A Review of Hear No Evil

Fitchburg, MA, September '96

by Steve Hoey, Chief Safety Inspector

I had a wonderful time at this party. This is more a narrative than a "review," so please bear with...

During the week leading up to the party, one by one the people I'd planned to go with dropped out... In part because of this confusion & for other reasons, I didn't leave Boston for the party until 1:15 am. So I started off the night in a pretty rough mood, feeling anxious and upset that I'd miss four hours.

Miraculously, I got to Fitchburg in an hour, and got a parking space right out front :) so I knew my luck was changing.

Well, not quite yet...I waited over an hour in line to get in, and I think I was one of the last 20 people in the door (I didn't see many folks behind me!) So I didn't get inside until almost 3:30 am, but when I did...

BAM! Oh my goddess, it was an absolute carnival inside! This was the festival atmosphere I've been looking for... I'm really glad to have a big celebration once in a while (right around the change of seasons is a great time!) that brings a lot of people together for the sole purpose of partying. The entrance hallway was jammed with people, which gave me a bit of a bad feeling (a tad claustrophobic), but once I pushed through there, I found plenty of space in the chill-out/jungle room and plenty of space on the edges of the main dance floor (or as the building's signs say, "ARENA FLOOR").

I'm clueless enough that I don't have the DJ lineup with respect to times, so I can't say who was spinning at 3:30... I liked it, and he definitely played some good tunes. I basically danced off and on for about two and a half hours. I never felt like the music blew me away during that time, but I was happy.

I felt that the vibe in the place was amazing, especially considering there were more than 3,000 people there. Honestly, I don't generally like parties this big -- except when they're infrequent, and when they're done right. This one was definitely done right!!!

During the night, I met up with a couple of friends I never expected would actually go -- it was their first time! What a weird party to go to as your initial rave experience! ;) I also met up with a few old friends who I hadn't seen since the end of spring semester. And of course, made a few new friends!

Anyway, during one of my breaks -- probably around 4:30 am -- I was sitting in the first row of bleachers all the way at the back of the arena (near where they had the back door open and HUGE fans blowing). I saw two beautiful sights from here: first, like I said there was a big garage door open (probably where they drive the Zamboni in and out -- I didn't need to point this out, but I love the word Zamboni ;) ). OK so in front of the garage door they've got two big fans. And in front of that, blowing onto the dance floor, is a really thick fog. It was beautiful to watch it billow out onto the dance floor and mix with the already-foggy inside air.

The second beautiful sight I saw from this location was a simple red balloon. I was sitting at the bottom row of the bleachers, so there was a wide aisle of steps to my left. I saw this red balloon drifting slowly down the steps. Somehow, it was staying about 8 or 9 feet above the level of the steps, as if the balloon itself were walking down the stairs! As it neared the arena floor, it levelled out (just like the stairs stopped) and started to drift out over the dancers. I guess because of all the body heat, the balloon started to rise a little bit, and basically floated and bobbed across the dancefloor, just out of reach of the dancers. Once, it dipped low enough to be touched, and someone reached up and hit it. The balloon started spinning end-over-end quickly, and also started to drift upwards. It rose toward the ceiling, and I started to think I was going to lose sight of it, when suddenly...it was caught in the intense red beam shooting up at a 45-degree angle from the light tower behind the DJ. The balloon froze in midair. Then, the balloon started to float along the path of the beam, directly towards the light tower. It stayed completely in the middle of the light, almost as if it were a tractor beam. Finally, just before it reached the super-hot lamp, it rose above the light tower, then drifted off to the ceiling.

Of course, all the smiling faces accounted for innumerable beautiful sights!

So, back on the dance floor and still kind of giddy from the whole balloon episode :) I danced as another DJ took over from 6-8 (was this On-E?). This guy did a great job building and easing off, building and easing off, building and breaking through to the next level...only to start building again! I felt taken over...I couldn't have stopped dancing even if I'd wanted to!! I saw a whole bunch of people totally psyched by the music. And of course by this time the crowd had really thinned out, down to about 800-1,000 (I'm pretty bad at estimating). I have to confess, this is my favorite crowd. These are the people who are there for the whole night, who don't stop.

