As a millennial, some of the only insight to the glory of the ‘90s rave scene comes from films and shaky home videos. Alas, I always envisioned the ‘90s scene as a (probably) illegal warehouse party among a sea of JNCO jeans and binky-sucking ravers. Most importantly, it was a room full of people without smartphones, who are more interested in getting wrapped up in the moment than staring deeply into their pocket screens or worshiping at an elevated DJ booth. As much as loading up my hair with butterfly clips and strapping on 14 pounds of kandi appeals to me, I felt like I would never know what an authentic ‘90s rave would feel like. Then there was Blade Rave.
One of the most iconic ‘90s rave scenes comes from the cult classic Blade (check it out above). The 1998 film features a sword-wielding Wesley Snipes, who chops down vampires and makes the undead wish they were deader. It portrays a sweaty dance party called Bloodbath, which is essentially a vampire rager where blood showers from the sprinkler system and Pump Panel’s techno remix of New Order’s “Confusion” sets the mood.
The thought of a recreation of a blood rave made me realize I’d been waiting my whole life for a legitimate excuse to get this weird, so I eagerly began my nightwalker fantasy.
Thrown by underground cinematic event production company BBQ Films for New York City Comic Con this past weekend, Blade Rave seemed like just the event to get my bloodlust pumping. Upon arrival, I knew I needed to obtain a pair of realistic fangs, at the very least for the blood-soaked selfies. With my mission clear, I lurked around Terminal 5, asking fang bearers where they acquired theirs. Each time, they told me I needed to find a man—or being—who goes by Father Sebastian.
I encountered one Father disciple, who asked me if I had been blessed with the opportunity of meeting the infamous fangsmith. With unnerving enthusiasm, he told me he would be “thrilled” to introduce me if I followed him into the dark stairway. Although alarms were going off in my head, telling me, “This is the part where you definitely get murdered,” I decided to follow him anyway. I was feeling particularly empowered by Buffy the Vampire Slayer that evening, having already decided I would break the leg off a nearby chair and stake someone if I had to. Come at me, vampire bros.
Unfortunately, Father Sebastian must have sensed my mortal presence and fled into the shadows, as he was nowhere to be found. At that moment, I knew my fang mission was in vein (get it?). Plus, my guide was eyeing my neck pretty hard, and getting bitten wasn’t exactly high on my list of priorities that night, as I hadn’t quite been sold on a life of eternal darkness just yet.
Being drenched in blood would have to suffice, I decided, and I returned to the dancefloor to find some incredibly intricate costumes and makeup-bearing creatures. While cosplay is a fun pastime, this was something entirely different. Going full-on Count Chocula isn’t just an annual Halloween romp for these folks; it’s a lifestyle. It became abundantly clear that snacking on blood while reciting lines from Anne Rice novels was probably just an average night out with the coven and not isolated to this Blade Rave.
After an hour of chanting while dancing in the blood of 1,000 innocents, I found myself spiritually cleansed, knowing for that short moment I truly felt what it was like to do unspeakable things at a ‘90s rave. Besides the obvious highlights, which included being accidently punched by a moshing Wesley Snipes cosplayer and experiencing a throwback set from the Crystal Method, the meticulous attention to detail paid by BBQ Films is what really made the night worthwhile. They even geared up the Crystal Method with the same flashlight headbands the vampire DJ wore in the movie.
With interactive activities, including photo booths, face painting stations and live-action recreations of scenes from the film, Blade Rave felt like an immersive experience that encouraged attendees to explore their darker nature. While I may not be ready to invest in my first coffin quite yet, the event introduced me to a fascinating subculture I’d like to sink my fangs into again. However, I might purchase some garlic just in case Father Sebastian decides to come for me.
Check out more photos of Blade Rave below, and watch footage from inside the event provided by the Daily Beast.
Camille Cushman carries garlic in her pockets at all times. Follow her on Twitter.