December 19th, 1995 was my first time ever. I was turning 16 that night, on the 20th. It was a little private party in Granby, Québec on the stage of a theater. There was at the most 200 people, one big room with a giant screen on what they projected japanese animation videos and played mostly house and jungle music. My first time dancing all night like nobody’s watching, and not caring. My first time seing everybody doing the same. Feeling the energy vibrating from the music into people and than out from people into the crowd. My first dance craze.
Back than these parties were completely illegal. To find out when they were happening, you had to hang out at the right places. There was flyers in many skateboard, music and underground fashion stores. They rarely made posters; and they would only post them in the locations where the tickets were sold. To make it even less obvious, either the posters or the flyers really explained what it was; it said the name of the event, the date and the djs playing. The location was only released a few days, or the day before the event. Most of the time you had to call a phone line and listen to a recording that gave you the directions to the party; we have to remember at this time, only a small portion of the population had internet at home. In montreal, you couldn’t drive to the parties; they only gave the bus and subway routes. This greatly helped avoiding being spoted by authorities.
Although most of te parties were opened to all ages, there was still a certain number reserved for adults only; but alcohol was absolutely never allowed. Everybody got thoroughly searched when they got in and once you were in, you couldn’t leave the party until you want to leave for good. They was no reentry; you go out, you go home. Back than in Québec we were allowed to smoke inside, in the chill rooms. In most events there were energy drink bars. They served the first generation of “RedBull” I’ve seen; the smart drink. Basically a crystal mix of sugar,caffein and vitamins. With the course of time, they got repaced by fruit juices and natural energy supplements.
Every party had it’s own set up for food and drinks. One of the most memorable one I’ve been to had a free “make-your-own-snack” bar with fruits, bread, spreads, a toaster, teas and and a caddle. Behind the bar, on a shelf there were some big mason jars labelled “free herb” . When I asked the staff what it was, he filled my two hands with it and gave me a bunch of rolling papers; he told me to roll it all up and pass it around… That party was in Québec city on December 31st, 1997. New year 1998. All the djs were girls. I was there with my brother for his first rave party and to celebrate my 18th birthday that was a few days back. It was a small event with maybe 300 attendees. There was some fairies walking around the dance floor all night with trays of jujubes and fruits. Like most other parties it had two rooms and a chillroom.
My brother had never really danced before, so he first sat down on the floor and watched everybody go. He seemed to be wondering how people do it. He didn’t know yet how to let it flow and let it go. I got him some glowsticks, thinking it’s a good way to get him to move around on the beat of the music. It worked. He was tripping and doing some crazy moves with them. This was it, he was kind of dancing! Than he started talking to everyone, fell in love with 30 girls and booked his next party for a couple weeks later… He got right in it and he soon abandoned the glowsticks.
Candy ravers took a big part in the nineties culture. They were the futuristic cartoon-looking people, wearing fuzzy baggy clothes, abdorned with toys and colorful plastic jewellery, sucking on baby soothers and dancing like some kind of graceful monkeys. Why did they look like that? Hummm. I don’t see many explanations other than the drugs and the electronic music. Seriously. People looked like big kids and acted like they were from Wonderland. We would go to the dollar stores and get party supplies; a bunch of random things you could play with, eat, wear, or give away. It is a good way to meet people and to put a smile on the only faces that have lost theirs…
Rave parties were about the music, the people and the experience itself. The end was always a sad moment, the time of separation with the imaginary world. It was like coming out of a cave after a long winter of beautiful dreams; the light was so bright and the world looked so much different. It was a little bit of a cultural chock; think about Alice coming straight from Wonderland and waking up downtown Montreal… In the winter it was almost terrifying, but in the summer it was usually the start of another beautiful day; we would all gather at the Tam-Tam, Parc Jeanne-Mance, eat good food, drink coffees, play drums and pass out in the sun. The dream was never over until the day was completely done, and the reality never hit you for real until the next morning…