How to describe it? Elsewhere was probably the most appropriate name this place could have. From all appearances the place looked just like any other warehouse space in West Oakland. It's not until you got to know the occupants that the name starts to make sense.
We'll start with G1. He was tall, charismatic, wicked smart, and bi-polar. In the beginning, the back part of the space was his, and the rest was workshop and storage space for "the co-op." G1, G2 and I were working to build the business that G1 and G2 had started. (G1 and G2 share a first name, but luckily we normally used G1's nickname so it wasn't often a problem.)
G1 was very much a social creature. His charisma meant he got along with everyone, and when he was manic he was a blast to party with. Sometimes his mania would take a geeky direction, and we would build things for days on end. At one point, he and I would get fired up about, "smoking hash and scripting bash," and we'd do exactly that, trying to out-do each other. I finally conceeded defeat when he implemented DES in pure bash.
There were more parties at Elsewhere than I can recall. We'd find any (or no) excuse to party. For this particular party we were celebrating a Saturday, which was a little strange since we held the party on Friday evening.
At this point we had built out G1's space. It had 6 ft walls with shelves to on each side to act as beds. The inside was painted black and all lighting was provided by black-light. Stencils painted on the walls provided indirect lighting courtesy of the blacklights. The shade cloth covering the 10ft above the walls to the ceiling closed off the space. As we had built this by hand, and G1 had both designed it and done most of the work, he had a very proprietorial attachment to the space.
For essentially being geeky hippie punks we knew a surprising cross-section of people. G1's charisma was great at attracting a variety of people, and on this occasion I recall numerous geeks, UCB students and a few berkeley punks. Social lubricants were mostly pot and alcohol, although the latter in limited amounts.
Earlier in the week we had met our neighbors upstairs, who spent a lot of time walking around above us on their hardwood floors in high-heels late into the night. Strangely, they were also up at 9am on the mornings we actually had to work. I'm not sure what fueled them, but I have my guesses.
What do you mean take off my shoes?This was the first party where we'd have a carpeted area, and G1 wanted to keep it nice for a while. His solution was to place signs at the entrance to his space asking people to remove their shoes before entering. He provided cubby holes for people to place their shoes in, much like the ball pit at the local pizza joint.
Things Start Going Downhill
Sometime after the party was really going, and most people had migrated from the co-op area to G1's space, the upstairs neighbors showed up. I'll call them Bill and Mercedes since I don't actually remember their names.
At the theshold to G1's space, Mercedes stopped and looked at the sign. Walking inside and talking at the same time, she asked, "I don't really have to do that, do I?" G1 barked at her to remove her shoes.
"What do you mean take off my shoes? I don't *really* have to, do I?" Mercedes was making her best please-let-me-have-my-way-because-I'm-a-girl face.
"Mercedes, leave my space, or take off your shoes."
"Oh, it will be fine, I won't hurt anything." Mercedes found a seat and sat down.
At this point, several things were apparent. It was blindingly obvious to everyone in the room that Mercedes didn't understand the rules applied to everyone here. It was blindingly obvious that Mercedes was used to ignoring rules at will because the only rules she ever ignored were "silly." It was also obvious that a confrontation was brewing, and at least one party to the confrontation had absolutely no idea it was about to happen.
G1 calmly grabbed the mossberg that was sitting behind him. Fixing Mercedes with The Look, he announced that she was leaving.
Still not comprehending the situation, Mercedes tried to reason her case. "You're not seriously going to pull a gun on me just because I won't take my shoes off, are you?"
The only answer G1 gave was to pump the shotgun and level it at her. "Walk."
After escorting Mercedes out, G1 came back and put the shotgun away. I had already repacked the pipes and filled glasses as needed. Bill said to G1, "Sorry about her, she's a bit of a princess sometimes," and the party was back in action.
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