Give the hippie-dippie music fest Woodstock a Nineties spin and the result would be raves, all-night concerts catalyzed by hypnotic electronic music and mind-bending light shows and tempered by a prevailing sense of tranquillity, which is often induced and sustained by drugs. Usually held at sprawling outdoor venues whose locations are kept secret by promoters until the last minute, the parties still manage to attract thousands.
"Imagine being at an event where there are 4000 people and not one fight breaks out," says the adamantly drug-free DJ Subliminal, one-third of the band Spacemen and one of twenty DJs who will perform in Coconut Grove on July 4 at Circa '98, a rave thrown by a local promotional outfit known as Innervision Music. "Raves are a place where people are accepted who aren't accepted in regular society," Mr. Subliminal explains. "It's a different crowd, a young crowd, so they're out to have fun. And any way they can have fun, they'll do it. They're not going to think twice about it."
A good time will assuredly be had by many at this show that has scheduled a couple of very high-profile headliners: Hip-hop pioneers Afrika Bambaataa, creator of the electro-funk genre with the 1982 song "Planet Rock" (recorded with the Soulsonic Force), and Grandmaster Flash, an innovator of scratching (backspinning records) whose 1982 release "The Message" has become a hip-hop classic. Rounding out the bill are Miami-based DJ George Acosta, melodically inclined electronica practitioners Spacemen, Orlando's tribal funkster Spiritual Being, and a multitude of DJs who will be spinning tunes well into the next day.
Of course, some crabby old fogies may not understand the appeal of thousands of youngsters bopping around in T-shirts, baggy pants, and backpacks while music addicts play records for 24 hours. But some acts promise a bit of entertaining flamboyance. Spacemen, for example. "We play keyboards and drum machines but we look like total aliens," says Mr. Subliminal describing his group's shtick. "We dress in silver robes and wear alien masks. As we start the show we turn up a black light and the masks start to glow and reveal tribal markings. It's very cool."
Cool, yes, and all in fun. "We don't want any trouble. We just want everybody to have a good time," Mr. Subliminal stresses. "Drugs and music have always gone together, but we like to show people that they can have a good time without the drugs, that it's all about the music. It's the music, the environment, and the attitude."
Circa '98 will start at 10:00 p.m. Saturday, July 4, at the Coconut Grove Convention Center, 2700 S Bayshore Dr, Coconut Grove. Tickets cost $25 and are available only through Ticketmaster. Call 305-358-5885.