Horizon99: I went to an underground techno rave in Geylang and here's what happened
Enter the void
It was just another ordinary Saturday night, on 18 May. I was having a couple of pre-drinks at an average Thai eatery in a discreet corner of Singapore's notorious red-light district. It has been awhile since I hung out with my friends from the now-defunct "Project Alchemist" label. I bumped into a handful of new and interesting characters including aspiring tailors and designers on the way to the venue.
We probably had too much beer, stacked with some cheap vodka and whiskey. Looking back, I'm still wondering how I even got to the seventh floor of a shady industrial building, standing among a rather eccentric crowd that looked to be a mix of random first-timers as well as quirky and queer art school students in some pretty interesting get-ups. I think I spotted someone wearing white tights with a lyrca bodysuit. All of them had a suss and alluring aura about them.
In all honesty, I would never have thought that I would end up in such a peculiar place. I'm quite the noob when it comes to things like this. I was actually pretty anxious, looking around, observing people, not knowing what to expect. By this point, my head was already spinning like a top, and it wasn't helping at all.
I could feel the bass from the subwoofers vibrating through my body. The classroom-sized space was tinted with a deep red glow. There wasn't much in the room execpt for some huge curtains draped by the back, two strobe lights and a table where the the DJ of the hour would be spinning from. Although everyone in the room seemed to be dancing by themselves in their own unique style, they were all in a trance-like state and vibing to the same sound. It was almost like a piece of theatre.
Harsh, techno, absurd, in-your-face, tribal, trance, raw and dirty — these are the words that might possibly describe the night's experimental mishmash of genres. It definitely complemented the gritty, no-frills nature of the industrial venue.
It took me awhile to get in sync with everyone, but I eventually got there. I closed my eyes, and felt the bass pulsating with my heartbeat. My limbs gave in soon after and I became one of the many sweaty bodies on the dancefloor, who were waving hands and banging their heads at this point.
When the beat dropped, there was a strong air of euphoria in the room. A sudden feeling of bliss and calm took over. Hands were up, but I'm guessing their heads were even higher. It was strange as it felt as if time had stopped and everything around me melted into slow-mo. When the lights started pulsating and the beat started banging again, the whole room burst into chaos. I can hardly remember what happened next.
Next thing I know, I'm sitting in a daze on a roadside curb with a friend of mine. My heart was still thumping out of my chest. Gathering what's left of myself, I look down to find salty sweat stains on my bleached tie-dyed Stussy tee.
We picked ourselves up and headed to a coffee shop near by. Chewing on some of the most driest satay I have ever had in my life, I was immersed in conversation with a dude that I met earlier back at the building. All I remember from that convo was that he had a really soothing voice, and that he was sharing some trippy spiritual stories about his time at a rural village in Thailand.
It took me about a day to sober up from the experience. Would I recommend it? Well, it's not for the faint-hearted obviously, but, if you're looking to tumble down the techno rabbit hole, it's worth the trip.
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