The following is Chapter 6 of my memoir, "Paper Squares and Purple Stars: My Life as a Rave Outlaw." I'll be sharing the book on t2 for free, chapter by chapter, but you can buy a copy and check out the reviews here. If you're just getting started now, check my t2 page and start at the bottom to read the previous chapters and the preface to catch up!

Chapter 6 - New Zu (December 2007)

Some exciting things were happening to us, but we were no longer the same happy crew. The tension between the four of us was waiting to boil over for a while now, but unfortunately for us, it came at a time when we were entangled by our ambitions. Clyde and I could hardly go through a day without arguing about something, but that was expected. What wasn't expected was Jerry and Amy breaking up. I’m not exactly sure what happened between them because they didn’t make a huge scene about their split. They didn't want to "break up the band," so they promised to remain friends and both of them continued to work as a part of Galaxy Productions.

The first Friday night in December, Jerry and I were on our way to God’s Basement, Robbie and Hero were promoting in DC, and the rest of the crew was back at the club. This time we left early, so we could get a spot in the parking lot and avoid having any issues with our car. When we got there the doors weren’t even open yet, so I parked and started rolling up a joint.

The Flyer for the event that night

“It kinda sucks that we were all wrapped up with Clyde at the same time that all these crazy opportunities are being handed to us,” I said.

“Yeah, Clyde sucks, but at the same time if it weren’t for him you probably would have never got a job at Galaxy, and none of this would be happening anyway. Life is weird like that sometimes,” Jerry said.

“I guess you’re right. I just have this terrible feeling that we aren’t going to be able to accomplish what we want to with him in the way. He’s trying to control everything, and I just feel like he’s gonna prevent us from reaching our full potential,” I said.

“I know man, I know, and I agree, but you are overthinking things like you always do. Let’s just take this shit as it comes, let’s think about tonight, let’s think about making the next party dope as fuck and then go from there,” Jerry told me.

“Yeah, I’m diving down rabbit holes again, I gotta stop, or I’m going to drive myself nuts,” I said.

Jerry laughed, “Yeah, how much weed you got in that bag?” he asked.

“Close to an ounce, why?” I replied.

At the time, the drug laws were structured in a way where getting caught with an ounce carried the same charge as getting caught with a gram, so we usually traveled with just under an ounce.

“We should roll up a bunch of joints and hand them out in there with the flyers,” Jerry suggested.

I laughed, “That’s brilliant dude, let’s do it! The marketing value we will get from that is easily more than the cost of an ounce. Just leave some for the ride home,” I said, tossing him the bag.

After a while, we noticed a group of people start to form in front of the door, so we got out of the car and waited in line. When the doors opened a few minutes later, I was able to spot Mickey before he got too busy. I went over to him with one of our flyers and said, “Hey man, we have a show coming up in Baltimore later this month, and we booked a few of your people. You should come and check the place out if you can.”

He grabbed the flyer from me and looked it over. “Wow, nice job, thanks for bringing my guys to a new town! No promises, but I’ll do my best to make it out,” he said.

“I understand, I know you’re a busy man, whenever you wanna come out though just know you are always on the list,” I said.

“I really wanna go to this,” he said, folding the flyer up and putting it in his pocket.

“I gotta run and take care of some shit though, feel free to set some of these on the bar if you want to,” Mickey said.

“Awesome, thanks! I really appreciate it,” I shouted as he disappeared into the darkness.

John and a raver at God's Basement

Looking back on the whole situation, I really feel that meeting Mickey on the island was fate. The pieces fit together so perfectly in such a weird way. I somehow became embedded in one of the region's hottest crews at the same time I got a club dropped in my lap. It just all seems too perfect to be a coincidence. Deep down I knew that it couldn't have been a coincidence, I sensed that it was synchronicity, like so many other experiences and encounters on my path. The party that night was called “Toy Story,” a holiday-themed event where people were given a discount at the door if they brought a wrapped toy for charity. God’s Basement regularly added charitable aspects to their events. Some people said that it was a slick way of paying off the cops and the church. I am sure that this much was true, but I also got the feeling that Mickey really cared and wanted to give back to the local community.

I heard that he had an excellent relationship with the people who owned and ran the church, and they apparently knew everything that went down there, at least to some extent. A Bishop from the church even came to an event to check it out one time and witnessed all the madness with no complaints, or so I was told. Right away, I noticed that there was no nitrous tank tonight. Although, there was a giant moon bounce in the middle of the dance floor. The place was packed though, even more so than last time and I felt like I had come back home. We spent the night talking to everyone we could find, smoking them up and telling them about our party.

