Class of ’99, Vol. 5

“I’ve got an idea: let’s go to the rocks!”

So begins this month’s mix, as captured on camcorder, proposed as a solution to the dilemma of where to go after the rave is over. At this point, the sun has already come up, so there’s not much point in going to sleep. You might as well keep partying.

Afterparty flyer

Chicago had a number of bizarre after-party locations, including brownstones that were gutted from the inside, semi-functional bowling alleys, and even a funeral home. But if you couldn’t find an afterparty, there was always the lakefront.

Chicago has very few actual, sandy beaches; instead, the shoreline is filled with boulders and chunks of concrete. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, ravers would crawl out of the warehouses and beach themselves on the rocks. Northsiders met at the Belmont rocks, and Southside kids had ‘The Point’, A.K.A. Promontory Point in Hyde Park.

The rocks often felt like a giant cosmic bust, the horizontal sun blasting in your face like God’s flashlight. However, it was an important bonding experience, I think, because you could meet other ravers and actually have a conversation, which was almost impossible over the deafening din of a typical rave party.

At some point, the cops started kicking us out at the Belmont rocks, but I don’t even remember why. It wasn’t illegal to be in the park after dawn—although I vaguely remember people bringing huge tanks of nitrous oxide down there, and selling it in those giant punch-balloons that little kids tie to rubber bands. That was probably why we were cleared out (though I think NO2 was also technically legal). After that, some kids moved on to the Montrose rocks, and then were chased up to the Foster rocks, and after that, who knows.

As a teenager, my best friend lived with his mom, across the street from Juneway Beach in Rogers Park. I would tell my mom I was sleeping over at his place, and then we could crawl out the bedroom window of his basement apartment, run around all night, sneak back in the next morning, pretend we just woke up, and then go out to the Juneway rocks. A little known secret, even to most Chicagoans, is that Rogers Park has the best beaches in the city.

A Saturday In 1999 is dedicated to the rocks—you can decide which ones.

Download the mix (MP3, 45 minutes, 103 MB)

About the cover

This graphic comes from a record release party thrown by the Dust Traxx, a Chicago House label. The flyer was perforated into several mini-flyers, each featuring a Sonic the Hedgehog character. Brand parodies were an iconic element of the Rave aesthetic, going way back to the beginning, when Rave culture overlapped with the gay ‘club kid’ culture.

MTV used to air this video in the early 90s, of George Michael covering an early Rave anthem called “Killer”. I was 13 when I first saw this, and while I’ve never been a fan of George Michael, the video was one of the first mainstream glimpses into Rave culture that I remember seeing on TV, and it totally rocked my world.

Track List

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