Bouncer

Our new music columnist looks askance at a woodsy ambient mystical gathering

Someone had mercifully brought a six-pack of Sierra Nevada, and I scored one and decided to go into the yurt and see what sitting in the middle of an ambient sound system was really like. The domelike structure was flanked with cushioned benches around its perimeter, but most people were sitting on the floor. A table was set up with goddesses and Buddha figures, incense, and other magikal gimcracks, and a coffee station was arrayed with chai and other tea. No drugs.

"Watch out for the elements," said a voice outside the yurt. It came from a young man of Japanese descent who alternately stroked his Fu Manchu facial hair and crossed his arms over his chest as if he was cold. "Infinity plus one minus one brings you Kevin Bacon six degrees," he continued, smiling really big. It seemed that the reason there were no drugs here was that one guy had ingested all of them.

"That's Phil," said his friend Dylan. "He went up to an event in Canada a week ago, Shambala, and he hasn't been the same since." Phil's friends were obviously a bit worried about him, but they were kind and attempted to calm him. "You are in a place that we are not, man," they said. "You are somewhere else right now."

Somehow the thought of sussing out some Ecstasy or a joint became less appealing to me. Especially since this really wasn't my scene and I had already decided that I wasn't going to spend the night. Better to stay sober and drive home early.

After what seemed like hours of wandering from seat to seat, waiting for the music to take hold of me the same way it did these people, I decided to go out to the bonfire circle. A few people were scattered around the fire, and logs were set up for seating. A loudspeaker from the main system was playing, and no one was talking. A belly dancer began to do her thing, and as I stared at the flaming bowl she had placed on her head I had these thoughts: Why do different people get into different things? What happens in each person's brain that draws him to one thing and not another? The people around me were enraptured by the dancer. They had in fact paid $30 to spend most of the day and evening with fire-dancers, eschewing the comfort of their own beds no less. Then my thoughts wandered to this: Why do girls with long straight hair named Megan (pronounced "mee-gan") like to collect plastic horses? Why do guys named Mike like to put stickers of peeing cartoon kids on the backs of their F-150s? Why has there never been a skinny, flat-chested woman named Brenda?

Here's what I came up with: People are attracted to scenes or interests that have people in them whom they want to fuck. The sole purpose of every living thing on Earth is to reproduce, and unconsciously all of our motivations are based on this. I became punk in high school because I thought the guys in Fugazi were hot. Most guys picked up a skateboard and listened to JFA because they wanted to score the hot chicks. Spare me your "It was about the music ... the message!" Bah. Goth chicks thought Robert Smith was hot and wanted a boyfriend like him. Deadheads want to find women who won't harsh their mellow and are contortionists. And people who like ambient music? They want someone who can be in the moment for 15 hours, a tantric wytch.

As for me, I like it short, sharp, and shocking, like the unwelcome prod from a goat. Like a 30-second Wolf Eyes song.

There was no one here I wanted to fuck, and I'm sure the feeling was mutual. I politely got up from the fire and headed out into the pitch blackness, toward the animals and my car, which were both at the top of the hill.

The goats were there, waiting. I did not fuck with them.


Katy St. Clair's clubs column Bouncer will appear weekly. She can be reached at Katy.StClair@sfweekly.com. OK Then is on vacation.

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