Letters to the Editor

From the week of March 1, 2001

Rave New World

Party on! I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for Laura Bond's objective and informative article on the Colorado rave scene, "Home of the Rave," in the February 22 issue. I'm a DJ here in Denver, and I play at a lot of these events. Police and the media are constantly trying to make raves out to be havens for drugs, with DJs and promoters as the dealers. I don't do drugs, and I would never sell drugs, and I think your article helped stress this to the general public.

"Ravers" are a group of people who are under the microscope these days. Made up of people who love dance music and like to dance and listen to music all night long, we are a peaceful group. Within every group, there are careless kids who want nothing more than to get high and feel good, but this is not a "rave" issue. Kids will be kids, and those who act in this manner are not ravers, just reckless youth. Highlands Ranch High School is taking a step in the right direction by teaching parents and kids about Ecstasy and other drugs instead of trying to place blame on raves and production crews.

In this day and age, there are no more raves. The day we had to get permits for them, they became large, all-night dance parties. So I feel that we, as the raving community, should be treated the same as those who attend rock concerts. Hell, we're all the same, only our music comes from turntables and not from live instruments.

Brandon Plank
Denver

Rave heart: Thank you to Laura Bond for writing such a wonderful article about the threat to the rave scene in Colorado. As a raver, I have been concerned about the legal ramifications of the recent media spotlight on raves. I've been aware that our parties are being targeted as havens for teenage delinquents and drug abusers, and I was afraid that I was seeing the end of raves in Colorado. While the threat is still upon us, I now know that there are many people who are working to keep our parties alive -- and legal.

I think it is important that the public understand that the rave scene is more than just a group of unruly teenagers. Many ravers are older than eighteen, some even ranging to 35 or older. I myself am twenty. Ravers are a subculture of present society. Every skin color, religious background, sexual preference and more can be found at a rave. We feel that we are a community, strong in shared interests, and none of us wants to see the end of our scene.

I hope that promoters and the law can work together to find common ground so that raves may continue to thrive. Laura Bond's article was the first step I've seen the media take to inform, rather than scare, the public about the rave scene.

Jenifer Shott
Broomfield

Mile higher stadium: Read between the lines of Laura Bond's rave article, and one thing becomes perfectly clear: There is a single motivating force behind local law-enforcement agencies' intolerance of "raves," and that is the current hysteria inspired by the "war on drugs," and on Ecstasy in particular. The DEA will never acknowledge the typical irony it has created: Pure MDMA (Ecstasy) is an almost entirely harmless substance, with no known side effects. However, the "war on drugs" has made the ingredients for producing MDMA virtually impossible to get and therefore very expensive. As a result, cheap and dangerous substitute ingredients are used, producing similar effects at a fraction of the cost and endangering unsuspecting users. So at least with respect to Ecstasy use, the DEA is squarely to blame for any public danger. Even so, the "protect the public" rhetoric used by law-enforcement agencies to justify closure of Denver dance events is absurd. (Those with an interest in unbiased and useful information about Ecstasy and dance culture should visit Dance Safe at dancesafe.org, an organization committed to harm reduction and popular education regarding drug use associated with dance culture.)

Statistical evidence will show that thousands of drunken idiots driving away from a football game are far more dangerous to themselves and to public safety than a few hundred E'd-out kids driving home at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning. But when's the last time you saw one of Pat Bowlen's events getting shut down under false pretenses? Too many corporations with too much lobbying power would have too much to lose. Likewise, if the media jumped on a story anytime someone died from alcohol-related causes (the way it did over the single "Ecstasy" death of Brittney Chambers), then Coors would crumble. In the end, the only dangerously criminal activity taking place is that perpetrated against small independent rave promoters like Thomas Heath and Chris Irvin, who aren't even allowed to speak in court to defend themselves against the illegal hysteria levied against them by ignorant law-enforcement agencies.

Perhaps if the promoters could just get the taxpayers to build a rave stadium for them with corporate beverages for sale inside...

Dustin Gabel
Denver

Law and ardor: I will be happy to see some sort of regulation for raves -- and I am saying this as a 21-year-old college student. My own private Halloween party was erroneously interpreted as a rave by a handful of people, and over 300 people showed up at my residence in a quiet neighborhood -- and that was even without fliers! Needless to say, the rave scene is way out of control, and something must be done about the kids who are attending these gatherings. I am appalled that there are sixteen-year-olds, and sometimes even younger kids, dabbling in drugs like Ecstasy. Not even five years ago, when I was their age, we couldn't even get ahold of wine coolers, much less designer drugs. The promoters of such events state that they are doing it "for the music," but I wonder if they are getting that message across to the kids. On several occasions I have been handed fliers on campus that are overly blatant in their insinuations regarding the "love drug."

