The Bizarre Life and Troubling Death of DarkSide, the Dallas Rave Church That Never Was

For over a year, a registered "spiritual organization" was the hottest after-hours spot in Dallas. Then it all came crashing down.

The Bizarre Life and Troubling Death of DarkSide, the Dallas Rave Church That Never Was
Roderick Pullum

The Lord had chosen an unlikely vehicle for his message to John Wayne. But when John learned he'd been DJing in a church, he knew it was a message from above.

John grew up Pentecostal in Waco, at a church where they spoke in tongues and laid on hands. He dropped out of school at 17 and moved to Dallas to become a professional dancer, but he got wrapped up in drugs instead. He spent a few chaotic years living in hotels, mooching Ecstasy and LSD off dealer friends and watching his dreams turn to dust.

By the time he became part of DarkSide, John was clean and had a beautiful woman by his side at the turntables. As the club grew, eventually becoming one of Dallas' hottest after-hours spots, John was one of its main DJs and promoters. Then, suddenly, it was also the spiritual outlet he'd always craved.

John Wayne and Lacey Jayne. "This was our life," John says.
Roderick Pullum
John Wayne and Lacey Jayne. "This was our life," John says.
Danny "Danny Boy" Hundley, a former security guard at the club. "I knew someone there was gonna put a smile on my damn face."
Bianca R. Montes
Danny "Danny Boy" Hundley, a former security guard at the club. "I knew someone there was gonna put a smile on my damn face."

He received this good news in November 2010, around the height of the club's popularity. He was at Dancetronic, a weekly party at DarkSide's sister club, the Playground. John was in the zone, headphones on and bass thumping, when someone shined a flashlight onto his turntables. Annoyed, he raised his arm to block the light and kept spinning.

Fists pounded on his table. John ignored them. Someone yelled at him to turn around. Finally, he did.

"What the fuck do you want?" he screamed, and saw whom he'd been blowing off. The cops yanked him from the DJ booth, he says, headphones still around his neck. They piled on top of him. He felt a knee on his neck and a gun to his head. He was handcuffed while the cops kicked everyone out.

When he got out of jail two days later, on his birthday, he was shaken and scared. He called his boss, a man he knew as "AB."

"I think I'm done," John told him. "The cops are watching that venue. For some reason they don't want us doing this."

"John Wayne, what they did was illegal," AB replied. DarkSide and the Playground were both licensed spiritual organizations, he said. "I've got proof. We can take them to court. Come down here right now. We'll walk up to the police station with the paperwork I have and we'll own the fucking city."

John was confused. He'd never known the clubs to be "spiritual organizations." They sure didn't look like it. But it was true, AB said: He was an ordained Universal Life Church minister, and he had a permit to use his buildings for worship.

John was still baffled. But he was elated, too.

"I love God with all my heart," he says. He'd always wanted to show people "the truth" through his music. Well, he thought, the Lord works in mysterious ways.

It wouldn't be long before DarkSide collapsed amid a messy tangle of drugs, arrests and accusations, sending its shady operators and tightknit collective of staff and customers scattering. But for eight months, anyway, John Wayne thought he'd found the spiritual home he'd been seeking, and that it had come, miraculously, with a dose of DJ fame. He started dreaming up outreach events DarkSide could offer to the rave scene. He even got ordained himself and performed a wedding in the club, two young ravers who wanted to marry before they both joined the military. The bride wore a green gown and walked down the aisle to a dance remix of Mendelssohn's wedding march.

"The media made it out to be a sex-infested, drug-infested underground rave club that was run by a pedophile and raver kids who didn't give a damn," he says now. His voice rises a little. "That's bullshit. Yes, there were drugs. Yes, Tommy is a pedophile. But there was a deeper purpose, a deeper meaning, a deeper connection. This wasn't just something we did on weekends. This was our life."

image

DarkSide's former home at 3207 Northwest Highway is a squat tan building, part of the last stretch of commerce before the road flattens out into a cloudy streak of Bachman Lake on one side and drab commercial buildings on the other. From August 2010 to July 2011, this was a huge planet in the galaxy of clubs in the Dallas dance-music scene, drawing as many as 1,000 people a night to its five rooms and as many stages. It was a candy store of raver delights: disco balls, strobes, lasers, a stripper pole, cages to dance in and readily available drugs to make it all sparkle. Videos online show every room packed wall-to-wall, young dudes in T-shirts, young women, maybe even girls, pulsating to deep bass lines in tiny outfits paired with big, fuzzy boots.

"It was really nice," says Gypsy Masters. He's a cheery, rainbow-dreadlocked 22-year-old who became a DarkSide mainstay; the club's management used to pay him to show up, he says, because he'd bring a big crowd with him. "There was more music, more genres, more styles — more of a freedom of what you want to listen to."

DarkSide was something new to its young clientele. But the electronic dance music (EDM) scene has deep roots in Dallas, given a thread of continuity by Lizard Lounge, the city's longest-operating dance club. When that club's owner, Don Nedler, moved here in 1991, he found a subculture already in full bloom.

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21 comments
BarackObummmer
BarackObummmer

As long as Sandra Fluke gets her free birth control pills what difference does it make?

