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Paul Oakenfold
Paul Oakenfold makes his first appearance in San Antonio - despite the anti-ravers in federal courts

Life has been rough on the rave culture since the federal courts became involved. More than two years ago, federal prosecutors filed charges against New Orleans music promoter James "Donnie" Estopinal and concert hall manager Robert Brunet in a landmark case that cited Section 416(a) of the Controlled Substance Act, commonly known as the 1986 U.S. "crack house statute" designed to punish the owners or operators of houses used for the manufacture, storage, distribution, or use of illegal drugs. The unprecedented - and unconstitutional - use of the statute launched the Drug Enforcement Administration's controversial tactic of holding dance and electronic music promoters and club owners criminally liable for the illegal conduct of anyone attending an event. Illegal conduct briefly included the possession of pacifiers, medical masks, and glow sticks at raves, before one federal judge permanently blocked federal agents from banning the "paraphernalia."

On April 30, 2003, the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act of 2003 was passed, which "`prohibits` an individual from knowingly opening, maintaining, controlling, renting, leasing, making available for use, or profiting from any place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, or using any controlled substance, and for other purposes."

To the dance and electronic music community, "other purposes" translates to the promotion of raves or concerts showcasing DJs. In the last two years, the Texas rave scene has steadily declined. In San Antonio, venues such as Sunset Station shy away from independent promoters who want to rent facilities for an electronic music event, and the local owners of clubs such as Space, Level, and Club Fuel (before it changed ownership and format) were largely unsuccesful in sustaining a consistent clientele beyond the usual SAPD vice squad and Texas Alchol and Beverage Commission, who regularly fined the proprietors and shut down events.


8pm Tuesday, July 15
$15 adults
$20 age 16 and up
$50 VIP
224-9600 or
Far West Rodeo
3030 NE Loop 410
Ironically, the most reliable venue for major dance music events in SA is Far West Rodeo, a massive country and Tejano venue, replete with a mechanical bull. Local promoter Lewis Sevilla of Redline Events recently negotiated a tour date with internationally renowned DJ, producer, and trance kingpin Paul Oakenfold, who will appear in San Antonio for the first time, at Far West Rodeo on Tuesday, July 15.

"This isn't a rave," insists Sevilla. "It's a dance party in a decent venue. Vice squad is welcome at my events, and there is an extensive search involved at the door. I get a lot of complaints, but we do our best not to condone the kind of stuff that goes on at raves. Obviously you can't stop everything, but as a promoter, I take those steps to try." Which is wise, because under the new legislation, Sevilla could face exorbitant fines or even felony charges if prosecuted as a rave promoter, a dying breed.

As are the wide-eyed youth who used to frolick in a Teletubby-like stupor 'til the wee hours of the morning. Pacifiers and glow sticks haven't been banned from the show, but keep your crack at home. •

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