This was, by far, the strongest trip of my life. None of my other hallucinogenic experiences can compare. I could, with confidence, categorize this as a Level 5 but I'm keeping the status at '4' in my faith that I can still go further, that there are yet more magical and mind-shattering frontiers to be discovered.
This took place in the greater LA metropolis on the evening of August 19, 2000. It was the summer between junior and senior year of college and I was working a sweet internship in Hollywood. My girl, M, had just graduated and was spending all her savings travelling from coast to coast visiting friends. She was flying in from Boston to come to the massive rave, Jujubeats. I bought the tickets online and procured an 1/8th of top quality P.Mexicana and BC bud from my roommate.
It was a fantastic day in LA. I woke up at noon, made some salmon ravioli and smoked a bongload on my balcony, watching packs of old Russians walking by the gay bodybuilders waxing vintage cars.
Meanwhile, across the country, M was stuck at the Boston airport as the entire Eastern seaboard was blanketed by thunderstorms. Her flight was delayed, and she wouldn't arrive until midnight. I went to get a rental car, stock up on the essentials at 7-11 (water, Camel Lights, gatorade, diet coke, powerbars) and drove 1 1/2 hours to Lake Perris to check out how the party was coming along. I arrived at the Fairgrounds around 8pm. The parking lots were nearly filled. There were many tailgates and the mood was festive. I couldn't see what was going on inside as there was a big wall but judging by the turn-out, I knew it would be the biggest party I'd ever see.
I drove back to LA and made it home at 11. I had butterflies in my stomach, anticipating the trip. I was worried that splitting the 1/8th wouldn't give us much of a trip but I was assured by my roommate they were POWERFUL!
At midnight, I arrived at LAX and see M standing exhausted at the curb. She plopped into the car and is in a happy but mellow mood. I told her to look in the glove compartment and she squealed when she saw two waiting bags of illegal sin. I pulled out onto the freeway and she started munching the shrooms, complaining about the awful taste. About 30 minutes into the drive, she felt really nauseous and was going to throw up. I told her to have a cigarette and some water and that must have worked because she started easing into a really hard trip. I couldn't pay much attention to how she was doing as I was driving pretty fast but she said things like 'My body is expanding ... the road is expanding ...' When we got to the Lake Perris freeway exit, she had to pee so I pulled over. She stumbled down into a grassy ditch and I pulled the bag out and started munching my half. She came back with eyes gleaming, saying 'it was beautiful ... i saw the moon reflected in my pee and i was a waterfall!!' This got me really excited about my trip.
There was a traffic jam on the way to the Fairgrounds. We were boxed in among giant SUVs blasting drum 'n bass and trance - the license plates said Washington, Florida, New York even!!! It was like our generation's Woodstock. We parked in a field far from the venue and stepping out of the car, we heard the familiar psSHHHHH! of a balloon being filled. We stepped over to a nitrous tailgate and shared a balloon with a girl from Montreal. Even though I had just finished munching the shrooms, the nitrous instantly transported me into NeverNeverland. The horizon was a glowing haze from kicked-up dirt and rave lights and lasers. We could hear the party's strong Thump-Thump-Thump heartbeat from afar.
Walking towards the fairground, I was giggling as we passed by two girls dressed identically as bumblebees --- might have been the nitrous not the shrooms that made me do that...
The closer we got, the lighter I felt and the less I could feel my feet on the ground. We got our tickets and were patted down. I could barely feel the security guard groping me - he must have gotten the wrong idea because I was trying to suppress the big grin on my face. I wanted to laugh hysterically and I would look at M and she would burst out laughing too.
