27 years later - The story of my first rave gig.
1992. What a crazy year. It was the year the rave scene really got going in Los Angeles. It was the first time the mainstream media ran stories on what was happening in the dark warehouses in downtown LA in the early morning hours. The infamous “Do you know where your kids are??” media coverage only helped grow the scene. The more the news and media tried to cover it negatively, the more people wanted to go find out what these raves were about. For me, I was already listening to techno and house for years. I first got into House music in about 88-89. I heard “French Kiss” by Lil Louis and just was floored. I was about 15 and I thought it was just incredible. I really got into the Chicago Hip House sound of Doug Lazy, Mr. C and the like at the same time.
I graduated High School in 1991 and I had already been DJing for about 5 years at that point. So when a new style of music first caught my ears, I was all about it. I first remember hearing techno on Mars FM. I was blown away. I started buying the records I would hear on the mix shows on Mars. I would especially listen to Tony Largo’s show on Saturday nights. I would make my way to DMC and Street Sounds on Melrose on the weekends and just pick up these tunes. I just fell in love with the scene on Melrose in the early 90’s. It was just a great place to be. I was young and I was really starting to explore the city more. I used to ditch school in my senior year and just cruise over to Hollywood and go record shopping. It was were I wanted to be. So when I started buying techno in late 91 and early 92, I would collect the rave flyers that were at every record shop you would walk into.
One Saturday afternoon in February of 1992, my friends and I were in my garage listening to the tracks we just bought on Melrose. We were looking at all the flyers and someone said (could have been me), let’s go to a rave tonight. It wasn’t planned, it was just a spur of the moment decision. We got ready, met up and rolled out to Hollywood to the map point. Getting to the party was half of the adventure of going out in those days. We bought tickets at the map point, then had to go to pay phone (pre cell-phone days) just tofind out we had to go to a limo parked in downtown LA and knock on the window to get further directions. We finally made our way to a venue on Washington and Oak called “La Casa”. We walked in. And things were never the same for me. I found my home. I found where I belonged. I found meaning and purpose. After a night of dancing, we got to my friends house around 6am and I just wasn’t ready for bed. I was buzzed with excitement. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to DJ raves!
There were no websites, social media or even email addresses back then. All you had on the back of the flyer was some phone numbers to voicemails that gave more information on the party and then on the day of would provide the location to the map point. I had been recording my own mixtapes for a while so what I decided to do was call all these voicemails and leave messages with a bit of my mixtape on it. I purposely cued up a section where I scratched since I thought it was pretty unique for the rave sound. I left messages on every voicemail on every flyer I could find. I knew it was a long shot but I didn’t know any other way to get in. One night I was in my garage DJing and my mother yelled out for me to pick up the phone. I picked up and on the line was Koko, aka The Kandyman. He had a party coming up called “Under The Kandyground” and asked me if I would like to maybe open the show. I couldn’t believe this. No fucking way. OF COURSE!! He asked me to come over to his house and audition a bit. A few days later, my friends and I went down to the San Fernando Valley where I met up with Koko and played some records for him in his bedroom. He asked me if I wanted to play and jumped at the opportunity.
The main flyer was already out but they were doing a mailer and told me they would include my name on that. I remember when I saw the mailer. It was the first time I saw the name “Thee-O” on a rave flyer. I told myself, I could get used to this. I helped promote the party. Went to stores and dropped off flyers. Koko and I got along very well and we would soon be DJing partners. On the night of the party I hung out with Koko in Hollywood and then went to the location. It was at the infamous La Casa. I remember getting up on stage and starting to play right before they opened the doors. I didn’t get a huge crowd of course but that didn’t matter. I was DJing at a fucking rave in downtown LA. How cool is that! I played my heart out for a slowly filling room and after my set DJ Dan go on the decks and I just watched in amazement at his skills and technique. It was a wonderful night. After that night, Koko and I started making mixtapes together, DJing together and pushing each other forward. That night was the start of it all for me. The music, the people, the vibes. Still at 45 and 27 years later, I just can’t seem to get my fill. Thank you Koko for giving me a shot all those years ago. And thank you to anyone who has danced to one my sets over the past 27 years. You are my continued motivation. I am not sure if I have another 27 years but I know I got a few more left in me. See you on the dancefloor.