By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
"Rave culture was exploding in the early '90s," he says. It had started with the Starck Club, a sleek converted warehouse where DJs such as Greg Watton and GoGo Mike DuPriest created a huge following for house music. The Lizard Lounge opened at the end of 1991 and soon started spinning mostly dance music. Around the same time, warehouse parties helped take scene further off the radar.
"We'd just grab a generator, some turntables and some buddies and go set up in a field or an abandoned warehouse and just get after it," says Jerrod Gideon, who DJed that scene as a teenager. "It was mostly illegal."
Underground parties and clubs with dance nights gradually gave way to small, all-EDM clubs like Kinky's, Wish and Cameo, now all long gone. Today, most clubs spin at least some dance music. But the main action in the EDM scene happens at enormous traveling festivals: Lights All Night, Electric Daisy Carnival, Life in Color.
In some ways, DarkSide had the fly-by-night vibe of those old warehouse raves. It began as the brainchild of a promoter named Tommy Eppelsheimer, in a couple of one-off nights at a Richardson club called the Verandah Grill and Lounge. Eppelsheimer is 43, a pale, stocky guy with a shaved head. Before DarkSide he mostly worked as a locksmith in Lewisville. But he promoted too, going by the name Tommy Gunn and hyping mostly 21-and-over "bottle clubs."
John Wayne says he met Eppelsheimer a few years back at Dallas World Aquarium, where John worked and where he'd thrown one of his only shows. He was having trouble getting gigs, which he blamed on the insularity of the Dallas rave scene. "I was tired of the disrespect," he says. "I'd show up, support, dance, but I never got booked."
But Eppelsheimer saw something in him. "You're an amazing DJ," John remembers the older man saying. "And no one gives you a chance." DarkSide would be that chance, Eppelsheimer promised.
John was reluctant to get involved in DarkSide at first. "I'm a very spiritual person, and the name turned me off." But the chance to DJ regularly was too good to pass up. And Eppelsheimer didn't want just him — he wanted John Wayne's girlfriend, Lacey Jayne, too. (John and Lacey agreed to be interviewed on the condition they be identified by their DJ handles. Together, they called themselves The HitStars.)
"Fine," John Wayne told Eppelsheimer. "We'll run DarkSide, and I'll be the light in the dark."
Their gigs at the Verandah drew close to 500 people, John and Lacey say, but also invited the attention of the cops, so the owners didn't invite them back. For a few months, DarkSide bounced restlessly from venue to venue. One weekend, John and Lacey even rented out the clubhouse of their apartment building and held DarkSide there. Another weekend, DarkSide happened at Iniquity, a swingers club.
It wasn't until September 2010, when Eppelsheimer met the man DarkSiders knew as "AB," that DarkSide settled into the dingy, rambling space on Northwest Highway. It's unknown how the two met, and most of the club-goers didn't know AB was just leasing the building, and that its owners had unsuccessfully tried to evict him. All they knew was that their club finally had a home.
To talk about DarkSide, you have to talk first about the Brotherhood, which, depending on whom you ask, was either a group of kids who got drunk and played beer pong or a highly organized criminal gang.
Most DarkSiders describe the Brotherhood as a group of kids from The Colony who went to high school together and entered the EDM scene together. Many of them had brittle or nonexistent family ties. They became each other's support.
"It was a rave family," says Scott "Styx" Webb, now 22, who did lights and sound for the club. "You could call someone at 4:30 in the morning because you had two flat tires on the side of the highway and someone would bring a pickup truck to get new tires. Someone did that for me once."
Lacey was one of its first members. When DarkSide first opened on Northwest Highway and business was slow, she reached out to several other members, who started promoting the club. "If you were new, they would welcome you in," Lacey says. "No questions asked."
After a while, DarkSide's staff were largely Brotherhood. "They were our promoters, they were our security, they were the ones who held it down for us," John Wayne says. And as the club's popularity grew, so did the Brotherhood's membership. "Every time I turned around, I had some random rave kid telling me, 'I just joined the Brotherhood,'" he says.
The girls wore white bandanas, while the guys wore black. They organized events for people to earn their bandanas, Lacey says, like scavenger hunts and silly challenges. That was the feeling of the club in those first days, the DarkSiders say: goofy, welcoming, ragtag. It was exciting. It felt like home.
Well, not at first. After their roving party landed at AB's space on Northwest Highway, the DarkSiders heard the place had previously been a swingers club or a strip club, a theory supported by the stripper pole in the back. The club was filthy, with junk and dirty mattresses everywhere. There was no electricity in several of the rooms, and extension cords snaked in all directions. John, Lacey and Eppelsheimer set to work cleaning it up. For a couple months, John says, he and Lacey also lived at the club.
what a classy expose of what the Observer loves the most...trashy people doing trashy things with other trash.
Like I said before... Garbage culture for garbage peopleShareFlagLikeReplyKeepingitrealJul 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 !!!!!!
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..
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!
"she filed one against the Playground, accusing it of providing a place for people to find 'random consensual sexual activities.'"
I promise you "Darkside" was a fart in the Dallas Rave scene. Union Bower,IceHouse,Major Theater,Club Canie, just to name a few
"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.
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.
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
@JustSaying That's a beautiful sentiment, Kenny Powers. Have a lovely weekend.
@monstruss Why thank you.
@RoaminCadillac In my mind's ear, I hear it being delivered by David St. Hubbins.
@RoaminCadillac I've read this story nine times and laughed every time I read that line.
@ScottsMerkin Bahaha. Thanks, Merk.
@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.
@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.
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.
@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.