The following is Chapter 11 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!

There were a few more shows at the new venue, which Mickey called The Skool House, but with each event, fewer and fewer people would show up, as word was beginning to get around that the place was nothing like God’s Basement. We started to get bored after a while too, so one weekend we decided to drive up to New York to check out an underground party that I found out about through one of my contacts. This party was like nothing any of us had ever been to before. This was a legit renegade where they straight up broke into a warehouse with no permission and set up shop. There was no major promotion, and it was entirely free, with some pretty big name DJs too. There was no address given out before the show, only a nearby crossroad where someone was waiting to give further instructions. This is what they called a “map point” back in the days before raves were promoted on the internet. When we arrived at the map point, we noticed a group of people standing on the corner with a video camera, which is exactly who we were told to look for. “Your guides will be on the side of the road pretending to film a documentary,” the email told us.

After asking us a few questions to make sure we weren't cops, the guides gave us extremely detailed directions that led us to a run-down warehouse district in the Bronx. This was in one of those creepy parts of New York that looked like an abandoned city, or some vision of a post-apocalyptic future from a dystopian film. It was dark, and there was no one in the streets. The buildings were all falling apart and covered in graffiti, and there were cars and old semi-trucks lining the streets that looked like they had been abandoned years ago. We found a parking spot and walked up to the only lit building on the block. The building looked like it was in the middle of a war zone, with concrete rubble scattered around and large holes in the walls and windows. When we approached the entrance, we were greeted by another set of guides who told us to follow the stairwell up to the top floor. We showed up early, so there weren't many people there, and the music wasn't even on yet. The air was so thick and musty that I could feel my lungs filling with whatever particles were in the air every time I took a breath. Within a few minutes, people started showing up, and the opening DJ laid down his first track. As he began, an MC jumped on the mic to warn everyone that there were holes in the floor towards the back of the room and that we should avoid going back there. He also said that if we needed to use the bathroom, we should just find a dark corner, preferably not near the back of the room where someone could fall through the floor. The party kicked off fast, and within a half hour or so the building was packed with people going crazy. Caylee immediately hit the dance floor where she spent most of the night practicing her moves, while me and the guys walked around to see what we could get our hands on.

Since it was a renegade, there were drugs everywhere, and none of it seemed bunk. We quickly found a proto-hipster with a fitted cap and a big diamond earring who had some molly for sale. It was no easy score though, we had to pay the ultimate price of listening to him talk about himself for 15 minutes, in addition to paying “New York prices,” which was 25 bucks a pill. When we were finally able to break away from that conversation, we just wandered around taking in the atmosphere for a while. As the rolls kicked in, we became more social and ended up getting into discussions with a few DJs, promoters and dealers, telling them that we worked at God’s Basement and explaining the recent drama with the news. As the night went on, the crowds and the heat of the warehouse started to become overwhelming, so I walked towards the stairs for some fresh air and leaned against the wall. My companions followed close behind to make sure I was OK.

“You good bro?” Jerry asked.

“Yeah, I just need some fresh air. I bet there’s like, asbestos and all sorts of shit flying around in here,” I said.

Duke pointed to a roped off section of the stairs, “Yo, I think this goes up to the roof. Let's go up and burn one real quick. That'll make you feel better,” he said, taking the lead up the stairs.

We followed him up a few flights of steps and found that there wasn't even a door or anything to stop us from getting onto the roof, although it seemed that there probably was one there decades ago. We stepped over the trash and wooden pallets that were scattered around the wet rooftop to find a clean place on the ledge.

“Already got one rolled up and ready to go,” Jerry said, taking a blunt out of his pocket and carefully lighting it.

We sat for a few minutes in silence, staring at the skyline of the city, passing the blunt around, as my senses were beginning to readjust. My eyes were still fluttering, and it still felt like I was underwater, but I was starting to feel calm and comfortable in my own skin again.

“This is dope tonight, but it sucks that we are always running from something ya know? We can't have a home. We got banished from Galaxy, God's Basement is probably done and even shit like tonight can only happen once, and we still risk cops showing up at any minute,” I said, before taking a drag from the blunt and passing it along.

I stared off at the urban landscape in front of us and shouted into the abyss, “WE JUST WANT TO FUCKING LIVE.”

