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Two's Company

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Yet Together's association with the likes of KTCL has led some raver purists to decry the corporate involvement in a scene that has always operated on an underground level. Many view it as a commercial sellout. The way Bills and Roulier see it, however, the commercial involvement allows them to throw bigger and better events with world-class talent. "Some people may call these parties commercial, but if we draw a new crowd, and if one new kid falls in love with the scene and sticks with it, then I think it's worth it," Bills explains.

"It exposes the scene to people who may have no idea what a rave is, and if they like it, then that's good," Roulier adds. It costs a lot of money to put these events together, they argue, and even though it's a rave, and it's underground, few participants realize what kind of cash their DJ heroes are paid to play a set. DJ Paul Oakenfold, who recently played for Together and nobody in particular presents at the Ogden, is actually listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the highest paid DJ in the world.

"It's good to get those artists here, and the only way to do that is to pay them, and that means having a big show," Bills says. The way Roulier sees it, rave culture isn't underground anymore. The music is everywhere -- from car commercials to MTV videos to video games. If it wasn't Together shining the spotlight on the rave scene, then somebody else would be doing it. "We know where our roots are, and we know what we're about," Roulier says. "The events we're doing now may not be traditional raves, but it's going to be a good party. In spirit they're raves, but really they're just parties."

For the moment, Bills and Roulier are able to support themselves from the events they throw. Anyone involved with any underground music scene, or any artistic endeavor for that matter, will cling to the belief that it isn't about the money -- but when something goes wrong, then suddenly it is -- as Bills knows from past experience.

As a backup measure, Bills opened the Together World store in Cherry Creek during the summer of 1998, a move that also expanded the Together name into the retail clothing business. "It was something I've always wanted to do, because I'm a bit of a fashion hound and a label whore," Bills says. "My wife, Amiel, runs it now and puts a lot of hard work into it." Amiel often helps organize or donates clothing to fashion shows at clubs in the Denver area. The store operates as a sort of middle ground, connecting its customers to the rave world -- something that only exists on the weekends -- to the everyday, normal, commercial world. "It's not just about the music anymore -- rave culture has grown beyond that. It's an entire lifestyle now," Bills explains, "and the store is an easy way for people to access that."

Whether or not a person truly lives the lifestyle, rave culture still provides some of the best parties in town. "It's about people coming together to have a special night," Bills says, "and I have a feeling a lot of people are going to remember our parties. Financial success is great, but when you know you're doing something good and special for people, it makes it worth it. When I see my party go off and I know how much work I put into it, it's rewarding."

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Timothy Pittz

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