Another night of little sleep. At least today I don’t have to be at work.

I stumble out of the Mayan Theater this morning at 3:00. John Digweed’s still spinning. He’ll be going at it for another couple hours. I’ve been through 180 minutes of awesome progressive house, jackhammering the sternum at 130 bpm. I’m worn out. It’s not the first time I’ve been to a show and remained ecstasy-free, but it’s the first time I’ve ever been to a show and remained entirely free of any substance whatsoever. Unless you count a pair of Red Bulls at 2 AM.

One thing about going to a show sober is that you tend to notice the larger picture a bit more, especially when it comes to the music. While it’s possible to get a handle on the overall structure of a DJ’s set while rolling on a healthy dose of MDMA, it’s too easy to be distracted by the pulse of the lasers, the thud of the bassline, the sweat glistening off the forearm of that girl over by the speaker…

I danced, I grooved. I did all that. I also paid strict attention to the set. Digweed’s a master at crowd control. He drops three or four tracks in a row which keep the beat flowing, keep the melodies to a minimum and allow for a slow build, then he throws down a tune which absolutely tears the roof off, with magnificent breakdowns, long, intense energy builds and wild releases which get everyone’s hands in the air. It’s a pretty extraordinary experience.

And yes, I missed the “empathy,” but as I walked out of the theater, sober, tired but happy, I stepped past the other end of the spectrum, those poor partiers curled up in the corners of the lobby, heads down, bodies wracked with…whatever. One of the cleanup guys had tried in vain to supply some dude with a bin in which to vomit, but apparently it hadn’t worked. Some guy was trying to comfort a sick girlfriend in another corner. And still the beat thumped on, the dancers reveled, and I wandered out into the night.

I love downtown at night. I took a few photos after I got back to my car. Here’s one of them:

This is Grand Avenue looking North. Three o’clock in the morning. If I hadn’t been so tired, I might have found some more places to wander, more things to photograph.

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