I never thought I would be raving at the age of 46. But there I was, Monday morning at 5 a.m. with more than 100,000 revelers at EDC Vegas, doing the “Running Man” dance at 200 beats per minute to the sonic onslaught of DJ Angerfist.
How did I do it? Bulletproof Coffee and weird vitamin supplements.
For EDC this year, I over-committed. I started days before the festival at Insomniac’s EDMBiz Conference. Then, after several marathon sessions of schmoozing and sneaking complimentary pens and branded breath mints into various swag bags, I had not one but two festivals to attend.
My magazine, The Hard Data, co-sponsored Gabberfest 2016, a non–Insomniac-affiliated, daytime showcase of hardcore techno. I had to tend to Gabberfest by day and cover EDC at night. My plans neglected to factor in sleeping or eating, so that's where the Bulletproof came in.
“Bulletproof” coffee is the brainchild of David Asprey. He claims it helped him lose more than 100 pounds when he drank it instead of eating breakfast. To make it, you high-speed blend two tablespoons of grass-fed butter and a teaspoon of concentrated coconut oil into mold-free coffee. Or, you walk down to your local Bulletproof Coffee shop and buy a cup, as I do.
I had become fond of the coffee (lost 10 pounds on it), and noticed Bulletproof was pushing a whole line of vitamins and supplements as well. Some I even remembered from my earliest days as a rave promoter.
1991: I was an avid reader of the magazine Mondo 2000, and its coverage of “smart drugs.” The goal was not to get higher but smarter. I mail-ordered Vasopressin and squirted it up my nose. I made “smart drinks” with names like “Rise and Shine,” “Memory Fuel” and “Choline Cooler,” loaded with ingredients like phenylalanine and choline. I even sold them at my first rave, the Psychotronic Slack Rave.
I never made much money as a rave promoter, so in the end I kinda figured smart drugs weren’t that effective. Despite all the Memory Fuel I guzzled that year, I forgot about them.
But for EDC, I was desperate for solutions, so I inquired at the store.
I was introduced to a blue and gold syringe filled with glutathione, aka “Glutathione Force.” It’s supposed to steel my body against environmental stressors. Next came ampules filled with a brown liquid named “Unfair Advantage”; “Choline Force,” hearkening back to my Slack Rave days; “Upgraded Coconut Charcoal” to aid in digesting modern poisonous meals; a box of “Bulletproof Bars” full of collagen protein when I needed to skip meals; a bag of mold-free coffee; and packs of “Instamix,” which contained powdered butter, and "Brain Octane" oil (their concentrated coconut oil) that I could pour into said coffee.
I winced as I handed my debit card to the cashier.
Monday, June 13: I pack my Pioneer XDJ-RX DJ controller into my Prius, along with the supplements and a bag of vitamins recommend by Asprey in his Bulletproof Diet book for the purpose of “sleep hacking” (doing more on less sleep): L-tryptophan, magnesium and potassium citrate, GABA (love the name) and a bottle of raw honey.
I head to Gardena to pick up 10,300 copies of The Hard Data, which need to be delivered tomorrow morning in Vegas. As I slog through traffic, I eat the rather homely, greasy Bulletproof Bar. After traffic, I load 563 pounds of hardstyle propaganda in my trunk and head to the 110 North on-ramp.
In the distance, I see a Long John Silver’s. I haven’t eaten all day, save for the Bulletproof Bar and two cups of coffee, and sighting a LJS in the wild is a rare and wonderful thing. But strangely, I do not act on my impulse for “crumblies.” I proceed up the on-ramp.
“I’ll just save that money for slots,” I tell myself to explain away this new, strange sense of satiation. When I finally get to my hotel, I eat a spoonful of raw honey, pop a magnesium and potassium tablet and take 500 mg of L-tryptophan. I follow it with 1,500 mg of GABA and immediately feel woozy and have vivid dreams of conducting deals at the convention.
Tuesday, June 14: DJ Daybreaker, one of The Hard Data’s main writers, freaks as I unveil the glutathione syringe. I assure him it’s for oral delivery. The taste reminds me of … it’s supposed to be good for me.
Daybreaker also has acquired an appreciation for Bulletproof coffee. With heated anticipation we brew the grinds, add Instamix and down our first cups. Not as tasty as the shop’s brew, but it works in a pinch. The rest of the day we tend to various EDM-related tasks.
The $10.99 Cajun buffet at my hotel becomes the supreme test of Upgraded Coconut Charcoal. I down a capsule, then eat (in the interest of science): eight crawfish, a slab of roast beef, a blackened chicken wing, blackened fish, a crabcake, crawfish étouffée, fried catfish, fried okra (my only vegetable of the meal), two hush puppies, a saucy pasta, red beans and rice, all topped off with some red velvet cake and chocolate fudge pie. I follow that up with another capsule of charcoal.
My stomach does not explode, nor do I go into digestion shock. I’m a little drowsy, but I’ll give the charcoal two thumbs up and head to bed.
