At first blush, the all-night bashes held downtown every couple of months by Karen Kin Hartstein and her husband, Greg Hartstein, look much like traditional raves. There's always an abundance of glow sticks, a steamy underground atmosphere and nonstop high-decibel electronica. But in a subculture where youth is the order of the day and infant pacifiers had a long run as a hot fashion accessory, the Hartsteins' events are almost, well, grown-up.
These raves are a little cleaner (functional bathrooms and toilet paper); a little less edgy (well-lit parking and security guards); less iffy from the legal standpoint (IDs required, with more costumes than chemicals in sight); and offer bands rather than deejays. Indeed, the Hartsteins are unqualifiedly grownups (Karen is 35, Greg 33), and most of the 500 revelers at their recent Mid-Summer Night's Jam in a downtown warehouse seemed to hover near the 15-year high school reunion mark. "If everyone was 22 I don't think I'd stay," says Wendy Profit, 30.
Not to call the proceedings sedate or anything; April's event in a former church downtown had an "Alice in Wonderland" theme. Profit, an assistant to a media consultant, attended the summer blowout in a pink wig, wings and silver body paint. While only about 25% of attendees seemed to be in costume, dressing up is part of the draw for Profit. "You get to be that little fairy inside. You're never too old for that."
Or for live music all night long, say the Hartsteins. The Newbury Park couple founded Party Harty Events (www.partyharty.net) a year ago, inspired by Karen's native Buffalo, N.Y., where bars offering live sounds stay open until 4 a.m. and somebody with an extra 20 acres can always be counted on to throw an all-nighter. "People are more diverse here, but it's still just an upstate New York farm party," says Karen, who works as a massage therapist and yoga instructor when not producing raves (Greg doubles as a TV sound engineer). Admission runs from $15 to $20 and the only point, she says, is good, more-or-less clean fun--9 p.m. to 5 a.m. "Our parties are fantasy, a place to pretend you're not a banker or a waitress. Just for one night."