In Buenos Aires, The Last Great Neoliberal Party

For this one night of the year, the routine of their lives is broken, social conventions upended, and many drugs are consumed. In Buenos Aires’ Anfibia magazine, Argentine sociologists pass the night with the young revelers at the annual Creamfields electronic music festival.

At three in the morning, 40,000 people raise their hands to sky in front of the main stage, the stage where Steve Angelo, a DJ from Greece, pumps the crowd up with his version of the Eurythmics Sweet Dreams. There are people wearing sunglasses in complete darkness; they pogo. Others move like Medusas; there’s a couple touching each other in sight of everyone and groups of friends hugging: girl, boy, another boy, another boy, a girl in the middle of the group whose head is being caressed by all of them. Her eyes are closed. She makes the same face she must make before having an orgasm. She’s not the only one: The music is putting 40,000 people in ecstasy.

Estefania Barrios is 21 years old and still doesn’t know what she’s going to major in. She bought her ticket two months ago: 720 pesos [$115]she saved while working as a waitress at a bar in the suburbs south of the city. She spent the money despite the fact that organizers didn’t reveal the line up of DJs until just two weeks before the big day. Estefania doesn’t care who plays. She wants to experience her first Creamfields. Before she had a boyfriend, she had started to go to nightclubs where they played electronic music. She feels like they opened her mind, but she is frightened of the mafias that are behind drug sales, of the ‘psycho crowds’ and of getting lost among so many people. Getting separated from friends is one of the biggest fears at a multitudinous music festival where drug consumption blurs the sense of direction. There are strategies to avoid it: helium balloons that raise ten feet above the crowd in the form of a dolphin, an airplane, Hello Kitty, the green creature from Monsters Inc., and other characters; elastic bands that wrap around four people; ropes reminiscent of those used on kindergarten field trips. The precautions are necessary: One minute of distraction could mean wandering alone for the rest of the night in an area the size of forty soccer fields.

Estefania has been dating Mariano for a year now, and he took her to the entrance of the venue at [Buenos Aires’] southern riverfront. “Poor thing,” says Estefania, “He’s afraid I’m going to cheat on him. When he dropped me off at the entrance he asked me to please behave myself.” Since they have been together, she never goes out without him. This time she convinced him because a friend of hers from Entre Rios had made a special trip for the party. She is one of the first at the place. It is five in the afternoon, just in time to hear DJ Guille Quero in the Cream Arena tent. The most highly anticipated event by the party-goers is in a field surrounded by tents.

The main stage is outside. The 13th edition of Creamfields comes with some changes: The organizers moved it from the Autodromo de la Ciudad, where it had been held since 2006 (except in 2009, when it was in Parque Roca, also in the south of the city), back to its original site, a field that in the 1970s was the training grounds for the Boca Juniors soccer team. Estefania doesn’t know about nor does she care about the history of the place. “I’ve been waiting for this for months,” she says. Today she’s going to take Ecstasy for the first time. “My boyfriend doesn’t know we have it. If he finds out he’ll kill me, but I’ve never tried it and you can’t be at a party like this without rolling.” Between the ticket and the 120 pesos [$20] Estefania paid for two ‘X’ pills, she blew a third of her salary, half her savings for the past year. Her boyfriend scolded her for not saving that money to go to the coast in the summer. “I couldn’t miss it,” Estefania says, “I already know what it’s like to sunbathe on the beach. This must be something different. This must be from a different world.”

creamfields221Photo: Ceci Estalles. Anfibia.

