The first time I saw anybody snort anything was at DEMF.

It was summer and I was there with a friend -- or not with him, as the case may be; we had gotten separated and he was nowhere to be found -- and had just finished extricating myself from a great spot near the center of a concrete bowl that would shortly contain George Clinton. (Not as tough as it might have been considering the solidity of the crowd; 95% of them were pressing inward, not outward, and all it took was turning sideways: I floated to the top.)

My car was by the Ren Cen, about 10 minutes by foot, and I passed a couple other stages, a row of portapotties (one look inside precluded doing anything there that would require contact with the "seat"), a hacky-sack circle on the grass, a booth where I could Take the Pepsi ChallengeTM, a woman handing out free nutritional bars (god, ravers are nice; it must be the ecstacy), a 15-year-old male couple, holding hands and wearing glowy things, and assorted other sights I don't remember a year later. (I went to the bathroom in the Ren Cen. There were empty vodka bottles in the stalls there, too, but the seat looked like it wouldn't give me leprosy.)

The note I left on the car (I probably had trouble finding something to write on considering the number of ridiculously overdesigned rave fliers I brought home with me) said something like "I'm at the black sculpture in the middle." The black sculpture was just that -- a 20-foot-tall monument that from above would look something like @ if the tail of the a looped around once more; a wide, wheelchair-accessible spiral staircase to nowhere.

I found a spot near the top and watched the sun go down on the thinner-but-as-yet-Kevin-less crowd. World-class electronica was being played across the surrounding quarter-mile but high frequencies don't carry well; the only speaker-produced sounds I could hear were a simple, relentless bass throb from the closest stage, and, occasionally, George Clinton's shouts ("Dance, children! Dance!") wafting from the bowl I'd inhabited half an hour before.

After awhile, a girl about my age climbed onto the ledge beside me and took off her backpack, kneeling to face the wall (or rather, the side of the cylander). Brown-blonde hair, good-naturedly attractive face, no overt countercultural marks. She produced a small cylendrical wad of paper and taptaptapped it and out fell white powder onto the reflective black notebook; she crunched whatever it was with a credit card's face and pushed it into a line with its edge, then took out a little pink Thingy and inhaled it, hurredly shoved everything back into her bag, and started to walk away.

"Uh, excuse me? I, uh, think your forgot your card." I picked it up.

"Thanks." She took it. I must have looked shocked. "What do you have to do to find someplace to do a line around here?" she asked, flashing a friendly smile, and was gone.

That was a year ago today; I'd been putting off writing about it.