Everyone laughed, and then Caylee said, “It runs in cycles, ya know, venues come and go, scenes come and go. We all thought God's Basement was eternal though, and it should have been, but it wasn't. Still, I don't think it's too late for Galaxy, you're cutting yourself short there.”

“Yeah, we need to roll back up in there and take that place over,” Jerry said.

“They ain't been doing shit with that place dude. They haven't had a good show since Tru Zu. Everything they try has been tanking hard because they are back to that tired old bullshit and they lost their connection to the underground when we left,” Duke said.

“My chance back in there was Mickey though, and some shit went down with him and Charles, so I don't see that happening any time soon. I haven't even been in there since Tru Zu,” I said.

“You need to just run up in there and start your own shit yo. Charles never said that shit was off the table, he just said you couldn't work with Clyde. Money talks and you made more money for that motherfucker in one night than anyone else since the place has been open,” Jerry said.

“That's exactly what we need to do. You have plenty of connections now between Mickey and the people I introduced you to. If you come up with a plan and organize what you want to do, and then present it to him in a professional way, there is no way he can turn you down,” Caylee said.

“You guys are right! We can totally do this on our own! I guess I never really considered that. But we are in this together, we are a crew, it's not just me. It wasn't just me that made those first few shows a success, and we all know that," I said.

“Yeah, I'll take some credit for that, but I don't want that shit homie. I got your back until the day I die brotha, but this is your dream and I ain't gonna ride your wave. This is just where I come to have fun. I'm down to work to help you out, but I don't want this to be my job, you know what I mean? Plus, I don't want to be the guy with my ass out on the 5 o'clock news when reporters show up at Galaxy someday,” Jerry said.

“I'm not trying to be that guy either, so yeah, you got this John,” Duke said laughing.

We spent a while hanging out there up on that roof, staring into the blurred city lights below us, brainstorming about the future and how we could take Galaxy back. We walked back down into the party feeling refreshed by our short intermission, and all five of us spent the rest of the night on the rickety dance floor, bouncing around, smiling and laughing, and remembering why we risked so much for this lifestyle. When the sun began to peek over the concrete wasteland and through the broken glass windows of the warehouse, the party was still raging on, but we were 4 hours away from home, and we all knew that it would be best to get on the road soon. The car was filled with excitement and smoke on the way home. We cruised down the highway as the sun rose over the concrete jungle, passing around blunts and plotting our return to Galaxy. By the time we got home, we had already come up with a rough idea for the lineup. I immediately got to work contacting different Tru Skool DJs and spent most of the day telling them about our plan and seeing what they would charge us to play. I was shocked by how reasonable their pricing was, but many of them said that they trusted me because Mickey trusted me. They also all agreed that we needed to pop off a new venue after what happened with God’s Basement, so they were willing to do me some favors and play for gas money. When I was confident enough that I had a decent lineup together, I texted Charles, telling him that I wanted to meet with him about setting up a show. Within five minutes, he texted me back telling me that he would be at the club all night and would be happy to speak with me. It seemed like they were right about how desperate the club was getting. None of us had been to sleep yet, but this wasn't an opportunity that we could pass up. We quickly organized our proposal on paper, with a list of DJs, prices and set times, and rushed out the door.

Walking back into that club for the first time since our exile was definitely weird, but it seemed like not much had changed. The place was just as dead and empty as I remembered it, with only a few of the regular faces that I recognized sprinkled throughout the room. I walked straight for Charles’ office, hoping that I wouldn't be intercepted by Clyde before I got the chance to make my pitch. Luckily, he was in his office waiting for me, and he greeted me like an old friend as if nothing had ever happened. In reality, the beef wasn’t really between us anyway, it was between me and Clyde, and him and Mickey. After catching up for a few minutes, I showed him my budget and told him about some of the new connections I was making up north.

“This is it?” Charles said, looking over my proposal.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“If $800 is all this is going to cost me, then I say we have nothing to lose,” he replied.

“Really? Clyde isn't going to be a problem?” I asked.

“Regardless of what Clyde thinks this is still my fucking club, not his, so I can hire whoever I damn well please. Besides, we need to breathe some life into this place. Do you know how much this show is costing me tonight? Over three thousand fucking dollars and there are about 10 paying customers,” Charles said through gritted teeth, resting his head in his hands, obviously in despair about the state of the club.

