Updated 3 weeks ago
After a long, dark, and cold decade, and an absolute dystopian hibernation with COVID-19, New York has started to flower again. But let’s be frank – all the events and people running around NYC right now are about a twentieth what it was 20 years ago, and in aggregate, the 2020s so far would be barely worth a mention in this site’s series of decade summaries.
The scene has always been about cliques, but today cliques are pretty much all there is. There is no casual class of in-betweeners. This has an opportunity cost – an entire generation has grown into adulthood that never knew what a regular psytrance scene would be like. Psytrance in NYC has a long, long way to go to match the past golden age – which will probably never be surpassed.
So the pressure is off! Just have fun. And, more importantly, your efforts are appreciated. Many baby steps are ahead of you. Just keep out the bad people and the goddamn C.O.M.P. drugs – Cocaine, Meth, Opioids, and PCP. And you should be fine.
A party with five beautiful people is infinitely better – and more sustainable – than 100 people that are high on C.O.M.P. drugs, cut their wrists in the bathrooms, slump over on opiates, and every other cockamamie story I hear coming out of NYC these days.
A final note:
“In scenes with heavy use of boundary-dissolving substances, there is a tendency to build castles in the air, and to hallucinate social structures out of thin air. One of these can be starting to label the events “spiritual gatherings” and/or “families.”
This may be distressing to some, but these events are “parties.” Although at least a few attempts happened in the past to fashion them otherwise (Gaian Mind, DMT, Shamanistas), they are not spiritual gatherings. A spiritual gathering has clergy, rituals, and rites in an organized manner. Parties generally have none of these things. Parties are full of people who want to forget their worries, have fun, dance, listen to music, make friends, maybe hook up, maybe find a life partner, and maybe even get high without being judged!
And the word “family” used within a “party” context is a trap. At the risk of sounding like a culture warrior, a family is biological. Your mom, dad, brothers, sisters, etc. Family roles have inherent responsibilities and obligations that just don’t exist within a party context. A family judges each other. Using the word “family” outside of that literal meaning, while well-intended, is very dangerous. It can give some people assumptions that just aren’t well-founded and can lead to misunderstandings, and sometimes much worse.
It can make people feel like they have a safety net, but when they fall, they hit the ground.
Let’s get specific: if a member of your family starts fucking up, such as getting into very bad drugs, you will generally intervene and establish boundaries. Judge them. Bail them out. Pay for lawyers (both criminal and estate planners). Get them rehab. Call the police. Say no. Worst case scenario, after all other avenues (and you!) have been exhausted, you have to finally cut them off, let nature takes its course, and let them spiral down, even becoming homeless or dead.
Why? To protect your family.
I see none of these things in the party scene. With a focus on hedonism, it just isn’t equipped to deal with the really hard choices.
Time and time again, when I heard the word “family” uttered by a party person, the person was usually someone who was pushing way too hard, someone I didn’t trust, and felt like an aggressive hook to attach themselves to me and my space, and normalize themselves. They had much more to gain, and less to give.
They tried to have it both ways. All the mushy family love with none of the responsibilities.
I think a better word than family is “community.” Less baggage.
So unless someone is going to volunteer to legally be the “mom” and “dad” and “the crazy uncle,” (kissing cousins!?) please be realistic.
Words matter. Use them precisely and wisely.
A Note on the Past
Looking back on the past 30 years of acid raving from the perch of 2023, no one ever made money in the long run. It was all truly a labor of love.
Remember when people complained about cover, when Gilles was raising rates, and much later, on Isratrance all those shitters giving El Nadiv hell? The whole string of JEG’s benefactors – his bf, Gavin, Yani, and who knows who else?
Hindsight is 20 20, but IMHO the cover should have been twice what it was. We didn’t know what we had, and DOUBLE COVER might have made it all break even. Yes people would have complained, but it might have made it doable.
That, and in retrospect, although it was amazing, I really think Gilles should have had a third or sometimes a quarter of the major acts. Not FOUR! Looking at the lineups now, I rub my eyes. Each of his events were pretty much a whole 3 day’s festival’s worth of talent. That would have saved an **insane** amount of money for pay, flights and lodging.
It was still a miracle, a mirage in the desert, an inspiration that will never leave any of us.
And Alien Project? Remember that boondoggle when Gilles raged at them when they were asking for so much, then turned into complete shitters? Where are they now?
