The EDM club scene has been around since the inception of the rave scene. However, a typical criticism of the EDM club scene you’ll hear is that it lacks the PLUR elements you’d find in the rave scene. Go to any rave forum and you’ll see people debating this religiously. You’ll see people who went to see their favorite producers/DJs spin a set at a high-end nightclub but ultimately leave with complaints about the crowd and staff having terrible vibes. However, there are still hidden gems in the club scene where the rave-culture is alive!
Recently, I made my way to EPR in San Francisco on a Wednesday night for the infamous EPR Life experience. I made my first trip out to EPR to see LOUDPVCK. My rave family came with me and, honestly, my expectations of EPR were set quite low after hearing negative feedback about the venue from my rave family about their last time there some years ago. We waited in line as you do with most clubs and I noticed right away how friendly the fellow “clubbers” in line were and was pleasantly surprised. I kept my guard up though and prepared myself for the negative vibes that might be inside but I was ecstatic to find nothing of the sort as I ventured further inside. The staff was friendly and got us through the doors quickly and I even saw them accommodate a frequent club goer for not having their ID (they showed a picture of themselves at EPR from a previous night). I was absolutely amazed so far.
Upon entering the venue I saw right away this was far different from other places I’ve been that are technically in the EDM club realm. The main room has a multi-thousand dollar LED production set up around the DJ deck and across the stage. Lasers and strobes fill the space completely. Meanwhile, the bouncers were not only doing a superb job of handling a few unruly dancers, but I even heard one ask if everyone was having a good time! That might just be first time I’ve ever witnessed bouncers adding to the positive vibes. If it weren’t for their uniforms I might have thought they were fellow ravers. A majority of the attendees can be seen in rave wear and there are even go-gos in stylish rave outfits. All of a sudden, I realized this is not a club at all, it was a rave in a club venue. My friends and I danced the night away sharing vibes on par to that of a major festival with the people around us. We left the “club” eager to go back for another rave in disguise.
The state of the art production that can be found at #EPRLife Wendsdays
A few days later I find myself fortunate to talk to the man behind the magic. The meeting happened purely by chance during lunch with some mutual acquaintances of mine after the topic of EDM comes up in conversation. One of the girls at the table, Erica Mendez, says to me “he is the owner of EPR!” while pointing across the table to a guy in a stylish black button up and a black and grey checkered tie. After hearing me gush how EPR is my new favorite place on earth. I find myself flabbergasted at how he manages to run such an amazing show and was interested to find out why he got into the scene.
He said, “I’ve always loved raving and EDM” from those words alone I knew everything I needed to know. This man’s passion for the music and culture ravers share was the reason the club was as superb as it was. In true rave culture fashion, we carried on the conversation putting self identities on the back burner and our shared love of EDM first. He explained how he was friends with promoters in the Bay Area rave scene who put on massive events like POP which is at the Oracle Arena but he wanted to do a something on a smaller, more intimate scale, thus EPR was born. He explained that the production setup I saw at EPR that night evolved out of his vision of a true rave experience in a safe environment. When I asked him why on a Wednesday of all days, he said it was actually because it was the only day any place would let him DJ. That’s because no one wanted to go out on a Wednesday when he first started. Thursdays and the weekends were the only good days to get people out to bars and clubs before he started EPR and the bar where he started EPR, Blakes on Telegraph in Berkeley, CA, had nothing else going on with their Wednesday night.
The Gogo dancers “Ladies of EPR” in one of their many stylish costumes.
So how is it that the EPR experience has developed into something different than what you would find at other EDM events in club venues? According to him, “Most clubs simply see EDM as a way to make easy money especially since its rise in popularity. If you’re under 18, they really just want to get you into the door by selling you on some big DJ’s name, then could care less about your experience once you’re there. A lot of these EDM clubs are also owned by some big wig that actually owns the whole venue, probably doesn’t even attend the event regularly, and doesn’t have the passion or understanding of how to make someone’s experience the best it can be. I want every attendee to be able to have that loving fun rave environment in a proper venue with high-end production and the safety of EMT staff, on top of bouncers keeping out people who lack a true love for EDM.”
Despite his heavy target of a young crowd, the club definitely brings in veteran ravers searching for PLUR vibes as well. After listening to me gush further about his establishment, we exchanged contact information and finally names, him making sure to emphasize everyone calls him by his rave name, B33SON (pronounced Bee-son) and inviting me back to rave with him sometime. With this surreal experience of both a rave in disguise and meeting the man who put it together, I’ve found new hope for the future of the rave scene. If you ever find yourself in the San Francisco area on a Wednesday night make your way to EPR for an experience like no other.
Born and raised in the Bay Area of California. I entered the rave scene on February 15, 2013 at age 15 with a Tjani, Mord Fustang, and Feed Me show at SF's Regency Ballroom. Since that day EDM has been my true love; I mean all genres of electronic music. You can catch me at events either in the mosh pits, shuffling, spinning poi, and on the lucky occasion doing some d'n'b step. Currently working towards a Psychology major specializing in Psychiatric Journals at California State University Sacramento. Other musical tastes are hip hop, rock, alternative, and indie.