The world’s biggest electronic music festival started in Liverpool, the land of The Beatles, in 1998. The owners of the nightclub Cream organized an outdoor event on the runway of an abandoned airport. People went along with the idea and, in a few years, Creamfields spread into Europe and beyond. But the first edition outside of England was in 2001, at the horse track in San Isidro (in the north of Buenos Aires), put on by Martin Gontad, then the director of the radio station Metro 95.1 and now the artistic director of Delta 90.3, besides being the owner of several nightclubs and organizer of other festivals. Argentina was in the process of collapsing then [in 2001], but still there were 18,000 clubbers at the venue, ready to dance all night. What is a clubber? “People who dedicate their lives to going to nightclubs,” says DJ Berger Muzik, who hasn’t missed a single Creamfields in the city. According to urban myth, the first parties gathered the upper classes and the pills provided an unforgettable trip. Electronic music had been gaining ground since the 1990s and Creamfields meant, perhaps, the last great neoliberal party in Argentina. Before that, (Argentine rock star) Charly Garcia had sung about taking Ecstasy after a summer at (the coastal city) Pinamar; the father of local blues Pappo had humiliated a DJ named Dero on television, telling the star from “The Battle of the DJs” to look for honest work; and Dr. Alfredo Miroli turned up on television ads explaining that “love from drugs is a fiasco: you want to do it but you have nothing to do it with”. Electronic music was associated with drugs and sex, something that generated a feud between its followers and fans of other kinds of music. But for a movement that could manage without alcohol, the cocktail (of drugs and sex) was perfect.
Who would have thought that, in an open field in the light of day, someone could gather so many thousands of young people to dance. After the 90s, electronic music turned into an industry that spread across the planet like an oil stain through all the major cities: Buenos Aires was at the forefront of the movement. Fans from Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay and Brazil got off airplanes and dove right into the Creamfields, an event that soon went from being hip and trendy to being a classic. When a celebration repeats itself regularly, a party turns into a rite of passage that stirs up uncontrollable passion. The party creates an identity and forms an imaginary community where sharing is celebrated. Lux V., a 24-year-old actress and journalism student, knows what that’s all about. In fact, she was never scared of losing herself in the crowd.
On the contrary, she would get lost on purpose to walk around and meet new people. “When you’re out at night you think everyone is your friend. A lot of times you realize it isn’t so much like that,” she says as she waits in line to get in. Lux decided to arrive at 8:30. Since a couple hours ago and until midnight, the area around Puerto Madero and all the roads leading in have been choked by cars and processions of clubbers. Security personnel direct the entrance: Snaking bodies and barriers that end at an entrance where they check tickets, pockets and backpacks. All different kinds can be found in line, but men are the majority. There are a lot people in their 20s, adolescents just out of high school, people with brand-name clothing and kids wearing baseball hats. There are also a number of people over 30 and even a couple around 50 years old. Once inside, Lux strolls the green, immense grounds as if she’d been heaved into paradise. For her, raised in the ’90s and longing for a First World that never arrived, freedom comes in the form of a nightclub. “When I lived in (the coastal vacation city) Mar del Plata, I had a friend who always traveled to Buenos Aires to go dancing. I listened to her stories about going out to parties and they blew my mind. Thinking about taking just one bus to a rave in Buenos Aires, drinking all the booze I wanted… It was like going to Disney.” Lux spent her adolescence going to trendy restobars on (Mar del Plata’s) Guemes street. At 18 years old, she moved to Buenos Aires and, since then, she hasn’t stopped going out to dance. She made her way in the city working jobs she didn’t like. “The only thing that made me happy was nightlife,” Lux says. For those trapped in an unsatisfying routine, the party space turns into one where the norms are broken down. Without (these norms), a feeling of freedom prevails.creamfields321Photo: Ceci Estalles. Anfibia.

Besides England and Argentina, there are editions of Creamfields in Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Australia, Spain and seven other countries. International figures have been on its stages: Chemical Brothers, Faithless, Basement Jaxx, Groove Armada, Underworld, Fatboy Slim, Hernan Cattaneo, John Digweed, Sasha, Paul Oakenfold, Satoshi Tomi and Paul Van Dyk. The parties last an entire day. Buenos Aires holds the record for biggest crowd when in 2010 around 80,000 people arrived to the Autodromo Oscar Alfredo Galvez to dance and turn themselves over to the effects of Ecstasy. Between 2001 and 2006, Creamfields occupied elite venues: first at the horse track in San Isidro, then at Dique 1 in Puerto Madero and finally the largest site at the Costanera Sur. “El Loco Javier” was at the 2005 and 2006 editions. When the party moved to the Autodromo de la Ciudad he stopped going. For clubbers from the older raves, the move to a space close to the suburbs meant a breaking point. “On one hand,” Javier says, “it filled up with people who weren’t part of the scene. That was already happening in general with electronic music, and doing Creamfields there made it worse. I remember going to Big One, a club that was never trendy but maintained certain rules of conduct, and a kid from the ‘hood came up to me and said, ‘Hey man, want some Ecstasy?’ I never discriminated against anyone, but from that moment on I felt like nothing was ever the same”. Older clubbers were pushed away when it became mainstream, but shows became more frequent for crowds that became more attractive to large parts of the market. This edition has the support of FM Delta, which specializes in electronic music. There’s a tent that sells Speed energy drinks, has people promoting Marlboro and banners from (Argentina’s largest newspaper) Clarin, whose online edition broadcasts the event live. Javier, who is 35 and manages a hostel, never liked Creamfields much, but he wanted to come back to remember old times. “It always rains and it’s cold,” he says, “For some, Creamfields means rain. They like getting all muddy and ending up with their shirts soaked, stuck to their bodies”. The 2004 edition was the most highly anticipated event of his youth, but when he got there it was cold and didn’t stop raining. Javier remembers standing in the rain in a bad mood, cursing the organizers. “For me, the cold and rain ruin the high,” he says, showing a plastic bag with two pills the size of aspirin. “No more than two, because I’m old. When I was younger I’d take four and mix ketamine, coke and whatever they gave me. Now I’m fine going home feeling half of what I felt back them– just half is a dream now.” Neither the companies nor the media seem to be bothered by the relationship between drugs and electronic music.

