Good raves historically go off in the unlikeliest of places. Having not been lucky enough to experience the partying-under-stars desert rave scene of Southern California, my previous nonclub adventures include just one ice-skating rink, at an event called "55 Degrees." And now: Magnetic, an 18+ party imaginatively held at the Pacific Science Center on Saturday, Aug. 6. Postings on nwtekno.com promised an evening of frolicking among the butterflies and naked mole rats (an inclusion that grossed out a number of my friends, though the poor things were behind glass, naturally) to the sounds of headliner Mark Farina, and a live set from Sweden's Human Blue. As rave flyers tend to do, Magnetic's urged partygoers to "explore the infinite with child-like wonder." Mm-hmm. So, how many people would be chemically inducing their childlike wonder? My need to witness the larger spectacle of this "costumes encouraged" party among the exhibits' microcosms, which I'd never seen, was intense.
The Pacific Science Center is a beautiful place, and moving through the entrance's concrete islands, surrounded by water, to the "Polarity Patio" felt like embarking a journey. Only that journey could have been to Pioneer Square, as this was one of the event's two bars, featuring the most boring music and—as the night wore on—the drunkest patrons. Inside, nearly every exhibit was open and staffed by amused-looking workers. As a sea anemone kissed my fingers in the ocean petting pool, I noticed an unfortunate lack of costumes—I expected to see people dressed as glittery pythons, or at least find more of them outfitted in rave-tested, rave-approved butterfly wings. Regardless, the human animal proved interesting enough to watch in its own right.
Inside the bright and humid butterfly room, a goth girl cried, "Oh my God!" and pointed at a quivering chrysalis. In the "Animal Attractions" main area, two girls on roller skates spun each other while a man did capoeira in a corner to surprisingly excellent tribal drumming. Near the "Tots Only" playpen, which had been converted into the second bar, I spotted the curious juxtaposition of a "Lost Kids" sign next to a makeshift drink menu—was that on purpose?
The "Insect Repellent" room, hosted in part by Iosis Art Party, featured expensive, psychedelic art that was begging to be stolen from the seemingly unsupervised easels. Human Blue played there, next to the planetarium, for two and a half hours. I spoke with a woman about my mother's age who favored the "warmer" sound in the other rooms, though her husband, slender and tattooed with a white beard, preferred the energetic onslaught of Human Blue's hard trance.
Back in "Animal Attractions," we climbed inside toy cars and sipped vodka and Red Bull while watching people get down to the night's best lineup: Uniting Souls' Ramiro and Jeromy Nail, Carlos Mendoza, and San Francisco's funky house king Farina. At 3 a.m., the lights weren't dim enough, but nobody seemed to mind. To my relief, they all looked high . . . on life.