The following is Chapter 17 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 17 - Fight the Power (Spring 2009)

My next show took place on Pi day, which is March 14, or 3.14, and it was called Sacred Geometry. At this point, I was beginning to merge my philosophical ideas with the marketing for my parties, and my themes were getting a lot of positive attention because they were unique, intellectual, mystical and edgy.

My flyers were filled with esoteric references to mysticism, subversive conspiracies, or obscure anarchist philosophy. I finally tapped into my creative niche, and as controversial as my themes were, the shock value seemed to help me. Rave culture had become sanitized because so many people in the industry censored themselves. No one wanted to be associated with drug use or radical ideas. This is basically the "respectability politics" defense mechanism that many marginalized groups adopt as an attempt to protect themselves from persecution. My themes broke this mold, but instead of destroying my reputation as many would expect, it actually made my shows stand out. That Sacred Geometry party was one of my biggest yet, but as usual, there was a crisis taking place behind the scenes. When I grabbed my first batch of pills from Charles that night, he broke some bad news to me.

“These are the last of the purple stars,” Charles said.

“The last of this batch? When are we getting more?” I asked.

“No, this is the last batch, our source has been compromised, and we need to figure something else out,” Charles said.

“Fuck, that is like our secret weapon,” I said.

“I know. I'm trying to explore other options, but nothing is looking too great. You should ask around and see if you can find us a decent deal somewhere. It needs to be good product too though, we can’t be taking a step down and disappointing people, we’ll lose them to other dealers,” Charles said.

“Alright, I'll see what I can do,” I promised before leaving the office.

Every time I turned around there was some new mess to clean up, some new problem to solve. Those purple stars were just as crucial to our operation as the DJs that I was bringing in and the themes I was putting together. We needed to find a replacement product that was just as good if not better than the original. I maintained a close and friendly relationship with all the other dealers in the club, but none of them worked with any weight. We needed someone stocked with thousands of pills or pounds of molly, and most of the people that I knew couldn't get more than a few hundred at a time. I spent that night putting out some feelers about where we might find our next connect, and I managed to find hope in an unlikely place.

When I gave my runner Dave his first ten pack for the night, I mentioned our problem and told him that we were looking for a new source.

“Oh, I know someone who has an unlimited supply! She is super well-connected, and I bet you can get a decent price too,” Dave said.

“You? Really? Well shit man, if you can pull it off, it would be huge for us. It needs to be fire shit though, our next batch of pills can’t flop,” I said.

“Her shit is always good. Its molly though, not pills, but it’s not cut, it’s legit I promise,” Dave said.

“If you are sure she isn't stepping on it with vitamin C or some shit I’m down for some molly. When can we meet up with her?” I asked.

“Now. I'm pretty sure she's here, and I'm sure she’s got her shit with her. Her name is Amber,” Dave said.

“Well, this is an interesting turn of events. I thought we were gonna be fucked, lead the way,” I said.

I followed Dave to the smoke-filled back room where the party was at its wildest, and he led me to a girl that was posted up in the corner.

I was surprised that she hadn't popped up on my radar yet, but maybe that was just because she was really good at her job.

“Hey Amber, I want you to meet my friend here, this is John,” Dave said.

She turned to me and said, “I know who you are. So, what's up? You here to push me off your turf?” She asked.

“What? No. It's not like that, and we don't roll like that around here anyway, it's a free market. We actually might need your help though, if your shit is decent and you can get enough of it,” I said.

“Oh, it’s good, and I can get whatever you need. What happened to the stars though? Isn't that your signature product?” She asked.

“Yeah, unfortunately, we lost that connect, this here is the last batch,” I said, pulling a small container of pills out of my pocket.

“Well how about this, I'll trade you one of my mollies for one of those stars, and you can see if you like it. If you do, we can talk, but I wanna get one more of them stars before they go extinct,” she said.

“You got yourself a deal,” I said, flicking the top off the pill holder and popping one out into my hand.

We traded pills, and without even considering whether I should be taking drugs at my own party, I threw the pill into my mouth.

“Whoa, since when did you get fucked up at your own shows?” Dave asked.

“It's a special circumstance, I need to test these out and see how they are before she leaves. If they are good I gotta introduce her to Charles,” I said.

By the time we finished our conversation the club was getting really packed, so I was able to sell out of my pills before that molly started hitting me too hard. It was a good thing too, before long I was chattering my teeth and had my eyes rolling into the back of my head, this shit was the real deal. I went down to the office to tell Charles about the new connect and settle up with him from my sales. When he buzzed me in, I closed and locked the door behind me and began slowly taking crumpled bills out of my pocket and placed them on his table.

“Sold out already? Wait a minute? Are you fucked up?” Charles asked.

“Yeah, I had to try this molly, I think I found our new connect,” I said.

Charles laughed, “Really, well from the looks of you it's good shit, so can we get bulk or what?” he asked.

“Yeah, she said we can get whatever, she's working with something tonight, but I don't know how much,” I said.

“Can you bring her down to talk to me? We might even need to grab more tonight if she has enough,” Charles said.

“Yeah she's posted up in the lounge actually, I'll bring her down,” I said.

I quickly left the office and rushed back up to where Amber seemed to have opened up shop, and sure enough, she was in the same spot dishing out capsules to a line of happy customers. When she got a break from her customers, I told her that my boss was ready to meet her.

“I want to introduce you to the guy that I work for, but you gotta promise to keep his identity a secret,” I said.

“Sure, I can do that, but you have to promise this isn't a trap,” she replied.

