Chapter 22 - FreEDM (Fall 2009) - PSPS: My Life As A Rave Outlaw

in #writing2 years ago (edited)

This is the full 22nd 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, and the mobile game is coming soon,

If you missed chapters 1 2 345678910111213141516171819 or 20 go back and read those in order first.

Chapter 22 - FreEDM (Fall 2009)

By the end of that summer, the crowd and success that we managed to accumulate the year before had all but vanished. Then one night, while I sat disappointed in a nearly empty club, I started to see a way out and began formulating a plan. When I was paying out a headliner that we booked from the West Coast, I started to think about our budgets. I realized that even during our best times, we made a tiny percentage of our money through ticket sales, most of it was through the drugs. I always kept my promises with payment, but I was growing tired of paying big-name DJs more than they were worth, especially when they weren't bringing anyone through the door. Then it hit me, if we did free shows with DJs on my crew, we wouldn't have a budget. By now, many of the DJs who I helped develop had become very popular, and most of them just charged me gas money. Free shows are a rarity because they almost always require the promoter to take a considerable loss, but I would only need to sell a few ten packs to cover the travel expenses for my crew. I went to Charles with the idea at the end of the night, and he loved it, so we stayed at the club late to work out a plan for the show. Both of us were extremely bitter about how the cops destroyed our business and our dreams, and we began to kick around ideas about “fight for your right to party” type themes. Eventually, we came up with the name FreEDM. As promotional material for the event, we wrote a four or five-page statement about how our culture was being persecuted by an out of control police state, how Galaxy was one of the area’s last remaining sanctuaries for this culture, and that we would be fighting to keep it that way. We weren't lying either, Charles was going forward with his lawsuit, and we were talking about pushing for legislation to allow clubs to stay open later. The next day, I was able to put our free show together in just a few hours. As soon as I had all the DJs confirmed, I put an event page online with a picture of our logo and the statement that we wrote together.

We didn't even give ourselves any time to promote, maybe two weeks tops, but on the night of the show, the parking lot was filled by 9pm just like the old days. People were drawn to the idea of a free show, and let's face it, we live in a time where everyone is broke, and there are many nights where people sit inside because they don't have the money to go out. We were able to tap into that audience and give them something for free while still making just as much money, if not more than we usually did. Since the party was so packed, people were able to see that Galaxy could still be fun, even without the upstairs open. We also proved that we were still the best place to come to score good drugs and the only place in town where you could truly be free.

The party was such a success that we started doing these free shows on a regular basis, and it quickly became something that we would do every Thursday night. When the free parties started bringing people back through the door, Charles wanted to start booking headliners again as a way of rebuilding our reputation, but he said we really needed to make an impression this time and go big. I wasn’t the one who would be paying for it, so I saw it as a good opportunity to build my brand.

I instantly thought back to my trip to New York earlier that year, where I met that guy DJ Rembrandt who promised that he could get any headliner that I wanted to book, even Lenny Dee. I lost his card, but I looked him up online and sent him a message to see if he was still willing to help me out with his connections. When I asked him about Lenny Dee, he seemed to remember the conversation and said that he could help me out, but that I would need to give him something in return by booking him to play at Galaxy first. It seemed like a fair enough deal, after all, the entertainment industry is built upon mutually beneficial relationships. I thought I was about to join the big leagues, but I quickly regretted my decision to strike a deal with Rembrandt. He was the nicest guy in the world before I started dealing with him on a business level, but as soon as I booked those dates with him, he became the biggest bully I ever met. He expected me to have a full deposit paid, with flights and hotels booked immediately after I confirmed the date with him, which wasn't possible for me and was a lot more pressure than I was used to getting. Most DJs didn't care when their deposits were paid, as long as they were paid before the flyers were printed. The reasoning behind this is that you are using their name to sell tickets and promote, and you should have the dates confirmed and deposits paid before you get to that point. This makes perfect sense and is entirely reasonable, and this was the type of deal that I was familiar with.

At the time I wasn't sure if Rembrandt was just being pushy, or if this was how business was done in New York, but the guy was giving me a panic attack every time he called. He would call me multiple times every day leaving me nasty voicemail messages, telling me that I owed him money and that I was not suited for this business if I didn't have piles of cash lying around to pay people on demand. I avoided his calls because he was very mean and condescending. I was terrified of the guy, and I was still waiting on Charles to cough up the money since he was my investor. It was a typical thing for him to drag his feet and pay deposits at the very last minute, but it was never really a problem before. The situation had me filled with anxiety for nearly a month until Charles finally paid up. Once Rembrandt had his money, he acted like my best friend again, saying “Oh I just have to get serious when it comes to business, I didn't mean anything by it.”

This is one of the typical excuses that bullies use to justify their actions, they act like they are just telling it like it is, and that the rest of the world is too sensitive. Bullies like him think that everyone else should simply deal with whatever abuse they feel like dishing out, just because they lack the emotional intelligence to treat people with respect. When the night of the show with Rembrandt finally came, I was sick to my stomach with anxiety and didn't even want to show up at the club.