Ecstasy doesn’t have the complicit support that a good part of society gives to marijuana, but nor is it the drug of the delinquent hoodrats who terrorize Buenos Aires’ middle class. Does Creamfields represent global capitalism’s great party? It’s a party of consumption where the sponsors are the top telecommunications companies on the planet and technology companies that are the motor for the vanguard of economic activity. If capitalism seems more or less cloaked in the rock scene because of its old transgressive and counterculture morality, it occupies a central place in electronic music. Creamfields isn’t hiding anything. It could be understood as the party of complete freedom, but within a world where money rules. Because of that, no one seems to be worried there are VIP areas: Famous or not, anyone can enter if they can pay the 1400 pesos it costs to get into the area. VIP tickets are not for sale on official website for the party. Just like parking for 320 pesos, they can only be bought through a special public relations department that is offered to a select group of clubbers.
Lux V. listens to electronic music from the time she wakes up until she goes to sleep. Sometimes she sleeps with FM Delta’s website running hours of uninterrupted electronic music “for experts”. She knows all the flora and fauna of the clubber scene, including DJs, public relations agents, radio producers and famous people. As an adolescent, her friends decorated their rooms with stuffed animal and (adolescent pop band) Erreway posters, and she decorated with flyers from raves. She hasn’t missed any of the last four Creamfields. What she likes most about this edition is that organizers abandoned the Autodromo de la Ciudad. “There were too many drunks, hoodrats and people who had no business there,” she says, and hopes those people won’t come to the party at the new site. And it seems they haven’t: In this edition, the large part of the crowd seem to be middle and upper class. In his investigations on urban tribes, the Frenchman Michel Maffessoli describes emotional communities in which feelings of belonging have the highest value. For Lux, that sense of belonging was lost at Creamfields when they started doing it at the Autodromo: “My friends and I went into a tent and never left”. While she walks anxiously through the Cream Arena tent, where later Sasha and Hernan Cattaneo will play, she remembers her first experience with Ecstasy: “It was at the (nightclub) Pacha, a Saturday. My friends nicknamed me ‘lil’ question’ because I wanted to know everything: what effect the pill would have, how long it took to kick in, if I was going to have a hangover. Every ten minutes they asked me if I felt okay or if I wanted water. The pill kicked in at one point, and I didn’t talk any more after that. ‘Look how ‘lil’ question’ shut up, huh? Now try to get her out of here…’.
The sun goes down and a spring breeze loaded with the smell of vegetation and river picks up. You can feel the sounds in your body. It’s early for a party and most of the people still haven’t made it, but at the Enter tent, dedicated to Techno, Estefania Barrios moves her arms and hops along with her friends. The only problem is that she has to pause every once in a while to answer text messages from her boyfriend. She wants him not to worry. They fought several times during the week because he had heard that all kinds of things happen at raves. What are you going to wear, be careful of the drug addicts, don’t talk to any men. Estefania was about to stay home so her boyfriend wouldn’t get mad. The condition was that he could monitor her by phone. A kid who has been looking at her for a while and dancing next to her tells her that in a bit the phone system is going to collapse and she’s not going to have service, that the idea of a rave is to let yourself be taken away by the music. No commitments. No problems. “Open your mind,” he says while he listens to the mixes of Pan-Pot, a German duo that play techno and house techno. The kid says his name is Linux. He observes other people as Tassilo Ippenberger and Thomas Benedix’s sound construct a space where some 2000 people dream they are flying. Linux has never taken drugs. “People like anything when they are high,” he says,”If you come sober you have a different sense of the sounds”.creamfields421Photo: Ceci Estalles. Anfibia.

