Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Brief Circuit Party Advisory.

Well, I'm back.

Essentially, I spent the last five days and roughly a thousand dollars to experience seventeen hours in steaming hot discos with thousands of shirtless drug addled gay men, plus a jam and jelly show street fair augmented with porn stars and attendees in assless chaps. It was both interesting and enjoyable, though as is typical for me, neverwhen or why it was all supposed to be. I'm much too exhausted to write any sort of coherent debriefing for you. However, here's an essay on the subject, written to me a couple of years ago by my traveling companion back when I was contemplating attending a similar near-by event. Different year, different city, different party, but excepting those particulars, overall the advisory strongly applies.

"I no longer enjoy the music at circuit parties. The music took a strong turn, sometime around 2000, from beautiful, melodic, uplifting dark, hard, drum tracks.
This is, of course, due to the prevalence of crystal meth.

All club music, particularly gay club music, has been largely informed by the dominant drug-of-choice of its day.

Disco could have never happened without cocaine, for example. disco SOUNDS like cocaine...frothy, giddy, gleeful.

House music and its sexual edge, would have been left in the music dustbins if not for the hug-drug, ecstasy.

Trance music was fueled in many ways by the dis associative drugs Special K and GHB...hence the name.

And about 3-4 years ago, crystal meth exploded out of the sex parties and chat rooms of California into the consciousness (and nostrils) of circuit boys (and DJs).

Crystal creates a relentless, unebbing pounding sense of 'the hunt'. tribal music (and its most popular purveyor, Alegria resident DJ Abel) mines that same urgency.

Tribal music is overwhelmingly drum-led. often several hours at today's circuit party will go by without a single musical phrase completed. what few vocals appear, are usually exhortive shouts. 'Do it.' (repeat 1000 times). 'Work it'(repeat 1000 times).
The combination of the relentless drum tracks, with a crowd that is feeling a paradoxical mix of desire and apathy, tends to create an environment so devoid of actual joy, it can appear like the crowd is dancing because someone is MAKING THEM, at gunpoint.

A friend recently described the last Alegria as 'an icy catwalk of steroid queens giving face'. I'd have to concur.
however, be advised that MANY MANY more friends utterly LIVE for Alegria. They describe it as 'charging their soul'. keep in mind my age, and my sullen attitude when considering my review of Alegria.

Alegria occurs 5-6 times a year. Holiday weekends (Memorial Day, Labor Day), Gay Pride weekend, Black Party weekend, and their annual anniversary party. since Alegria began, I've been to perhaps 4 of the parties.

Previously Alegria was held at the insanely annoying Sound Factory, with its 4 small levels, oppressive heat, and torturous staircases.

Alegria is now held at Crobar, an infinitely better venue. much larger, easier to navigate, multiple rooms, and a balcony to watch from above.

I pointed Crobar out to you when we walked past. It's right down from the Eagle, after you pass Scores, the titty bar.

You should know that Alegria posts its start time as 11pm, but no one really gets there until 4am. The holiday weekend events, like the upcoming one, famously don't peak until nearly noon on Monday. by that point virtually 100% of crowd will be clenching their jaws, in a crystal-fueled bug-eyed state.

The Muscle Nazi quotient of the Alegria crowd is quite high. 100% of the room will have its shirt off, often before admittance.

and if i were you, I WOULD GO.

In light of what I've said above, that may suprise you. but there is a distinct feeling out there (from the various chat boards that i monitor, and from friends who work in the circuit world) that the scene is fading, and suprisingly quickly at that.

Major circuit events in 2003 saw a decline in attendance of 15-20%, following a couple of bad years which resulted from the post 9-11 travel decline.

Huge uber-events appear to have seen their day. The trend talked about now, is smaller, more intimate, perhaps by-invitation the old Phoenix Rising parties.

Alegria, as an event, as current representation of circuit like, as a snapshot of pop culture, is at the top of its game.
It's notable and notorious. it's a spectacle and a specimen.

You should go.

1- Trim your wallet to ID and ATM.

2- Take 2-3 times as much cash as you think you'll need

3- The drug pat down historically has been been perfunctory.
however, be prepared to be THOROUGHLY searched, up to and
including your butt crack and nut sack. I am NOT kidding.
they will inspect your cell phone to ensure that you haven't
replaced its battery with drugs, btw.

4- No ins-and-out allowed. the party lasts up to 18 hours.
plan accordingly.

5- Although drug use can be quite open and obvious, there are
always undercover cops at these events. Act accordingly.

6- BRING EARPLUGS. I cannot stress this enough. the damage
caused by hours of percussive music, at the volume DJ Abel
plays can be painful at best, permanent at worst. You can
get a dozen foam earplugs at Rite Aid for a few bucks.
You can make friends, if you have extra btw.

7- Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

8- The value of the disco nap CANNOT be overestimated.

Most of the Eagle crowd will be in Chicago, attending IML.
I'm not sure what I'm planning for Sunday night. YOU should be
napping during the beer bust period of the day, probably.


P.S. Alegria is the Portuguese word for 'joy'. the emphasis, as in many Portuguese words, is on the last syllable.

It's pronounced 'al-eh-GRIA';

You may know the musical notation 'allegra', which means to 'play joyously'.

Here are some fun ways you will hear 'Alegria' mispronounced:

'AH-leg-ra' like the allergy medicine

'ah-LEG-ria' wrong syllable emphasized

'all-ah-gria' as in, 'we all agree-ah'

You can always spot the Alegria virgins that way.

Hope this all helps!"

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