While I was walking the venue in circles handing out my flyers, I spotted a raver goddess bouncing back and forth across the dance floor. I was caught in a trance, mesmerized by her moves and her beauty. My mind was instantly filled with pornographic visions that I couldn't shake, and my heart began to race. I had seen her before but didn’t know much about her, except that we had a few mutual friends from high school, and I was pretty sure her name started with a C. If I’m being entirely honest, I always did kinda admire her from afar, even though we were never formally introduced. I was almost rollin hard enough to go up and tell her that, but even then I knew how creepy I would look if I were to do something like that. Instead, I played it cool and waited until she was finished dancing before walking up and using my party as an excuse to start a conversation.

“Hey, we are throwing a party down in Baltimore with some God's Basement DJs,” I said.

“Really? Baltimore? That’s actually a lot closer to me than this is,” she replied, as she glanced down at the flyer.

“Yeah, we are trying to get a place like this started back home, the owner is totally chill and everything. My name is John by the way,” I said.

“I’m Caylee, and this sounds awesome. We will definitely try to make it out,” she replied.

“You guys are from the Baltimore area though, do you know Duke and Satoshi and all them?” I asked.

“Of course! They were some of the first people we came here with. That is crazy we know all the same people and never crossed paths!” she replied.

“We probably crossed paths without even realizing it, but we aren’t strangers anymore,” I said through nervous laughter.

It’s hard to approach a girl without seeming creepy, especially when you know her but she doesn’t know you, and it’s even harder when you are chewing your face off because you’re hopped up on ecstasy.

We talked casually for a few minutes, and then both of us went our separate ways. It seemed that she may have been just as fucked up as I was, so both of us were probably having a difficult time forming complete sentences anyway. Later in the night, I ran into Duke and started asking him questions about her. I was disappointed to learn that she was dating some big shot break-dancer from New York. Life sucks sometimes, but I wasn’t going to let that get me down, I was on a mission. I continued to pace the dance floor until it was nearly empty, making sure that everyone in the building knew about our show. That was the most fun we had at a party since we started going to events like this, probably because we were free from Clyde for a change and also because we had a purpose. We had something that we represented, and we weren’t just awkward outsiders anymore. Before we knew it though, the night was nearly over, and it was time to head home.

The first significant snow of the year had begun to fall while we were lost in time in the basement of that church. As we stepped out of our steamy sanctuary, the heat from hundreds of bodies escaped the narrow doorway and flowed up towards the night sky in a thick misty cloud. We wasted no time getting on the road since we had a two-hour drive ahead of us and there was no telling how bad the storm was going to get. The ride was chill, and the sights were beautiful. We were even treated to an unexpected psychedelic light show when we passed the elaborate Christmas displays that are set up in various parks every year along the side of Route 1. It may sound weird, but I was actually grateful for snow on the way home from the rave. Severe weather is usually a blessing for anyone who might be riding dirty, since it tends to keep the cops distracted, and most of them would rather stay in the comfort of their warm, dry cars on nights like this. This is why I always hope for rain when I need to make a pick-up or delivery, as the chances of a police encounter are greatly diminished during these times. We didn’t have anything on us anyway, and I hadn’t been drinking, but we did look pretty damned ridiculous, so I’m sure that they would have had questions if they pulled us over. Luckily for us, the whole ride was smooth sailing and our perfect evening rolled on, or so we thought. When we got back home, the apartment was empty, with no sign that Clyde and Amy had come home.

“I’ll call Clyde and see what’s up, they are probably still at Galaxy,” I said as I grabbed my cell phone and flicked on the light switch.

The phone rang a few times before Clyde answered.

“Yo, what's up?” he said.

“Not much man, we just got home. Just seeing what was going on with you guys,” I said.

“Ahhh, Well… We got a bit tied up at the club, and now we are headed to an afterparty, so don’t wait up for us or anything,” Clyde said.

“Alright, cool. How did the show go last night?” I asked.

“It was good, it was good, but hey, let me call you back later, we are about to pull up,” he said, hanging up the phone before waiting for my response.

I looked down at my phone trying to piece together why I felt so strange about the conversation I just had.

“Hmmm, that was weird,” I said.

“What he say?” Jerry asked.

“He said they were on their way to an afterparty, but he seemed weird,” I said.

“He’s always weird, that’s how he rolls, and you're always suspicious, that’s how you roll, but I’ll check with Amy anyway,” Jerry said.

“I’ll just text her though. I’m not trying to bother them too much at the afterparty,” he added.

