Saturday night I went to my favorite venue in Colorado – Red Rocks – for KTCL’s “event formerly known as Rave on the Rocks“.
Upon entering, my crew and I learned that a gunman, or a man with a gun, was walking around scaring folks and the police were trying to find him. The staff person swore us to secrecy before letting us park our Jeep in, arguably, the most beautifully set parking lot in North America. Suddenly, I felt myself emerged in some bad, Aaron Spelling, nighttime drama.
“Three gorgeous ravers stand outside in the Colorado Rockies downing Rumplemints in the parking lot, preparing to walk into a show that they know may very well be their last …” When I came back to reality I noticed that the idea of a crazy man on the loose with a gun was not phasing my peeps. One in 10,000 is pretty good odds I guess. Let’s rave.
We walked in just as George Acosta, trance king, took the stage. He was spinning a fun, danceable trance that sucked me into a vibe that set the stage for a great show. Immediately, I began to work my way to the front and center of the amphitheater seating to catch the eye of my friend, Shik Castor, who was one of the local artists picked to dance on stage alongside the DJ’s.
I met up with Castor later and asked him about the show:
KB: How did you get picked to be a KTCL dancer?
SC: I knew three of the other dancers, and my name just came up.
KB: So, you were not one of the KTCL contest winners?
SC: No, they picked four total dancers from that contest – a 12-year-old kid and three others. Next year I’d like to have a say in the dancers. Some of them just weren’t very good.
KB: True, but some of them were great! I have to say the dancing was the most enjoyable visual of the whole show. It also seemed really well organized to me, the spectator. Was there a timer or other indicator to tell you when it was time to switch out with another dancer?
SC: No, it wasn’t organized at all – if it looked good, then that’s props to the dancers. We danced for 1.5-3 minutes and then flagged somebody to switch out. We tried to go boy, girl, boy, girl, or by style.
KB: After George Acosta came Bad Boy Bill with his funky, hard house. How come there were not any dancers on stage during the set?
SC: Because Bill said no dancers, same for Paul Oakenfold. You’ll notice too that there were no shots of the dancers or the crowd being shown on that screen.
KB: I did notice and I also wondered why there were not two sets of dancers rather than one – it looked like they space?
SC: Paul Oakenfuck/Perfecto owned the screen and equipment and would not let anyone use it. BBB was finally able to use it through some negotiation in the end. KTCL was not allowed to use it – so that’s why there were no shots of the dancers.
Originally they planned on two sets of dancers – two on stage and two further off to the side and we were supposed to be dancing on elevated platforms, but in the end I’m sure KTCL probably didn’t want the liability.
KB: I find it bizarre that DJs would oppose having dancers on the stage. To me, this genre of music is, with few exceptions, is created for dancing. The two are as hand and hand to me as the waltz or the tango. You can still listen to a tango without the dancing, but you only get half the story.
SC: It’s just the huge egos of Bad Boy Bill and Oakenfold. Max Graham, on the other hand, was cool. He played after Bad Boy Bill and played the most energetic set. The dancers had a great time with him. If you noticed, Max mixed straight out of Bad Boy Bill’s set, keeping the tradition real of consistent, driving dance music. The other DJs let their predecessor’s set stop completely, Max heard Bill’s record and was like, ‘I can work with this,’ and spun right out of it staying true to the art form. I enjoyed him the most.
Paul took it to even more of an extreme – not only did all of the dancers have to leave the stage, but EVERYONE had to clear off so that it was just him. Also, Paul didn’t use the equipment the other DJs used and so he had his people on stage setting up for his set while Max was playing – totally disrespectful.
KB: What did you think of his set?
SC: Oakenfold put on a traditional, trance-y, feely, perky set.
KB: He almost lost me with the U2 song. The Brahms’s Adagio for Strings song was interesting, but he seemed to be playing around with songs that were already great -that didn’t need improvement or embellishment.
SC: Back in the day he used to open up for U2, got his big start with them.
KB: So it was kind of a tribute or something.
SC: I guess.
KB: For hogging the video I can’t say I was impressed. Was that his wife or something? It was as if we couldn’t get enough of her. His entire video was shots of her in different outfits twisting around w/her hair blowing. Rather boring. I found BBB’s stuff pretty lame too – but with a little more variety at least. Yikes.
SC: Since I couldn’t be on stage – I didn’t see it.
KB: Right. As much as I love Red Rocks, I didn’t find that the music translated very well in that venue. Up top it was just reverberating bass with no high end.
SC: Yeah, it’s a cool place for the event because it is outdoors, but it is not a danceable arena either.
KB: So, should they continue the tradition next year?
SC: If you had timed it right, you probably could have seen the three DJs [everyone but Paul] over the course of the last three months, in Denver, for $5 a piece, instead of the $40 ticket price for this show. But overall I hope they do keep doing the show because it is a fun party.
Leaving the stadium I reflect on the evening. The best part of the event for me was the local elements incorporated into the show. Not only with the dancers, but with the second-stage with local DJs up top.
Thankfully, the man with the gun must have been apprehended, or else chilled out up top, so no blood was spilled on anyone’s day-glow tonight. A young girl behind me, maybe 12 or 13 years old, is chatting away at her cousin. “Thanks,” she says, “for taking me to my first rave.” I laugh out loud because honey, this wasn’t no rave. The fact that we are walking down a lighted path is proof enough.
The first rave I went to was ten years ago and even then I was a latecomer to the scene. That was back in the illegal days of phone calls from the pay phone (no one had cell phones then) and maps and dusty fields in the middle of nowhere. Of course, to be fair, tonight was not a “rave,” it was, “an event formerly known as a rave” presumably because Clear Channel needs to adhere to the politically correct paths the media is forcing themselves to travel to avoid any potential of negative publicity. With all the ecstasy stories on 20/20 and other television magazines, plus the political powers trying to pass legislation that would legally persecute promoters and venue owners involved in electronic music community, conglomerates such as Clear Channel need to tread carefully if they get involved in promoting anything in this realm.
I suppose 12 and 13 year old kids don’t eat drugs at events formerly known as raves. Some things don’t change though. It was nice to see that, despite the years, the market value of glow products has not depreciated. I watched a girl negotiate with a bedazzled young man to allow him a peek at her pre-pubescent chest in exchange for his neon-orange bracelet. The lesson – forget money, forget power, forget pain – in the year 2002 you can still get anything you want in this little world, as long as you’ve brought enough glow sticks.