Skip A Beat
By Benjamin Guest
Before Insomniac started throwing massives and Skrillex won three Grammies there was a time when the rest of the United States thought EDM was crap. Remember that Eminem lyric "Nobody listens to Techno." Well, nobody listened to Techno, or any Electronica for that matter. You didn't hear it on the radio, DJ's didn't play it in clubs. Pretty much the only place you were going to here it was at a Word of Mouth party.
What's a Word of Mouth party? It's exactly what it sounds like, and the concept is simple enough, Someone scrapes together a sound system. Someone knows of a location where you can use it. You tell your friends, who tell their friends that tonight "It's on." Word of Mouth parties were the genesis for this whole genre of music that we love. Long before Beatport, Abelton and Tractor, Word of Mouth parties where where DJ's got together to share technique and swap tracks. Sadly, these days, most "Ravers" who frequent massive like EDC and Beyond Wonderland have probably never been to an underground Word of Mouth party.
Then again I guess it's not surprising that most people haven't been to a word of mouth party. The typical word of mouth party is located in an unmarked warehouse. Its under lit, it's sweaty, dank, and the base reverberates badly off the buildings tin sidewalls giving every beat a rattling sound. The DJ's that play are relatively unheard of and every hour or so someone trips over a power cord and the sound suddenly stops. This may describe the typical Word of Mouth party, but Santa Barbara is far from typical, so I guess it's not surprising that Santa Barbra's underground is anything but typical.
Where parties in LA, SF and NYC are constrained by the city's unending landscape, SB parties are freed by Santa Barbara's geographical constraints. The Los Padre's mountains surrounding the quaint tourists city offer up numerous underground playgrounds where the old and young can dance from when the sun sets to when it comes up again. No one will tell you where or when a "Mountain" party is held, but when it goes down, it definitely goes off. This is not a bunch of rednecks sitting around a fire and listening to a boombox; in fact fires are strictly forbidden. In order for mountain parties to happen, truckloads of sound, light and generators are hauled hours into the wilderness. Hours of setup time are required and people stay well into the next day removing every trace of human existence.
The music is atypical as well. Maybe it's a reflection of the wilderness or the "Sunrise Set" that the mountain's DJ's love to play, but the sound is definitely sweeter up there. The grinding neurotic Dubstep and Electro of the typical EDM scene is replaced by smoothly mixed Disco and melodious House tracks.
Will I tell you where or when these pictures were taken, probably not, will I say that I had a great time, absolutely!