From: email@example.com (Brian Behlendorf)
Date: Fri, 2 Jul 1993 11:14:36 -0700
Subject: A little of that ol' VISION thang.
I'm not sure exactly what form this post is going to make, it's gonna come out pretty stream of conscious-like, but then again everything I've ever written here has been stream of consciousness so I'm not worried. Just giving you warning to bear with me. In fact, now that I've written it and like it, I'll add a PLEASE READ THIS, NOW.
*what* is SFRaves?
The idea mainly came out of frustration with my situation back in March 1992. I had moved up from LA the previous fall, where I had been going out once a week to parties down there, and when I moved up here I found myself completely out of touch with what was going on. I heard about one called ToonTown, tried to go to it, but alas found out after waiting an hour and a half in line at King St Garage that it was 21+, something I had never run into in LA. I had heard about parties here and there, but never could find anyone who even liked the music enough to want to venture out and check them out. I also feel in love with the Internet at this time, and I saw a post from a certain Jon Drukman mentioning the Woopy Ball on the Manchester mailing list, and another post from someone on rec.music.industrial about a local party. I figured there HAD to be SOME people on the net who knew what was up around here, so I asked the sysadmin of my machine if I could run a mailing list and he said sure.
Within a week we had 80 subscribers. The Woopy Ball was the first weekend, and I met Jon and Mike there, and Andrea, and it began to click that maybe there were quite a few people on this; and I began to become really good friends with many of you, which was completely different from my college social environment in which I found most people rather cold and self-absorbed. We held a picnic in May, and it clicked that here we had an incredible group of people who have this elusive thing called a "vibe"... and I began to feel like family with you, and with the list at large, and I began to be less and less inhibited about what I post, who I talk to, everything. It's like someone said, it feels like the community of SFRaves have always existed, it just took an entry in an aliases file to bring us all together.
And then we threw Connection, which, until the day I get married and/or the day I die, will rank as the most intense experience I have ever had. It was the feel of a community putting on a party, where everyone felt GOOD, where we felt like we were leapfrogging into a future full of warmth. It was a personally very transformational thing for me, and I think the same is true for many others.
It was also the beginning of my journey into the realm of becoming someone in the SF House Music culture. I found a group of people I really liked being with; I also found that our method of communication could be a model, a basis for something bigger. Even as we were having the time of our lives, we began to identify things in the scene, and even in the world, that we wanted to see changed. SFRaves became a channeler for memes, for emotions, for expressions on what house culture is and how San Francisco is/could be the center of it all.
Now, you could say I got stars in my eyes... but I don't think it was unjustified, and I know many people felt the same way too. I didn't feel and still don't feel like I was responsible for it, I was just the janitor of this majestic House.
The cycles of life, though, ebb and flow, and as high as SFRaves ever got, there were low points too, points where I wanted to send a message to the list saying "UNSUBSCRIBE" or even consider shutting it down for a day or two to calm some peoples' nerves. I ultimately resisted the urge, mainly because I believe the list could self-check itself, for every low the people would wake up and give it a high, etc.
However, this cycle concerned me because I was afraid (and still am) that this cycle could affect our ability to spread and enhance the vibe. I wondered if this was just an expression of insecurity, if I really could define the "vibe" anyways. I saw a huge procession of people subscribe and then unsubscribe within days... my rational side said ignore this, SFRaves shouldn't and can't please everyone, but my emotional side wanted SFRaves to serve as a basis for uniting people and engendering that "family" feel we all had at the beginning, towards the scene as a whole.
There are still lots of sicknesses in the scene, perhaps more now than ever, and if we could playa part, by spreading ideas and memes and opinions around for everyone to share, that we COULD make the scene better. I wanted to include everyone on this - I was actively working to get the promoters I know hooked up in one way or another to share in this Great Experiment, because communication is the main thing I felt was missing in the scene. The Come/Unity meetings of promoters and DJs and concerned folk enhanced this, and I could see barriers of distrust being shattered. I wanted to bring that to the electronic realm, and them to us, because I feel the synergy would just be incredible.
This is still a dream right now. There are a few promoters on the net, some more vocal than others, there are a few DJ's, there are a LOT of people who go out and spread the vibe, and we are known as an entity by many if not most people in the scene. The calendar you see every Thursday is going to have an "official" status, as a way for promoters to plan their schedules out and try and avoid massive clumping of parties around certain weekends. In other words, we are making inroads.
But sometimes we stumble. I haven't been communicating this dream as much over the net as I should have; I'd talk about it to others outside the scene, we'd become excited about the possibilities, and then we'd come home and read our email and get discouraged at times.
But there's no way I'm gonna give up that easily. I *know* I'm not alone in this dream, and for the most part I think SFRaves has had that spreading-the-vibe effect for awhile. But we have so much POTENTIAL I want to see used. Right now the most vital thing the scene needs is COMMUNICATION, people need a forum for expressing their views and for listening and understanding each other. Right now the many-to-many nature of email mailing lists is the single most powerful format for this. Let's use it right - let's take the concept of love, peace, harmony, and RESPECT for each other back into our lives and spread it. I'm going to work this summer on making the SF scene the most wired scene on the planet (it already is, I'm gonna make it even more so), and watch the fireworks fly. Sure, we'll always have our ups and downs, and I still want people to talk about ANYTHING they feel like talking about while still providing a high-quality high signal-to-noise-ratio mailing list.
Remember that when you send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org you are sending personal mail to about 280 people. That is an awesome power for such a subtle action. Please don't abuse it - use it freely, but just think about what you're saying for a second. If it's something more appropriate in personal email, take it there. But if it's something we all can learn from, by all means bring it forward.
SFRaves and the fractalizing threads that have led from it are the most significant thing that's ever happened to me. I know most other people aren't going to go to THAT level of enthusiasm but I want people to feel what I'm feeling. This "dream" I have of making SFRaves a powerfully positive force in the scene is nebulous, and we may never know if we've ever gotten there, but I think as long as we keep it in mind a lot of good can come about. In fact, the medium has so much potential it is our RESPONSIBILITY to see this happens. I've seen so much over the past month and a half of my travels that has led me to think we tend to take our scene for granted a lot, and its almost become a victim of its own success. Let's not let that happen.