The girl by the door requests a $5 donation before shouting, "Sorry, they turned off the lights." A cursory glance across the room confirms this, as brass blows shrilly and nose rings flicker in random bursts of light. It's HONK! Fest, or at least a party associated with the "activist street band" festival. The folks piling into the industrial space compensate for the darkness by eschewing bubble rules and getting really close. Smiling, attractive hippies offer Thai birthday cake seductively, though it doesn't seem like it's actually anyone's birthday. The lights come back on, people cheer, and marching-band music rips into high gear.

Everyone is dancing in vivid costumes, except for a few darker-dressed folks hovering in back and a taller biker-looking kid who seethes, "I just heard this asshole say, 'The ladies should take their shirts off.'" After some muffled mumbling, he has to repeat it to his friend: "Their shirts off!" It's loud. Next to him, a kid named Avi, dressed head-to-toe in red cotton, adds his own flavor to the main jam sesh by spastically drumming on metal. Avi flew all the way from Boston and he "consider[s] this one of the best nights of my whole year."

Outside, a game of flaming tetherball mesmerizes an equally large congregation. A man with a blow horn commentates as a middle-aged woman in denim chases the searing ball with gusto and directs it toward her opponent. She gets hit in the head, has to duck down, but keeps on chasing it. The people watching laugh and drink, but the dancing stays inside. recommended

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