Melissa Moore was one of the victims of last Saturday morning's shooting.
According to her friend, who goes by the name Moonkie, 14-year-old Melissa went to Friday night's "Better Off Undead" party at the Capitol Hill Arts Center with some trusted friends. Later in the night, someone told Melissa's ride that she had found another way home. Thinking Melissa was already safe and on her way back to Milton, Washington, her friends accidentally abandoned her at CHAC.
Instead of panicking, though, Melissa simply turned to the rave community for support. She had been going to raves and house parties for about a year now, says Moonkie, whom she met at a house party, and she always felt safe. "She said that when she went to raves, she finally felt like she found a place she belonged. No one called her weird, no one thought what she was saying was odd."
After some asking around, Melissa found another way home from the dance at CHAC. It is still unclear who Melissa went to the afterparty with, but according to Moonkie they were just supposed to swing by the blue house on East Republican Street to drop someone or something off. With an afterparty in full effect, though, they probably just decided to hang out for a while.
Melissa was still at the house at 7:00 a.m., after the sun came up and the party finally started to wind down. It was then that 28-year-old Kyle Huff walked into the Capitol Hill residence and opened fire. He shot six people, then himself. Melissa was the youngest victim.
People are asking what a 14-year-old girl was doing at an after-hours party thrown by adults, and people are right to question the safety of house parties in the wake of this tragedy. But Melissa no doubt perceived this particular house party as an extension of the very same scene where she had found community and solace. These were the same people who had finally made Melissa feel like she belonged.
Another one of Melissa's friends, 19-year-old Nichole Warmbo, says Melissa loved everything about raves. "The music, the people, the atmosphere... everybody there is so nice and makes you feel welcome. Everyone is just there to have fun. A lot of people think that raves are about doing drugs and getting messed up, but they're not. Some people may do stuff like that, but most of us just go there to chill with our friends and dance. Raves are harmless and that's what she loved about them."
Some recent headlines might lead people to think otherwise. "All-Ages Raves Often Trouble for Young Girls," cried a headline in Tuesday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Other editorials have questioned the safety of dances and all-ages concerts, especially for young girls. But Melissa did not die at the rave that night. She wasn't the victim of an unsafe music scene.
Ten years ago, I was a 15-year-old girl going to concerts and house parties. Like Melissa and so many others, I found very little comfort in my mid-sized suburban high school. I felt much more welcomed by the music community, where liking punk rock and wearing colored streaks in my hair wasn't considered weird. My older sister Katie and I frequented shows at RKCNDY, the Velvet Elvis, and local grange halls, and although drugs were sometimes present, and we saw an occasional fight, we were never harmed in any way. Like Melissa and her peers, I met most of my closest friends in the music community. For me, the music community was a refuge, and it kept me safe.
I start to ask Moonkie if she blames the rave scene for the tragedy, and if she feels insecure in the dance community after everything that has happened, because I want to know if maybe she's going to start trusting people less. But before I can finish the question, she cries, "No! I plan on going to Masquerade-4 (another rave) on April 1! It's what Melissa would've wanted us to do. She wouldn't want us to stop dancing. Raves are safe. [Huff] went to the rave too, but he couldn't get in with his guns at the rave."