Can the ban

The move to ban Cow Palace raves is tired and misguided. Plus: Larry Heard, 1994, the Leak, and enormous Tetris

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1994 will always be with us -- including at 1994, where these revelers recently got in the game(boy).
PHOTO BY KEVIN BURDICK

superego@sfbg.com

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.

 

THE LEAK

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

 

1994

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

 

MEGA-TETRIS

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.

Comments

I am a mother of an 17 year old son whom attends electronic music festivals. I myself, have attended events thrown by the promoter Skills and found that their events and professionalism far surpasses any other that I've seen in this area which is the only event of this nature that I allow my son to attend for this reason.

Drug use at concerts is nothing new, as well as deaths at concerts. These kids knew what they were getting into and that drugs are ILLEGAL. Blaming a promoter for somebody's own bad choices is absolutely ridiculous. I have brought my son up in a loving home and always tought him about the risks of using legal and illegal substances. Kids will always want to experiment but it's up to the parents to teach them how to be safe if they do (god forbid) decide to try drugs. People die everyday from drug overdoses. 2 people dieing at a skills event is a small percentage considering they have been in business for over 10 years and hosted several hundreds of thousands safely.

My son had also mentioned that there were only 3 drinking fountains at the event. This doesn't seem nearly enough for a venue that holds over 15,000. Considering the Cow Palace is a STATE facility, shouldn't they be responsible to provide free water for attendees since they lacked water fountains? Not just raves, but for ALL events held there?

My partner works for a building inspection company and mentioned that 3 water fountains is nowhere near what is required for that many people. You would think a facility owned by the state would be able to accommodate their guests to make water easily accessible to all that attend for ALL events held there. Pointing the finger at a promoter whom has zero control over the catering service prices or the number of drinking fountains available is a bit ridiculous. It seems like a lot more could have been done to provide enough water by the state since their own venue lacked available fountains.

Posted by Mommy0f1 on Jun. 16, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

Thanks for you comment. I agree that in general there should definitely be more than the current number of water sources available -- Cow Palace should install more, if only because thousands of people attend events there. (Although I think the necessity for freely available drinking water is much more applicable to a rave, than, say, a gun and knife show.) And I wasn't privy to the concessions agreement that Skills signed on to. Perhaps Cow Palace concessions prohibited Skills from handing out free water? If so, then that was a grievous error that needs to be prevented by law.

However, Skills has been throwing raves for ages. They surely know that hours of dancing in a closed environment would require more water than usual Cow Palace events. Why would they sign on to a venue that restricts them from providing the basic level of comfort their huge clientele would demand? Legally, I'm sure Skills wasn't required to provide any more water than what Cow Palace made available. That's why I'm advocating that we should require that more free water be made available at these events. (Whether it's provided by the venue or the promoter, I don't care -- just do it. Or shift the liability and let people bring their own water in.) I'm not accusing Skills of doing anything outside the law, and am impressed by how much they're cooperating.

But I do think that they surely should have known better. C'mon. Don't throw a rave for 16,000 people where there's only a couple of sources of free water available (and none of them on the dancefloor.) That's just nuts.

Posted by marke on Jun. 16, 2010 @ 2:05 pm

There were over 2000 people at the Sunset Party this weekend at Treasure Island and no one died of either dehydration, heat stroke or an overdose. Why? Because they were responsible partiers.

Leeland Yee knows better than this. The UK government tried banning raves with the Criminal Justice Bill and that solved nothing other than forcing the scene deeper underground with greater potential for abuse directed towards attendees.

Harm reduction should be the ultimate goal - free water and on-site medical treatment for those experiencing medical issues. Banning parties and flooding raves with undercover police officers will do nothing other than ensuring more deaths.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jun. 16, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

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