Ravers never say die! And they never give up, either. It appeared that Vegas’ underground dance music parties were over again, but the events may have only been hiding in sketchy warehouses, dusty downtown missions or secret locations in the desert, just the way the scene was intended to be.
The first rave I attended was in 1999. Located in a Vegas warehouse somewhere downtown near the railroad tracks, it was everything I expected it to be after my roommate and I watched the movie Go. Insane lighting, giant props and tons of sweaty people dancing in unison to bone-crushing beats – all it was missing was Jay Mohr’s police informant soap star.
The Cande Factore warehouse downtown was the place to be in the late ‘90s and production company A.W.O.L. (A Way of Life) was throwing the sickest parties about once a month. At the time, I thought everyone was just drinking water because they weren’t old enough to buy alcohol yet. They must have been healthy with all that vitamin C they kept taking. I would offer to rides to my super friendly new friends when they looked a bit spacey—it was probably from dancing all night.
My roommate and I fashioned bracelets out of beads with the raver creed PLUR in little plastic letters (Peace Love Unity and Respect) and made gigantic furry pants. They called us the Pixy Chicks because we’d show up and hand out Costco sized bags of the candy. (I eventually learned it was more than just sugar highs keeping some ravers up until after the sunrise, but not everyone was on something. Even today there are plenty of sober folks dancing for the sake of the music.)
Occasionally, pesky blue and red lights broke up events, sending everyone scampering like cockroaches when the lights are turned on in an NYC apartment. But there was always another party on another night.
And then, suddenly, it seemed the rave scene had vanished. More likely, it was my fault I though the parties had stopped because I quit paying attention when I turned 21. But after partying in Vegas’ mega-clubs for a few years, I found myself longing for “the good ol’ days” when I could wear whatever I wanted, play with glowsticks and get more hugs than a co-dependency support group attendee.
I discovered production company New Galaxy’s teen friendly parties last New Year’s while looking for a place to take my 18-year-old sister (not actually my biological sister, but may as well be). Held at the Ft. Cheyenne Events Center, the event was completely legitimate, maintaining the warehouse vibe without concerns of interference from the cops.
Over the next few months, we attended New Galaxy’s Sounds of the Underground parties where we listed to jungle, trance, happycore and drum ‘n’ bass and made friends in the new rave community. The scene hadn’t died, it had just moved, evolving for a new generation of dance happy kids in neon-colored clothing. But it came to an end when Ft. Cheyenne was reported to move forward with plans to expand the adjoining casino’s square footage and eliminate the event space. Parties were moved to the Tropicana Cinemas for a while and a few were held at special events halls, but it wasn’t the same. The future of the scene once again looked dimmer than a two-day-old glowstick.
However, another resuscitation has occurred. New Galaxy and the Ft. Cheyenne are back in business with events once again underway. From a foam party a few weeks ago to the return of Sounds of the Underground last Saturday, it’s as if the scene never hit any speed bumps. At Sounds on June 13, two rooms held a decent crowd of glowstick-waving revelers, who bounced around just as they did 10 years ago, dancing and sweating their asses off while the music played. (For some reason, A/C never works properly at a rave.)
Like Matthew McConaughey’s famous quote from Dazed and Confused, I thought that I’d just keep getting older and the ravers would stay the same age, but a few familiar faces from the Cande Factore days have been making appearances at Las Vegas’ new underground parties. They agreed; the scene looks like it’s making a comeback.
If you’ve been longing for the days of cuddle puddles, marathon dance parties and DJs spinning vinyl, they still exist in Las Vegas. And you don’t even need a fake ID to get in.
(Originally published at LasVegasWeekly.com)