Some weeks ago I found myself what seemed to be some kind of punk show at the Russian Jack Chalet. There was loud music and a banner at the front that suggested this was a benefit for a cause claiming to be something called “Youth Empowerment”, although all it empowered me to do was blow five dollars and stumble home at eleven to curl up in a fetal position in the corner to have a bout with sonic induced diarrhea. Yes, it was good times.
The Chalet is my favorite venue to enjoy speakers oriented entertainment, as I call the local punk rock scene. I mean, you can always listen to music at home, so accordingly the actual music at most of the shows I’ve been to is truly secondary to the awesome power of loudness. At the Chalet you can roam fairly unimpeded through the indoor complex or frolic out on to the golf course. The golfers always appreciate some debonair conversation with hopped-up sweaty junior-high punks, so next time you’re there, don’t be shy, invite yourself to a game of golf with some retirees. Overall, it was what I’ve come to expect from the Anchorage scene; a fairly lax emphasis on security (there was what purported to be a “No Re-Entry” policy, but it seemed largely unenforced; I left for 45 minutes and could have easily been fried out of my skull when I came back), a mostly bland and non-descript selection of bands, and a curiously flaccid crowd who seem only moderately interested in an excuse to get excited. The aforementioned crowd has been wasting away in numbers over the last few years, and I was quick to make note that this last event at the chalet saw it as sparse as ever.
Why this decline in the population of Anchorage punk shows? Could the undeniable appeal of very loud speakers actually be waning? Surely not. We must turn to the possibility that some new object of fancy has captured the attention of the new marching order of bored youth like a colorful oil slick in a puddle. And if shows like Dateline and any number of other mass-media propaganda outlets have taught us anything, it’s that “raves” are that oil slick. These media outlets tend to promote a boogey-man type image to panicky, prescription-happy, baby-boomer parents, suggesting that raves are new, big, and dangerous. They address the phenomenon with vagaries that allow the parents’ imaginations to run wild and in turn demonize raves. While this kind of sensationalistic journalism makes for an arousing post-desert prime-time droolfest for countless tunnel-visioned media clones, it takes liberties with the truth. To make raves out as something big may not be too bad a sin; they are quite popular. But to give the impression that they are new and frightening is a tactic that preys on the blurred thinking of a confused late middle aged populous for the purpose of high ratings. The fact is that kids have been taking new drugs and dancing to strange new music since the turn of the 20th century, and raves are simply an especially boring chapter of that progression.
The whole thing is baffling to me. Ecstasy has been described as a drug that loosens people up and promotes a touchy-feely vibe. It’s supposed to lower your natural apprehensiveness about human contact and make you feel all warm and cozy towards your fellow man. Does this, combined with monotonous video game music, terrifying flashing lights, and raging pubescent hormones seem like a horrible nightmare to anyone but me?
It’s not like I’m falling victim to the hype, it’s just it seems so boring and stupid to me. I think of my disdain for human contact as a survival instinct. And I don’t want to look as stupid as these rave kids do when they’re doing their little psychodelic-twirly-hands dance and whatnot. However, these and other embarrassments are apparently not an issue for the bubbly, gleefully dehydrated raving masses, so more power to them.
But when I feel the need to engage in one of these kiddie-social-mixer type events, I think I’ll stay with what I know and face the diarrhea rather than what would no doubt be an awkward evening for me politely telling some crazed Will Farrell looking high-schoolers to get their sweaty paws away from me.