All illustrations by Van Jazmin.
In cities across the United States, warehouse parties are the beating heart of the underground dance scene. They take place out of sight from the peering eyes of society-at-large, tucked into areas of urban decay, hidden deep within concrete and steel arenas. These makeshift cathedrals are where many of us enjoy our most transcendent experiences with dance music. They are where our true identities come out to play.
If you go to enough of these parties, you start to see patterns, and no, we don't mean that in some trippy, mildly-hallucinogenic way, we mean socially. In this, the first epoch of the Post-EDM era in America, there are some fascinating social patterns emerging––from drop-jockeying ravers dipping their toes into the depths of the underground to the much-lauded insufferable techno cynic, there's a whole social ecosystem that keeps this whole movement alive.
In celebration of our diversity (and with blatant disregard to stereotyping and PC culture), here are the 11 people you meet at every warehouse party in America.
Recent EDM Grad
Mindset: Ever since Skrillex invented dance music in 2010, the Recent EDM Grad has always felt that there’s gotta be something more to raving than just screeching drops and kandi-banging. When Gesaffelstein invented techno last year, it was like the heavens opened up and said “This is the new deephouse. Welcome to young adulthood. Remember to pay your student loans”
Aesthetic: Black top, black pants, often with upside down Arabic lettering or Japanese kanji down the sleeves. Dyed hair, Yeezy Boosts, and straight teeth are common.
Method: These kids tend to travel in massive packs, but if you want their attention, just yell “Sonny!” and they’ll all come running with armfuls of mixtapes and Massive presets that they made.
Mindset: “God, I crushed the email game so hard this week. I basically single-handedly revived underground techno with nothing but a Mailchimp account and seven gallons of Soylent, so how the fuck didn’t I get an artist pass to this shitty party? Uh oh. Shit. Where did I put my blow? Oh God. Oh my God. I lost it. Oh! Here it is! Phew.”
Aesthetic: Faded black deep v-neck, drop-crotch sweatpants, a fixed-upon look of indifference, crusted nostrils.
Method: Name drop, name drop, self-aggrandize, flatter, pander, name drop––in that order. Voila! You’ve successfully networked.
Mindset: Wherever the queers go, it’s a disco party. It doesn’t matter if it’s Ben Klock doing a ten hour brutalist set in hell, it will be glitter and smiles and fun vibes in the mo’ homo corners of the dancefloor. A dance party without the gays is like a hamburger without mayonnaise. Dry.
Aesthetic: Animal print tights, glitter, sequins, poppers, strong dance maneuvers, duh-raaaah-muh.
Method: Shimmy your way into the dance circle, unleash a crotch-thrust or two, and then ask them who their favorite contestant on Drag Race is. It’s okay, they love having loud conversations on the dancefloor.
Mindset: "Oh. He's cute. I wonder if he has any GHB. Oh. Wait. I've fucked him before...and it sucked. Ugh. If I don't at least make out with a DJ within, like, six or seven days, my instagram account is going to start losing followers. God, these parties were so much more fun before these little EDM bitches showed up and started fucking with my steez."
Aesthetic: She looks like a sexy alien vomited.
Soulful House White Guy
Mindset: He wears a fedora. He's had a soul patch for over two decades. He's been Doc Martin's accountant since 1993. He was there the first time anyone ever played afro-carribean beats on public radio. He is a KCRW gold supporting member.
Aesthetic: Yeah, he might look like he plays in a Smash Mouth cover band, but he's been into this shit since the only Gerber you knew was baby food.
Method: This dude is probably sober now, so share a shirley temple and ask if you can borrow some of his records.
Human Drugs Receptacle
Mindset: “Is that ketamine or cocaine? Actually, fuck it. It doesn’t matter.” Eyes wide, pupils large, future grim, the HDR fancies him or herself a modern day Hunter S. Thompson, when in fact, they are more like a particularly harrowing episode of MTV: True Life.
Aesthetic: Spoon necklaces, spoon rings, spoon toe rings, spoon hat, spoon pants, spoon everything––All clothing must serve a double function as a narcotics delivery device.
Method: To the left of this person in a circle is a good place to stand. Also, Make sure to avoid this person between Monday morning and Thursday night, otherwise their comedown will show you the gnar in narcotics.
Mindset: At least on the West Coast, the techno community was pioneered and basically hand-built by latinos, many of whom still populate the scenes in LA and San Francisco. Alongside the cult of Morrissey and the rockabilly revival, techno completes the triad of subcultures that the Latino-American population totally runs out in the West.
Aesthetic: Gangsta rap might be long gone, but it’s YOLO for cholos in terms of uniform:oversized shirts, bandanas, wifebeater vests. Just add some nu-romantic goth flair, a glob of rockabilly hair goop, and you’ve got the Mexican-American youth experience rolled up into one outfit (with the cigarettes tucked into the arm sleeve)
Method: Tell 'em that you know their cousin Primo from Long Beach. You'll be part of the posse, necking Tecate tall boys out of a paper bag in no time.
The Ringer/Normcore Warrior
Mindset: Dance music is The Ringer’s secret life away from a high-powered job as an investment banker or asbestos lawyer. On late weekend nights at the office, they rail a fistful of legally prescribed ADD medication and head to the wrong side of the tracks to muck it up the dancefloor for exactly fifteen minutes and thirteen seconds before light-jogging it back to the office to finish the TPS reports. It’s like spin club for people who like to quantify and systematize joy,
Aesthetic: Remember that German guy from SLC Punk? The Ringer is kind of like that, just less violent and probably a little less cool. To these people, the dancefloor is a means to an ends, a carefully measured application of rage, executed in between spreadsheet binges to maximize efficiency. They are probably still wearing their work suit at the club. They probably sleep in it, too.
Method: Don’t waste time with opinions or niceties. These people need facts: BPM, attendance, the DJ’s Resident Advisor ranking, derivative forecasts on the return of trance. And say it all in the voice of Gordon Gecko.
Mindset: Many techno loyalists are too cynical to explore the namby pamby world of Burner culture, but some of the playa’s dustiest creatures have brought some of the vibrance of Burning Man back to techno dancefloors. Without the flourishes of (likely organic) glitter that this archetype brings to the dancefloor, techno parties would quickly devolve into a legion of lifeless stiffs, shuffling in place and bobbing their head towards an asexual oblivion of machine music.
Aesthetic: Imagine if Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Clementine from Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind had a baby and it was raised on a martian space colony by Joni Mitchell, who fed it nothing but glitter and tofu and hallucinogens. Now imagine this person’s technicolor visage in a sea of black shirts.
Method: Smile a lot, vote for Bernie, ask ‘em about crystals.
The Golden Oldie
Mindset: Some people were born to run. Others were born to fly, to lead, to fight, whatever. Fewer still, are the golden horde who were born to dance, and have seen this whole movement grow over the decades. Sure, their tinnitus is so bad that they can’t hear you, their knees fold up like broken lawnchairs so they have to sit down a lot, and their brains look like a pinkish goulash after years of chemical abuse, but dammit, they were there! It’s an inspiration.
Aesthetic: Listen, they’re just glad to be out of the house. They dont have time for any of those dag-nabbit fashion blogs.
Method: Ask them about that one time....
Insufferable Techno Cynic
Mindset: They line the walls. They don't smile. They don't dance. They don't talk––and if they do, it's only to over pronounce the 'h' in Berghain. They brought their own headphones in case the music is whack. They are the most techno motherfuckers in this whole place.
Aesthetic: The ITC is post-aesthetic. That is plebian humanoid shit. ITC is borg.