Strike a glowstick at a groove house and you're obviously a crackhead. Sit
down for a minute to ease your dance-weary legs and abs, and it's plain that
you're just jonesing for your next rock hit. And we all know that crack
junkies wear dust masks and suck pacifiers to calm their cravings.
Sound a little preposterous? That's probably because you're an intelligent
being. However, there are life forms less evolved than you who are in
higher positions of authority, and they may soon be pissing all over your
parade when it comes to dance parties.
A recent article on Salon.com (Raving Lunacy 6/20/01) points out a chilling trend among the
zero-tolerance government set: your raver toys could put the promoters of your
party/space in deep shit--they could be charged with running a crackhouse. For
full details that will make the rest of this piece make sense, read the above
Done? Good. Now, let's take a little trip through panic and reasonability.
Since you're all hopped up on panic, we'll start with that.
Glowsticks, pacifiers, and Dancesafe, oh my! If this is the evolving pattern
of Ecstasy eradication, just how long will it be until a convention of law
enforcement types gets the word back to Nevada, where Burning Man resides?
After all, how many of you have danced the light fantastic with a few thousand
other chums out in the Black Rock? If it weren't for Burning Man, a lot of
glow stick manufacturing families would go hungry. Not to mention the pacifier
sales. Using the standards set forth in that pathetic New Orleans plea
bargain, zero tolerance zealots in Nevada could burn the Man faster than a
profile on MTV.
Dig it: these busts have happened where conservatives rule the roost and where
alcohol is king. Anything that threatens the almighty booze sale is synonymous
with sucking Satan's dick while having your daughter lick his asshole. You'll
find the same sentiment in the fine, radioactive state next door to us, where
booze, gambling, whores, and gun sales keep the taxes low. Think the powers
that be don't recognize the insidious threat to their casinos' futures posed by
nekkid desert folicks? Lay off the pot, doofus-it's starting to really
And now for the "reasoning" side of this tragedy. First and foremost, this
country has a love affair with the First Amendment. It's so strong that even
average bourbon-swilling, Gawd-fearing, Chevy-driving simpletons would sooner
move to Canada than have their rights so blatantly ripped out from under them.
And so it is with your right to express yourself. Whether it be by glowstick
or Rebel flag or toy poodle, Americans like to wear their styles on their
sleeves, cars, and golf courses. Any lawyer worth two shits could quite easily
win this point with a jury. However, the lawyers in Louisiana are apparently
unable to muster even this rudimentary moxie.
The club promoters in the Bayou case folded their tents too early, as did their
dim-bulb lawyers. Hipsters are notorious for their inability to fight
anything, even when it's for their own good. When it comes to the greater
good, they're even weaker. The willing acceptance of an injunction such as the
one in the New Orleans case demonstrates just how pathetic these guys really
were. But a chickenshit defendant is only as good as the mouthpiece
representing him. After such a sad settlement, one has to wonder just how the
aforementioned barristers got their wigs.
For instance, the Court's prohibition on light sticks, pacifiers, and dust
masks is patently unconstitutional-even to the layman. These ornaments
were, and are, used in conjunction with dance maneuvers as an expressive means.
Banning them is about the same as banning caps at baseball games because the
people in them are obviously public drunks (a crime nearly everywhere). This
is particularly true of anyone attending a Milwaukee Brewers game. Federal
courts have a notorious distaste for this kind of thing, and even the
conservative makeup of the Supreme Court would have a difficult time getting
past the constitutional car-wreck caused by the New Orleans injunction. Use of
those prohibited party items as evidence of a crime suffers from the same fatal
flaws mentioned above. Unfortunately, the lame-ass legal victims in New
Orleans won't get to appeal their plea- bargain (as that would defeat the
purpose of such a bargain), thus making review of the standards set forth in
the case impossible at this point.
The same is also true of prosecutorial use of DanceSafe's presence at a
rave/party/event. Dissemination of information as evidence of criminal
behavior? What is this, the McCarthy era? Back then, reading about Marx as a
means of understanding Communist establishments was considered per se evidence
of your Red soul. Moreover, DanceSafe's materials are free of propaganda and
are blatantly honest to anyone who reads them. A young raver trying to
decide whether or not to drop that first hit of E/G/A/K, et al. could be
completely turned off by the "effects" or "side effects" as bluntly described
by DanceSafe on all its drug info cards. And that same cherry raver could find
out about DMX poisonings via DanceSafe on-site testing and decide that she just
doesn't want the risk. Hence, this "culpable agent's" presence at events or
clubs could actually be aiding anti-drug efforts.
Regardless of this specious evidence application by the enforcers in New
Orleans and Panama City Beach, there first has to be some police action that
will get the case before a grand jury. Drug enforcement is usually a local
issue when it comes to clubs and venues. If the local cops are not interested
in going after raves and dance halls, then it's harder for the Feds to justify
the expense of busting such small-fries. You'd have to be pretty high on the
enforcement radar to draw pure Federal attention (even 1015 Folsom only had to
deal with the local fuzz). No police action means no bust.
Besides the cops, there's the question of a prosecutor. The New Orleans case
was prosecuted at the Federal level because the DEA was involved; the Panama
City Beach club got the axe from a local D.A. Taking that and applying it to
S.F., Terrance Hallinan is unlikely to prosecute your gig and the local Federal
prosecutors are probably busier with heroin and bulk Ecstasy (i.e. 100,000+
hits in a suitcase) importation to chase after two- chump dance promotions.
Naturally, this varies by county, and the more conservative the county, the
more likely you are to draw heat-especially if your gig becomes well-known and
So, could this nightmare scenario happen here, or closeby? You betcha. Cops
and prosecutors are always bucking for a promotion. However, San Francisco is
a hardcore civil liberties kind of area, where lots of lawyers spend lots of
time preserving, protecting, and defending our constitutional rights-sometimes
on a pro bono basis. Thankfully, people here can usually see the bigger
But don't get all lazy. The more you stand up, take note, and speak out (read:
vote), the more you can lessen the likelihood of this trap ensnaring you or a
friend. The equations look something like this:
Mayor + Police=local enforcement;
Governor + State Attorney General=state enforcement priority
President=National Drug Policy/Supreme
Take a stand, hipster-it really can come down to you. If that sounds harsh,
think about how much fun it will be to stay at home and watch TV all the time
'cos you lost your right to get down, suck hard, and light up the night with
your boogie booty. Otherwise, shut the fuck up and submit like good little
sheep, or be prepared for a whole new definitions of "underground party" and