Inside the Luv2K 'dance party
on the moon'
By Cory Broussard
March 10, 2006 | SALT LAKE CITY -- Snugga Bugga
was my guide through the chaos of Valentine's
Day. She had been to more raves than anyone I
knew, and she know all the tricks to having fun.
Her real name was Stacy but she hardly calls
herself by her raver name anymore; she only even
mentions it as a joke. She's dressed in normal
clothes, a black sleeveless shirt with a pink
ribbon and jeans. She is way too old to dress
"raver style," she tells me. But all
around us in line were people who had chosen not
to give up on fairy wings and flashing sunglasses,
and by the end of the night I would hear plenty
of interesting raver names.
The location of Utah's largest rave, Luv2k,
was released only a few hours before the doors
opened, but already hundreds of people lined the
freezing streets outside of Club Sound. Puffs
of icy breath and cigarette smoke hovered above
the crowd as they chatted and cheered excitedly.
Huddled close for warmth they were already dancing
to the faint music rumbling from inside.
"I heard they oversold the rave," one guy says
as he rubs his furry rainbow gloves over the face
of the girl in front of him. "So even if you bought
a ticket, you might not get in!" A range of gasps
and oh-no's came from the crowd around him. The
line moved a few steps closer to the security
guards at the entrance.
THE WAY: Dancers wave glowing
sticks as they get into the rave.
/ Photo by
Only the men are searched, patted down, pockets turned
out, socks checked for any sign of tiny Ecstasy pills.
The girls are all waved through without so much as a
second glance, save one or two especially suspicious
characters. It's not much of a security system, but
it is at least an effort.
A frantic boy comes crashing out from the basement
carrying an unconscious girl, screaming for people to
get out of the way. The security guards help him out,
pushing people to the side, but don't try to get involved.
His hysterical shouts fade away into the pounding music.
Stacy leads the way past the guards, through the front
doors and into Luv2k. Inside an otherworldly spectacle
presents itself. Laser lights flash everywhere. Cage
dancers highlight their bodies with glow sticks. Lingerie
clad girls serve water and orange juice to a thirsty
public. If there was a dance party on the moon it might
look like Luv2k.
Only a minute after buying my glow sticks for five
dollars a pair, a stranger wraps me in a crushing hug.
A girl I don't know looks up at me wide eyed and happy,
sweat already beginning to bead on her forehead. "This
is my first rave," she says. "I'm having so much fun!"
She asks me if I'm rolling on ecstasy and when I tell
her no the smile is wiped off her face, her brow furrows
in a look of extreme contemplation.
"Try drinking some orange juice," She says. "Or Vicks,
that always works for me." There is no time to tell
her that I didn't even take a pill before she floats
on to the next raver.
"This is my first rave," she says again as she crushes
her temporary friend.
of the rave most of these people would probably
never even try to say hi to one another, but inside
the world of Luv2k everyone is a friend. Strangers
kiss and hug, friends who came together won't see
each other the rest of the night. Getting lost in
the crowd takes a whole new meaning when you're
stopped every five feet to be greeted by a smiling
stranger. One member of our group had already found
a new friend. He spent the rest of the night cuddling
and kissing with a girl he just met on top of a
large speaker in front of the main stage.
THE NIGHT AWAY: Inhibitions?
What are those?/ Photo by Cory Broussard
The crowd upstairs is thin this early in the night,
so Stacy leads the way to the bar in the lower section
of Club Sound. Here security is extra tight. Guards
scrutinize driver's licenses, make visitors sign a list,
and no one can leave the bar with a drink. Alcohol is
much easier for the club to control then illegal drugs.
While anyone could buy ecstasy from the guy in a Phantom
of the Opera costume for 20 bucks, no one under 21 could
enter the bar without a very convincing fake ID.
Stacy gets a free drink from a bartender named Will
who is an ex of one of her friends. My Long Island Ice
Tea cost nine bucks and I'm sure it's not as strong
as it should be, but at this point it's my only option
to escape from sobriety. The over-21 crowd is much more
relaxed than the upstairs crew. None are dressed in
the bright colors and glowing apparel that is common
at raves, and most choose simply to sit at the bar.
