For as long as I’ve been a fan of electronic dance music (22 years), Trance has been the dominant dance music genre to rule my life ever since I was introduced to it on Party 93.1 FM in South Florida with music from artists like Iio, DJ Encore, and Paul van Dyk. One of the earliest PVD songs that would live in my head rent free for the rest of my life was “Nothing But You“, a composition that perfectly defines my idea of trance, a tune that pounds hearts, melts faces, and give goosebumps like you are falling in love for the first time. What makes rave music real for me is the song that invokes warm and positive emotions as no matter how I feel, I know I will feel peace and love with a good trance track–or House or Hardcore for that matter. Today I will talk about trance as I embarked on a journey back to Houston to see an incredible man that I have not been able to see live since February 13th, 2015 at Club Rio in San Antonio, Texas and eventually I was able to make it to cross paths with one of my early idols once again last Friday, November 10th, 2023 at Stereo Live in Houston, Texas. I’m talking about the mighty PAUL…VAN…DYK!…but before we get there, I figure I would lead up between when I was in Houston the last time and how I ended up driving the Texas triangle as I would ultimately make another trip to Dallas before coming back home to San Antonio.
On October 28th, two weeks before embarking on my journey to Houston, HakubiVerse teamed up with Zutto Entertainment to bring Homecoming Hallows to 800 Live in San Antonio. Originally it was supposed to be Homecoming HardDance; however, plans for the original Homecoming HardDance did not work out; however, I did not want to outright cancel the show as I am usually the type to fulfill my commitments. As the event was close to Halloween, I suggested to Zutto Entertainment to change the event into a Halloween-themed multi-genre event with all new DJs and thus only mere days before the event, Homecoming HardDance became Homecoming Hallows. I made a broadcast call for DJs on behalf of Zutto Entertainment and 3 other DJs were chosen for this last-minute Halloween rave, a returning legend DJ Sauté, and seemingly brand new but crazy talented Scorpion and Karma Electra. Along with DJ Baeritoki of Zutto Entertainment and one of San Antonio’s favorite party residents, Eric Monster. we made the homecoming show go on. I felt a new season of San Antonio rave happen as Scorpion kicked off Homecoming Hallows with House music with a protégé that he’s mentoring. I wondered during their set where they have been in recent years as they have laid out a performance that could rival professionals. Sauté then followed Scorpion bringing high-energy festival sounds, electro, and dirty dutch house and unbelievably it was such a blast from my past when I first set foot in San Antonio back in 2011 when I thought the rave in SA was at its peak. As Homecoming Hallows was a multi-genre event, of course trance is welcomed with another new DJ and friend I got to see live, Karma Electra. Trance in San Antonio is very rare and I feel very fortunate to see someone other than me play trance and I certainly became a fan. As much as Karma’s set has prepared me for Paul van Dyk in the following two weeks, I would take the stage with a perfect following to a trance set and that’s with vinahouse and HandsUp, keeping my promise to bring Hard Dance in some form. We were allowed to take the party into overtime so Baeritoki continued into afterhours with K-Pop and Korean EDM while Eric Monster arrived to finish Halloween Hallows with hard-hitting party sounds along with DJ Sauté. All I can say is that we turned what would have been a dying event into a monstrously good time. Check out my vinahouse and HandsUp set from Homecoming Hallows on Mixcloud as well as some of the pictures below.
After a good Halloween weekend of real rave sounds in San Antonio, I would wait about 2 weeks before I would end up catching another helping of pure dance music as I head off to Stereo Live Houston to see Paul van Dyk. Generally I’m very good about getting to events once doors open; however, I arrived at the nightclub about 15 minutes late and already I see a line queue around the building. I don’t remember the last time I saw a line out of a nightclub in Texas; although once I did get in line, eventually I was able to queue through security in about 10 minutes. I later realized that the doors to the main floor were not open yet, so I everyone that made it through the front door stood by at the patio being warmed up to house music until the main doors opened about half an hour later. The main floor quickly packed upon opening, which is somewhat surprising but very pleasing; I knew that I’m at the perfect time and place for dance music. Something I noticed as I’ve been attending trance events is that it seems the show’s been opening with gentle progressive and techno sounds. DJs Artia and Surain played the opening acts for PVD and from what I recall their sets reminded me of after-hour cool down sets or detox sets that I would hear at ambient events or Anjunabeats tribute events. I recalled similar energy with Dingdong’s opening set in Dallas before Darude and Kaezin’s opening set before JES and Andy Moor. Despite suddenly noticing this realization, I also realize this practice is not new and may be a topic of further discussion on a vlog that I may record next year. Briefly summarizing, massive trance headliners are usually preceded with DJs set to play gentler genres like house, progressive, and techno to keep the crowd warm for the main event at BPMs between 122 and 128. Of course this is not necessarily true for the entire opening set, but it seems that playing much gentler for the sake of warming the crowd and putting the headliner over has been common practice in major dance music events. Personally speaking, this is a topic that will be heavily debated for decades and as a former booker I understand and can accommodate playing lower-energy tunes before the headliner; however, there were times where I was allowed to be myself and still never disrupted the flow of energy for that night, as you may remember if you attended San AnTokyo when I opened direct support for JES. What I also found incredibly interesting is when it came time for Paul van Dyk to begin his set, it sounded like it would start off like a techno set rather than the trance that I would expect, which by all means I did get to hear later.
Paul would start his set with a techy sounding intro invoking “Time of Our Lives“, which I found interesting as I have not been used to what I took as techno at a trance show and I’ve encountered a similar techno-like start with Darude. Techno would persist for almost the first half of his set but no one, include me, is complaining. Stereo Live was incredibly packed and everyone was having the time of their lives dancing to the beat of the techno kicks. Trance would come its way eventually and that’s when the figurative heart-melting and goosebump sensations remind me why I love trance. I may have known it for a very long time, but I realized that music can be used to tickle someone as I felt Paul would tease us with what sounds like the hook for “For An Angel” and I could hear those around me screaming “here it comes”. Two songs that have resonated with me for the whole weekend was the live playing of “Home” and “Someone Like You” as no matter what mood I happen to be in, these tracks make me want to give anyone a big fat hug. This is the power of trance music and as I continue to share the magical results of attending trance raves, I encourage everyone reading this to allow yourselves to be uplifted and join us in a state of trance.
I may not have slept long enough to have sweet dreams that night but I did sleep sweetly. My uplifting journey did not conclude with just Paul van Dyk as I would head to Dallas to attend Sonic Expo to see another act I’ve been wanting to see for 2 decades, Crush 40; all I can say is that it was worth traveling up one side of the triangle of interstate highways and attending a convention just to see one of my favorite rock bands of all time and finally return home down the other side of the triangle with a lot of musical insight. I will later embark on another trance journey in Houston this upcoming Saturday as I will return to Stereo Live to see ATB for the first time. Most of my classic trance production influences seem to naturally come from listening to ATB and many other producers on Party 93.1 and I’m curious to what ATB is up to nowadays. If you happen to be in the area, buy your tickets and hit me up and let’s continue to support trance so that there will be much more of this amazing dance music style for decades to come.