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

what a classy expose of what the Observer loves the most...trashy people doing trashy things with other trash.

cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

Bigmac Tony

Jul 25, 2011

Like I said before... Garbage culture for garbage people

ShareFlagLikeReplyKeepingitrealJul 25, 2011

Yea and your culture isn't garbage at all networks dont mind takeing money from calvin klien for exploiting under age kids in sickening ads , the mainstreme media doesn't point out that massive amounts of drugs are sold at topless clubs which stay open afterhours and allow the "rave" scene in after. Do you want your kid at the topless club at five am or in a club that atleast calls it self a church ? I dont know ? This is the same mainstreme media that blast out music lauding the merits of being a drug dealer "balling" hanging with your fellow gang members or being a "hoe" to those guys , all I can tell you is that kids are going out you cant stop it , they are either at a club with a cop at the door or a house party getting beaten , drugged , assulted , or initiated into a gang. Isnt bob johnson the ceo of black entertainment television friend of and investment partner of george bush in the caryle group ? And the carlyle group and haliburton are the primary owners of the private prision system that locks up these same young people suckered in to the very same "dope slanging, gang banging" life style they promote with the average 17 year old haveing seen 17,000 simulated murders on the networks they own. You have the garbage culture sir and before you tell us to clean our house........ you better clean up yours...... or should I say ours.... youre lucky if your kid becomes a raver until he or she grows out of it , the rave scene is the anti-violence antidote to your garbage culture at least our motto is peace , love , unity and respect whats the mainstreme medias motto , poverty , death , destruction , inequality , cast systems , addictions , murder and any mayhem to keep people divided and conqured. Turn off fox news and crack a book or something ! or just put a big mac in it and shut up..... like a heart attack billion calaorie burger and edible polymer aka "plastic" shake is gonna help you..... That's why there is a real symble on dairy products by the way......... our culture has a real symbole yours is plastic !!!!!!

cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

Garbage culture for garbage people is a much more concise way of stating what took Anna 7 pages.

JustSaying
JustSaying

Great job on the cover story, Anna. Its not often that there is a lengthy article in my weekly Observer that is worthy of letting one or both of my feet fall asleep when I am reading it on the shitter. Not only was your story worth the pins and needles I felt in my feet, it was also worthy of the semi-paralysis I felt while balancing against the wall of my shower..

darlaj72
darlaj72

BEST QUOTE EVER!!! "The media made it out to be a sex-infested, drug-infested underground rave club that was run by a pedophile and raver kids who didn't give a damn," he says now. His voice rises a little. "That's bullshit. Yes, there were drugs. Yes, Tommy is a pedophile. But there was a deeper purpose, a deeper meaning, a deeper connection.

Bwahahaha f'n idiots!

Ricky_Hollywood
Ricky_Hollywood

"she filed one against the Playground, accusing it of providing a place for people to find 'random consensual sexual activities.'"

The horror.

Danny Ybarra
Danny Ybarra

I promise you "Darkside" was a fart in the Dallas Rave scene. Union Bower,IceHouse,Major Theater,Club Canie, just to name a few

RoaminCadillac
RoaminCadillac

"The media made it out to be a sex-infested, drug-infested underground rave club that was run by a pedophile and raver kids who didn't give a damn,...Yes, there were drugs. Yes, Tommy is a pedophile..."


Ok...that made me laugh out loud.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

I believe this can be rated on the Vagina system since it touches on sex right?  If so 5/5 Vaginas, I love Anna long reads.

UniversalLifeChurch
UniversalLifeChurch

This individual was never ordained by the one and only faith based Universal Life Church World Headquarters of Carrabelle, FL., nor was this establishment in congregation affiliation with us. Obviously this individual was ordained by the non-Christian, no doctrine universal life church of Modesto, CA., started by the self proclaimed Modesto Messiah Kirby Hensley. Universal Life Church World Headquarters, http://www.ulcnetwork.com

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

@RoaminCadillac I've read this story nine times and laughed every time I read that line.

jswilliams86
jswilliams86

@UniversalLifeChurch Off topic but I helped in the starting of the Carrabelle Speed Festival just down the road from you.  Funny to see that city on a Texas site.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Anna_Merlan Yeah, I hadnt commented on a cover story or anything outside of UP or CoA in a while, and I know we get different commenters here than in the blog so I figured I'd try to confuse readers more than I already do.

UniversalLifeChurch
UniversalLifeChurch

@jswilliams86 @UniversalLifeChurch

I can't say that I've ever heard of it, but that does not say it does not exist, it is just not my cup of tea. But Carrabelle, Florida is a great city in a great state, as is Texas. Carrabelle truly has a lot to offer thanks to folks such as yourself who have blessed our community with their presence. The seafood is fantastic.

jswilliams86
jswilliams86

@UniversalLifeChurch It happens twice a year and is just about 3 years old so it is pretty new.  It takes place on the Carrabelle-Thompson airport.  Whenever you see all of the fast cars in town that si where they are going.  Actually had the event last weekend.  Carrabelle is a great city.  I am from Destin.

 
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