The only reason I booked him in the first place was because he conned his way onto the lineup, and the only reason I showed up that night was because he was still hanging that Lenny Dee booking over my head. All night, I did everything I could to avoid him, hiding in the condemned upper portion of the building smoking blunts and doing lines with Enzo and his crew. Galaxy was empty that night because Silver Spoon opened a new club called Mardi Gras on the other side of town, and they were starting to put a serious dent in our crowds. I was actually kind of happy that the club was empty that night, since Charles was footing the bill anyway and I really didn't want Rembrandt to have a good time.

I wanted him to play for the empty room that he deserved, and I got my wish. I have a feeling he knew that I was avoiding him all night, and he was probably bummed that he didn't get to wield his power over me. I got this impression because as soon as the show was over, he insisted that I go back to his hotel room for an afterparty. It was an annoying and agonizing experience where I had to listen to his condescending ass blabber on about how great he was. I had no choice but to stay there for a bit, because I still needed to maintain good terms with him until the Lenny Dee show was over. I felt like I was held hostage in that hotel room, every time I attempted to make an excuse to leave, he insisted that I stay so he could talk down to me more. Eventually, he decided that he was ready to let people leave and I got out of there as fast as I could. In that next month leading up to the Lenny Dee show, I reached out to some of my New York contacts to vent to them about my experience.

The response I got was overwhelming, everyone in New York knew that Rembrandt was a dick and they couldn't stand him either. They only dealt with him because they had no choice since he managed several clubs in the city. Everyone told me that they would have warned me if they knew that I was getting involved with him, since he was such a notorious bully. This made me feel a bit better and made me way less insecure about all the mean things he said to me. Then a week before the show, news of how he treated me spread through the rumor mill up north until the story somehow reached the ears of Lenny Dee and his actual management crew, and they were pissed. Not only did Rembrandt lie to me about being Lenny Dee’s agent, but he was also misrepresenting the label and management crew with the way that he treated me. They were under the impression that Rembrandt was doing them a favor and acting as a middleman to arrange the show, and this was what he was doing, but he did everything he could to hide this fact from me and make it appear like he was the main contact. Once they found out how I was treated, they contacted me to apologize for the mix-up and informed me that they would be taking over from now on. It was weird because these were people from one of the biggest hardcore labels in the world, and they were extremely nice, and down to earth, meanwhile Rembrandt was a local with an ego, but I guess that's how life works sometimes. Having him out of the way was a massive weight off my shoulders, and it allowed me to appreciate a milestone in my career without any anxiety or stress.

I called the party “American Psycho” and made the flyer with an evil looking Captain America, with the word “American” being spelled out with letters from corporate logos, like the C in Coca-Cola or the M in McDonald's.

When it came time to pick Lenny up from the airport, I brought Jerry with me, since we both grew up listening to him. When Lenny jumped in the car, he seemed more like a raver than an internationally touring DJ. He seemed excited to be there and was asking all sorts of questions about the scene and the club. They say to never meet your heroes, but this guy was awesome and was totally down to earth, even despite his accomplishments. We had a decent crowd that night, but the club wasn't packed. We ended up breaking even, and everyone had a good time, which was starting to look like a win after some of the shows that I had been through. Plus, I made enough money selling pills to cover my bills for the month, so I was happy with the outcome.

The club was not drama free that night though, while everything was running smoothly on stage, we had problems behind the scenes. Around that time, Dave, my best runner, was really starting to make some bad decisions, and it took an ugly turn that night. In the middle of the show, he came up to me entirely fucked up, asking me if it was a bad idea for his pregnant girlfriend to be eating rolls. He figured it was ok since she was eating the green ones instead of the yellow ones, because the yellow ones were dopey, or something. I’m not quite sure what the logic behind this was, but I was horrified. I gave the obvious answer that she shouldn't be eating any color or any variety of pill, and I slowly walked to Charles office, completely dumbfounded.

“What's wrong man? It may not be a sold-out show, but this is a success, we really needed a big name like that in here,” Charles said, sensing that I looked disturbed.

“Yeah...Yeah, I know. It's not that. I just heard something out there that really fucked me up, I'm not sure how to handle it,” I said.

“What happened?” Charles asked.

“Dave got some girl pregnant. I'm not sure who she is, but she's out there rolling her face off apparently. They seem to think the green pills are OK for pregnant chicks. I don't know what the fuck has gotten into this kid,” I said.

Charles sat there staring at me with his mouth wide open and his eyes bulging out of his head. I could tell that as a father this was hitting him even harder than it was hitting me.

He rested his head in his hands and said, “give me a few minutes to think about this.”

When I stepped out of the office, the show was just about over. It was 2am, and we were being watched so closely now that we couldn't stay open late anymore. Our cash-flow was back again though, so we were able to rent other locations in the city for afterparties. Tonight, we rented a baller penthouse at a hotel downtown in the harbor and sent everyone there once the show was over. It was a wild party that didn’t end until the next afternoon, and nearly everyone from the club came through. Charles and Dave never showed up, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time.


I love these my dude!!!!

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