What would have greatly benfitted all the organizers was, as Steven Xavier Exarcos once put it to me, a really mean fat ugly Hispanic female, a slave driving accountant asshole that would enforce fiscal discipline. A CFO from Hell that prevents you skimming petty cash for an 8 ball.
In the end, maybe people sensed that it was all bleeding money, and that’s why they were attracted to it. They intuited that it was a gift.
An alternate route would have been a Burning Man style ethos. All renegade. Everyone carries their weight, financially and otherwise. This is the route I went for, and although I didn’t lose any money, I found out at the end of that tunnel, once I broke free of financial constraints, there was waiting for me constant exposure to drugs, good and bad, and in the end, alcohol was the worst. It took a long clean break, to break free.
In the end, we are so lucky no one got killed at all the open air stuff.
I still feel this is the best way. Invite only beach parties with permit during the day, with excellent sound, and squeak into dusk if possible. The primary community assets are, again!, the sound system and generator. Known meth/opiate users/thieves/freakers/mentally ill are blackballed.
But alas, the guy who had the generator stabbed his mom to death, and the guy who had the sound system is in prison for shooting Remi twice in the face, and the rest of it was sold for heroin by… someone who is sober now. All of those incidents were due to bad drugs.
Talk about an implosion.
Maybe some day the Phoenix will rise again. If this ever happens, just contribute more, focus on health and self-sustaining ethos, rather than being self-destructive flashes in the pan, and most importantly, keep out the bad drugs as if our scene’s life depended upon it.
“The real hindsight for me is that, underneath the event economics it was really a real estate game. As that market slowly tightened year by year in the US, the event spaces constricted.
In Greece a 90s guy still throws tiny parties for 20-80 people twice a month because he bought a beach bar on the far outskirts of Athens.
In Dubai (where it is ~incredibly dangerous~ to participate in psychedelia) there are currently more regular underground psy events than in NYC, because some guy owns a farm out in the desert far from prying eyes, cameras, and drones.
Is Sharon the only organizer of old from US-east who scaled up to the global trance event level?
I guess the Greys/CoSM saw the true nature of the game and did pretty well for themselves by buying an estate on the Hudson River. They copycatted the party-event style that Theo introduced to them and used it to finance their giant golden temple thing that they have now, doing exactly what JEG hoped to do in the old times, throwing dope regularly-occurring parties and then inviting extremely wealthy benefactors to the event and inspiring them to write checks.”
Money corrupts. If ya wanna get really negative you can look back in trance history, there’s usually someone with the cash to blow on speakers, bookings and people turn a blind eye to whatever behaviour because on some level they depend on their largesse. 99 times out of 100 they are tolerable at worst and a messiah-type hero at best.
However, as the cost of living goes up, and it gets harder to bootstrap a community with goodwill and volunteerism, the shitball with money to throw around can start clawing their way through the muck, rear its ugly head, and spread the shit around like herpes, infecting one unethical, unscrupulous, or unwitting host after another.
“But he paid me!” is their common refrain, as if that isn’t the worst excuse ever. Are you that easily bought? Or, worse, am I missing some sociopathic dog whistle?
And the good people, who have higher standards with the company they keep, and because they remember a kinder, gentler time, back away slowly, and withdraw.
What’s left is a cesspool.
This is probably a universal dynamic.
It’s very depressing when you think about it. Something ostensibly built with good vibes and “spirituality,” corrupted by mere money. The world’s oldest profession refuses to die.
AI exploded in the early 2020s. Midjourney, ChatGPT, Bing, Bard really blew up.
Fentanyl became even bigger (See Deaths, below)
Psychedelic medicine has become much more mainstream, and legalization of psychedelics is spreading quickly. I suppose that is good news for trancers, but it certainly hasn’t translated into bigger and better party scene. Yet.
Maybe that’s by design. This isn’t the 60s. Timothy Leary is dead. Now it’s all about hedge funds.
We shall see!
If you were 20 at the scene’s peak in 2000, you entered your forties in 2020. In America around this time middle-aged white men became an endangered species. Fentanyl entered the scene and quickly started racking up serious numbers.
John M. Phelan
Ash Armand Murder
Dock Ellis, Jr.
Tony Citro Murder
Mark Mojo Johnson
David Allen Aragon
Corey Daniel Felsman
Dima Klimov – Asha’man Cyberia
See more: Memorial