The straight dope

Playing it safe is all the rave for kids seeking peace, love, and ecstasy

"You wanna roll?" asks a young man inside.

They say there's an E-lectric thrill a raver on E gets when he catches the eye of a stranger buzzing off the same drug, that key to collective intimacy. For many, it's an experience worth initiating. I decline. With the bone-shaking music p-p-pounding, you can't hear yourself think. It shakes your gut, as if you're part of a larger organism. The music is the collective heartbeat.

"Let me give you a hug," he says, embracing me. E turns the whole body into an ultrasensitized membrane, a "walking G-spot" as one user calls it.

Trey Mosmeyer wants to prove that to rave you don't have to buzz.
Trey Mosmeyer wants to prove that to rave you don't have to buzz.

He takes a seat just a few yards from the DanceSafe booth. "I feel so good," he says, his eyelids drooping. He says he popped a pill a few hours ago. "You wanna give me a back rub?" he shouts above the music. He tells me that his name is John, that he's 18 and from the Duncanville area. He takes off one of the many strings of plastic beads wrapped around his wrist and slips it on mine. "Wear it forever," he says.

As I get up to leave, he stands up and embraces me, firmly rubbing his sweaty palms up and down my back. That's the way to hug someone on E, he tells me. "It feels so good," he says.

Even with the estimated 4,000 people who drop in and out of the rave during the night, there's no sexual vibe. Amid the swirling lights and pulsating beat, throngs of people--like drones in some Night of the Living Dead--walk to and fro across the dance floor, many with pacifiers in their mouths. That's the irritating side effect of E, its tendency to cause teeth-grinding among users. Sucking on pacifiers helps. Others on the floor stay in one place swirling fluorescent glow sticks. Swirl them fast enough, and you create the illusion of a figure eight. For a raver, it's happy "eye candy."

Eighteen-year-old Norman's sitting on the floor near the DanceSafe booth, sucking on a pacifier. "I'm on 'X,'" says this burly, goateed teen, taking out his pacifier to answer my question. A girl's giving him a back rub.

Moments later, a guy with a cigarette in his trembling hand is sitting in a chair, his whole body shaking. His head jerks back and forth. Except for the earring at the tip of his ear, he looks clean-cut; he isn't wearing the "phat" pants of the typical raver. No beads. He took seven hits of acid earlier. Here from California to visit his parents, the 19-year-old tells the girl next to him that he'll take 10 more later and that he hasn't eaten in two days. Acid triggers a lack of appetite.

"Having fun yet?" asks Meredith Brock, 18 and a member of Mosmeyer's entourage, sticking her head in my face. I nod. She walks away with a satisfied grin.

"I can't see more than three feet in front of me," says the guy tripping on acid when I ask how he feels. His eyelids hang low. "I feel numb," he says weakly.

"Why haven't you eaten in two days?" I ask.

"Because I spent my money on other things."

"On acid?"

"On other things," he says, lifting his chin defensively.

It's after midnight now, and the rave's at fever pitch. Outside Eddie Deen's Ranch, a young man is being taken into police custody. A cop found him in the men's bathroom selling a raver some green pills--E, by the looks of it.

"Can I ask you to stand over there for extra security?" asks promoter Jeremy Word to the cops, all the while looking unfazed by the bust. He points to the back entrance, where tickets are being taken.

The cops agree.

"Wicked," says Word.

I walk behind the cops. As they go to the back, a long line of people wraps around Eddie Deen's Ranch.

"Do you have any rolls?" I hear a teen ask of some in line.

The cops can't be everywhere, the police later tell me. "These uniforms kind of stand out," says Senior Cpl. Stephen O'Donnell facetiously. "We can't pad everyone down at the door and take the dope out."

"Every generation has to make a name for itself somehow," says another cop, leaning against a truck and shaking his head.

It's about 1:15 a.m. now and I'm in line, mingling with those waiting to enter the rave world.

"It's an escape from everything," says Jason Shifflet, a 19-year-old Fort Worth mechanic. "From parents. From work."

Will he roll tonight? "Yeah," he says, as if it's obvious.

A blonde girl in "phat" pants and a blue Royals shirt walks by, passing out fliers for an upcoming rave in the area. She slips a guy a small packet of ketamine to snort. He hands her $20.

"I'm just helping out a friend," this 17-year-old girl from Fort Worth tells me when I approach her later, once she's farther down the line and several twenties richer. "Why?" she asks. "You want some?"

I walk back into the club. By now, a thin, white mist hangs in the air from all the sweat. The concrete floor's slippery from all the perspiration, all the spilled water from ravers who dished out $2 for water or OJ or cranberry juice at the bar. There's no alcohol here. Party rules, after all. That doesn't hinder the dazed euphoria.

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