There are still arguments today whether DJs make music or just punch buttons. The fact that a debate has settled in about electronic music demonstrates the importance it has acquired. The argument goes back to the mid-70s, when disco music caused resentment amongst purists. At the time, dance music was played with traditional instruments that any band could play. As the years went on, gadgets started gaining ground. Groups like Depeche Mode and Erasure were the polar opposite of what a rock band was supposed to be. The culture of rock was always based on an attitude of confronting the established canons. A danceable and fun beat always provoked a lack of trust. It was difficult for rock culture to process what was happening. When electronic music showed a huge capacity for gathering crowds, the controversy became even more acute, putting in question whether it was even an artistic product. Was electronica music or not? DJ Paul played various editions of Creamfields. He says it’s about feeling goosebumps on your skin. “In 2000, I had the chance to travel to England to go to the original Creamfields they held at the old airport in Liverpool with my friend Hernan Cattaneo, who was making his debut at the festival. It was incredible. The following year it came to our country. I participated for 10 straight years on the main stage. The 2001 edition was the first time I played outdoors and that day it rained early and the festival started two hours late. We were all helping out, even the owner of Cream James Barton himself, to get the ground in the tents usable because they were full of mud. We threw saw dust and sand out to soak up the water. I was scheduled to play at 5pm, but when it started later they rescheduled me to play 1am on the main stage with Facu Carri. The party was its peak at that time. For me, Creamfields was a launching pad. Sharing that stage with those high caliber international artists is something you never forget. You are in the big leagues.”

Groups of muscular, shirtless men hugging in a trance in the middle of the dance floor; a girl with a blond wig dances with a smile like something out of Japanese animation; a couple kissing as if both of them had paintbrushes in their mouths. She turns around and rubs up against him. He kisses her neck and caresses her body. She touches her legs with her hands, bringing them up slowly. She leaves a hand between her legs. Next to her, the group of muscular men separates. One of them takes a folded piece of paper from his pocket and opens it. His friends sink their fingers in a yellow powder and snort it. It’s ketamine, an anesthetic for animals that produces dissociation. Within seconds, each one of these men is going to feel he’s turned into two men. One, down low, will still be hugging, his skin in contact with two other men. Another man will fly through the air. They will be thousands of people multiplied by thousands of people, all part of the same illusion.MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine), the street name for Ecstasy, is a drug whose principal effect is to produce empathy. Also known as ‘X’, ‘E’ and ‘Molly’, it was first made accidentally in 1912 at the Merck laboratory in Darmstadt, Germany. However, it wasn’t until 1976 that the chemist Alexander Shugin studied its effects. Shulgin used it in psychotherapy sessions. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) let him set up a laboratory to continue his research. A large bibliography arose from the work of the U.S. chemist that included the books PiHKAl and TiHKAL, two manuals on the wide range of substances in the phenylamine category, of which Ecstasy belongs. Besides empathy, MDMA produces euphoria, awakens eroticism, heightens the sense of tact, lowers anxiety and produces hallucinations with closed eyes. Many people “see” the same party that is happening when they open their eyes, and they even have conversations with people who exist only in their imaginations. “When you take ecstasy you feel that you are beautiful, that everyone is beautiful, that you understand everything, that everything is possible and that life is always perfect,” says ‘El Loco’ Javier, “But they don’t call me loco for no reason. When the trip is over, it’s like falling from the fifth floor onto the pavement”.

creamfields521Photo: Ceci Estalles. Anfibia.

It’s two in the morning. Maceo Plex is playing techno at the Cream Arena tent. Lux V. dances to the rhythm with the grace of teddy bear that just discovered it’s alive. Each person dances however they want. It’s not about doing dance steps, but about letting the music pass through your skin and run through your body. Lux is wearing a fedora, a t-shirt that says “Parental Advisory, Explicit Content” and gold tights. According to her, leather jackets are a must. There’s a dress code that repeats itself: lots of tank-tops, sneakers, jeans and t-shirts. Various people are almost in costumes: ‘Anonymous’ masks, flowers in their hair, outfits out of the movie Transformers. Creamfields functions as a community, but it’s also a show where each person exhibits their art. In times where art is immaterial, the ways of dancing, the looks, the accessories and even the personalities can be understood as works of art in a show where everyone is a protagonist. With a vaporizer she pulls from her purse, Lux perfumes herself and her friends every 20 or 30 minutes. She dances and no one bothers her. Impeccable, she has an arsenal of accessories to enjoy the night: lollipops, an illuminated star that hangs from her neck, baby lotion, and an envelope with three joints, a gram of MDMA and a pill. “At Creamfields you get all kinds: hoodrats, prostitutes, drunks, people who are too high. The key is to let the drugs transport you and put your blinders on. If not, you go crazy from paranoia. Here inside I’m the queen. Outside I have to go to work and pay the rent”.

