Gatekeeping - Who To Let In

In response to an incident where public buildings were defaced during an event:

How "open" should the party be to the public? What kind of people are you trying to bring in/keep out? A community has to know each other, and people have to be open... meet in sunlight, party at night. Relationships outweigh rules in an organic community.

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I like old school mailing lists. But when talking about random people showing up at a party, the quirk is how to deal with digital identity. At a building, you can have security calling the shots as to who gets in. To do this online is more difficult - it requires that people have some kind of Internet "presence" that validates/verifies worthiness.

Facebook and to a lesser extent Myspace - Internet presence in general - provide an excellent way for people to build relationships prior to an actual meeting in person. I think about how works - the trust level has to be high enough that the host is willing to let what essentially MIGHT be a random stranger crash at their place. This is done by viewing the couchsurfer's profile - do they have a Facebook/Myspace? How many other friends does this person have, and do the relationships seem legitimate? How many details does the couchsurfer reveal about him/herself? Does the couchsurfer seem sensible via e-mail/IM/phone?

To me, parties have always had at least a sub-crowd of technologically intelligent people who can manage an online persona. Unfortunately, this is kind of "online judgment" is biased towards those who are "skilled at the Internet" which may not have anything to do with how decent a person is. Are you willing to crowd out some (shy?) people who just aren't comfortable with openly expressing themselves or being social butterflies, in order to keep undesirable people out? Ultimately it is up to the promoters to determine how private the event really is. If you want it to even be "quasi" public, you deal with the risks...

Much of this probably applies to real life relationships. But since some of us are disconnected from each other, this community's primary communication might often be forum posts, text messages, IMs, etc. as opposed to face-to-face interactions. It's a completely different kind of communication medium, and can often present skewed representations.

At the end of the day, people probably just need to get to know everyone else better. Take time to talk to people who party. The human relationships are infinitely more important than some catch-all "gating" system.

IMO, it's not about getting big or not - it's about who you want to promote parties to.

People who throw these parties absolutely have to accept the risks that come if they choose to make their events public. It's not responsible to assume everything will be fine because the crowd ultimately is beyond your control - if you leave your front door unlocked, anyone can come in.

Do you want to be Skills and throw "all-inclusive" events which are essentially open to ANY paying customer, accepting the possibility that someone could show up to a party and randomly start fighting people? Or do you want to keep things private and invite-only, where the audience is smaller but "bad things" are much less likely to happen? It's all up to the people who throw the parties.

If crews want to have a more respectful/idealistic audience, the community has to stress that people adhere to so-called "underground rules" and a "leave no trace" or pack-in/pack-out" mentality. Getting that message across requires people having strong relationships with each other.

It is idealism - shouldn't people strive for that, even if it is unachievable?

I believe that you can't always teach people who don't know you to begin with. It's EASIER for someone to believe you if you already have built a relationship with that person.

Let's say I'm some kid, hellbent on drawing all over a bathroom wall. If my close friend who brought me to the party said, "Hey dude, that's not cool, you shouldn't do that," then I'd consider not doing it, because I value his/her opinion. Maybe I've got a spray can in my hand, walking towards the bathroom. If some random party-goer suggested that to me not to do it out of the blue, maybe it could make a difference (probably not as much as my close friend saying it). But you've got to speak up to begin with. That can be the beginning of a relationship.

How would you suggest educating people you've never met before on how to behave at these parties? Have someone who greeted everyone coming into the party who was friendly but firm about what "underground rules" are? An LED sign above the DJ that said "leave no trace" or something like that? I'm kidding here... but the original question still stands.

The size of the community does not HAVE TO grow unchecked. People throw parties with varying degrees of public accessibility. So much of it is up to how crews want to present/market these events.

General announcements can be effective. However, I believe face-to-face interaction can make more of a difference than general broadcast announcements - it's more personal that way. Same goal, different approaches...

There is a level of trust I have with the "new" people that I bring to these parties. I do have relationships with these people - they aren't complete strangers.

We may use the term "underground" because it's relevant to people who go to these parties, but these events are actually not that much of a secret. I think we all know this. Please define "underground" as you understand it. How "underground" is a party that has the location posted on this forum, with 1000+ members?

I'm not suggesting that we have invite-only parties, nor am I going to enforce that everyone at a party should be super close to everyone else. However, I think that knowing who is around you builds a family culture - a sort of community. Yes, it's NOT realistic. I'm well aware of this. Everyone goes to party for different reasons. Regardless, I try to introduce "new" people to the other people that I have also met, because that's how I approach it. Ultimately, if they don't want to get to know other people, I won't make them.

Restrictive gating systems are at the core of the matter here - essentially adjusting the balance of good/bad stuff by becoming more exclusive. Doing so MIGHT also block out some people that would contribute something great, or have deep, profound experiences; on the other hand, you'd shield yourself from the problems better. But no matter what system is used, the education part is going to be very important, because the problems still remain. They are typically not solved by gates.

When new folks violate the implicit rules of conduct... then either the crews or I have failed at informing them what the "rules of conduct" are, or my newbie tag-alongs are just bad people, in which case the other people at the party can try to a) prevent us from coming again, and/or b) try to change something else - either the party itself or the ignorant newbies. a) is probably easier than b), since b) usually takes some personal connection (so people can see where the newbies are coming from and vice versa)

Crews/attendees should do what they feel is best for what they're trying to accomplish. I personally am not sure how big and inclusive the crews want to make these events.

