REVIEW: Halloween Scream a place of belonging

The sidewalks along Jasper Avenue were alive on the night of Scream Edmonton – one of the biggest Halloween raves in Western Canada.

The line-up for entry to the sold-out Shaw Conference Centre on Saturday night was long, and you could sense that everyone was preparing themselves for the night of their lives. The fans were really impatient to get in, yet smiling and laughing and chanting “woot!” all together. The further you descended the stairs to the bowels of the building, the louder the music became and the greater the excitement. The muffled cheers of the crowd echoed through the walls as the bass vibrated, shaking you to the bones.

Thousands of people came into the building like the parting of the Red Sea, the body split into two rivers flowing toward each of the two stages, the “Elm Street” stage, where house music dominated, and the “Camp Crystal Lake” stage, which was more about dubstep and hardstyle.

At Elm Street around midnight, everyone stood in awe waiting for the event’s headliner deadmau5. The Toronto DJ and producer was dressed in a simple costume of a white ghost sheet over his head, not even holes cut for the eyes; no room for his trademark ears. He sat atop a wall of monitors that projected an elaborate array of graphics: a giant Rubik’s cube, Renaissance art, flames, smoke, swirls of colour, it was intense. He took control of the audience in a wave of movement like an orchestra composer, gesturing dramatically, and the dance floor responded in cheers. Even the audio crew were part of the church of EDM, and deadmau5 was the pastor.

When the speakers came to life, we all became one. Every bass drop, every kick and every synth reverberated off the walls, cutting through the darkness and electrifying the swarm of spectators. Everything was in harmony as deadmau5 effortlessly blended one song into another.

It was like we had found the answers to all our questions: Where do I belong? Who am I? Who would accept me? Where is my place in the world? We were exactly where we needed to be. When you’re at a rave you can dress however you want. People were in outrageous costumes: Fairies, cartoon characters, animals, and even a guy in a Donald Trump mask. All played make-believe on this night. This is a place of ultimate acceptance, no matter how insane you’re acting or elaborately you’re dressed, you’re part of this community.

In an event that went to 6 am Sunday morning, in every corner around both the Elm Street and the Camp Crystal Lake stages, circles of bodies sat in eager anticipation waiting for their favourite DJ to play. Skeletons, coffins and white sheet ghosts all hung from the ceiling, as if they too were waiting. The lineup was amazing: Aside from deadmau5, there were Headhunterz, Spag Heddy, Nomana, and dozens more. The line-up certainly didn’t fall short this year.

We all came for the music, the community and the camaraderie. We were unleashed, our minds and bodies connected to the melody, the bass was our heartbeat and the lights reflected our youthful excitement. Among this crowd, all were accepted. Scream Edmonton was like the Woodstock of the 21st Century. We were free to be as loud, as eccentric, as unique and true to ourselves, if only for this one night. We were transported into a world of fantasy, a night of song and dance, a night of costumes and masks, this was our night – a night to let it be, as the Beatles would have said.