first time that I lost their drugs. I was afraid maybe they were going to start to think that I was scamming them or stealing from them or something. Just a few months before, I lost my wallet out front of a club downtown, and it had a sheet of their acid and $500 of their money inside. Even then, Enzo let me slide with no problem, but I was afraid that he wouldn’t be so generous this time.
A few days later, I met Enzo and his crew at his trap house in Philly and told them about everything that happened. Word of the arrests had already spread through the scene, because everybody knew someone or was connected to someone who got busted, and it was even getting news coverage.
Enzo and his boys sat and listened to the blow by blow of what happened that weekend as we passed around a blunt. Before I even got the chance to finish the story Enzo said, “Shit man, you can't seem to get a break, can you? Don't worry about the money, this shit happens. I'm just glad you didn't get busted. That's what runners are for right? You don't think he’ll snitch do you?” he asked.
“Nah, he’s not the type, and the cops didn't even get his phone,” I said.
“Then we’re good, don't worry about it, we’ll make that up ten-fold at the next party,” Enzo said,
“I really appreciate it. I'm sorry, I know this looks really bad. I know I owe you a lot of money,” I said.
“I ain’t keepin count, the shit I front to you is pocket change, I am just trying to help you out buddy. Why don't you call Caylee and tell her you are stayin up here tonight? These new rolls we got are fire, and I got a fat bag of DMT too,” he said.
That night I stuck around to party, and Enzo and his crew fed me so many pills that I couldn't even see straight, my eyes were in a constant flutter. We had that whole big old house to ourselves that night, no music or crowds, just a few lowlifes getting blasted out of our skulls. For an hour or so there, we passed around the DMT pipe like it was a blunt, it was ridiculous. That night was a huge bonding experience, which is bound to happen when you have a few people on that much ecstasy in the same room. Regardless of the catalyst, after that night I felt like I was truly a part of the crew, I felt welcome. The time passed so quickly in that old house that it was morning before I knew it, and while the details are vague, I remember staying up all night, sharing our hopes, fears ambitions, and even childhood traumas.