The next room is surprisingly full.
Wall to wall, it's jammed with dancers wearing colorful jumpsuits with giant animal masks. They all have big blocky paws over their hands and huge fluffy feet. The old fashioned hard trance music makes the whole scene even more surreal.
"Do you smell that?' Lime asks as we stand agape in the door way. It smells like burning plastic.
"Yeah, let's not go in there. I don't think the pick up will be in there."
"I've read about these costumes." Lime says, pulling an iridescent fume mask from her bag. "They were this underground trend that got leaked mainstream after people learned they were fucking in those things."
"You know what... I don't want to hear about that..." I start. A room full of giant animals ready to have sex is probably one of my worst nightmares.
"But it's so fascinating!" She clips the mask over her nose and mouth. "After society accepted that they were fucking each other, it just became normal..."
I try to focus on every other sound around us to avoid hearing her voice.
"It's like, all people had to do was just look straight into the ugly face of cartoon animals fucking and they could see that there was nothing to be afraid of. Just consenting adults in costumes that..."
It isn't working and I walk away to the next room. Inside the next room, there are a pile of chairs and two tables set up on either sides of the room. One was home to a DJ playing those old pop remixes just like Lime predicted, and the other was covered in plastic boxes. On the wall behind the table is a huge metal grid covered with t-shirts, hoodies, hats, masks, glow bars, and chew toys.
"Howdy partner!" Lime calls to one of the people standing behind this table of merchandise. "You selling drinks too?"
"Naw, just treasures. You can get drinks and snacks on the 3rd floor."
"There's a third floor?"
"Yeah you have to go kinda like past where they set up the stage. There's a staircase. We put some signs up."
"I told them it would be impossible to see with those rickety old strobe lights." The other two workers behind the table slide over to us. Other than the DJ, there is no one else in the room yet. Everyone behind the table is wearing neon yellow and silver reflective vests and hats that say "¢¥$元"
"We weren't looking too hard to be fair." I assure them. "I was actually looking for my pick up. Yall don't happen to be..." I start. They all shake their heads.
"You work for Hotline?" The second worker asks me.
"No, The Directory." I don't know anyone who delivers for Hotline but I know they operate in East LA.
"Who are you all selling for?" Lime asks. "You look real centralized with those vests."
"Yeah that was Quicksilver's idea. We're working for Quicksilver. All this merch is owned by the production group and we are here to turn it into CASH, if we can."
"Yeah I mean I can't imagine a lot of ravers are paying with registered credit." Lime laughs.
"You'd be surprised. Not USD but foreign currencies. Quicksilver is having us all use this hardware to accept multiple legal currencies." They pull out their handheld which has a hulking box attached to the side with a card reader.
"Haha! The underground is still going to kill the USD after all!" Lime laughs.
"You still take CASH though?" I ask, eyeing up the boxes of what look like zines.
"Yeah that's how we are getting paid for tonight. All CASH purchases are getting paid to our own accounts and then tomorrow morning Quicksilver is going to decide how much of that they are going to let us keep depending on how the CASH sales compare to foreign currency sales."
"Fascinating! How did you all get hired by Quicksilver? Do they have a local headquarters?" Lime asks. I slide down the table to look at the zines. She can talk about the economic realities of this production company without me.
The zines are fewer in variety than it appeared. Lots of copies of only about a dozen zines. I only recognize one of them- a graphic narrative about the relationship between an AI and a ghost. I always wondered if the artist was a spirit worker and witnessed some spirits interacting with their own machine and brewed this story out of it. Another zine is a collection of transhuman poetry, and yet another is a list of DJs to listen to and why they are sexy. Like these people need paper advertising. One of them is a reprinting of an old Magazine called MASSIVE. It took several flip thoughts to recognize that all the content was long dead. I wonder how they got ahold of the 260 year old image files.
"That one is a real relic." The other worker watches me look at the zines. "From the midwest. Madison, Wisconsin. Can you believe they even had raves out there back then? Amazing. It's like there was this whole middle American culture that just disappeared. Like that magazine and the local DJs weren't that different from the national DJs working in the same genre. They barely had the internet back then. Like, they couldn't even send each other their tracks and yet they still somehow managed to connect with each other and make the same music."
"They ah, traveled more back then though." I remember Lime telling me how people used to drive in cars all over the country just to visit friends and family and go to music festivals and industry conventions. "Everyone had cars that could drive really far, right?"
"Yeah but you think people in Wisconsin had cars? How could they afford cars? They were farmers back then."
"So what's your theory?" I ask, not really sure if I care or not.
"In that magazine, they say you can order music. Mixes of local DJs that the mailed. Like by drone post but not drone post. The old government mail. On Cassette Tape!"
"Cassette Tape?" I ask.
"Yeah it's this super old file format. It's a plastic box and inside is magnetic tape and somehow the magnets play the recording. It's really wild."
"I thought it was CDs. They "burnt" CDs."
"Yeah CDs, whatever but also Cassette Tapes. No laser, no computer at all. You had to use a special machine with no software that could only make these cassette tapes from other cassette tapes."
"Is this a public domain printing?" I ask.
"Uh, yeah. They all are. We aren't selling anything illegal here tonight, actually. Quicksilver has a strict policy on that incase we get raided." What is this weird corporate rave shit?
"Right, yeah." I put it back and glide back over to Lime.
"I really want to find my pick up." I say to Lime. "I could come back after..."
"No! Thanks for all the info, I've always wanted to work for a party company and this one just seems really cool, ya know!" Lime gushes. The hell is she talking about? "We'll be back later, gotta find this pick up byeeeee!!" The workers behind the table smile and wave as we turn out the door and head down a hallway to what looks to be the last room on the floor besides a flickering bathroom.
"Those idiots..." Lime rolls her eyes. "They are going to think they can get all that CASH tonight and then blow it on drugs and their boss won't notice, but their boss is probably expecting them to do that so they won't be able to place a request when they don't get their promised compensation. Uhg. Never trust an organization that wants you to use your own CASH account to spread out the deposits."
We have to slide back a heavy metal door to get into the last room on this floor. It's glowing blue and we are swept up inside. This room is wonderfully chill compared to the rest. There is a less sophisticated version of J's ceiling there and a huge gel cushion. A couple people are already stretched out and relaxing on it, watching the water reflections dance across the air ducts on the ceiling.
"If I were waiting for you, Sugar, this is where I'd be. Nice and quiet so you can talk. Not crowded." We agree to relax and wait on the gel cushion. The other two people look unconscious and I decide not to bother them. It doesn't take long at all to feel relaxed. The giant square cushion is cool to the touch and I feel like I can sink into it forever. The light dancing on the ceiling flickers. It might actually be the same program J has, just magnified futher than it should be. I look over at Lime. She is looking into her handheld screen.
"Did you know that Quicksilver has been putting on retro parties for months? I can't believe I hadn't heard of this."
"Can we talk about something other than you being out of the loop?" I groan.
"I am out of the loop. Not a single person has recognized me since we got here." Am I supposed to feel bad for her?
"Well there isn't anyone here yet, and you aren't even wearing green." I point out.
"Should I have to wear green for the rest of my life so that people remember who I am?!" she squeals.
I decide to ask her about Massive magazine and how people found out about music in Wisconsin in the 1990s...