Stepping into the venue, I felt really dizzy. My perspective was off and things looked off-balance. A golf cart pimped out with glow necklaces and glowsticks zoomed by and I felt like we were on another planet or, at least, in Tomorrowland. We passed the drum 'n bass area towards some giant grandstands. Rounding the corner of the grandstands, the Earth drifted off and fell down into an enormous dirt field completely filled with dancing and moving people, at least 20,000 in all, alit in red, blue and yellow lights, all darting around independently, it was like watching an ant hill. There was a stage with a pyramid shooting lasers into space and go-go dancers on podiums dancing in front of video screens projecting trippy Aztec-looking visuals. (Perhaps we shouldn't say Aztec-looking because perhaps the Aztecs' art was inspired from mushroom hallucinations ... perhaps it's more apt to say Magic Mushroom-looking visuals... anyway...blah blah)
I was in awe. I said in reverie and shock 'My God.' I couldn't focus on any one part of the spectacle - it was too much to take in. The music was warm and enveloping. There were so many people it was like a War Scene in Lord of the Rings but if it wasn't war, but Heaven. We entered the field and my mouth was agape! I danced through the crowd smiling at people with them smiling back at me. I was giving high-fives and hugs to friendly strangers and danced while my trip was quickly getting stronger and stronger. My vision was twirling around me. With my eyes closed, I was awash in colours. With my open eyes, I was being bombarded by strobe lights, video screens and amorphous, shifting bodies. I found M behind me and asked her to sit down with me. We sat on a rise on the field which seemed like our God-intended position for the evening because so many amazing things happened there.
We were there, quietly taking in the entire scene. I looked at M and realized how grateful I was she was there to share this with me. I talked about how I felt and couldn't get the sentences out right. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the words being spelled out in the blackness of space. I wanted to describe the way I was feeling and the words stumbled awkwardly out of my mouth. But she got the gist of it I think because she wasn't really able to express herself well, either. We kissed and it was awesome - I felt like a wave crashing against her and all I could think of was her soft lips and wet tongue and I could no longer conceive of my own body. It was just my soul represented as a wave and our mouths. It was quite special and surreal. After we talked a bit, the intensity of my emotions were abating but the visuals were getting stronger.
I tripped off of my hand which I made to look like a cobra. Then I made the cobra strike my face like the cobra in the movie Kingpin. I had a good laugh with myself though I must have looked insane. Then this candy raver guy comes up to us and asks if we want a scalpal massage as he whips out this intimidating device. We're like 'sure...' I see him put the thingy on M and she starts grimacing and flinching. She said 'stop...STOP! give it to him...' So I sit up straight and he drapes the contraption on my head and turns it on. Suddenly, I feel the most monstrous vibrations running from the top of my head down my spine. I felt like my body and my soul were out of sync and being jostled about like Homer Simpson on that Vibrachair2000. I gritted my teeth in pain and M stepped in and said 'STOP IT, please! He doesn't like it!' and he left. We were both relieved.
Then this couple started talking to us. The guy's wallet had just been lifted and I felt very sorry for him. I remarked that his face was very friendly looking, like a dog, and that I didn't mean that as an insult, just that it was my honest observation. He and his girl were on E and didn't seem to mind my remark. He was an architect and I started talking in this awkwardly epic way about how great and interconnected art and science and the human soul are, but it was a sincere pontification and they didn't laugh at me which was nice. They left but came to visit shortly after.
M and I talked about the guy's stolen wallet. I felt like I was watching a microcosm of all of humanity played out on this field - there were happy people, people who belonged to the light, people who radiate. And then there were people who were haunted, sad people who steal and scavenge among us because there is hurt and fear in their hearts. And I felt like it was our responsibility to help them overcome their personal demons - even though people like that will always exist among us into perpetuity, and that we might fall into such a state as well. This idea was reinforced when this zombie-looking guy came by and was like 'do you know where i can get some drugs?' and we were cheerful and offered 'no, but we have some weed if you like!' and he floated off totally consumed by his own hunger, turning his mind back to whatever substance I don't know. I kind of tripped out on that.
I saw a guy who looked a lot like my brother-in-law in Stockholm and I asked him if he was, by chance, Swedish. He said 'no, Polish and Norwegian' - and we started having this conversation about racism and the future of humanity. We were talking about Hitler as a failed artist who couldn't paint the human face and how that really revealed something fundamental about the condition of his mind and soul and just as we finished that topic, DJ Sneak put on Martin Luther King Jr's speech 'I have a Dream' - we stopped and smiled and shook each other's hands in recognition. It was a perfect moment.
