Chapter 5 — Galaxy Productions (Fall 2007) — Paper Squares and Purple Stars: My Life As A Rave Outlaw
This is the full third chapter of my book Paper Squares and Purple Stars: My Life as a Rave Outlaw. I have decided to share a few chapters for free here, to give you an idea of what to expect from the book. The book is already available for purchase at www.raveoutlaw.com, and the mobile game is coming soon, www.immortalgames.co.uk.
Chapter 5 — Galaxy Productions (Fall 2007)
Leading up to our first party, we really didn’t know anything about promotion, aside from Konvikt, who gave us some pointers along the way. Konvikt ended up finding someone to design a cheap flyer for us, which we mainly used for online promotion since the show was announced on such short notice. Hero had two promoters who he worked with through the clubs he played at in DC, one of them was really cool and helpful, his name was Robbie. The other guy was one of the most annoying people I ever met in my life, and his name was Tyler. Within the first few minutes that I met Tyler, he decided to brag to me about how much money he spent on each article of clothing he was wearing. It was nauseating. He had a very dismissive attitude towards us for the entire meeting, and he kept on telling us that the party was going to fail. He said that no one would ever come to a rave at a dirty bar on that side of town. Robbie, however, saw some potential in what we were doing, probably because the barrier to entry was low compared to the clubs in DC. It was tough to get a night at most clubs, but at Galaxy, we were getting ready to start giving them away. After we booked Hero for the show, Robbie approached Charles about getting involved as a promoter for the club, and he was told to work alongside us. Charles assigned the six of us, Clyde, Konvikt, Robbie, Jerry, Amy and me to run the promotion for whatever DJ nights might get booked at the club, and he called us “Galaxy Productions.”
On the night of the show, I was a few minutes late, I can’t remember why, but when I entered the club, the music was already playing. Konvikt was on first, and he was playing some trippy Pink Floyd house remix on vinyl. As soon as I walked in, I noticed that everything was entirely different. The bar was remodeled so there was more room for the dance floor, and black lights were hanging everywhere, which illuminated glow in the dark stars that were tacked all over the walls and ceiling. That wasn’t the craziest part though, Charles entirely redesigned the upstairs, so we could have multiple rooms of sound. Before that day, the entire upstairs was just a storage area and a place where the employees would go to smoke weed and hang out, now it was a new public section of the club that doubled our capacity. That upstairs area became one of the main selling points for the place because security would hardly ever venture up there, and it was basically a free for all. Charles remodeled the whole building for this show, and to this day I don’t know if it was because he was taking us very seriously, or because he had some larger plan for the club that was brewing since before we crossed paths. Many of us like to think that we were the masterminds behind it all, but it is more likely that we were just in the right place at the right time.
The turnout for the first show wasn’t great, only about 50 people showed up, but it was still better than an average Thursday night with local rock bands.
After the first show popped off, word started to get around that a new venue was open, and hungry promoters who couldn’t get spots at mainstream clubs started ringing the phone off the hook. It was hard to get people out to that part of town, but once they came out and realized that the drinks were cheap, they could smoke weed in the club, and they could score decent drugs there too, they became instant regulars. In time, a small and loyal crowd started developing through word of mouth, but the promoters that were beating down the door were not living up to the hype, and their parties were oftentimes worse than ours were, which was pretty bad considering that they had decades of experience and we had no clue what we were doing. All through October and November, the six of us sat back and watched credentialed promoters flop night after night, and we quickly noticed that they were all making the same mistake. No one was taking advantage of the most significant selling point the place had, which was that we could do whatever the fuck we wanted there. Most of the promoters that came in would try to promote to the crowds that went to the stuffy clubs downtown, and they would try to recreate that atmosphere there. That wasn’t going to work, this is an underground venue that was made for an underground crowd. We needed to create a show for the ravers and then market it to them, that was the simple formula we needed to implement. With this strategy in mind, we got a date for our first weekend show and started planning it out. One night, after the club was closed, we had an informal meeting upstairs about the next party. The newly remodeled upstairs of the club could hold several hundred people, so it always seemed eerily empty when there wasn’t an event going on. There were rumors that the place was haunted, and on nights like this when the building was quiet, I would always get the feeling that there was some type of supernatural presence among us. Although, I was on a lot of drugs at the time so you can take my mystic bullshit with a grain of salt, if that’s not your thing. Anyway, as you first walked up the stairs, there was a small stage with a large dance floor area and a bar at the back, but behind the bar was a smaller room that was carpeted and fully furnished. Eventually, that room would act as our third area of sound, and the place where most of the shit went down, but for tonight it would be our unofficial conference room. We were meeting that night to come up with a plan to change the direction that the club was going.