The relationship between Ecstasy and electronic music parties has its antecedents in the first raves in New York in the 1980s, when acid house had barefooted African Americans and whites looking to put their bodies in a state of continual ecstasy. ‘Rave’ means ‘to be delirious’ and that’s what those parties that revolutionized the way dance music is made were looking for. On the other side of the world, in warehouses in London, which were sold at obscene prices after a wave of privatizations and dismantlement by Margaret Thatcher’s administration, were the stage for the movement in Europe when, in the mid-1990s, music executives hooked up with producers and established DJs to make music in which machines replaced the traditional instruments in rock. The movement also arrived to Buenos Aires in 1990s. Raves were held in public places but were exclusive. It was the same with the drugs: You couldn’t get Ecstasy just anywhere, and had to know the right people. When the ‘summer of love’ made Ibiza popular as the freest and most sensual beach and crowned Ecstasy as the party drug, Buenos Aires was ready to follow in its footsteps. Towards the middle of the decade, Ecstasy was accessible to anyone. Today it’s impossible to know the exact percentage, but you get the impression that almost everyone is high at Creamfields. Dark glasses, jaws clenched, they dance jumping around or completely turning themselves over to the music as if they were snakes being charmed. There aren’t attempts at picking people up like in bars. There are few conversations, and no one starts a fight, least of all out of jealousy. It’s okay to look at someone else’s date, or more: (There are) heterosexuals who try the lips of their same sex, groups of three kissing and caressing, couples touching. A boy from a neighboring group kisses another boy, and then a blond girl, and then Estefania who, in her first Creamfields went to the bathroom with her friends, lost them in the crowd, and without asking herself why, ended up dancing with other people. There’s no longer cell service. Estefania doesn’t care. The Ecstasy demolished her concerns. Each person has their own drugs and they take them in view of everyone else. In the street, a pill costs between 60 and 90 pesos [$10-15], depending on the quality. They come in different colors and have a logo that identifies them: a butterfly, the “F” from Facebook, a heart or a Playboy bunny. The buying and selling of drugs is so frequent at raves that it’s exhibited and shared in front of everyone. There are waves of the smell of pot and poppers. Kids snort from papers full of cocaine.
At 3:45 in the morning, Estefania Barrios is having a rave love affair: While the effects of the Ecstasy lasts, and as long as she can for a few more days, she will be in love like never before with a blond girl, short hair, whom she is caressing while continually staring in her eyes. She had never kissed a girl before, but here the sexual barriers are easily knocked down. Since its beginnings, electronic music was refuge for a new way of understanding sex. At the beginning of the ’90s, (the dance clubs) Ave Porco and El Dorado arose as the cradles of Buenos Aires transvestite scene and (sexual) diversity. When Alaska, the European Gothic queen who sang ‘Who cares?’, the gay hymn of the 80’s, played at Ave Porce, it seemed free love had finally blessed Buenos Aires. In 1989, Berlin’s Love Parade showed that the world had recovered something essential: The ideology of pansexuality had taken the streets as a strong political movement of which massive raves were a part. Like a plot that involves various different worlds that are connected in the pursuit of the same goal, sexual freedom, bodily pleasure and the mind developed their first post-modern step at parties and bars where electronic music was the backdrop. Although most people at Creamfields don’t seem to care much about politics, they behave like activists from that ideology. Love is passed around without looking at to whom; to live the experience, it’s best not to be tied to anyone. That’s how Estefania lives the experience, with her eyes closed and goosebumps on her skin.
Fido never mixed (drugs). He just took Ecstasy. When he used to go out dancing he was 26 or 27 and immature. “Some people have their life on course at that age. Not me”. Fido bought his tickets for Creamfields in September when they had just gone on sale. “I remember entering the Autodromo and seeing the lights, the people, the complicit looks, like saying, ‘We’re going to get so high!’… Once I started talking to a guy who was 40 who told me that he went just because he wouldn’t miss the party for anything in the world,” he says with a quiet voice. Fido isn’t far from 40. He hasn’t been to Creamfields for five years and has been living far from Buenos Aires for the last two years after escaping to go to rehab for drug addiction. Fido had to seek out psychiatric help to get out from under Ecstasy. When he finally did escape it, he got into cocaine. It was time to leave the city. He remembers his time as a clubber and realizes he never enjoyed Creamfields as he should have. He thought more about getting wasted then living the moment. “And I couldn’t control myself,” he says, “I knew I’d regret it the next day, but I always stubborn”.

creamfields621Photo CC: Juan Parada.