There's a certain level of engagement that might be lacking at any given party. Maybe this graffiti artist needs an outlet for doing something creative? Let's say you bring out a bunch of 2x4's, hook them all together, maybe ~20 feet wide and 8 feet tall, and you have a big fat wall. Find something to prop this wall up against, chain a bunch of spray cans to this thing, and let people draw whatever they feel like on this wall. Maybe they can each take home a piece of the wall when the night's over, so they can keep the memories. I don't really know - I personally don't know who did it, so I can only guess at this point WHY it happened. X_X

Essentially, that "desire to draw" energy can perhaps be used in more productive ways than tagging a bathroom wall. There could be something out there that inspires a different method of channeling that energy.

I'm sorry if this sounds apologetic on the part of the tagger. Perhaps I'm just playing devil's advocate here.

If someone really wants to tag a wall, they're probably going to do it. Nothing's foolproof.

Self-expression manifests in many forms. Whenever I am at a party and there are people who seem bored or disinterested, I wonder, "Is there a way these people can be engaged more? Could they actively do something more creative or meaningful or even just nostalgia-worthy than stand around staring at the crowd?" I don't think, "We need to exclude these people from coming here..."

Now, it's not like it's a bad thing if someone is bored at a party, or just standing around the whole time. I think I understand the desire to be collective spectators. I just think it would be cool if everyone actively looked to contribute something to the collective party as a whole, at some point during the night. It may be more rewarding for people who otherwise wouldn't do anything, or do something negative. Trying to get people to want to be positive contributors is probably a whole different topic though.

On what to do at the gate:
When people show up to a party, they should have to talk to someone that outlines the underground rules, rules of the party, and maybe a little philosophy of our little scene. I know some people that can do this. Once they talk to these people, they can then be allowed to enter. Hell, you could even make it so that they complete a short quiz on what was discussed. This requires people. I know this is possible, but I don't have the manpower to implement this. It may only require paying some bouncers.

I'm not advocating all or any of the above... but essentially here is my point:

Once unknowns arrive at an event, you have to deal with them one way or another. If you promote in a certain way, you might attract unknowns.

For a majority of "rave" attendees (but not all), the most important aspect of any party is the network of relationships people have with each other and those involved with organizing the event. Forget the musicians/performers, the sound system, the location, the vending, the altered states... it's really about the people, and how they are engaged. Some might not feel this way, but this is my generalized perception of people going to parties (not just "raves") spanning the last 7+ years. :2cents:

This especially includes the relationships between the gatekeepers of any "closed door" event and the attendees. Balancing the diverse desires of individuals requires honest effort to get to know people. They come for so many different reasons - it's not surprising there will be conflict.

Of course, there are things that can be done before a party starts to mitigate problems as well. Most of that is based on how a party is promoted and organized to begin with.

On event security and unknowns:

To be technical, the worst kinds of people showing up at the door, from an inside-looking-out perspective, would be 1) law enforcement seriously looking to take down your event or arrest people or 2) people looking to fuck you or your attendees up. To a lesser degree, there are other people who you may or may not want to attend, but that's probably more a case-by-case basis... I think these two categories are the most obvious groups:

1) There are definitely aspects of some events that are quite illegal. I recall reading about authorities shutting parties down and simultaneously taking laptops and sound systems - these are really not the kinds of people you want to have show up at the door.
2) Imagine a case where people run up to you at the door and slug you, or do a drive-by shooting at your gate. These are also not the kinds of people you want to have show up at the door.

From what I've read, the unity that was experienced by people in early raves was partially supported by psychoactives, particularly MDMA. There were some people that probably needed that "empathogenic boost" to open themselves up to what was going on around them.

I don't think much is different today. Unfortunately, many of these substances floating around at parties are still Schedule I drugs, and not everyone is exactly bursting at the seams to be handing them out like candy.

Maybe somewhere in the back of your paranoid mind, you might start to question whether that stranger walking up to the door is just a curious friend-to-be or an undercover cop. There are some serious trust issues that may need to be bridged when it comes to doing things that are not legal with other people. If you blindly offer psychoactives to other people, you run the risk of getting busted. If you're OK with that... then fine... but most people I know are not.

Thus, (in my opinion) the best way to really build trust across the board is to take the time to get to know and engage the strangers who happen to waltz up to an event you are at. That almost always means spending time talking to them, getting to know them, and getting to know what they are all about. It helps if you are genuinely interested in this kind of information, but either way... you will learn a lot about someone if you just start a dialogue with them. Even if it's at the gate.

"How did you find out about this?"
"Why do you want to party here?"
"What do you like to do for fun?"
"Do you have any questions about what we're doing here?"

If people are really there to just fuck with you or someone already inside, they'll probably get tired of this eventually, and either 1) leave or 2) fuck with you right there, in which case it is certainly nice to have some kind of help if they're serious about doing damage.

But let's say they are really there for "the right reasons." Then, quite honestly, they're probably glad to hear that someone gives a shit about their life and their interests.

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