Class of ’99, Vol. 3

No trainspotting!
No trainspotting!

Rave culture and Japanese Otaku culture seemed to overlap more than a little, and since Chinatown was Chicago’s hub for Japanese imports, a lot of us ravers turned up there on a regular basis. I had a girlfriend who always wanted to visit the gift shop in the Pui Tak center for her Sanrio gear (she was all about some Badtz-Maru). There was an electronics depot down there where we bought these translucent, Japanese beepers that lit up all crazy when someone paged you, and we even bought Tamagotchis together. Then one day, we broke up, and my Tamogotchi died the same day. Tragic, I know. ♡o。.( ´༎ຶ ʖ̯ ༎ຶ)・・・[×_×]

I had a close friend named Ethan who shared my interest in synthesizers, and making music. He spent most of his childhood in Hong Kong, and was fun to hit up Cermak with because he actually spoke Cantonese. I remember there was some kind of Chinese clove cigarettes that he just had to have, and could only get in that neighborhood. That, and this chrysanthemum tea that came in a kid’s juice box.

My DJ buddy Mike was obsessed with anime, and had his whole room decked out with Evangelion wall scrolls from Chinatown Square. We would get these reflective anime stickers and cover all the labels on our vinyl, so other DJs couldn’t peep our selections when we spun out at parties. We kept going back to this one little shop on Wentworth, year after year, buying up all their stickers, until all that remained were from this basketball manga called Slam Dunk that we both thought was really stupid. Recently, I went back in there and lo and behold, those same basketball stickers were still hanging there, unsold, under the cash register, 25 years later.

This month’s mixtape is entitled Three Funkyness, in honor of Chicago’s Chinatown, as Chicagoans will surely get the reference.

Class of ’99, Volume 03: Three Funkyness
Download the mix (MP3, 40 minutes, 94 MB)

About the cover

Rave culture also overlapped with the Five Elements—deejaying being the most obvious connection—though graffiti and breakdancing were big in the rave scene. I used to write with my best friend, Matt. His tag was ÊTRA, and I wrote FFWD» and we mainly hit up transit stations while we waited for the bus or train.

In 1996, the city started putting undercover cops all over the CTA as part of their Graffiti Blasters program, to try and clean up the city in anticipation of that year’s Democratic National Convention, held at the United Center. In ’97, Graffiti Blasters was still in effect, and Matt and I got busted by two undercover cops, tagging up the Belmont train platform.

Chicago had also enacted a curfew for anyone under 18, and they started trying 17-year-olds as adults, which made 17 an especially bad year to be picked up off the street in the middle of the night. Matt, who was still 16, got to call his mom to pick him up, but I had to spend the whole night in big-boy jail.

I ended up getting community service, which wasn’t so bad, but enough for me to discontinue my vandalistic ways. After 25 years, my handstyle is pretty rusty—but I think this cover turned out OK. The photo is scanned from Thousand Words, Chicago’s indispensable rave zine.

Track List

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