The move to ban Cow Palace raves is tired and misguided. Plus: Larry Heard, 1994, the Leak, and enormous Tetris
SUPER EGO Don't blame it on the rave. You may have heard about the tragic deaths of two men, ages 23 and 25, who overdosed on ecstasy during the humongous Etd.POP 2010 party at the Cow Palace over Memorial Day weekend. (Eight other people were hospitalized.) Now state Sen. Leland Yee and San Mateo County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier are calling for a ban on raves at the Cow Palace. Must this tired anti-rave misguidedness pop up again?
Here are the facts. The Etd.POP thing is an annual affair, drawing up to 16,000 people, ages 16-plus. Two people died at a similar party in 2003. According to CBS 5, 73 people, mostly from out of town, were arrested this year on drug-related charges. The promoters, Skills DJs, enforced a strict no-drug policy and even, somewhat creepily but understandably, welcomed undercover cops into the venue. They immediately made a sympathetic statement after the hospitalizations and are cooperating fully with authorities.
There's no evidence that the adults who died took tainted drugs. According to the Chronicle, a spokesperson for SF General, where the injured were treated, said those affected "were suffering injuries consistent with someone taking drugs, dancing, and not getting enough water and of being in a hot, closed environment." I've been to the Cow Palace during megaraves, and it gets hot as blazes. This year several people complained about the heat online, and even headline trance DJ Armin Van Buuren tweeted that it was "really warm." As for water, it needed to be much more available. Skills sent me the venue map they handed out at the entrance, and it gives directions to two water fountains and two beverage vendors, all outside the main arena. Not enough, folks. The three most important words when throwing parties of any size: Free. Water. Everywhere. Yes, there's also a danger of overhydration, but even the non-Eing can collapse in a "hot, closed environment." If you can't afford to give out water, then why are you flying some DJ in from Amsterdam?
Look, as a matter of personal musical taste, I'm all in favor of banning raves at the Cow Palace. And please bust dealers who target kids. But beyond that, hysterical rave-banning is bullpucky. Newsflash from 1968: some people take drugs at (more likely before) parties. These adults are responsible for their own choice. Force the Cow Palace to get better ventilation. Require promoters to hand out free water on the dance floor. But don't deny the thousands of drug-free young kids getting together to dance — rather than, say, ethnically cleanse Uzbekistan — their opportunity to have some electronically fueled, and by now old-fashioned, fun. You can blame rave for a lot of things, but it doesn't kill people.
Tired of disco? Unphased by wave? At last, the backlash against our dance-floor obsession with the past has begun. The LOWSF crew is dedicating this monthly to recently released bangers and jams only. Get fresh at the weekend.
Fri/18, 10 p.m., $3. Showdown, 10 Sixth St., SF. www.lowsf.com
OK, but here's more of the past — in an irresistibly goofy vein. The delirious 1994 party returns, with revisionist fashion shows, questionable tunes, and tipsy sing-alongs aimed at a new generation of beer-goggled nostalgists. Slap bracelets!
Sat/19, 9 p.m., $10. Paradise Lounge, 1501 Folsom, SF. www.club1994.com
How can you resist? Multimedia artist Bryan Von Reuter is turning the Lab into a giant game of Tetris, projecting that old-school video game — the key to the world, really — onto the walls and letting you play, mega-style. Tunes by DJ Middle D stack the blocks.