It's a very subdued version of the normal bar scene.
But even in the unusual calm of the bar, techno music
blocks out most sound. It takes too much effort to talk
over the crushing stereo and the majority of people
are too busy drinking various liquors as fast as they
can to try conversation anyway. Stacy moves to the small
dance floor as soon as her drink was gone, and I finish
off my own weak concoction before joining her.
Dancing with glow sticks is nothing like normal dancing.
If normal dancing is all in the hips, then techno dancing
is all in the wrist. Stacy makes it look like an art
form as she spins and twirls the bars of light around
her body. It's dark even in the bar, and the faint red
and yellow of the sticks make shapes that even I can
appreciate in my soberish state. Her hands move so fast
that the light seams to follow her as she twists to
the electronic beat.
A guy with a red fishnet shirt and metal studded black
pants swim-dances around her. He moves slow, arms flailing
from side to side, legs bowing in and out with the music.
His style seams to be at odds with Stacy's quick circular
glow stick movements, but strangely enough the whole
event looks choreographed.
One more drink and we move back upstairs where the
party is in full swing. People stand shoulder-to-shoulder
with only small pockets of space where ravers with glow
sticks tied onto the end of strings perform for a captive
audience of ravers. DJ Loki hovers over his turntables
in front of a large paper heart with LUV stamped on
it. The music is so overwhelming here that you have
to yell into the ear of the person next to you to be
The music pulls at the crowd, inviting them to speak
in a different language, one that's more easily understood:
dancing. On the balcony that overlooks the stage everyone
is dancing, grinding into one another. Even at the oxygen
bar, with its glowing green tanks, they dance sitting
down. Stacy finds one of the cages and starts her routine,
drawing the eyes of everyone around with her rhythmic
movements. From my spot on the floor I find a face I
recognize dancing on the balcony. I leave Stacy at the
cage, explaining with a few hand movements what I'm
doing, and wind my way through the crowd up the stairs.
My sister, Erin, yelps excitedly and wraps me in a hug.
She drags me and her boyfriend Chase outside to the
porch where we can hear.
"Let me see your eyes," she says moving inches away
from my face to look at my pupils. "Good boy," she exclaims
after she discovers that I'm not rolling. She's sober
as well, more so than me since she's too young to drink.
We talk for a few minutes and I ask her to give me a
light show with her glow sticks that are tied to shoelaces.
Erin's been to plenty of raves, and is better at 'glowsticking'
than anyone I've seen. In the darkness of the night
she swings the sticks around her, creating wings of
light behind her back that are a form of beautiful I
hadn't seen before. A crowd begins to gather as she
wraps the glow sticks back and forth around her arms
"Wow, she's beautiful," one girl exclaims. I smile
and nod appreciatively.
Chase joins in behind her and together they perform
for a growing crowd. In the background the DJ mixes
a news report of a rave that was broken up in Spanish
Fork with a throbbing beat. Erin laughs and stops dancing,
She was at that rave. The group watching sighs and begins
to break up, searching for another show to watch. "Way
cool, Sis," I say.
"Thanks Big Bro," we hug and part ways. I return downstairs
to find that Stacy has wandered off somewhere. Lost
for the first time I spot a pit-like stairwell next
to the bar entrance and decide to investigate.
The throbbing pitch of the upstairs DJ transfers to
the quick rolls and bass of the basement. The drum and
bass style techno played here is something straight
out of a Japanese anime battle. The fast and high energy
music pulsates through an entirely different group of
ravers: the 'deep rollers'. Nearly everyone here is
on some sort of drug, mostly ecstasy, and the lone security
guard at the base of the stairs seems only to be present
to tell people that they can't get out through this
stairwell. Mere feet from him a group is huddled together
smoking a joint. The security guard pretends not to
notice. After all a bust is bad for business and too
much work for what he is getting paid anyway.
The deep rollers blanket the couches and sweaty floor
around the outskirts of the smoke filled room. Light
shows are not just something to observe down here, they
are something to experience. A shirtless guy lays on
the floor while a girl dressed only in her underwear
waves glow sticks inches in front of his face. His mouth
hangs limply open and his head sways slowly back and
forth following the tracers like a charmed snake.
