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Rave, Inc.

A look at what sells and what sells out at Thee Sixth Annual Zen Muzik Festival

Wearing a florescent yellow wig, a rainbow-color bikini top, and a short, short skirt, Canellas flits into the breakbeat tent. Hired dancer Eric Davis shows off his six-pack abs and arms beneath a loose Technicolor vest. His glow-in-the-dark lipstick matches his partner Annia Basulta's pink Afro wig. She wears the same bikini style costume as Canellas in another color scheme, with bright yellow fishnet knee-highs. Beneath the flashing strobes, the outline of Davis's body flickers in and out as he weaves through figure eights. He crouches low, hips gyrating against Basulta's tiny waist. In their cookie-cutter kookiness, the Pooch Patrol inspires all the spontaneous sensuality of a minicar full of circus clowns.

In sharp contrast a group of b-boys battles in a circle in the breakbeat tent. Wearing a loose Puma T-shirt and cargo pants, CJ, a recent immigrant from Managua, is spinning on the harsh asphalt floor with his bare hands. The DJ, a backdrop to his performance, goes almost unnoticed. She throws her hands in the air as she kicks the beat, but all eyes are on CJ's poses. He's not here with any gang or crew, he says; he's just "hangin' out freestyling." Another boy in glasses presents a challenge. He is unassuming in his long plaid shorts and orange Pez T-shirt adorned with a Kool-Aid Kids logo worn out by too many washings, perhaps the name of some long-forgotten break-dancing squad. He begins the boogie-down Bronx routine; flexing and popping, even throwing in some classic voguing moves for good measure. Out comes a tall pretty boy who wants to show off his fancy footwork, ending his round in the circle by calling out to CJ. The compact nica clears the floor, busting a hand spin and flexing out to land deftly, using only his forearm as a base. CJ knows he is the illest motherfucker in the tent; he shakes off the applause and makes a beeline for the X2O booth.

From X to X2O everything is selling. Everything, that is, except for the food. Vendors stand behind their deserted booths, wondering why lunch and dinnertime have come and gone without the usual rush. It's nine o'clock, and everybody should be hungry by now, but the rolling revelers don't want to eat. A middle-age blond woman desperately tries to unload her surplus of "Rolling Burgers." What makes them rolling burgers? Nothing. They are just named after different varieties of Ecstasy tablets: "Doves" for the plain hamburger; "Mercedes" if you want it with cheese. With four more hours to go at the festival, she is practically giving away the grub. "Anything you want," she announces. "A dollar off. I don't want to have to carry this stuff back home."

So what would make this a rave? Feed the craving for the Chemical Brothers and Rabbit in the Moon. Keep the corporate clowns and John Popper's harmonica at home.

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