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Media Coverage
Youths Denied "Rave" Party
January 27, 1996



Saturday, January 27, 1996
Section: news
Page: A09

RICHMOND -- It was a standoff.

Young people with a multitude of earrings and baggy clothes pleaded before the Richmond City Council for permission to hold an all-night rave dance they said is about peace, love and acceptance of diversity.

Senior citizens who live near the dance site, fearing for their safety and the problems that thousands of young people could bring, said, "No way."

Both sides made their points plainly and passionately.

In the end, a majority of the City Council agreed with the seniors. It voted 6 to 3 to deny use of the Richmond auditorium for a rave.

Moving into the open

Rave dances have been an underground phenomenon for nearly a decade. Promoters hoping to host one, which lets young people bounce until the break of dawn, came above ground before the City Council this week to ask for use of the auditorium.

That in itself was an olive branch, supporters said.

"They are asking permission," said Nate Fowler of Richmond, a supporter of the dance. "Most don't bother. They just show and (the all-night parties) happen."

The Richmond Police Department doesn't have the early morning staff to handle 3,000 party-goers if any problems should occur, said Police Chief William Lansdowne.


Councilmen Tom Butt, John Marquez and Alex Evans voted together against the party but were interested in a compromise. Rave promoters offered to double their hired security team, hire a tow truck to remove illegally parked cars and clean up trash outside the auditorium.

"It appears that with modifications, we can accommodate other groups," Evans said. "With the top-notch entertainment we're bringing in, we recognize that this is bringing in another generation. I personally don't fit in either. I'm too young for Lou Rawls and too old for a rave."

Fragile image

But seniors said the dance could cause problems for them and for Richmond's fragile image, an image that city officials are working to repair.

"We're not against the raves. We're against the noise," said Dorothy Clinton. "Whenever there is loud noise, people can't sleep."

She said many seniors who occupy the 142-unit Nevin Plaza development, just blocks from the auditorium, are scared of the assemblages of young people. They leave trash and last year someone was killed near her front door, she said. That homicide was not linked to the previous raves.

Three criminal incidents

There were three incidents following other raves that promoter Sean Starbuck hosted at the Richmond auditorium in July and last January, he said. There was an armed robbery of a party-goer by a neighborhood resident, a sexual assault and graffiti vandalism.

Born in the late 1980s in London, rave dances were underground parties that typically lasted from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. or 8 a.m. the following day. They were usually hastily put together, overly crowded gigs where drug and alcohol use was unchecked. They were also illegal. London police would frequently break them up, which resulted in violence.