My heart raced in the freezing cold, as I walked from my car to the club. It wasn’t the weather – Oakenfold is here, so I must be here too. His music transfixed me in my 20s. Back in the 90s, it was called ‘techno’. Now, it’s EDM, or psy trance, or trance, or some other over-explanation for techno.
In those early days of techno, it wasn’t about the drugs (at least not for me; tried ‘em–meh), the hook-ups (not saying it didn’t happen) or the selfies and bragging rights. I wasn’t the girl who hiked up her boobies, dressed in everything sparkly and strapped on my stripper heels to stand in a corner occasionally moving my head to the beat while I sipped vodka cranberry from a straw, with my pinky in the air.
I was the girl who chose my club outfit based on how sweaty I thought I was going to get dancing, and which of my most comfortable shoes sorta matched that outfit. Did I want my clothes to absorb the sweat, or did I want my skin exposed to cool me off in the stale air despite being heavy with the sweat of a few hundred other people?
Back then, I was a broke college student, pulling 21-credit semesters, working multiple jobs, barely surviving on financial aid and the couple of bucks left over after the rent, books, and sometimes even food were paid for. But once I discovered what happened at the club, I would enthusiastically forego food to save up for the $10 cover. For $5 more, I could get a couple of happy hour rail drinks to lubricate my courage before getting out on the dance floor, where I would stay until the lights came up at 2am.
What happened at the club was magic.
When you walked into a club full of strangers, you walked out with at least a dozen friends. And it didn’t matter who you walked in with, or if you walked in with anyone at all. Yeah… you could walk in alone and by midnight, you were dancing with someone, or many someones – altogether or one at a time. There might have been people trying to make a move or two, but really, we were all there for the music and to dance.
By 1 am, it often seemed like the whole floor was dancing together. So many nights, I let go and melted into the music and moving bodies. It was fucking hot. And you’d go back the next week, and find a lot of the same faces, and you knew you’d be dancing with them all again that night.
But this beautiful symbiosis faded over the years. This weird and sad isolation started taking over my dance floor.
E-zombies occupied space on the floor, apparently trippin’ balls, dancing inside their heads amid their hallucinations and light trails, while outside, they were standing mostly still on the floor – in my dance space. The glamazons, wearing boobs and long glossy hair and very tall, very uncomfortable looking heels, also started filtering in to my sacred psytrance time. The rest of the crowd spent more time maneuvering around the e-zombies and the glamazons getting from one bar to the next, not paying attention to the music at all.
I got into a habit of closing my eyes so I couldn’t see any of them, and I could connect to my music without the distractions. I got frustrated with the scene, wondered I had aged out of my beloved techno and become the out of place old person in the club. The headliners started coming on later, I got older and eventually I gave up–until recently.
A night with The Crystal Method offered a glimmer of the bygone era of instant friends when Aman took my phone and friended himself on my Facebook.
But then Oakenfold came to town.
He was already spinning when I walked in to the club. Within moments, adorable Alex and I bonded over the coat check being full before he kissed my cheek and ran off to dance. My first new friend of the night. I was moving as soon as I hit the floor. I found a spot in the middle of the crowd where I could hear and feel the bass better. I moved more. There was space on the floor, so I closed my eyes and filled that space with my body, dancing, moving to the music.
I let it wash over me, move through me, transform me. It was me and Paul Oakenfold and a turntable pumping out a musical story just for me. Until I opened my eyes and found my friend Adam talking to his friend Jeff.
I introduced myself and just like that, Jeff and I were friends, dancing together. Not long after, my eyes were closed again and I was back in my private world with Oakenfold, when I heard a woman’s voice calling out to me.
“GIRL, OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU! YOU ARE AS INTO OAKENFOLD AS I AM! TECHNO FOREVER!!”
Tricia threw her arms around my neck and we were dancing together. Just like that, we were friends. This theme went on – person after person, putting an arm around me, dancing, smiling, yelling out in excitement about how into the music I was. Oakenfold started weaving in old songs that we all remembered dancing to in the 90s and we were dancing together, no longer strangers, but friends.
It was one of the best nights of my life.
My music, my people – there was nothing better than that moment. I thought my techno tribe had disappeared, replaced by glamazons and e-zombies, forcing me to go within to find my happy place in my music. But they were always there, looking for me too.
Thank you, Oakenfold for reuniting us!