In the dark corners where smoke and bodies obscure
most activity, a few people are nearly naked rubbing
against each other making out. A pit in the center of
the room houses the only dance floor. Those too tired
to dance sit along the edge, still rocking back and
forth to the beat. But on the dance floor all kind of
commotion is going on. Couples are kissing, glow sticks
are being hurled into the air and a range of dance moves
pulse in time with the hectic beat.
In the center a shirtless man with a tie-dye skirt
clears a space for himself. He moves at an agonizingly
slow pace, waving his arms to and fro like a tree in
the wind. With a face that is painted like an Aztec
warrior, green and red and yellow with rhinestones glued
on to his eyebrows he looks completely out of place
against the sea of quickly jerking arms and legs. You
can almost hear the hiss of his brain frying. After
a few minutes the heat and smoke force me out into the
courtyard. The sweat instantly freezes to my forehead
and the cold air burns my lungs. Two guys wrestle on
the ground, laughing about some girl one of them had
made out with. The security guards are still hard at
work tirelessly searching guys at one in the morning
even though there is only about an hour left. Even in
the cold people are swaying to the beat, trying to catch
what's left of their breath before heading inside.
Inside people are still dancing frantically, rolling
glow sticks and lighted key chains around their bodies.
There is no sign of fatigue on the dance floor, but
in the back by the water vender people have started
to slow. Every available seat is filled by a sweaty
tired raver, and my group of friends is huddled close
together talking excitedly. Before I can make it to
them a guy with huge black angel wings and no shirt
shoves a phone with an address on it in front of my
"My name's Flutterbye," he says excitedly. "We're
having an afterparty, you should come!" I nod and thank
him before he moves on to a girl dressed in lingerie.
No way in hell would I be going to his party! He's way
too weird for me, and I'm way too tired anyway.
My group welcomes me back from my journey with pats
on the back. We exchange crazy stories for a while as
we watch the crowd pulsate around us. Stacy comes back,
smiley and sweaty. After a few minutes of relaxation
I follow her back into the crowd to dance again.
She only has to dance for a minute or two before another
shirtless guy with a shaved head who is definitely on
ecstasy asks for a light show. Stacy smiles and begins
her routine. Like bugs drawn to bright lights more ravers
show up to watch. The guy with the shaved head stands
with his white wife beater tank top limp in his hands,
inches away from Stacy's twirling lights. His face contorts
into odd shapes of excitement and his jaw hangs lower
with every passing second. He looks like a cartoon caricature
of his former self, eyes wide and gaping mouth. All
of a sudden Stacy places the glow sticks on his eyes,
pulls them away quickly and blows in his face. He looks
scared and confused for a second then grabs her in a
tight hug, a look of pure jubilation on his face.
"Thank you," he yells over the music before disappears
into the sea of people.
Most people don't understand Techno as a form of music,
much less raves as a form of fun. And they won't. Not
until they've experienced it. Techno, above all other
forms of music, creates a feeling. It's different for
everyone that hears it, but the rave allows you to understand
what that feeling could be. The flashing lights, the
throbbing crowd, the pounding beat, all come together
to produce something that can't be described to anyone
who hasn't experienced it for themselves.
By the end of that night I was coming to understand
what all the fuss was about. Why my sister had been
coming to raves for years, learning to twirl glowing
plastic on the ends of shoelaces. I had made fun of
her then but now I felt enlightened. The raver motto
PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect) had found its
way into my heart.
Amidst a sea of debauchery, the ravers united and
found what they all came for. Peace with their neighbor,
love for their brother, unity with the music and a healthy
respect for everything that raves. When the house lights
finally turned on, revealing a trash littered floor
and a chaotic rush to find friends, my group hugged
and headed for the street. Muscles sore and head throbbing
I collapsed into the passenger seat of Stacy's car.
"Great night," I said as she popped a techno CD into
the player. She smiled and nodded knowingly as we drove
away, the slow calming trance of Tiesto guiding us into
He danced with his hands and this glass ball, all night
long. / Photo by Cory Broussard