Pillz and Thrillz with JAUZ

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Eyes dilate with excitement (among other things) on young faces, loosely attached to eager figures that slink as they find their place amongst the sea of packed bodies foaming for LA-based trap DJ, JAUZ.

They swarm the Observatory on a Wednesday night, ready for hits like “SQUAD OUT!,” “Feel the Volume” and “PLUR Police” to escape the limitations of their reality with like-minded individuals.

It’s past eight, and hours seem to go by with a spread of vaguely recognizable DJs substituting for JAUZ, building anticipation for his debut on the stage. Faces grow nervous, cold. For many, the drugs are just starting to hit.

“We all popped molly,” remarks one bright-eyed dancer. A smile beams from ear to ear, and his pupils are giant black disks. Strands of dark brown hair stick to his dripping forehead, and he seems entirely unaware of any discomfort he could be feeling. Instead, he’s just dancing. Rave on, man.

It’s already eleven. The scent of sweat, weed, smoke and liquor saturates the air, and heat blankets the room. Bodies slide between each other, vying for holes in the wildly-dancing mass of humans.  Pupils the size of dimes are catching every glint and glimmer of light swathing the crowds in tufts of pink, blue, green and white from projectors mounted on the ceiling and the stage.

Near the door, two boys, maybe 19 or 20, plurry kiss. Their right hands meet at the tips of their index and middle fingers, then together they form a heart. Their hands embrace one another, and finally they exchange bright kandi bracelets.

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KANDI KINDNESS – Pairs of ravers at the JAUZ show exchange their homemade kandi bracelets in a “plurry kiss” as an expression of unity and respect. Photo courtesy of Ryan Toves.

“Blasé, blasé?” “Bugatti?” The opening act’s songs start to blend together. Beginnings and endings become hard to distinguish.

First, the tempo picks up. Then pitch rises. A random phrase blares out. Then, silence.

Drop.

Undulating in half time, the pitch wobbles up and down. Semi-conscious bodies in the crowd conform to the rhythmic direction of the music. JAUZ emerges onto the smoke-obscured stage and controls his audience like puppets.

When he speeds up, they dance faster. When he drops the bass, they convulse in aggressive lunges. Almost ritualistically, the beat seems to seize the crowd’s muscles.

As the lights flash brighter and faster, eyes roll back. Eleven o’clock becomes twelve, and then one. The audience is numb to their own exhaustion. By now, bodies are walking across the room, off balance, in search of bathrooms, booze, friends and whatever else they happen to find.

The aggressive euphoria is more of an echo now.  The intensity remains, but the unchecked enthusiasm and energy is tame. Controlled. Peaks have passed, reaching their plateaus.

Then the music ends. The night is quiet once more. Chatter among the drained faces is silence in contrast. Lost, smiling, vacant — they drift aimlessly out the door.  

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