My Greatest Nightmare: How I Accidentally Went to a Psytrance Party and Had a Good Time

I asked for it, really.

Friday night before Halloween, I suggest to my boyfriend Lucas that we do something a little out of the ordinary. I’m getting ready to spend the majority of the weekend at work, ultimately miss the In Plain Sight-headlined party at Asheville Music Hall, and circle back to the reasonable Monday night when little more than trick-or-treating with the kid is in the cards. So when he insists we go out to Sol Bar for this week’s installment of SOL Vibes, I’m admittedly not so enthused. I was thinking something like Korean food and a makeout sesh in a parking lot. How is this different?

“But Starseed’s playing,” he presses, a sweet glint in his eye. He’s referring to Michael Starseed, the high energy, tech DJ he first danced in love to at the Bunny Hop party last March. I acquiesce because Lucas is being cute about it, but when I look up the event page, I feel I must make mention of certain facts.

“You know it’s a psytrance party,” I announce, scrolling through a list of “dark psy/forest” DJs I’ve never heard of. He is surprised to hear that, not familiar with Starseed’s alleged psy side, but he ignores my obvious desire to make a thing of it. After a frustrating number of outfit changes I end up in my purple wig and a long-sleeved mini dress. I hate all my clothes and am being kind of a brat about it.

The club is, to my honest surprise, packed when we arrive. Ghouls and punks, wicked fairies and cheeky “A Clockwork Orange” thugettes mill about, everyone lit up with the spirit of Halloween but somehow also the spirit of psytrance. Asheville knows this is neither my nor househead Lucas’ cup of tea and are clearly bewildered at our appearance. I’m just as surprised as they are; I don’t know how the hell to dance to those drilling rhythms, and if I can’t dance or cry to it then what is the point? I park it on the smoking deck and allow the experience to unfold.

Ramin eventually plops down next to me and leans over, sensing my slight discomfort, to break it down in that comically pragmatic way he does so well: “It’s all in the shoulders; just move your shoulders back and forth and people will think you know what you’re doing.” I crack up at the idea, that this is somehow just a matter of learning a new dance move. Amused and yet unconvinced, I take a bathroom break.

On my way back through the jerking, flailing tangle on the dance floor, I decide to give it a shot because I’m ultimately just boring myself (and Lucas, who’s really trying not to be annoyed with me). From the outside looking in it seems silly at first, rowing my shoulders back and forth to the violent, penetrating thumps. It’s too fast! How does anyone feel anything? Why is everyone having such a good time? What am I missing? I ask myself desperately, not typically someone who struggles to have a good time.

But eventually, frustrated with my attachment to the idea that I can’t do psytrance, I let it go. I’m tired of it, fuck it. I can and I will! Suddenly, the sharpness of the crowd becomes somehow softer, the BPM so high my body concedes and moves more slowly. And there, between the dozens of shoulders and the living autumn altar, I’m feeling…good. I’m feeling connected to the electric mass on the floor, my body-hugging dress, and the smiles of my friends and strangers around me.

Lucas is overjoyed when he sees I have pulled my head out of my ass, though he’s still curious when Starseed is going to show up. He gets Shawn Ivy’s attention next to him. She knows things.

“Starseed? Michael Starseed? Hahahaha. Oh, Lucas,” she belly laughs at him. “No, different Star Seed. Two words,” she sweetly explains, tore up with laughter.

“There’s another Star Seed?!” He blinks blankly in amazement at first, then breaks into a smile. “We were tricked!” he jovially proclaims, grabbing me firmly by the waist. Slightly disappointed but happily mindfucked, we get back to wildly shaking our shoulders.

I never thought I would say psytrance helped me access something deep and good that night. Still not something I would ever want to hear outside of a social setting, it’s sound for the sake of movement, a fierce core of energy for the sake of shaking shit up, and a magnetic playground for the weird and wonderful.

Over our last cigarette, we see that the fake nutsacks on the Clockwork Orange girls are no longer enough to keep them warm, and they accept a kind offer from another barely dressed girl to wear her coat. They are all relieved when she tucks inside to retrieve it. But what she brings back out is not a coat.

It’s PIZZA. An entire box of pizza.

I mean, damn girl, that’s a trick and a treat. They all dig in to the warm embrace of pepperoni, coats be damned. Hats off to you, Psytrance Pizza Fairy. You shook that shit up.