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He Who Smelled it, Dealt It: Wildly popular DJ Jeno will join Julius Papp to celebrate Colors' One-Year Anniversary this Thursday.

Colorful Vibes

Weekly rave-music party Colors celebrates a year of blissful beats

By Rob Pratt

REGULARS KNOW THE magic of a music scene with a sense of purpose. It's an ephemeral vibe, but one that everyone in the place can feel at the end of the night: a sense of weary release, a clammy bliss. Those who show up every week know that it might not last long--a few months or a couple of years until the realities of regularly presenting musical shows weigh on the organizers. When it's a really good vibe, the memory lingers, and the regulars recount the details for years afterward, telling of burgeoning summer raves on North Coast beaches, of blistering punk rock shows at the Santa Cruz Hotel or of reggae, Afropop and hip-hop at Palookaville. Even as he proudly tells of the upcoming year anniversary of Colors, a weekly rave music event at the Vets Hall, Scott Knippelmeir guards the secret of the music scene's success. For the couple hundred people who dance away every Thursday night to house and drum 'n' bass, Colors will beat on for years in memories of a rare vibe. For Knippelmeir, that vibe sits on a delicate balance, and as he talks about what has kept the event going for the past year, he chooses his words carefully, as if analyzing it too closely may dispel the magic.

"All of the participants take care of the performers, and that word got around," he says. "The sound system is pleasant to play on, there're no gangsters around, and we pay them what we say we'll pay them."

Justin Boreta is more direct. A DJ who organizes the drum 'n' bass lineup for Colors (and who test his own tracks-in-progress on the enthusiastic crowd), Boreta tells of headliners eager to return to play for such a spirited event.

"Not allowing alcohol has been a binding factor of our vibe," he says.

"People come at 9pm and dance to the end. They eat off the beats, and alcohol hinders that."

"Maybe it's easier to make money and get people to come if there's alcohol," Knippelmeir says. "But it makes it more a social thing--and sloppy."

"For Colors," Boreta adds, "the lubrication comes from a community starved for this kind of music."

Julius Papp Orange Julius: Both heavyweight producer and crowd-working DJ, Julius Papp will burn up the house Thursday night at the SC Vets Hall.

Collective Hues

Colors started when a group of house and drum 'n' bass DJs and fans looked for a way to present underground dance music sounds at an above-ground venue. At first, the Colors collective turned to local clubs, but they quickly found that 21-and-over venues excluded a large part of the event's potential audience. Through Knippelmeir, an assistant manager at the Vets Hall, Colors landed a regular Thursday night spot in the basement.

"The Vets Hall has been extremely supportive," Knippelmeir says. "The board of trustees is totally behind it. Even the county parks commissioner likes us. He sent his daughter down to check us out."

As with any memorable music scene, the crowd is what has made Colors endure. Attendance waxes and wanes with the university calendar, but the event regularly draws 100 to 200 comers every week in a mix of UCSC students, younger locals and older rave-music fans.

"Even without alcohol, we've kept our constituency of people over 21 because we keep the focus on the music," Knippelmeir says. "Combined with the young kids, it's very cool. The younger people are learning, and it's sort of like mentoring. The older people show that you don't have to act like a jackass when you go out."

Colors presents a first anniversary party Thursday (May 2) at the Vets Hall, 846 Front St., Santa Cruz, featuring Jeno, Julius Papp, Pollen and Specialist. Music starts at 9:30pm. Tickets are $5 after 10pm. (454.0478)

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From the May 1-8, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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