Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

Sometimes I’ll go to the mall and see a group of teens and wonder if the kids these are days are getting uglier or if just looking ugly is the new trend.  I definitely didn’t look like that and neither did anyone I went to high school with.  From the hair style to the make up to the clothes, if these kids weren’t actually ugly, they were trying their hardest to look ugly.  I never thought I would lose touch with what’s cool with kiddies so quickly, if at all.  I was not going to grow old, I was going to age gracefully and still be hip.

This was my plan for the future and it seemed completely feasible, but then I found out, that at the age of 26, I’m already out of touch. My dreams of being super cool dad on day went down the toilet at a rave.
Now to clarify, if someone asked me “Do you want to go to a rave?” I wouldn’t even need a second to think about my answer, which would be an emphatic “No!” So how did I end up at a rave? Easy. You call this “rave” a festival, and you advertise that The Roots, Reflection Eternal, and Chromeo are all performing. I’ve seen The Roots live more than any other artist and tend to catch them whenever I can.
So this festival is called Audiotistic, and I did know beforehand that it was considered a rave, but I figured that if we stayed in the hip-hop room (which was actually an outdoor stage, which was a very pleasant surprise – hip hop shows are notorious for reeking of weed), we wouldn’t really have to deal with the raver kids. Not that I expected any trouble from anyone, I’m just not part of the scene. They could enjoy their techno and glow sticks, and I could enjoy The Roots.
So my friend Beverly and I arrived in San Bernardino and saw a flock of people heading toward the venue. Some of the kids were dressed pretty normally (for going to a concert) and then there were some kids, who were dressed a little more festively, which is a gross understatement. I thought I kind of knew what to expect wardrobe wise from these raver kids. Bright colored clothing, perhaps some colorful jewelry, (you know, things that I wear on an daily basis). To my surprise, ravers these days (guys and girls) prefer to wear as little clothing as possible, except for the boots with the fur (minus the apple bottom jeans).

To be more specific, girls would show up in bikinis, with huge pink furry boots, and Hello Kitty backpacks, along with the aforementioned glow sticks and jewelry. Guys, likewise, would show up in nothing but speedos, backpacks, but without boots. Now, I’ve never been to a rave before, but I’ve been told this new wardrobe ensemble is a fairly new thing to rave culture. These people looked young, like in the 16-20 year old range, so it wasn’t exciting for me to see these scantily clad girls prancing around, it just made me feel creepy and dirty.  Obviously these kids didn’t leave the house looking like that, or least I hope not.  No sane parent would be okay with their kid dressing like that and heading out to the boonies for a “concert”, right?

Honestly, I shouldn’t care.  What these teens were doing was none of my business.  They weren’t ruining my experience when I was watching the actual performances and they weren’t really ruining my time there in between performances.   I’m sure they were doing illegal things, but it none of my concern and honestly not anything unusual (probably a lot less ecstacy though).  I was starting to see things through the eyes of a parent, which was something I was not expecting at all.  For the first time, I felt there was a huge divide at a concert and I didn’t like that feeling at all.  Concerts were supposed to a safe haven of sorts, where people of all ages could experience music and feel connected, but this night you only seemed connected if you were rolling.  The rest of us were horrified on the outside looking in.

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