And this is the crowd that was treated to yet another beautiful image... as the sun rose outside, two narrow shafts of light BURST into the arena and splashed onto the dance floor...with all the smoke ;) and fog around, this was definitely an Indiana-Jones-finding-the-Ark-location kind of beam of sunlight! I felt like a cat, jumping into and out of the beam of light while I danced. As my friend Helen put it, "For those of you who need a heavenly mandate to dance..." :) :) :)

The music finally stopped around 8:00 am...and folks were handing out photocopied directions to the after-party! I hopped in my car, and on the way to Route 2 stopped at Burger King for an OJ...when I spied a Market Basket store. I figured, if I'm dying for breakfast I bet a few other people are too. So I ran into the Market Basket and picked up fruit and yogurt and OJ and other breakfast yummies, then jumped on the highway to get to the after party.

The place is called Shady Point Beach Campground, and it lives up to its name! The after party is what actually made this event one of my FAVORITE parties ever. I've been dreaming ever since Green of a really good outdoor party. Green was good, but it was too cold outside. This was incredble: the only sunny day in a week was just beginning. There was a DJ table and sound system set up in a little grove of trees and grass, about two hundred yards from the shore of a big shallow lake. Plenty of grass and trees, a little hillside, a couple of lakes, and a few picnic benches made up the space. HOLY SHIT. Whoever picked this gets my nomination for Bestest Party Planner Ever ;)

I met a bunch more great people at the after party, and absolutely reveled in dancing in the beautiful outdoors, under the warm summer sun, watching the people smile and the leaves shimmer in the morning light. Someone named John brought a bag of rhythm instruments, and a few of us had a great time with those. I was so happy to shake the maracas to the beat :) and other folks were too. I'd love to see people bring drums and other instruments to parties... I think it's great to have another way for people to participate in the music (dancing being the other way I'm thinking of).

Maybe it was just the surroundings, but...I think I liked the music at the after-party better than what I heard back at the Civic Center!! Again, I don't know who was spinning (someone, if you can, please post a DJ lineup with times please?)...but it sounded great. The vibe was one of the best I've ever felt. And I have to say...buying breakfast food cost me less than what a hit of X costs...and it made me feel just as good. Plus it made a lot of other peeps happy, and helped keep us on our feet for a few more hours ;)

Whew. I left the after-party at 12:45 pm, got home at 1:45, fell asleep at 2:00 pm Sunday...and woke up at 7:30 am Monday, just in time to shower & go to work!!! (And I think that's my new M.O., if I can manage it...go through Saturday night and Sunday until midafternoon, then get two full nights' sleep in a row!)

Overall, I thought the whole party -- from promotions to after-party -- was fantastic. The only part that I felt was a little lacking was the upstairs jungle/chillout room. The music was great, but I can see that this room is a tough space -- basically a concrete rectangle with a linoleum floor. A little constructive commentary for anyone planning a party in this space: maybe dividing the room up a little bit, or putting some soft furnishings around like cushions/beanbags, might make it a little more inviting. Also, there was a VCR & TV in the corner that a few people were watching...maybe putting the TV against the wall so it faces the room would be better? Or actually getting some folks in to show some visuals like they did at Raindance (though maybe not with 6 giant TVs...) This isn't a gripe, either, just some ideas about making the room a little more inviting, in case someone wants another party here...

MASSIVE THANKS to everyone who planned the party, who set it up...everyone who spun, everyone who danced...the Wallace Civic Center staff who were uniformly (in my experience) friendly & non-intrusive...the people who live at Shady Point Campground for letting us dance & play there...and Extra Special thanks to Mother Nature for providing us with the most beautiful late-summer day (Sunday) we could have hoped for!

I'm so happy to see a vibe this good alive and well and living in Boston. I want to mention another party called TOYLAND that's coming up out in Northampton on (I believe) October 5...I'll post more info from the flyer this week if no one else does...everything I've seen & heard about makes me think the promoters are looking for exactly this vibe...and we can make it happen!

Chief Safety Inspector out.

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Updated 22 October 1996
Steve Hoey, Chief Safety Inspector