My first introduction to DJed music was when I was into breakdancing back in the early 80s, listening to electro and early rap by such artists as Herbie Hancock and Grandmaster Flash. Sadly, when I found I had no talent for breakdancing, my musical tastes drifted. Eventually, in 1987 I started getting into metal. I was continually searching for something harder and faster. When I first heard industrial, and realized what could be done electronically that could never be done acoustically, I finally found where this path was leading.
During the early 90s, my best friend Nick-E had been sending me tapes of "rave" music. On some of these tapes, I heard some early sounds of hardcore and I was hooked. Although this hardcore was, for the most part, nothing like the deathmetal I had been listening to, I saw what could be done with it. But at the same time, the metal scene was becoming increasingly full of angst and posing, and I saw that fewer and fewer people were there for the music. And so I began to drift toward rave.
In 1994, Nick-E took me to my first rave. He had gone to his first rave in 1993, so he had some experience and was able to tell me a bit about what went on, and where to find out about them. But nothing he told me really prepared me for the experience of that first night.
On August 12, 1994, my life changed. We attended a rave called Syrous-Origin Unknown, which was held at a ski resort (The Honey Pot, for those who remember) near Toronto, ON Canada. The headliners were MC GQ (who couldn't get through customs) and Darren Jay. The best sets of the night were by DJ Ruffneck, DJ Sniper, and Dr. Trance; Darren Jay was amazing too, and Sigma 7 was wikkid. This was my first introduction to jungle, and I immediately fell in love. This was at the height of ragga jungle in Toronto, and so for me, ragga jungle was THE embodiment of jungle as a style.
What struck me most about this rave, though, was not the music, but the people, and the vibe. It's not something that can be pinned down or described, but it's a kind of energy that I felt the whole time I was there dancing, that I'd never felt before in my life. It seems to come about only in the presence of a large group of people gathered together in appreciation of this hypnotic, trance-inducing music. When we were dancing on the ski hill with hundreds, perhaps thousands of other people, all dancing in unison, but all in their own unique way, just as the sun was rising over the hills, I looked around at the faces of the people dancing around me, and everyone was smiling, happy, filled with joy and energy and fulfillment at the vibe that carried us all as we danced. I'll never forget it.
At first I was shocked by the amount of drug use that took place at that rave, and subsequent ones. I thought it was really strange at the first few raves I went to, seeing a vendor booth selling Ecstasy, these little purple pills in a clear plastic pyramid. But I came to realize that people were able to use these substances without abusing them, without loosing control or letting the drugs control them. I've still never used any myself though, but I try to be actively involved in harm reduction efforts. I realized that many of these drugs are no more dangerous or harmful than many of the foods and legal substances that we regularly dump into our bodies, and much safer than many of the substances that we dump into our environment on a daily basis. Today I am almost relieved to see someone taking some acid or ecstasy rather than drinking alcohol.
In 1994 I finally came back home.