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Where will I go when it’s over? To the Los Angeles after party. To the rave. 

I’m not sure if they still have the after parties in Los Angeles like we used to, because I’m out of touch and the party scene is different in every place, and I’m never anywhere for very long.

I’m talking about Los Angeles in a time that no longer exists now that there in that city of angels the last call for alcohol has crept later and later.

This was a time when the bars were shut at 2am. When alcohol venues figured out they could make even more money charging door for a space, a clean floor, and a DJ after hours. The Los Angeles after party was born.

And then, then came the afterparty. No alcohol sold at the afterparty.

This is how it became blended with the burgeoning rave scene. They overlap participants, but the after party in Los Angeles is more diverse. We’re not tied together by anything but the urge not to go home.

No alcohol sold or consumed on site, and the pulsing beat of house and trance music. That’s it. That and a feeling.

Where will I go when it’s over?

I want to go to an after party in Los Angeles in 1998 where the line is long and everyone is dressed to the nines. 

Only a few of us have been out drinking. Some of us are sober. Some of us are coked up. Most of us are coming up on MDMA which we call X or E, or maybe other psychedelics too. We make friends in the line. It forms before the venue actually opens.

Who knows what the venue does. Maybe some nights it’s a dance club on Sunset Blvd, but tonight, tonight it’s just open for the Los Angeles after party. It can afford to be a small or medium sized space for the era. Tiny by today’s standards. A dance floor that fits 50-100 people max. 

We stand in line for 30 mins. I watch the tired women in front of me in the line drag themselves a step forward at a time on heels and wonder how they plan to dance in that, or what they took that lets them ignore the pain.

I’m in running shoes and raver pants and a tight acrylic t-shirt that says “Free” patterned in the Ford logo. 

Cars full of midnight drivers lazily roll by us and occasionally jeer out the window at the line of people standing in the light of streetlights with few enough responsibilities that we can party all night long.

Eventually the doors open and I watch the women in front of me do their makeup in the throw of the streetlight, pausing when the line moves them into darkness, resuming again when they move forward into the light.

Where will I go when it’s over?

Los Angeles After Party

To the Los Angeles after party. To a club that is just a refitted section of a warehouse with some excellent inner walls built for sound. A dampened space in pitch black. 

No light. Not at all. Of course it matters not what any of us are wearing or if there is makeup. Everyone knows we’re doing that for ourselves. This isn’t a meat market. It can’t be. It’s completely dark. The only light is from the exit sign. These are the days where underground means loose liability. Getting in and out or to the bathroom is slow and careful. People aren’t drunk. We take care.

The floor is not sticky. There are no drink cups or water bottles. There’s no puddles or piles of fluids cast off humans that overconsume. It’s clean, but sweaty.

The sound people and DJ’s care too. The music is well-tuned. It’s loud, but not brassy or distorted. It’s perfect for the space.

I’m surprised by the conscientiousness in the darkness.

I dance. Sweat. Drink water. Dance more. The room vibrates with the music. Without touching them, I can feel the people around me dancing their hearts out. The floor is cement, but I can feel the vibration of our feet through it. 

I try not to think of earthquakes.

It is new. We are young. We’re at the Los Angeles after party.

I am alone. I am surrounded. And I move to the beat. I transcend.

I am the beat.

Until the door is cast open at 5am, with no warning. Sunlight streams in shocking my senses. Bouncers stand at the ready. The music sees us out as we straggle onto the sidewalk to in search of a patch of dark in the ever-present glare of Los Angeles sun to sleep the day away.

Where will I go when it’s over?

I’ll go somewhere where I can dance in the dark with with other people who just want to dance in the dark.

With people who don’t mind getting a little sweaty. Alone. Together.

Like these stories about the turn of the millennium? Read my book that covers that era: Down and Out in California


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