Then the visuals took a very crazy turn. I finally felt myself coming up and hitting the peak. The music was totally rocking and there was a lot of activity around us. People dancing, kids making out, people talking to each other and I was watching the dancing kids right below us. I felt my heart race and felt like I was going to faint or burst. What I saw no longer corresponded to what was really there. I closed my eyes and saw spirits dancing in front of me. When I opened my eyes, the spirits were still there dancing in the gaps between the real people and I felt like I understood that these were the spirits of our ancestors partying with us! I started tripping harder and the spirits seemed to know I could see them because some started to fuck with me by jumping in front of my face and spooking me out! I got scared and held onto M's hand. I told her 'don't let go or less I'm going to dematerialize and they'll take me away' My soul was moving away from me and my body couldn't keep up in holding it down. At my peak, a spirit came in front of me and I seemed to instantly recognize him. Not necessarily like I knew him personally but I knew his character and it was a personality that knew i'd be friends with. I asked his name. He said 'Igor' but I knew he was making it up and I laughed. He started talking to me but I can't remember what he said. I do remember that he held out a shiny silver business card that even with my eyes open, I could see it floating in front of me. I told M 'he wants me to take his business card.' I reached in front of me and held onto it. Suddenly, I felt myself flying through a lighted tunnel, glowing the colours of the rainbow, like a roller coaster and I knew he was taking me to see the other side...I wish I could remember what I saw after the tunnel but I don't remember. I remember saying 'it's absolutely beautiful and it's peaceful' - the spirits want us to be happy, God wants us to be happy. He want us to be good. And other such simple A-B-C stuff that when you're tripping, however, such simplicity takes on an exciting quality because you realize that it's TRUE! It's exciting because you realize it in the core of your being and it's almost as if you're creating that knowledge yourself.
The last thing Igor did before leaving me was make me look to my right. And there was this kid sitting there and I wondered, is this Igor? For a brief moment, I couldn't tell whether Igor was this kid all along. I was very confused but started a conversation with this guy, B. We talked as if we were long-lost brothers. It was amazing. We definitely felt an uncanny connection through our ideas and personalities. We talked about how wonderful and meaningful the party was and looking up to the full moon, I realized this was the most important thing happening on planet Earth at the time. 20,000 kids of all races and religion ... celebrating, coming together, communicating, sharing friendship and love. I was so excited to meet this friend that I felt I knew in some way before, in another lifetime, we were friends, chilled-out Chinese philosophers on a mountain top contemplating life's mysteries. After meeting him and his friends, I was ready to leave the party as I felt I accomplished everything I was supposed to do there.
M and I walked hand-in-hand through the crowd and were giving high-fives to random happy kids...it seemed like in that perfect enclosed space, we all 'got it' - we were illuminated to some kind of truth and no matter what brain state or drug you were on, there was no way you couldn't experience it.
By some miracle, our car was still there though covered in a layer of dust. We stopped at a gas station nearby and I enjoyed a cigarette in the car and the smoke felt good in my lungs - I felt like a Man. I was still tripping quite hard. The sun was making its presence known on the brightening horizon and at that moment, I loved California.
On the drive home, M and I talked about some important things about our lives and about where the future is heading. We got back to LA in the early morning and smoked a wonderful bongload and passed out listening to stupid pop songs on Casey Casem's top 40 countdown.
I often think back to Jujubeats and wonder whether it was all real or not. I wonder whether it was just a big selfish decadent extravaganza and not the magical and meaningful event that I thought it was. In these troubling times, I wonder whether I'll ever see a summer like that again, when everything was simple and bright and there were no worries. What keeps me strong is reminding myself that I saw a future that is POSSIBLE for mankind, not a future that is. We had 5 hours of paradise in that field and discovered something beautiful about ourselves and each other ... that's not decadence. That's not hedonism. That's a breakthrough and I'm still inspired by that night. When times are grim and I think there's nothing to live for, I think about a beautiful future, and what I can do to make it happen, because I saw it already. It is within our grasp. I wish you were there.