The news release heralds the hottest rave in G’burg: a warehouse disco such as Manchester’s glory days never saw. The announcement promises that DJ Mike will spin all the latest from the electronica front: house, trance, techno.
The event is to take place at Borders Books & Music, on a Sunday, from 6 to 8 p.m. Mary Tills, a Borders community relations agent, says management was in the mood to try something “different.”
The event will require chemical assistance to transform the strip mall that houses Bordersa daunting example of Gaithersburg’s aggressively bland secular architecture, which collects into a horizon of boxed shops painted a Platonic white: the ubiquitous family-values rodent Chuck E. Cheese in attendance, and, of course, Starbucks. I hit the vitamin megastore. Instead of herbal ecstasy, let alone the real stuff, a saleswoman directs me to the ginseng and, eventually, a product called Up Your Gas!, an over-the-counter brand of caffeine poppers that, she assures me, have nothing to do with your gut twisting. But, she added, the pills take days to work. What a comedown.
Shit out of luck, I head through the double doors, past the remaindered cookbooks, down the stairs, between the abnormal psychology and finance books, to…the rave. I know this route well; I used to work here. Which makes the idea of a rave at this particular Borders sound appalling: I once was reprimanded for spinning James Carter. This is a place that carries nine Boz Scaggs CDs. But there, in front of the Religion section, sits DJ Mike Fultz in front of a set of red velvet curtains cordoning off his rave with his crate of CDs and nearly 200 watts of drum ‘n’ bass (though he uses a CD player instead of a turntable).
The knitting-and-tatting books are cleared for a dance floor. No one bothers to utilize the space except for an employee in tan cargo pants. He quit smoking two months ago. He’s jumpy. A few others, having seen the fliers posted, have gathered: a middle-aged woman named Roxy reading Golf’s Greatest Champions; two burnt-looking friends of Fultz; and a woman named Bunny, her son, and two of his friends. Bunny’s crew drove an hour from Waynesboro, Pa. (“South Central P.A.,” they note) to get to Gaithersburg, which represents one of their closest cultural outposts.
Fatboy Slim comes on. Bunny’s posse talks of past proms and stares at Fultz. He stares back at them. It is closing in on 7 p.m.the rave’s halfway point. Bunny, who says she’s 48, approves. It beats Waynesboro’s usual pastime, cruising the parking lot of the grocery store. “Obviously, they can’t have a real dance club, but you know…” says Joe, a member of the Waynesboro crew. “I like it.”
They all talk and stare, talk and stare, in what amounts to the rave’s only real movement. It’ll do. Apropos the turnout, Fultz says, “At least some people showed up. You can’t always win.” But at least the folks from Waynesboro have a nice time.Jason Cherkis