Jerry sent that text, and we stayed up for a while, smoking blunts and laughing about things I can’t remember. It was a few hours before Jerry even thought to check his phone, but when he did, the color drained from his face in seconds. He just sat there, as if he was frozen in shock.

“What’s wrong? I had a weird feeling that something was up,” I said.

“I don’t know, but this is serious. She says she’s too fucked up to talk about it now, but she says that she wants to move out and that she doesn’t want to be near me ever again,” Jerry said, frantically sending a text in reply.

A few minutes later, Jerry’s phone beeped again, and he flipped it open.

“That motherfucker!” Jerry yelled.

“What?! What happened?” I asked.

“Well, apparently, after she took like five fucking pills, he told her that I’m already talking to other girls even though we just broke up and one of those girls is kinda a friend of hers. Now she’s whacked out of her skull, going crazy!” Jerry shouted before throwing his phone across the room.

I leaned back on the couch totally stunned.

“He fucking did what?!” I asked.

“We all know that is not the type of news someone should be getting when they are fucked up. Why would he do something like that? What the fuck was he thinking?” I said.

“I think he knew exactly what he was doing. He was trying to take advantage of her. This guy is fucked dude, we should have never linked up with him! I saw the way he looked at her, I should have known not to trust him!” Jerry cried.

“Wait…you think this is some plot to get into Amy’s head, so he can manipulate her into a relationship? I dunno man, maybe he was just fucked up and let it slip by accident,” I suggested.

“This all seems intentional man, like he planned it this way,” Jerry said.

In the weeks of arguments and revelations that followed, we learned that they did hook up that night, and quickly confessed their undying love for one another. Amy was a grown woman who could make her own decisions, but she had just turned 18 and Clyde was in his mid-30s, so in addition to the roommate love triangle, their relationship was taboo in other ways as well. Everyone living under the same roof was coming to an end though. After the big fight that weekend, Amy and Clyde both ended up moving in with Hero, and our project together at Galaxy seemed to be over before it started. We still had our New Zu show planned for later that month, and all four of us had every intention of following through with that, but the chances of us booking another date together after that were not looking good.

On the night of the show, Jerry and I made sure to get there as early as possible just in case Clyde tried to pull any tricks to cut us out of the equation since he had a better relationship with Charles than we did. When we arrived, Charles greeted us with a smile and walked us around the building to show us all the improvements he made to the club. I could tell by the way he was talking that he didn’t hear anything about the feud that was tearing our group apart and I was relieved that Clyde wasn’t able to turn him against us yet. I had a feeling that it would only be a matter of time before Clyde tried to edge us out of the club though, so I decided to make my move and prove my value to Charles the next chance I got.

“Are you going to be available tonight? I’m hoping to have a big promoter from Philly come to take a look at the place, and he may want to book a date. It’s the guy from God’s Basement,” I said.

His face lit up, “Really? That’s the big one, right? The one you guys have been going to all the time?” he asked.

“Yeah, that’s the place. When we went there a few weeks ago, I talked to the guy who runs the show and tried to recruit him,” I said.

“Nice work! Yeah, I’ll make myself available, just find me when he shows up,” he said.

As we finished up our conversation with Charles, the rest of the crew began to filter through the door, and we exchanged awkward nods with Clyde and Amy when they showed up. We didn’t have much time to sit around and bicker though since cars with out of state license plates started pulling up in the parking lot a half hour before the show was supposed to begin. Usually, we were sitting at the bar waiting for people to show up halfway through the night, so the early arrivals were a welcomed surprise. I was also happy to see some people that I recognized from God’s Basement a few weeks before. Our plan actually worked! Among the first in line was Mickey, who showed up with an entourage of several cars that included the DJs we booked. Clyde tried to intercept Mickey as he came through the door, but he walked right past Clyde and asked me to show him around. Clyde was smart to keep a cautious distance from us after that, he must have sensed that Mickey recognized me as the contact for the club and just saw him as some dude in the background.

“Yeah, sure, let me get you a drink first. I’ll introduce you to the owner too,” I said.

I went to the bar and waved Charles over, “Can you get my friend here a drink? This is Mickey from God’s Basement,” I said.

Charles slapped his palms down on the bar, “The guest of honor has arrived. What can I get ya?” he asked.

“You guys are too kind, you’re embarrassing me. I’ll take whatever you got on tap,” Mickey said.

“No need to be humble, I’ve heard a lot about you and your business, and I was hoping you would come out tonight. Let me show you around,” Charles replied.