“Well I can at least promise you I’ll bring in more than ten,” I said sarcastically.

“I’m confident that you will,” Charles said as he grabbed his schedule book.

“How about June 20th? That should give you enough time to get everything in order,” he said.

“Yeah that works, I'll get all the marketing stuff together this week so we can start promoting as soon as possible,” I said.

“It's a deal...Now let me get you a drink,” Charles said.

I followed him to the bar so I could cash in on my free beer, but we didn't stick around long since we knew that Clyde was probably lurking around somewhere. Even though I managed to schedule a date, I knew that I would still be facing a ton of resistance from Clyde, so I wanted to stay out of his way as much as possible. As soon as I finished my drink, we said our goodbyes and slipped out the door.

We had a date and a lineup, but we still needed to figure out what we were going to call the party and the crew for that matter. I always had a vague idea that it would be hilarious to have a rave where people dressed up like cops, for the added irony in case the party got busted. Everyone seemed to like that idea, so we picked it for our theme.

To encourage people to participate in the theme, we decided to discount admission for anyone who showed up in costume. Later that week, I called Mickey to tell him about my return to Galaxy and to see if he could help me come up with a name. I was a bit nervous about breaking the news to him because I didn't know if he would see me as competition, or if he would see my return to the club as some sort of betrayal since things didn't work out for him there, but I had to tell him sooner or later.

“Yo, what's goin on man? How was New York?” Mickey asked when he answered the phone.

“It was pretty dope. It was definitely a classic renegade,” I said.

“We do an outdoor kinda like that in the summer at a place called The Ghetto Meadow, I’m sure you'll be out there with us in a few months,” he said.

“Oh yeah, I heard about that, I can't wait to check it out,” I said.

“Yeah, we still got the meadow at least. So, what's up man?” he asked.

“Well I got an opportunity to try my own thing at Galaxy, and I just wanted to see how you felt about it,” I said.

“That's awesome! Do it! Don't hold back because of me. I don't know how much longer this Skool House thing is going to be going anyway. It's no God's Basement, and that's what everyone wants. So, what are you gonna call your first party? You gotta do something dope,” He said.

“Well, that was the other thing I wanted to talk to you about. I got a lineup and everything, and I'm gonna have everyone dress up like cops for the theme, but I'm not sure what I want to call it. I'm new to naming shit, I still don't know what I want to call my crew yet either,” I said.

“Oh shit! Cops? That is hilarious! I can't believe I never thought of that one, that would have been gold at God’s Basement! We can figure something out. What kinda music are you gonna have at the party?” Mickey asked, sounding genuinely excited by the idea.

“It's going to be mostly hardstyle and hard dance, maybe some drum and bass upstairs,” I explained, having recently learned what those terms actually meant, thanks to my new girlfriend.

Mickey was silent for a minute and then said, “Dude, I got it! How about ‘Hard Time?’ Get it? Since you’re doing hardstyle and cops?”

“Yo, that shit is awesome. You don't mind if I use that?” I asked.

“Of course not, that's why I said it. About the name for your crew though, I can't help you with that, but just try to think about the kind of experience that you want to create for people, what part of rave culture speaks to you, and what you think the scene needs more of. Try to work out those questions in your head, and the name should come to you,” Mickey said.

“This is so huge of you, I don't even know what to say. It means a lot you have always had my back like this,” I said.

“I don't know what it is kid, but I've just always gotten a good vibe from you. Even though you need to learn to control yourself a bit, I can tell you got a good heart. I gotta go though, but just give me a ring if you need any help. You got this,” Mickey said before hanging up.

Mickey didn't realize it at the time, but he just gave me my name, Good Vibes. The gears in my head began turning when he said that phrase, that was going to be my name. Now all of the pieces were falling into place.

The next weekend there was another big party in New York that we couldn't miss, but this time it was at Club Exit, the place where Jerry and I saw Lenny Dee many months before. The party was called Candy Ball, and it was probably one of the biggest happy hardcore shows in the country at the time.

