Last Thursday night, February 15th, I dropped my statistics homework and went to an essentially un-underground rave at the Electric Factory. Camera in hand, I walked from the Septa stop at 8th and Market, through the rain into North Philly, and waited at will call for my tickets. People were filing into the already rattling cinderblock building wearing patterned gypsy pants, gold threaded scarves, with bandanas tied over their faces, and hats with pins from tens of summers worth of festivals. It was an eclectic group of people and, despite having grown up in a hippie festival going family, I felt out of place.
I hovered at the back of the crowd, already thick for Subtronics, the first of three opening DJs before Ganja White Night even came on, and took some pictures. The crowd was already into the music, dancing wildly and smiling at the bass-heavy beats, and sliding symphonic notes alluding to larger beat drops.
After Subtronics, Dirt Monkey took the stage with a particularly fluid transition of artists, and kept the energy building through eclectic and overwhelming beats. By this point, I made my way up through the side of the crowd to get into the photo pit and was overwhelmed with the euphoria and excitement that the crowd on the rail possessed, and even fulfilled some picture requests of the ecstatic rave-goers.
Standing so close to the speakers, I felt my inhibitions about being out of my comfort zone disappear and, after leaving the photo pit and standing off to the side of the rail in the front, a space opened up in which I shimmied my way to the rail. Now that I was right in front I had no choice but to let go and become absorbed into the collective energy of the crowd quivering with the powerful dance music shaking the Electric Factory that night.
I got to the rail at the perfect time, Dirt Monkey finished up with dramatically trippy vocals superimposed in his beats and, before I knew it, Caspa took over the mix board. Caspa’s foreign sounding dubstep rattled through the building and the crowd went wild. Despite not being particularly familiar with his songs, I found myself thinking each one was better than the last as he continued to play mix after mix while still continually hyping the upcoming Ganja White Night. His performance ended in a dramatic display of visuals projected on an IMAX screen on stage with artful color schemes and nature-documentary-on-drugs imagery.
After that mind blowing performance, I was involuntarily buzzing with the crowd as we waited briefly for Ganja White Night to make their appearance. The lights went down, the audience cheered, and the duo ran on stage screaming “Philly are you ready to Wobbleeeee.” Their show had an even more all-encompassing visual display with a short anime-like movie beginning to play over their jumping, sliding, and, yes, even wobbling beats resounded throughout, making the space between my ears shake. Their entirely improvised set played artfully off the crowd and captured their energy like it was a tangible fluid filling the Electric Factory.
Their set went for hours and, when it finally ended, everyone left looking spent and elated. As my first introduction to Philly’s rave culture, I was immeasurably impressed. Impressed not only by the energy of the music and the crowd, but with the dynamic visual experience, the equally-talented opening acts, and the endurance and talent of Ganja White Night, Caspa, Dirt Monkey, and Subtronics. I stepped out of my comfort zone, and found myself embraced by colorful ravers, wobbling at the Ganja White Night show late into the night.