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Monday, March 21, 2011

Fiona Ma Attends Beyond Wonderland Rave

Posted By on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 12:01 AM

'It wasn't fun per se...' - NOT AN ACTUAL PHOTO
  • Not an actual photo
  • 'It wasn't fun per se...'

If you own enough pacifiers that you can match one to your outfit, you probably have a fairly strong opinion regarding Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, author of the "Anti-Raves Act of 2011."

The San Francisco representative pulled back that legislation when it met with resistance every bit as loud as one of the aforementioned raves -- and far more organized. But she promised to rejigger the bill after attending a rave to see what all the fuss is about.

Over the weekend, she did just that, dropping in on "Beyond Wonderland" in San Bernardino with 45,000 other ravers. Here's her first impression:

"For me, this was more like research. So it wasn't fun per se. But I could see how people could have fun."


Actually, Ma must have been pleasantly surprised. In December, she told SF Weekly that 911 first responders she'd talked to when crafting her anti-rave bill had described "people walking around like zombies, sleeping all over, lying all over the floor, vomiting in the corners,  vomiting in the bathrooms ... people lying in their own urine." (Or was that St. Patrick's Day?).

There may yet have been vomiting, urine, and a creative combination of the two after Ma left the premises. But between 8:30 and 10:30 on Saturday night, people were keeping it together.

That's not to say everyone was behaving particularly well. But Ma came away impressed by the event organizer's intricate -- and expensive -- preparations. Wonderland was the kind of place where looking askance at the Queen of Hearts could lose you your head. A beheading wouldn't happen at "Beyond Wonderland" -- but there were still ample opportunities to get in trouble. Some 60 police and 12 undercover DEA agents were brought in by the organizers to supplement hundreds of private security personnel. Ma claims 24 drug-dealing arrests were made at the rave.  

At 8:30 p.m., nearly seven hours into the event, a powwow of cops, DEA agents, security, medical personnel, and management met to assess the rave thus far. Notable events: A group had, literally, attempted to gatecrash, making an abortive assault upon a barricade. Additionally, a troupe of men wearing faux security jackets and posing as staff had been arrested.

Also praiseworthy in Ma's eyes: free water for everyone and a no-questions-asked policy at the medical tents.

Rather than outright banning raves on state property with her forthcoming bill, Ma said she's inclined to introduce new rules. "There are 32 state fairgrounds, but no standard guidelines," she notes. And while Ma approved of the "Beyond Wonderland" policy of forbidding ravers from toting pacifiers and stuffed animals, it remains to be seen if that will -- or can -- be codified into state law.

Finally, to answer the question you've been wondering all along, Ma was wearing "jeans, a black shirt, and a white, sparkly baseball cap."

And no teddy bear.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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