"It's like we're at a rave," the boyfriend said to me as we sat with our friend Toka in the smoking area at Paradise Lounge last Friday during Pulse. It was easy to see what gave him that impression: a large, very diverse crowd of friendly people; two rooms of music, breakbeat up and techno down; visuals that were oh-so-early 2Ks; and an overall vibe of "yeah, let's party till dawn!"
There aren't many events that I can recommend without qualifications, but this one is definitely among them. I found myself thinking back to the Thump Radio parties that used to happen at 550 Barneveld, which were a big part of my intro to San Francisco rave culture, mainly because, like those parties, there was a diversity of music and people and physical space that always provided fresh stimulation. When Alland Byallo's set at Pulse got a little abstract and inaccessible for me (one track sounded like listening to a drunk horn section on K), we just went upstairs and danced away to some breakbeat. When we got tired of that, we could go into the bar lounge area and just chat, or into the smoking area and strike up a conversation with someone (in fact, one woman we met in the smoking area became very, um, attached to us on the dancefloor later).
The other thing that impressed me about this event was its spirit. First, the proceeds from the event all went to a non-profit, and each month it looks like a different organization will benefit from our good time. Second, no one "owns" this event, but, rather, the organizers' intent seems to be to present, every month, a new selection of local DJs within the major genres. This month it was Alland Byallo, Christian Martin, Solar, and Galen, among others, certainly a stellar line-up. Next month it will be Forest Green, Mozaic, and Eric Sharp, among others. There are resident Pulse DJs, but overall this feels more like the kind of thing Lord Kook and I tried to pull off with FSLD, where we wanted the event to be about the community of DJs we knew and thought should have more exposure.
Finally, I really liked all the music I heard, from the neo-psytrance sounds of Kirrill to the tech-infused house of Solar and Galen to the breakbeat I heard upstairs - in fact, we danced more at Pulse than I have since the Sunset party on New Year's Day. Perhaps it's just because I'm not that connected to these people, but this felt much less like a "scene" to me than a group of people coming together because they like to play music, dance, and party. After all, that's all raves were in the first place, and I for one would love to see that very basic spirit re-awaken through events like Pulse.