The rest of the crew wasn't ready for another long trip to New York and back, so Caylee and I took the trip by ourselves. This show was a lot bigger and more professionally produced than most of the underground shows that I was used to, with expensive lighting, decorations and over a thousand people. This would probably end up being one of the most packed Candy Ball events in the ten years of its existence, and it was one of the biggest parties in New York that night, which drew in just as many random thrill seekers as it did hardcore ravers.

Along with being bigger and more glamorous, parties in New York were also more grown up and dangerous too. You always had to be extra aware of your surroundings up there, and there was always the lingering fear of running into the Brooklyn Terror Squad, a notorious gang that was known to run shit in New York clubs. The urban legends say that they mugged helpless ravers who were rolling their faces off and couldn't defend themselves, and I knew a few people who had the misfortune of running into them who could confirm the stories. Candy Ball had a much more loving vibe than the average NYC party since it was mostly happy hardcore. That style of music usually only appeals to the kandi kid ravers, who are by far the most peaceful and loving of them all. The party was still happening in Empire City though, so there was no escaping that shady element, even in the oasis of Candy Ball.

Since I had been to this club before, I knew that all the wild shit happened upstairs in the back room, so that was the first place I went to score some pills. Security rarely ventured up in that back room, and its darkest corners were usually filled with people fucking or smoking dust, which left the scent of sweat and burnt plastic hanging in the air. Within a few minutes, a guy dressed up as a pirate asked me if I wanted any molly. After making the deal, we walked back down the stairs and hit the dance floor for what had to be hours. I spent more time dancing this night than any other, and I recognized a ton of the songs that were being played. Now I was actually beginning to learn what the DJs were doing onstage, and I was able to appreciate the performances as well as the party. After all, if I was going to be a serious promoter, I needed to develop an eye for good DJs and try to recruit them for my shows. That night I saw a ton of great sets and was able to talk with a few different DJs, but an interaction that I had with one of them really stuck out. She was a hardcore DJ named Jen Mas, and she was a legend in the New York scene. Like most of the DJs on the lineup that night, she was actually cool enough to walk around the party after her set, instead of hiding away in a VIP room. Sometime late in the evening, I saw her by the bar and decided to approach her about playing in Baltimore. Usually, I would be super nervous and self-conscious about approaching a DJ like that, but I was rolling face, so my usual insecure thoughts were not weighing heavily on my mind.

“Hey, Caylee, let's go see if Jen Mas wants to play a show for us,” I said as she stood at the bar a few feet away from us. I forget exactly how we broke the ice or started talking to her, but I just remember that she was super cool and was all about playing in Baltimore since most promoters from the area never paid any attention to hardcore. The details of the conversation are probably a blur because while I was talking to her, some random local who looked like he was on meth, came between us and started punching me in the head and shouting homophobic slurs. I was rolling so hard, and it all happened so fast and suddenly that I couldn't do anything but stand there in shock, trying to hold my arms in front of my face as best as I could to defend against his punches. Jen disappeared through the crowd to grab security as soon as it happened, and Caylee went crazy on the dude. Totally sober but filled with rage and adrenaline, Caylee grabbed his shirt by the collar and started hitting him in the face. It wasn't long before security was coming to kick all three of us out, but luckily Jen was there to explain the situation and get us off the hook. The attack was entirely random, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, in the wrong person’s way. From the things he was saying to me, it seemed that he had a problem with the way I was dressed and assumed I was gay or something. I was dressed in some colorful clothes, but this was a rave, this was Candy Ball, looking fabulous is half the fun. Plus, nobody is supposed to care about a person's sexual orientation at a place like this. It was evident that this guy was some asshole off the street who didn't belong there. Ravers don’t judge one another over race, sexuality, gender, religion or anything like that, our culture is about love and acceptance, not hate and bigotry. The party was almost over, but we spent the rest of the night sitting near the lounge, trying to calm down from the events that just transpired.

On the ride home, Caylee fell asleep right away, but my mind and heart were racing just as fast as the cars beside me on the highway. I was assaulted while I was in an intense psychedelic state, which ramped up to a frantic episode once the shock of the encounter finally wore off. Luckily, I was in a car with pretty much no one to witness my manic behavior, but I had a cell phone, and I used it to call everyone I could, including family members that I shouldn't have been calling, to tell them I just got attacked by a goon in a New York nightclub. Still, even with that traumatizing experience, I was more enchanted than ever with the world that I had fallen into.