“There’s no words for the excitement you feel as you walk up and see everyone in line.” – Clutch

The Philadelphia Experiment is caring and sympathetic towards everyone: the baked, the buzzed, the boozed and even the sober. All walks of life are welcome with a one general set of rules: Be kind, be polite, and don’t be afraid to share. Tonight was extraordinary and it was one of three local legendary parties held per year. Such an event called for called for an unusual crowd – one that could handle the proper amount of madness. This year’s themed party dipped into the pool of the depraved lunacy, Carnivàle. Preparation was simple: bring Jersey Classy to Philly. I was conductor of the crazy and one by one, they showed at my door. Kitsune, the masked belly dancer, JB, the Euro trash-porn director, Clutch, the guy in the tie with a 6 pack of beer, Ozaku, the formal rave ranger / self-appointed designated driver, and Jadis, the angry chick in the corner.

The location was discretely disclosed by e-mail that night. The Electric Factory was this years shady destination. As we crossed the bridge into Philly, a light snow began to fall from the sky. We arrived at a parking lot teeming with plants, cigarette butts and empty beer bottles. Heinous animals. Where was our invite to the pre-party?

The parking lot attendant came to take our money. “You guys headin’ to that rave party thing?” he asked. We were covered in glow sticks, I wasn’t sure what gave it away. “We sure are,” said JB, offering him a PBR. The attendant graciously accepted. “I’ll give ya some advice – I don’t know if you want to go to that place,” he said while cracking the beer. We were fully prepared for the madness. What was this guy trying to do? “What? What’s wrong?” I asked. He grinned while taking a sip of his beer and pointed to the people across from us. Fearful, I turned around prepared for the worst. A seven foot Goliath in a dress was adjusting its wig, preparing to make a grand entrance. I sighed in relief; I was afraid he was going point out lizard people, this was no time for lizard people.
The line was full of gypsies, hippies, and other oddities passing around community whiskey. Rule 3 of PEX: Don’t be afraid to share. We made our gracious entrance inside and topless women with strong morals greeted us at the door. Bearded ladies stretched their legs above their heads and gentlemen with top hats and monocles stared in awe. Voices and sounds buzzed about. Strangers discussed important issues like poly-rhythm dubstep, swirling colors, and something about a Ferris wheel. Quest accepted; I had to find the Ferris wheel.
We were surrounded by beautiful women: tall, short, bearded, masked and everything between. The lights shifted colors and pulsed to the beat of the music. My heart raced. It was a beautiful madness that can only be handled with a Jack and Coke. I lit the way with my glow-sticks passing through crowds of masked strangers gyrating about. Semi-clothed women worked stripper poles while a woman dangled from the ceiling by fabric. My heart raced faster. The Carnivàle theme was getting to me. I immediately locked eyes with the bartender who was able to read my mind like an easy reader book. Within a second, a Jack with a splash of Coke in a tiny cup was placed in front of me, $6.25. My heart stopped racing. What the hell. This was going to be an expensive night.

Everyone separated into pairs to find adventure. JB and Clutch, Ozaku and Jadis, Kitsune and I paired up. Now where exactly was this Ferris wheel? We danced our way onto the Electric Factory’s main stage (Not many people get to set foot on stage, let alone backstage). They transformed the area into a lounge full of stuffed animals, pillows, and couches.

The boozed and baked lazed around, staring at the ceiling. I couldn’t blame them as the colors were infectious. PEX can distort your perception; colors bleed together and bearded ladies look strangely attractive. The bass rhythmically turns your brain to mush. I saw Ozaku with a panicked look on his face while Jadis sat angrily in the corner. The fear had set in, bastards infecting our impressionable minds. Ozaku looked over at me, pulled down his mask, and gave a thumbs up. Two people on the couch suddenly sat up. “Yo it’s the Rave Ranger, let’s pose and take pictures!” exclaimed one guy. “Hell yeah! I’m in!” shouted the other. Five or six people gathered around striking ridiculous poses. Ozaku was surrounded by fans – so much for the fear.

It looked a lot like that. Slightly less explosions, and yes the Japanese words.

A beautiful blonde in a corset and red tutu walked by and smiled. Stay focused, there’s a Ferris wheel to find. WUB, WUB, WOBBBB. Dammit, I found the dubstep room. I blankly stared at the crowd dancing like zombies as they swayed back and forth to the beat. It was half mosh pit, half Thriller. The sounds got to my brain. I imagined early cavemen banging out the first super loud repetitive drum beats while everyone flailed about clubbing each other in the head wearing pelts, dirt, or less. That had to be the original rave. THUMP, THUMP, THOOOMP.

Outside smelled like victory and barbeque. Smoke billowed from the grills. There it was behind a huge tent glowing in the snowy dark sky; the majestic Ferris Wheel. This was it. I had found it. I approached the colossal machine. It wasn’t moving. What were they trying to do to me? It was shut it down due to the weather. I regret my earlier admiration of the snow. How dare it take the Wheel from me. I decided to enter the massive tent. Perhaps I could find the girl in the red tutu; she was the allusive white rabbit. Kitsune made haste through the crowds. Guys, girls, and Clutch all stopped to take photos and admire her belly dancing skills. Looks like another star was born. Wait, Clutch?

He had lost JB. The buddy system was designed to prevent typical recklessness. As long as you’re with one other person you can’t get into that much trouble. What the hell was I thinking when I made that rule? My phone chirped, our Twitter had a new post. “I’m lost. find me! -JB #PEX #heartburn6”. Mystery somewhat solved.

After solving the mystery Clutch and I rewarded ourselves with some well-deserved Jack and Cokes. We stopped to watch a masked madman dangle from a thin metal bar 4 stories up. Everyone stood around silent in awe as he did a headstand on the bar and waved. The crowd erupted in applause and cheers. The red tutu girl briefly reappeared on stage smiling and immediately disappeared. Was I seeing things? Was she even real? The sights, sounds, and excitement can push a person to question reality. Up is blue, left tastes good. The crazy tries to set in. My phone chirped again, “Look up – Ozaku”. I looked up at the acrobat again, behind him on the second floor bar was Ozaku with his fan club all giving me a thumbs-up. What a dick. It was an amazing night.


The Bottom Line:

The Philadelphia Experiment tries to inspire and connect a sense of community of passion, tolerance and motivation in an environment that protects everyone. People are interesting, polite, and you can stop and talk to anyone. Everyone has their own unique experiences at PEX and it’s one of the most incredible events I can recall in years.


The Philadelphia Experiment