Have another Red Bull

About the time I was fixin’ to graduate from high school, house music breached the culture vacuum surrounding my suburban hometown. Those on the cutting edge of twelfth-grade hipness passed around tapes of music created by instruments unrecognizable to my Louder Than Bombs-accustomed ears. I visited the new “techno” night at The Rage, but I was unsure how to dance to the constantly changing tempos and longed for a familiar song to break the wordless monotony.

One day, a friend played me a song by a new band called Prodigy. It was little more than a drum track periodically interrupted by an undernourished British child saying, “Charlie says, ‘Always tell your mummy before you go off somewhere.’ ”

“This is the future of music,” my friend assured me. My response, as I switched out the electro-cassette for a well-worn copy of Gish, was, “God, I hope not.”

Fast-forward eight years. Electronic music is thriving. Prodigy is a top-seller, and you can’t shop for Fluevogs anymore without finding a DJ spinning in the store, headphones perched on his head like compound eyes. Last week, The Rage celebrated the eight-year anniversary of Pure—the self-same house music night I visited back in the day. The event was to include three rooms of music and “the debut of the Pure clothing line.” Although I can’t tell my trance from my tech-house, I decide to check out that zany music the kids seem to like these days.

At 10:30 p.m., The Rage’s front patio is overflowing. I figure the club will be packed, but it turns out to be empty. Apparently, the patio dwellers have paid $20 to sit outside and smoke. Being a non-smoker, I opt to explore the near-vacant club.

A folding table displays black T-shirts commemorating the event. (This shirt—one style, three sizes—turns out to be the “Pure clothing line.”) On the main floor, a handful of dancers in baggy pants and visors twitch spasmodically to the mix orchestrated by San Francisco’s Jenö. The Drum ’n’ Bass room has more people, but they’re hugging the walls like sixth-graders at their first dance.

An hour later, the crowd grows and the Red Bull kicks in. A circle forms around dancers busting old-school breakin’ moves. In the Drum ’n’ Bass room, Ragga Banton lays down an unintelligible but appealing rap over the music. His vocals, both harsh and melodic, compel the spectators to dance.

It’s all fine and rhythmic, but I feel like an anachronism amid these groovin’ 18-year-olds. I think old-fogey thoughts like, “It’s late and I’ve got work tomorrow.” Then I notice a door I hadn’t seen before.

It leads to a patio surrounded by tall, green hedges. Above a circle of dancers, the moon hangs lustrous like the goddess’ own spotlight. DJ Liza is spinning beats. A tiny, silver record hangs at her throat, mirroring the moon. Outdoors, house music feels organic, tribal. I begin to dance, finally catching a glimmer of this scene’s attraction. Some things are beyond walls.