a bedtime story…
It was a dark and stormy night…the party had been busted twice so far, moved from a beach in SF to a SOMA warehouse, then across the Bay to the Berkeley Marina. So much rain was coming down that the needle of the one working turntable left a wake on the record. And still it happened. The unspeakable “it”…the reason we all got hooked on dancing forever, wherever, whenever. If it could happen in those conditions, it could just happen. Like Mom used to say: “get outside and play!”
A few weeks later, with a generator borrowed from Chevron (don’t ask), 2 giant speakers Brad used to rock house parties, Jacob, Andy and Scott’s records, and all the friends we could round up, we returned to that same spot for a little Sunday afternoon jam. We were young, idealistic, definitely feeling the vibe of early 90s SF dance culture, and wanting to make a point about freedom, community, and the importance of both to life on Earth.
There was a feeling in the air, and we weren’t the only ones to notice. It was time to make our dreams reality, and the explosion of DIY sound systems in SF that summer of ’93 made for plenty of memorable collaborations. Your Sister’s House, TAZ/SPAZ, Gateway, THC/Primal Records, the New Moon folks, and many others all helped make free and/or cheap gatherings a regular weekend expectation. Whitsitt and Scott residing at UC Berkeley’s infamous Le Chateau Student Co-op, meant they became the resident DJs, subjecting their housemates (plus a couple hundred ravers, first-years, and crusties) to marathon beat sessions…joined by the likes of Robbie Hardkiss, Tony, Andy Caldwell. The perfect laboratory for testing new ideas, safely…mostly.
Of course we were instantly labeled rave hippies. We were also jaded, tired of watching the scene disintegrate around us, and not yet willing to grow up and call the best times of our lives mere youthful folly. Looking back from today, what followed were several seasons of what could only be described as youthful folly. Spontaneous midnight raids on numerous East Bay parks…Santa Cruz beaches…sketchy deserted industrial areas along the SF waterfront — these became our playgrounds.
After several years of mayhem, the next experiment called for taking the show on the road. Brad had moved back to LA and joined forces with Moontribe; Jacob stayed in SF and began working with Cloud Factory; Madeleine continued her visual art and slide projections; Scott & Whitsitt loaded up the Corolla with records, popped in a mixtape, and went lowriding to Texas.
After spending 1995-96 working with the Hazy Daze Collectif in Dallas, plus an extended tribe of musicians, DJs and artists in Austin, Whit & Scott were quite surprised to find themselves in Boulder, Colorado. There they met Ejay and Matt of the Humble Souls, fellow East Bay expatriates who they quickly bonded with, a bond that led to Colorado’s version of Sunset Picnic, as inspired by Pacific Sound System. Splashing in the creek, grilling adobo chicken, grooving to house music, and making sure even the youngest dancers could get their boogie on and still make it to bed in time for kindergarten on Monday.
1997 saw Mother Earth Sound System follow SF’s legendary Wicked Sound System by doing their first Colorado Full Moon Gathering…and 2013 saw them celebrate their 20-year anniversary with a full moon that featured Robag Wruhme playing a 5-hour morning set that won’t be soon forgotten! The Rocky Mountains have become a source of constant inspiration for those gatherings. Sunrise over a 10,000-ft peak, after dancing under the full moon all night…incomparable.
We’ve introduced countless urban party kids to the mountains in their backyard. We’ve turned forests into Temporary Autonomous Zones, art galleries into raves, and restaurant back-rooms into discos. Sure, we’ve played a lot of dusty/wet records, lugged a lot of speakers (and never once complained about it), seen a lot of sunsets/sunrises together…but we’ve developed so many deep friendships, and more importantly, a community…one which shares our love of “it.” It is why we still do what we love, two decades after that rainy night at Berkeley Marina, watching the needle cut through a puddle on a record….