It seems to me that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, or maybe they do and they are just turning the other way to make another almighty dollar.

Andrea Solano
Thornton

A sobering experience:As a person currently involved in the rave scene, I was appalled at some things I read in Laura Bond's article. It seems that because a few kids are making poor personal choices, the entire subculture of partygoers is having to suffer greatly through society's hostile, misled attitudes. Raves have been around forever, as has Ecstasy. A person can take, buy and sell Ecstasy anywhere, not just at a rave. And people can have fun at a rave sober, if they're truly there for the musical experience. It does concern me when kids go only as an excuse to take drugs, because it ruins it for the rest of us. But it doesn't make sense to shut raves down without any consideration for how to maintain them better.

Think about other shows and concerts, such as the Up in Smoke tour -- a tour devoted to the use of marijuana, put on by musicians who sing songs about smoking weed, but it's legal, and perfectly okay in society's eyes. And what about dance clubs? They usually play some form of techno music, and they all sell alcohol -- which is a type of party drug. I want to make it clear that, yes, there is drug use at raves; it's part of the scene. But drugs are a part of life. They can be regulated, but they cannot be stopped. And I guarantee that shutting down the rave scene will do nothing to cut down on the use of Ecstasy. We all know that no matter what the law says, there will always be raves, just like drugs.

All we ask is that all ravers not be looked down on. Not all of us spend our nights sucking on pacifiers and zoning out. Some of us love the music and will go no matter what.

Name withheld on request

Mother knows best:Thanks for your enlightening story about the rave scene here in Colorado. As a mother of two teenage boys who have been going to raves since last spring, I thought it was good to have someone write about the current local controversy surrounding raves. I'm not naive about the drug connection at raves, but I really believe it's more about the music.

I avidly listen to techno and have my favorites. (Trance is still the best, and Oakenfold -- yes, I've bought tickets to see him at Club Next next month!) Personally, I like it a lot better than some of the hip-hop/rap stuff they used to listen to. Sure, the music is pounding electronic stuff, but the message is clearly P. L. U. R.!

I recently watched the Jerry Garcia bio on E!, and there are just so many parallels with the hippie scene and the rave scene. Back in the day, we were really naive about drugs, addiction and overdosing, of course, but the innocence about making this a better, happier place and the idea of having fun through music and dancing is the same. I've always been pretty up front with my boys about my concerns about drug use. They tell me that drugs are easy to get at raves, and they say they get asked what they are on, since they dance at raves all through the night into the morning. As far as I can tell (yes, I greet them and their friends when they arrive in the morning), there haven't been any incidents. They call when they are leaving the rave and usually come straight home.

I also want to mention Dance Safe. I've only read about them and know that they do not condone or promote abstinence, but they do actively inform kids at raves about effects, bad batches, how to deal with side effects, etc. Again, this reminds me of the '60s, where medical groups would provide the service to warn about and prevent "bad trips." I wish you could have included some info about this group since you did mention the DEA's local efforts.

I admire what attorney Cris Campbell is trying to do to keep raves legit and possible. I don't know how long my boys will be interested in raves. I know that they will never forget the fun, connections and the music. My eldest is putting together an album of photos, fliers and mementos. He makes bracelets as a stress reducer! I tell him I'm glad he's doing that instead of using drugs, drinking or being violent. What do you think?

Name withheld on request


Lofty Ambitions

Downtown gets down:Regarding Stuart Steers's "The Price of Hip," in the February 22 issue:

I love living downtown. It's unfortunate that the people I moved away from are moving down here. Soon there will be more noise ordinances: no more clubs in LoDo because somebody's kid can't sleep. No more affordable apartments for us poor people; these cramped studios are now suspiciously being called "lofts." Before long, everyone who has lived downtown for years will sadly be moving to the 'burbs. Maybe in ten years, there will be strip clubs, graffiti, homeless people, nightclubs and raves in Highlands Ranch. If the places that are part of the "regentrification" of metro Denver are closing to be made into lofts and condos, they will pop up someplace else. All of those people with their 2.3 kids and SUVs should think about that.

Every time I see a minivan struggling to parallel park, it makes me want to scream.

E. Hall
Denver

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