“We need to find out who the DJs at God’s Basement are and get them down here somehow,” Jerry suggested.
“Easier said than done,” Clyde scoffed.
“Not necessarily dude. One of my homies is actually on the crew. I bet if we book him, they will all come out, even Mickey,” Konvikt said.
“That would be huge, he ends up bringing the party with him wherever he goes, and if he shares it on his page even better,” Robbie said.
“Yeah, the DJ’s there are approachable, this one guy there called Starkiss gave me a CD last week, it’s got his email on it and says to contact him for bookings,” I said.
“Well, that’s a start. What about a name though?” Jerry said.
“What about “New Zu?” Before Charles bought the place a few years ago, it was called “The Zu,” and we kind of want to advertise that this place is going to be wild like a zoo,” Clyde suggested.
Everyone in the circle laughed and nodded in agreement.
“New Zu it is then,” I said.
For the past month or two, we had been taking a crash course in raves and how to promote them. We had learned a lot from our failure, but we learned much more by watching everyone else fail. This time around we were going to throw the right party for the right people, and we were going to ask for a bit more time than two weeks to promote the show. Before we left the club that night, we got a date for December 21st, which was about a month or so away, so we started to plan the show immediately. By the next day, Konvikt had confirmed his old friend DJ Dream Master to play, and I was able to get ahold of DJ Starkiss by Email and confirm him. Both of them had a deep history with God’s Basement and the underground crowd, and since they were from out of town, they had no way of knowing that we were inexperienced promoters from an unpopular club, they just knew they were getting paid to play in a new city. All of us had a new sense of confidence for this show that really wasn’t there for the last one, or at least that’s how I felt. We did everything we could to promote that show, from getting employees at fast food places and head shops to drop flyers in people’s bags, to giving away free weed with our flyers when we could get away with it.
As always though, things were not perfect with my crew, and disagreements arose, especially between me and Clyde. When it came time to decide which events we were going to promote at, we clashed as usual. I assumed that promoting at God’s Basement should be one of our main priorities considering that we were targeting that crowd and booked DJs that they were familiar with. Clyde, on the other hand, thought that we should be holding down the fort at Galaxy since that was our club and that was where we needed to invest our energy.
“We can’t be running up to Philly on a Friday night when something is going on here,” Clyde said sternly, breaking up a blunt on the table upstairs at the club. We had been arguing for hours already.
“It’s not even our show, and you know the regulars will come back anyway, we need to go out and bring people here if we are ever going to fill this place up,” I said.
“There is work to do here. There’s more to this shit than just promotion. Who is going to run the show here if we are all in Philly?” Clyde responded.
I took a deep breath and collected myself, as I often had to do in my arguments with Clyde.
“Dude there are six of us, we all don’t have to be in the same place all the time. Isn’t that the advantage of having so many of us involved? You know, division of labor and all? Why don’t some of us go to Philly to promote and some of us stay here to run the show? We can even send Robbie out to DC where he’s comfortable. Let’s put everything we got into this,” I said calmly.
Clyde leaned his head back with his eyes closed and his arms extended across the top of the couch and blew a thick cloud of smoke into the air.
After a moment he tilted his head up and said, “Alright, we’ll do it your way, but Konvikt and Amy are staying here with me. You and Jerry can go play raver at God’s Basement. I know you guys just want to party anyway, but we still need a team here to work and run the show.”
“I figured we would need to split up to cover more ground anyway dude. This makes sense. I just want us to succeed with this,” I said.
“Me too… Me too,” he said.