102602 Elements, Victoria, BC

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I’m not really sure the party/rave I went to on October 26th, 2002 really counts when it comes to these live music tales but if I recall correctly it was the only time I’ve ever been held captive against my will by an event, so I think I’ll allow it.

It was an annual non-Hallowe’en costume party called Elements (or maybe that was just the theme for 2002, I really don’t know) held in a big old three-storey house in Victoria, British Columbia.  I was on the road with the band and we had a solid week off that left us desperate for entertainment.  The party had long since sold out of the 350 available tickets but a friend of the drummer managed to find four passes for us.  We cobbled together some very ghetto costumes (I was a Jedi-monk, the other guys all dressed up as chickens.  Sounds unfair, but I was the manager) and showed up ready to party.

What we found was a scene reminiscent of the old Kosmic parties that used to be held in the architecture building at Carleton University*; every room had a different theme going on with oversized odd decorations, dj’s, recorded soundloops and flashing lights around every corner.  I spent the bulk of my time in a trippy room that featured a live noodling guitar player and a set of congas that sat in the middle of the room like an open invitation.

All was going well until the cops showed up around 4am.  Then the place turned into a whisper-rave, a quiet blowout, a murmurfest.  Under-revelling security dudes and she-dudes turned all the music down to Muzak levels and the only thing they had to say was “Shhhhhhhh,” which they said often and with a furiously wide-eyed gusto.  This is when the forcible confinement began.  For some reason the organizers had denied to the police that there was anything going on in the house at all – let alone several hundred people madly raving it up in one psychedelic room after another – and so they went around telling everyone to be super-quiet, further insisting that nobody could leave until the cops went away.

Problem was, the cops weren’t going away.  Surely they knew something was going on – after all, this had been an annual event going back nearly a decade – and they were waiting outside to prove themselves right.

According to the event staff we couldn’t get outside even if the place caught on fire.  With the phalanx of militant shushers on silent patrol the whole party was immediately lulled to a whisper.  Anyone not complying got the stare-down of their life.  How do you get a bunch of Canadians out of a swimming pool?  “Okay, everyone outta the pool.”  The party had hit a solid brick wall.

It was somehow a good time anyway, and eventually the four of us managed to escape and we ended up at our own little private afterparty on our little tour bus, parked squarely in Victoria’s lovely Residentialand.  We flooded the bus with good times and the neighbourhood with urine.  With no harm done we got some sleep, found a great breakfast place first thing in the afternoon and before you knew it we were loading in to the Soundgarden for the evening’s gig.

*Yes, all buildings are “architecture buildings” but this one housed the university’s architecture department.  Smartass.

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