Wednesday, June 15: EDMBiz begins with a bang; its first panel suggests the term “EDM” should be abandoned. In the convention hall, I notice Grooveo, an interesting video-streaming service in beta, and Unity Travel, who do group trips to festivals. And I spot rave legend Tommie Sunshine, so we discuss Drop Bass Networks’ upcoming campout, Even Furthur. As at any great convention, I’m swimming in potential right away.
I stumble upon a hidden restroom in the convention hall. It’s clean and unblemished. For a brief moment, I relax in the fluorescent-lit calm. I take a deep breath and rip open an ampule of “Unfair Advantage” and pour it down my gullet. Whoa! This stuff has a kick.
I shoot out of my temporary oasis like a bullet and head for Ray Roker’s Urb magazine slide presentation.
Thursday, June 16: Two cups of BP coffee, a bar, and I crack open an Unfair Advantage ampule as I enter EDMBiz. I arrange with Grooveo to live-stream Gabberfest, then watch Pasquale Rotella’s keynote speech. I interview Frankie Bones at the Unity Travel booth, and then ask Jason Bentley if I can make a hardcore mix for the Halloween edition of his KCRW-FM "Metropolis" radio show. It appears he’s fighting every urge not to say, “What are you, fucking insane?” But in classic Jason Bentley style he just says, “Well, it’s a bit of a stretch.”
I hightail it to the Basscon pool party. I jump in the pool and discover hardstyle and water go together surprisingly well.
Back at the hotel, I crank out more notes on the day. I take two pills of the Choline Force, which produces a definite focusing effect, more so than the early 1990s “Choline Coolers.” It doesn’t make me any less stressed about my deadlines. It just helps me grind away at the tasks at hand.
At night, something else new happens. I decide to go to bed when I’m tired.
Friday June 17: It seems that six hours is about the amount of sleep my body is getting used to. But I’m still stressed about my responsibilities, and I don’t feel like I can handle it all. I down a cup of coffee with Instamix, and my worry is replaced with a do-or-die attitude.
At EDC day one, I dance my butt off to Kutski’s set at the Wasteland stage, and as the night progresses, I realize I ate nothing but Bulletproof Bars and coffee all day. Yet I’m still not hungry. I eat a few carrots and green beans while in the media center, just to be on the safe side, but it seems like an unnecessary exercise.
On the Bulletproof diet, eating becomes a pain-in-the-ass activity that I put off until I absolutely have to. I’ve found that following this feeling is unwise, though, because it can result in overeating at late hours, when only unhealthy snacks are generally available.
Saturday, June 18: The true test of Bulletproof’s efficacy will be the two days of Gabberfest, as dancing at 180 beats per minute on hot asphalt with limited sleep is more like a trial on Survivor than a music festival.
I help tend the Grooveo stream and merchandise table, pass out copies of The Hard Data for people to take home to cities across the nation, and DJ a rawstyle set. We wrap at about 8:30 p.m., attend EDC, then get to bed at 4:30 a.m.
I realize I haven’t used the skin moisturizer I brought, other than the first day I arrived. It’s been over 100 degrees every day in the desert. I attribute this to the collagen protein in the Bulletproof Bars.
Sunday, July 19: The temperature climbs to 108 degrees.
Nerves are on edge. Everyone’s tired. I’m holding up OK because of Bulletproof, but the week is taking a toll. My crew is on the verge of mutiny, as I insist they wear their Hard Data T-shirts despite the fact that they are caked with three days' worth of sweat. “Social media can’t smell the photos, dammit!” I cry. Some cover the smell up with cologne; others tell me (not in as many words) to bite it.
Besides DJing today and tending to the party, I also have to conduct numerous interviews for my L.A. Weekly article about Gabberfest in the hot sun.
My sole Bulletproof bar for the day melted inside its packaging. I fiendishly lick out the contents when no one is looking. Everyone else is guzzling water nonstop, or beer.
With most EDM festivals, it’s an honor to DJ last. But at Gabberfest, by the end most of the sunburned attendees are exhausted and crowd the air-conditioned bar. As I ready my set, there’s a couple of people meandering about the asphalt dance floor, possibly dizzy from heat exhaustion.
But I don’t care. I’ve come this far and I’m going to rock it. I pull out my ampule of Unfair Advantage, present it to the Grooveo camera and tear off the cap. I squirt the (now) warm liquid past my tonsils and put on my headphones. It’s on.
I proceed to rage on the decks. Drawing the heat-exhausted, dehydrated denizens of Gabberfest to dance one last time on the hellish asphalt, I take my DJ cheerleading moves to a new level as the Unfair Advantage propels my sleep-deprived body into seemingly one last brilliant spasm of victory, like an aged star going supernova. My mixing is on point, my song recollection flawless, and as the clock strikes 8, exhausted, I cue the last track, dance my last at Gabberfest 2016 and cut the video feed.
Then I point the car to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and crack that last ampule at 4:30 a.m., right in time for Angerfist. No one does a morning quite like Insomniac, and as the sun rises as I finally get to dance with my friends, free for a moment of the usual responsibilities.
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Though it’s probably best to live a sedate life and get proper sleep, sometimes life just doesn’t let us. Our sense of discovery and creativity naturally take precedence and out into the world at odd hours we must go. Such was EDC week for me, and Bulletproof delivered in helping me get through it.