Creamfields has its myths and legends. The rain, the wind and the mud are a kind of karma that repeat themselves almost every year. It holds true in this edition, with the forecast predicting a storm and clouds that won’t move from this patch of sky over the south of Buenos Aires. Some of the stories are frightening, like the one about the boy who sat down in a corner to hallucinate and didn’t wake up again. They say he mixed Ecstasy with pot, ketamine and poppers. That means (he mixed) an amphetamine with a plant that relaxes you, an anesthetic for horses the causes dissociation and vasodilator used to clean the heads of VHS cassettes. Mixing is a tradition. The antidote to the specter of death is mineral water, which brings down the heart rate and body temperature. The bars distributed around the grounds sell thousands of bottles of water at 30pesos [$5] each. Others people prefer energy drinks. It’s not uncommon either for one to approach, sweating, eyes too wide open, and ask for a drink of water. The strangers offer water generously. People dance with strangers, each person on their own trip but at the same time in communion with everyone else, a hidden solitude behind a patina of community. “No one returns the same from Creamfields,” says El Loco Javier. However, for him it’s all just an illusion: “Listening to music no human being could play without the help of machines, dancing longer than the body could stand without drugs, feeling sensations you never felt before…” The party means a rupture from the routine, but Creamfields takes that rupture to levels too far removed from reality.

“Once I had been drinking and it hit me so bad that I got paranoid,” Fido remembers. Leaning against a post, looking all around, he thought everyone was robbing him, that the women were sticking their hands in his pockets and taking his money. It was the only time he mixed MDMA with alcohol. “When I was going home in the taxi I felt like I was dying in the seat. That Sunday I cried all day. That was the problem with pills: If you drank you had a terrible time, but even if I didn’t drink the crash always came. When the effects of the Ecstasy ended it was too hard. Paradise turned into a vacant lot full of smashed water bottles and people laying in the corners.” The mix of MDMA and alcohol goes straight to the heart: It raises the heart rate, can cause fainting and, many times, users drown in their own vomit. To all that you have to add the way the brain processes stimuli: “I had a shitty life from Monday to Friday,” Fido says, “I didn’t have a girlfriend. I didn’t like my job. I didn’t get along with my family and I couldn’t find my place in the world. Besides, I had always had problems relating to people. When I went out to dance, I felt this bliss. I was a different person. I tried to get everyone to like the electronic music movement. I thought it was something superior to what we knew and looked to convince others to come. Now I realize that bliss was all fiction.”
The DJs continue playing, but now they choose slower rhythms. The crest of the wave passed a while ago. Lux takes her sunglasses off and breathes deeply. She looks at the ground like she just touched down. She’s not wearing her fedora anymore. She doesn’t smile. She says her head hurts. “It’s the pressure in my jaw,” she explains, “Tomorrow it will be worse. The pain is so bad you can’t chew.” There are fewer and fewer people in the tents. A boy is sitting with his head bowed. Two others lay down next to him to finish their trip. “The problem is that it’s a moment out of time,” says El Loco Javier, who although he’s taken the two pills he brought realizes it’s not the same. “When you are in the middle of it, it seems like it’s going to last forever,” he says, “Then you go home and realize the drugs don’t hit you like before, that the people don’t seem so beautiful. You feel like you’re taking a class that you already passed. At some point in your life, you’re not afraid of anything, not the future or death or the next day. When you start to get scared that means it’s already too late for you. Even if people around you are experiencing the best party in the world, you’ve already lost your place.” The night begins to end when the first birds are heard. The sun isn’t out yet but the clouds, that in the end never brought rain, are tinted copper by the dawn. As if waking from a dream, Estefania walks out of the tent and crosses the grounds, walking quickly amongst hundreds of bodies — some in silence, others still dancing and humming sounds — headed to the same place. Water bottles, wrappers from lollipops and Marlboro packs litter the field. Estefania still feels a little dizzy from the Ecstasy, but much more because of what she just experienced. It is almost six in the morning. She knew freedom for more than 12 hours, but the party is over. She looks at her cell phone. She has service. Her boyfriend is outside. He is waiting to take her home.

 

Translated by Brian Hagenbuch for International Blvd.

Javier Maria Casco and Enzo Maqueira

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