White Rabbit seems to be in tune with how the Wonderland event works. At 9 PM, there were a handful of people in each of the two rooms. The music being played was industrial and looping. Girls with furry leg warmers and guys wielding glow sticks bobbed their heads lightly, but were clearly saving their energy for later in the night. The tracks spun by White Rabbit at this point featured no vocals and teetered on ambient house, comparable to the sound of early rave duo, The Orb or a club mix of the Swedish artist, The Field. In the upstairs room, there were three guys who stood behind the DJ booth with their heads down, turning knobs and not giving much away in terms of energy and excitement.
Sitting at a table, surrounded by eighteen-year olds making bracelets, I listened to and observed what was happening around me. I wasn’t uncomfortable, but rather…ok, maybe I was a little uncomfortable. However, the scene changed rapidly around 10:30 PM as the music became more bass-heavy and adrenaline- filled. Everyone at RISE that night seemed to know each other. Whether it was the MDMA or the happiness usually associated with the beginning of summer, the people were friendly and fun. 11 PM marked the noticeable transition to heavy hitting tracks that sparked a migration to the more clubby room. Here, the music consisted of build-ups and releases, and featured vocals so that the denizens of RISE could join in. Towards the end of the night, the top floor shook with vibrations from the music and the strobe lights pierced into every corner. Contrastingly, the bottom floor still played looping, ambient-leaning tracks that were conducive to the conversation atmosphere.
I understand if the rave scene is not your thing. Electronic music can seem abrasive and headache inducing. However, White Rabbit displayed diversity and patience that made the event accessible and fun. And while I don’t think I would ever frequent Wonderland, the scene was especially cool to have witnessed. In the middle of the night, I met a RISE regular named Eric, who spoke to me about the rave culture. He taught me about the rave mantra, P.L.U.R., which stands for Peace, Love, Unity, Respect, and includes a handshake of sorts. Yes, I was dead sober. And yes, it sounds cheesy. But there was something about that night that made me think about these events differently. If anything, White Rabbit is the background music to a night of extroversion and dancing. But I think to reduce the event to that would be unfair.
Photo Credit: Luke O'Neill