What is a rave? There is something about a rave that goes beyond words. It’s not just a party, it’s a proper contemporary cultural asset and an unforgettable experience. Your typical club party is not a rave. Until people learn, there will always be a market for false versions of packaged culture, but it’s not the real thing, trust me. It’s not worth the money. When a Vancouver DJ who is internationally known for digging up disco records that are worth more than your car drops Sa-Ra and people freak out before a Detroit legend takes the night to another level, you know that you got what you paid for.
At the W2 on Friday September 17, Scott W, Jason Lev, and Omar S DJ’d a party for the acclaimed New Forms Festival called Body, and people freaked out. I’ve never been to a real rave before, I admit. It’s a little before my time, but I imagine that interactive art sharing the stage with international DJ talent with amazing sound can be a proper and well-timed return to rave parties. I could tell because of the way that people were dancing. If you look at old school rave videos, you’ll see what I mean. Groups of friends were exchanging excited glances, making the goofiest faces you’ve ever seen, starting at the ceiling in awe and just plain getting sweaty. Body was a real rave.
I missed Scott W, although I heard good things about it. Jason Lev’s set, as usual, can’t be described with words. I can only say that he played some really great Chicago house, with varied tempos and feels, including a hip-hop song that took everyone by surprise, a custom unreleased edit, and disco records that incited cheers—arguably records that he broke himself in Vancouver. Omar S had a more structured and regular house sound, which at first I was about to dismiss (foolishly). I distinctly remember a few moments that inspired me: a track that repeated a staccato soul horn melody over and over again, beats phasing in and out, sounds entering and leaving the soundscape. Instantly, one note in the melody changed, and the loop rapidly transformed into a sinister hook that made me and everyone around me gasp, cheer, smile and dance even harder. At another point, he was playing a stripped down beat with no bass for about two minutes. Then, boom, boom, boom! Three kicks blow us out of the water. Eight bars later, sure enough, boom, boom, boom! Everyone is freaking out. Eight bars later, boom, boom! Only two this time! It’s ludicrously simple, but when a DJ can break it down to making people react to moments like that, it brings people closer together.
I almost forgot: the art! I was told that the team worked all day and all night to get the projections right. The room seemed as though it was flying through a interdimensional worm. Nicolas Sassoon set up six church window shaped projections, filled with a shimmering digital green and blue light pattern. Shawna McLellan set up “the tubes,” a fabric and fan process where people were able to cool off while goofing around inside jiggling fabric tubes attached to fans.
All in all, it was unforgettable to say the least.