Raves '07

Once upon a time, raves were an underground phenomenon primariliy attended by in-the-know scenesters who learned of the events via on-the-down-low networks or simple word of mouth. Moreover, they took place at secret locations far from civilization. But those days are long gone, as indicated by "Fat City Rave Calmer Than in Past," an article in the April 4 edition of the Columbine Courier, a weekly community newspaper delivered to homeowners in South Jefferson County. It was written by Heath Urie, one of the finest young reporters in the area; he was profiled in this Message column from 2004, when he was an establishment-shaking student at the University of Northern Colorado.

At this writing, the Courier's website doesn't list the story, or any other; that's really taking advantage of the Internet, guys. But here's a sizable excerpt of the piece, starting from the top:

Authorities made 14 arests at Fat City Entertainment on Saturday night during the business' third annual all-night dance rave, which drew an estimated 6,000 young people.

Jeffco sheriff's spokesman Jim Shires said the majority of the arrests, 11, were partygoers who had outstanding arrest warrants and were contacted during the night. Division Chief Jim Shrader said at least one person arrested on an outstanding Jeffco warrant was wanted in connection with a violent robbery with "the intent to commit murder."

The three people arrested in new incidents Saturday evening included one person who was charged with possession of a controlled substance. The person was allegedly carrying hallucinogenic mushrooms and was caught at the entrance.

An additional 20 rave attendees were taken to an alcohol detoxification center, Shires said...

These paragraphs indicate several major differences between raves during their nascent era and many of the would-be spectacles currently using the term. Arguably the biggest involves locale. Fat City isn't a outsider business. Rather, it's a family fun center on a major street (Kipling) that features bowling, arcade games and laser tag. When the joint isn't raving, it makes much of its moolah by serving as the setting for kids' birthday parties. How rebellious.

Secrecy had nothing to do with the bash, either. And if police, who were obviously apprised of everything that was happening well in advance, only busted one person with hallucinogens, the habits of rave attendees have undergone significant changes, too. I guess beer can be considered a mind-altering substance, but that doesn't mean it's the equivalent of ecstasy in a can.

So what does the word "rave" mean at this point? If Fat City stages one annually, not very much. -- Michael Roberts

Update: As of April 6, the Columbine Courier site is operational again, and it prominently features the aforementioned Heath Urie report on its home page. Included is a video supplement displaying scenes from the Fat City rave. Burning Man it wasn't... -- MR

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts