Perched safe and sound in my home 500 feet above the pulsating boom that is the New Rheem Theater, I'm wondering if it's still smackin' down below.
Teen Night, the sold out music/dance party, is keeping this close-to-50-year old up late. Not because my kid is there. And not because I'm wishing I was down the hill, bustin' a move in the anonymity of the darkened theater.
Instead, it's Will DJ Crank and Voni find the group's groove? Will John Weland, first in line at 6:15, stick with the trio of young ladies who were second? Will Annie, the security guard who greeted each child respectfully, patted him or her down, and often, received a "thank you!" for her troubles, still love those same kids in two more hours? And will Beau Behan, manager and master of ceremonies, ever get to sit down?
Oddly, it's the two DJ's that put the adult mind at ease. Crank, (Armaan Ghovanloo), talking it up before the house opened, says "a good DJ has a happy crowd." Nicknamed after his preference for volume — "When I crank up the music, the crowds get excited!"— Crank never listens to music at low levels. "Even when it's 2 in the morning, I'm cranking it in my room," he boasts.
DJ Voni's on the lookout for the right sound. "You can see when it's not working," he says, "they sit down, kinda' bored." He says the Rheem crowd is "top-40, hip hoppish," but if not, he'll change it up.
How do Crank and Voni, (Geovanni Godinez, in well-lit settings,) have an angle before the event even starts? "We went right to the people who bought tickets! We went everywhere," they say, nearly in unison. "From Livermore to San Francisco and from Concord to Fremont," Voni says, describing the terrain they covered to promote the party. "We're trying to create a mush pot here," says Crank, "a safe place for all kinds of kids and music."
The DJ's might have saved themselves the legwork. "Facebook," is the stock answer to the how-did-you-hear-about-it question. Welland saw 800 people sign up to attend and managed to be first in line at 6:15. Jade, from San Ramon, and friend Ongell, from Oakland, are friends of Crank. They hung on to their place in line while teaching a journalist what makes a good party: "If it's not there, if it's not smackin' by 10:30, then it's not happening," they say.
Sargent Brian South and Officer Jeff Fields aren't thinking anything but safety. It's their number one goal for the evening — "and for the kids to have fun," adds Sargent South.
And if all that isn't enough, Judy Lewis, a retired nurse and filmmaker, is at the door, checking IDs. "To think, I used to deliver babies!" she says. She scrutinizes IDs, peering into the eyes of every teen and managing, in the way that only a mother can, to look right through each kid's skin to the truth.
And there was plenty of skin to peruse, especially if you were a female at the event. Male teens arrived in expected attire: shirts, shorts, jeans. Most females arrived in "economical" amounts of neon, spectacular footwear, and not much else.
At 7:55, the darkened theater was half-filled, the kids in the seats, talking quietly. It could have been a conference on ecology, or a PG flick about to start. But 20 minutes later, the seats were empty, the laser lights were ripping through the air and the dance floor was one (I've gotta' use it) smackin' sea of teens.
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