House music is more than a mixtape for sixteen-year-old Samantha, it's a force. And a rave is not just any party, it’s everything. Glow stick shooting stars. Stomping JNCO jeans. Neon candy jewelry. Inside dark, musky warehouses in the middle of the night is where Samantha is her superstar self, a.k.a. Ms. Red. She's connected with her tribe. But the sun rises, the buzz fades, and it's back to the doldrums of high school. This memoir narrates one glitter-girl-next-door's transformation through the San Francisco Bay Area's rave culture in the '90s from raver princess to aspiring Vogue editor.
Ferrari Ravioli + Adidas Touchless
"Dance. Drink water. Kiss Brandon. Breathe. Pee. Dance. Talk to her. Smile. Watch the lights. Take off my shoes. Apply lip gloss. Dance. Smoke a cigarette. Talk to him. Talk to her. Laugh. Sit. Stand. Sit. Stand. Dance. I didn't know what I wanted to do first. And I wanted to do everything at once.
My body moved to the beat, my shoulders did their sassy thing, my feet kicked side-to-side. Worries about my parents and getting caught vanished, and I looked at my friends and all the fascinating strangers surrounding us and sensed that we were all feeling the exact, same, way.
Slow. Slow. Quick quick. Slow. It felt so good letting go go go after the previous hours leading up to now now now. Simmering down and pumping faster, my superstar self emerged. Weightless, boundless, happiness, just as I started busting out some stylish moves, Brandon grabbed my hand and pulled me after him.
He led me down another hallway that opened to the Chill Room, the raver's refuge for when you wanted to, well, chill. A haven where water, fruit, and new best friends abound. This room was totally different, and much quieter, with mattresses and sofas angled haphazardly and people sprawled about. A blue glow soothed the room. Some couples were making out, but most people were gathered in small groups, chatting and laughing, huddled inside their bubbles. Glossy rave flyers and empty water bottles littered the floor.
It was back to me and Tommy starring in our teen movie strolling around the outside of the party. We were talking about how we could always find our dealer because of his signature orange shirts. We nicknamed him Mr. Orange.
That made me think of the Quentin Tarantino film "Reservoir Dogs," where the characters adopted color pseudonyms to hide their true identities. If I were in that movie, I would have been Ms. Red. Fiery. Bold. Passionate. Tommy would have been Mr. Blue. Friendly, universal, tranquil.
Then it dawned on us: What if we had a club where our friends were a color that represented their personality? And protected their identity? The name of our new club was obvious: The Color Club.
Mr. Blue suggested there could be a Mr. and a Ms. for every color. I elected myself President since I was the organized one. Mr. Blue was to be Vice-President. The first rule was that we both had to approve any new members, agreeing on their color.
"Look! It's Elena!" Mr. Blue pointed through the crowd. With her afro puffs, Elena was always easy to spot. We went over and told her about the Color Club.
I asked, "What's your favorite color?"
"Brown," she said confidently, her afro puffs perfectly round like Minnie Mouse's ears. "No wait—Foxy Brown!"
"Hell yeah!" Mr. Blue said.
Ms. Red, Mr. Blue + Mr. Platinum
“Do you still feel sick?” she asked me after I heard her door shut. “Do you want some water?”
I heard the swish and crackle of plastic and knew she was handing me something but I couldn't open my hand. And I couldn't answer her questions. She was sitting within an arm's distance, and she plopped a weight into my left hand. I clenched it but couldn't lift it up.
My usual dissociative Special K state had gone from invincible to immobile and I lost my grip on the water bottle. I didn't know if Analise took it back or if it fell to the floor or if it disappeared into thin air. I told myself it was somewhere close, and that I would be normal again soon.
I'd witnessed Paul in a K-hole at a rave before and knew it wouldn't last long. All you could do was let it run its course. You could go to the emergency room, but that was a last resort.
Special K is a short-lived high, and the downside K-hole usually lasts 15 or 20 minutes. When it happened to him, Paul sat with his back against a wall, with Analise next to him talking him through it, just like she was with me now.
He appeared drunk, slurring his speech and opening and closing his eyes and rolling his head around. I watched this for a minute and bounced because it made me uncomfortable. When I saw Paul dancing at the party an hour later he seemed fine, so it couldn’t have been too bad.
But I was frozen within my body. This inability to move was the most frightening effect of the K-hole. But the nightmare is when the drug is used for date rape. Your body disconnects from your brain, but you are still awake, able to watch and witness what's happening around you. Or to you.