“It's not, I know it's hard to believe, but competition doesn't bother us as long as we have the best shit, which is why we should work together. I promise you'll be making more money than you are now too,” I assured her.

We walked back down and got buzzed into the office by Charles, and I made the formal introductions.

“Wait, you’re the guy? Aren't you the owner? I wasn't expecting that,” Amber said.

“Good, let’s hope it stays that way with everyone else. Please, have a seat,” Charles said, motioning towards the chairs next to his desk.

“So, here's what I'm ready to offer. If your price is reasonable, I'll pay whatever that price is, and you can continue to sell your own stash in here too,” Charles said.

“That is a good deal. How much do you need, and when?” Amber asked.

“As much as you can and as soon as you can, right now if possible, honestly,” Charles said laughing.

“Well, I do have a quarter pound out in my car, I was planning on hitting a few afterparties later, but I'd rather get rid of it all here,” she said.

Charles jumped at the opportunity to get more rolls in the building, especially since we barely had enough pills to last us through the hour. They quickly worked out a price as I paced the office chewing on a cocktail straw. When they finished negotiating, Charles told me to walk Amber back out to her car to grab her bag and get her through security again, then meet him in the green room upstairs. The green room was a private room upstairs that was always locked unless we had a DJ that wanted to get away from the crowds or if we had to handle something like this. The room had a large glass coffee table in the middle of the floor, which was surrounded by old couches. The walls were covered with old band shirts from the ’70s, The Grateful Dead, Jimmi Hendrix, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, stuff like that. When we got back up there, Charles had hundreds of small baggies and empty capsules laid out on the table next to a digital scale.

“Ok, so...I'm gonna need you guys to count this stuff out. Clyde is going to come up here every so often to grab what you were able to prepare since we are totally out of the stars now. Don’t worry about the show, I'll make sure everything is running smoothly, and pay you for your troubles. Just take care of this for me,” he said, before walking out the door.

“Let's get to work I guess,” Amber said, as she casually reached into her backpack and pulled out several Ziplock bags filled with white crystally powder. I noticed a small handgun in her bag, but didn’t call any attention to it. She dumped the Ziplock bags out onto the glass table, creating a huge pile that reminded me of the iconic scene from the movie Scarface, you know the one.

We sat there for what had to be hours breaking that massive pile into capsules, slowly but surely shrinking it in size. Every now and then, we would take a line for ourselves to speed along the process. It was in front of us after all, why not? By the time we finished, the show was over, and I was faced beyond belief. I ended up doing much more of that molly than I expected to or even realized, and at my own party nonetheless. Charles kept his promise to run the show and take care of the DJs while I was in the molly mines. He also paid me extra since I missed out on so many sales. Our new arrangement worked out well though, and over the next month, the crowds that came continued to get bigger with every show. My biggest event ever, an Alice in Wonderland themed party called Down the Rabbit Hole, came at the beginning of April. DJ Delirium, a legend in the hardcore scene, was headlining the show that night, and the club had to have been over-capacity.

Charles didn't seem to care though, he just kept letting people in, and I didn't want to turn anyone away either. The night was amazing and really couldn't have gone better. Everyone loved the new pills, there wasn't a cop in sight, and it was obvious that we had become the most popular club in the city. All night, everyone was asking me what my “secret” was, which was funny to me because so many people told me that my ideas would never work. I just responded by telling them that I probably got lucky somewhere along the way, and that I was providing a service that people wanted for a long time.

The very next week though, my luck was about to take a terrible turn. It was an average show, hosted by one of the other promoters at the club and nothing seemed out of the ordinary for most of the night.

Then just before 2am, I was upstairs in the lounge doing my thing when I heard those familiar whispers of danger passing from person to person.

“The cops are outside with vans, and they are shutting down the party,” I heard someone in the crowd say.

My heart was racing, and I began to calculate what the best move would be. Should I ditch my stash and risk owing thousands of dollars? Should I take the risk of jail? I found comfort in the fact that I could blend in with the crowd, and I figured that if the cops were to shake down everyone in the building there were enough people there that I would be able to ditch the stash without being seen, so I took my chances and made my way downstairs. When I reached the bottom of the stairs, the crowd was thinner than I expected, with just a few dozen ravers standing around with terrified and bewildered looks on their faces. Everyone else must have evacuated the building already. In the middle of the dance floor, there was an unconscious man who was propped up in a chair, covered in vomit with his head tilted back lifelessly. Charles and other staff members were frantically running back and forth between him and the bar with water and towels desperately trying to bring him back to reality before the cops came inside. Just then, I heard one of the security guards from outside shout, “They comin in!”

An endless line of cops began walking into the building through a thin hallway that was connected to the side entrance. All the other doors were locked, and this was the only way in or out. My only way out of this situation was to make my escape during the few seconds that the cops would be distracted by the guy who was overdosing. The only problem was that I had to walk directly out of the building using the very same narrow hallway that they were coming in through. As the cops at the front of the line piled out of the hallway and rushed towards the lifeless body, I took a deep breath and walked right through the commotion with a few other ravers, acting as casual as possible. The hallway was so thin and filled with so many cops that I had to turn my back to the wall and slowly pivot my way out the door, looking each cop directly in the eye as we maneuvered past one another. I still had a pocket full of molly and 3 other pockets filled with crumpled up bills, I was literally just one inch from arrest. If one of those cops saw how big my pupils were and decided to reach his hand out and grab me, I was going to jail for a long time. They were so interested in getting inside the building and finding out what was going on that I was able to slip out right under their noses. I may have managed to make it out alive, but the future of Galaxy was now hanging in the balance, and we were in for the fight of our lives.