Once upon a time, I liked to go out. A lot. I know, I know – surely you’ve swooned in shock or your fancy monocle has shattered from the sheer astonishment (I don’t know why I imagine you all as nineteenth century caricatures, I apologize).
Now that I’ve settled into the geriatric bliss of my late twenties, few things sound so horrid as the sweaty, intimate cluster of complete strangers rubbing up against one another to the beat of eardrum-shattering electronic music known as a rave. But those clammy bastards (I say that with all the affection in the world) used to be my people. And I liked it.
Starting around the tenth grade (we’re talking early 2000s—Britney Spears was but a budding, “virginal” pop princess. Memories!), word around school was that the cool kids were spending their weekends at underground dance parties. As we all know, nothing entices a 16-year-old more than any variation of the word “underground”, which automatically implies “illegal”, “dangerous” and “FUN.”
So, of course, my underage pals and I jumped on the illicit bandwagon. The obvious depravity of it all was probably the main draw, but my Eurotrash genetics are also quite strong and since birth have compelled me to seek out dance music. That’s just how DNA works—it’s science.
Our first endeavor into the underground was an utter failure. We spent most of the night in the car, driving from checkpoint to checkpoint (i.e. the mandatory stops you have to make in order to obtain directions to the rave’s secret site—like a treasure hunt but less magical). Once we arrived at the sketchy warehouse (90% of illegal things happen in warehouses. I know this from life experience and bad cable television), we pranced around with the giddy abandon only teens breaking curfew can muster. Within about 30 minutes, the police shut it all down and we were back in the car. But the excitement, the freedom! School dances just couldn’t compare. And besides, at raves we could rock JNCO pants!
And so I was suddenly a raver. I kept it mostly under wraps during daylight hours, maintaining good grades and admirable citizenship in all my classes (except geometry—screw you vertical angle theorem! I haven’t used you once since tenth grade). The only giveaway was the collection of kandi (hideously garish bracelets made of cheap elastic and plastic beads representing every color of the hallucinatory rainbow) I sported on each wrist. Though really, I’d worn similarly glamorous jewelery as a preschool-aged aspiring Punky Brewster, so, you know, nothing new.
In all honesty, nothing particularly salacious ever happened at these raves. Looking back, it was all a blur of thumping baselines, LED lights and unfortunate clothes. And dancing, of course. So much dancing. Sore legs in the morning dancing. Who has the energy for that?!
And we hardly slept. My parents thought I was sleeping a lot because every weekend I was allegedly at another friend’s slumber party, allegedly slumbering. I was not (mom knows the truth now, it’s okay—no need for phone calls). Instead, every weekend, my friends and I scoured the primitive event websites (GeoCities, anyone?) and hit up record stores for cartoon-covered party flyers, plotting our next night out. We took buses to random cities and met random people we swore would be lifelong friends. Ugh, who has the energy for that much friendship?
And then it stopped. I kept the raving up through most of my junior year and part of senior year, until one day, the techo-fueled party in my head just shut down. I vividly remember riding the bus to meet my friends and being overcome by an alarming sensation: I wanted to be home instead. I wanted to hang out on the couch and watch stupid shows and be warm and comfortable and drink hot chocolate with my mom and not have strange people all up in my grill.
I was sure it would pass—I’d get my groove back! But alas, I had met my fate. I’d realized my true old ladydom. I managed to eke out some craziness in college and sure, I’ve made plenty of bad decisions since then, but for all intents and purposes, I’ve resigned myself to a far more boring life than the one I once led. And I’m totally fine with that.
Though I might repurpose some of that kandi—it could be a hit on Etsy, no?