The rave was to begin at 6 p.m., so we left the east bay around 5:30. Upon arriving at the Cow Palace
, the lower parking lot was already nearly full, and the entrance line extended past our parking spot. By my rough estimation, thousands were already waiting, and what a sight to see!
The entire line was dressed in the most outlandish costumes I can imagine! It was as if someone had said, "Pick out the most mismatched set of clothes you can find, in the brightest colors, then add the weirdest jewelry ever." They call that jewelry "candy," and it includes elastic bead bracelets, necklaces with things liked stuffed bears hanging from them, and all sorts of hats and masks. The idea, I'm told, is to increase the vibrancy of the rave's sensory experience, adding of course to the loud music and entrancing beats. But we were in for a surprise once we got inside!
After sliding through the "VIP" back door, (as press we got to skip the huge line and go directly in), we were immediately bombarded by the most intense audiovisual experience I've ever felt! We hadn't even made it to the main stage, and already it was all crazy. Each of the smaller stages was decorated with a series of screens, on which were projected a constantly changing series of psychedelic designs, switching off with live video of the performing DJ. Each stage also had an assortment of lasers and colored lights, which danced around to add to the effect.
The Cow Palace
was set up for five stages: the main stage, inside the arena, which was billed to play trance music all night, and four smaller stages in the Palace's north and south buildings. The smaller stages were billed to play "house," "breaks," "hardcore," and "drum and bass" music. I suppose that a connoisseur could distinguish between the different styles. They all sounded great, and were really easy to dance to, but I couldn't hear any variation. Nonetheless, I did particularly enjoy the hardcore room, in which a crazy-sounding guy was - no joke - singing along with some particularly noisy and upbeat music. It was super-fun to dance to, and my friends and I stayed there for a while, listening to that MC. Of all the music I heard at the event, hardcore was by far the most captivating, and the easiest to just stay still and dance and absorb.
The intimacy of the smaller stages was certainly nice, but it couldn't compare to the thrill of the main arena. Especially later in the night, after 9:00 or 10:00 pm, the floor started to fill up, and nothing compares to the exhilaration of many thousands