First, we showed Mickey the stage set up, where Charles had recently installed massive speakers and a new lighting system. There was a chain link fence separating the stage from the main dance floor, which could easily hold a few hundred people, although I doubt that many people were ever in the building at one time back then. We then walked up a large set of stairs to the newly renovated area on the top floor which could also hold a few hundred people, putting the total capacity of the venue at around a thousand, although the fire marshal may have disagreed. We walked around the upstairs and talked for a bit, while Mickey and Charles exchanged ideas and suggestions about how the club could be improved. After just a few minutes of talking, Charles asked him, “So when is the soonest we can get you in here?”

“I’d need a little over a month to get the right lineup together and have enough time for promo. I’d also like to put some sound in that back room. It would make a perfect lounge area,” Mickey replied.

“You got a deal, how about we go down to my office and confirm everything,” Charles said shaking his hand.

The two of them walked down to the office to sort out the details, but I stayed upstairs for a bit to finish my joint and take a small moment of celebration for bringing God’s Basement to Baltimore. Just like that, I was no longer worried about Clyde or our future business together. I thought that if I was Mickey’s point of contact for the club then maybe I could just work with him and avoid dealing with Clyde altogether. When I finally went downstairs, it was about an hour after the party started, and the club was more packed than I had ever seen it before. It almost looked like an entirely different place with all these people. Everyone was instantly sold on the place too, once they found out that they could smoke weed and do whatever else they wanted out in the open. It sounds shallow to say that people just want a place where they can go wild, but it's true. The popularity of raves is due mostly to the fact that people crave a free environment where they can let loose, and there aren’t many places that can provide that type of atmosphere in most modern societies. All along that is what I wanted to do, I wanted to create something like that close to home, a place where people could be free and forget about the stress and expectations of everyday life, a place where we belonged. Tonight, that vision looked like it was starting to become a reality. Minutes later, Charles and Mickey walked out of the office with a date confirmed for the first weekend in February, which gave us just enough time to promote. I went to the bar for another drink and saw Duke standing there waiting for a bartender.

I walked up to him and put my hand on his shoulder, “Thanks for coming out bro,” I said.

“I wouldn’t miss your first big show! This is so dope! I can’t believe you got Mickey out here,” he replied.

“Dude, you don’t even know. He’s throwing a party here next month, and I’m gonna help him out,” I said

“Wow, this place is gonna pop off, I guarantee it. You better squash that beef with Clyde if you want this to last though,” Duke said.

“Don’t even get me started on that shit. I’m gonna try to just work with Mickey instead if I can make it happen,” I replied.

“Good luck with that man, that would be a legendary gig. Yo, by the way, did Caylee show up tonight?” he asked.

“Nah, I was hoping she would, but I probably shouldn’t be chasing after girls who are in relationships anyway. I’ve had enough drama these past few weeks,” I said.

“Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, she broke up with that dude. Apparently, he’s a total psycho, and she finally had enough,” he said.

“Well then, shit, if she doesn’t show up tonight you should really try to get her to come out for New Years. Tell her I’ll put her on the guest list,” I said.

Duke laughed, “Sure, I got your back. I didn’t know you were doing something here on New Year’s though,” He said.

“It’s not my show, it’s something one of the other crews in here are doing. I am not expecting a massive turnout, but this is probably the only place in the city where we’ll actually be allowed to have some fun,” I said.

“Yeah no doubt, you know I’ll be here for that, and I’ll tell Caylee too,” he said.

“Cool, I guess maybe I’ll throw you on the list too,” I teased.

“Sweet,” he said, turning his head towards the dance floor. “Yo! I love this track! I’ll catch up with you later, I’m gonna go check out this set,” he said as he wiggled his way through the crowd with his drink in the air.

“Enjoy yourself brotha, I’ll catch you later,” I replied.

I leaned against the bar for a few minutes to take it all in, and as I watched the bodies and faces flash around me, I thought that this may be the first time in my life that I had ever been successful at something, even if it was for just one night. Throughout the rest of the show, Jerry and I did our best to avoid Clyde and Amy, and it seemed like they did the same. Aside from that unspoken awkwardness between the four of us, the night was perfect and was a massive success. I don’t know if any profit was made at the end of the night because Clyde made all of those arrangements behind closed doors, but I’m assuming money came in, judging by how many people were there and how low the budget was. At the time, I was just beginning to understand how everything worked behind the scenes, so I was too naive to even know that I deserved to get paid and I’m sure Clyde took full advantage of that. Either way, thanks to Mickey I was going to get out from under Clyde’s thumb, and I was going to work for a real rave crew.