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Katalyst ignites change in the Atlanta rave scene

Catalyst (noun): a person or event that quickly causes change or action. Kataylst (noun, proper): the name of the production company that is quickly changing the underground scene in mind-blowing ways. With two parties under their belts and a third taking place weekend, Katalyst's raves have quickly become known as the place to be for good vibes and good times.

Discover Pandora: An Avatar UV Jungle Rave Adventure
Brandy Landen | Facebook.com/PeachbelPhotography
Friends enjoying Ravezilla
JK Moments Photography | Facebook.com/JKMomentsPhotography

Katalyst threw their first rave on December 7 of last year. The theme was "Discover Pandora: An Avatar UV Jungle Rave Adventure," an extremely difficult theme to convey since it is based off a multimillion dollar budget sci-fi film, but Katalyst pulled it off with a cardboard UV reactive jungle, live body painting, and vibes of clan-like, Na'vi acceptance. Held at a venue called "The Monarch," Katalyst expected their first event to be small, aiming for an attendance of around 300. Instead, nearly 650 people showed up.

From their very first event, it was clear: Katalyst had done something that was truly unique--and this was only their debut! "I like to think that our message of taking EDM back to the underground and getting back to the roots of the rave subculture resonated with people, and that's why it blew up so huge," explained Katherine Sedai, "Raver in Chief" at Katalyst Productions. "[Discover Pandora] really helped Katalyst start off with a bang, but it also told us right away that we needed a bigger venue with more amenities and more reliable power."

Shortly after the success of Discover Pandora, Katalyst announced the theme of their sophomore event: "Ravezilla: A Kaiju Battlefield." Held on March 22, this time the party took place at a much bigger venue, Safety Wolf. "We had no idea that the Katalyst 'brand' was going to make such an impact, but seeing that people liked it and wanted more, we knew we needed to have space to grow," said Katherine. "Safety Wolf has offered us plenty of space and a higher class of venue ,while still letting us keep that 'underground' vibe that we all love...and the owner, Fred Mephisto, has been awesome to work with. He sees what we're trying to do and he's been on board with us from the first day we talked."

Fans of Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse know Safety Wolf as the place to go every October. It was quite a bizarre experience to party in the same venue where we've been chased by zombies for the past four years, but that just made it all the more thrilling. The former truck stop-turned-indoor and outdoor paintball facility was the perfect venue for "Ravezilla," with plenty of indoor and outdoor space for music, fire and flow arts, dancing, socializing and performances. There were also three rooms of music and a killer lineup of DJs spinning trance, hardcore, breaks, drum and bass, progressive and other underground styles. Area 51 Presents, whose lights and lasers never cease to amaze, also added much to the event. But equally important as the theme or the music or the lights, if not more so, is that everyone brought "it." There was an abundance of positive energy, acceptance, and love at this event. And although there were three different sound areas, it felt like one cohesive party.

Recycled cardboard was once again put to use for the theme, and this time as more than decor, with more than 100 scaled-down skyscrapers placed throughout the main room. The original plan was to select costumed participants to tear down the city in search of prizes, while music and monster sound effects played in the background. Then others were welcome to join while lasers and lights flashed through the city with fog and other effects. Then, a robot stilt walker, performed by Morgan Bivens, was to battle with a costumed Godzilla and put on a show for everyone. But things don't always go as planned, and what actually happened at Ravezilla will be talked about for years to come.

"The crowd all gathered around Godzilla cheering and yelling 'GO-JIRA' in their best mock Japanese accents, and Godzilla starts hamming it up," Katherine recalled. "I guess he didn't get the memo that the city was for everyone to destroy, so he wades into it, tail swinging, throwing buildings all over the place, belly flopping on top of others, and the crowd is going wild. In the meantime, our robot stilt walker didn't know his nemesis had arrived, so he never did get to battle Godzilla back into the ocean."

While it certainly wasn't planned this way, it almost turned out better. Katherine brought up a good point: "Who am I to tell Godzilla he can't destroy the city at a Godzilla party?" Although there was some confusion, eventually everyone was treated to a great show and later got to search for prizes. "[Raves are] chaotic, they're messy, things don't go according to plan. But if you get the right people together for the right reasons and build that real feeling of community, then you can create positive lasting memories," Katherine surmised.

It is this fun, laid-back, positive vibe that permeates throughout Katalyst's parties. But it is difficult to try to describe exactly how different they are with mere words; they are more something that need to be experienced in person in order to truly understand. Luckily, Katalyst's next party is only a few days away, so those that haven't yet had a chance can experience this incredible party for yourselves!

Katalyst Presents: The 1st Annual Hunger Raves will take place this Saturday, June 7. Based on the popular novels and films, the Hunger Raves will pit 24 tributes again each other, representing the 12 districts known for their genre of EDM. Color combinations have been assigned to represent the different districts and genres, such as District 1 - Black/Grey - Dubstep, District 2 - Purple/Black - Techno, etc. This time, visuals will be done by the talented 3D artist Elli Mayhem, and once again, all fire and flow toys are welcome. There will be two full rooms of multi-genre sound: The Cornucopia Arena and The Capitol. The main room will also be UV reactive, so dress in costume or your district colors, and according to Katalyst, "May the odds be ever in your raver!"

Ever since Discover Pandora, the positive feedback has been flying in on Facebook and by word of mouth. I spoke with a few fans to find out what makes Katalyst different from the rest.

"Every rave from this production company so far has been something you look forward to for months, and then delivers 100%. Discover Pandora and Ravezilla were both parties people will be talking about for some time, and I expect no less from Hunger Raves. When thanks are given to the hardworking producers of this, the only response I've heard was 'It's all for the love, it's all for the music.' Really, that's just it right there. The people that attend and the people behind it are acting on one motive; doing it for the love. It's a euphoric rave that that has something everyone can enjoy and a guaranteed good night. It cannot be missed." -Trevor Nasko

"Katalyst is a community event centered around electronic music, it is absolutely inclusive and welcoming. There is an openness and freedom there that is like the huge mega-festivals, but much more personal and welcoming. All the artificial divisions of race, creed, gender, fall away, and there's just friends to make, dancing to do. The vibe is so much like those of the raves I cut my teeth on in the '90s. This is a life-affirming experience. Even us onstage are absolutely in awe of the beauty we see, looking from the stage as they are lost in the music--this magic, the liberation and community of electronic music. All hearts beating to the same rhythm. It's perfection, from the audience to the chill-out room to the stage itself." Pixie / Memory Splice

I would like to wrap up this article with a few more words from the Katalyst "Raver in Chief" Katherine:

"I'm just an old school rave girl that believes in the power and necessity of the rave scene as a force for unity through music. As someone who was always shy and suffered from social anxiety and feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere, rave has been good to and good for me. The dance floor is arguably where I feel the most 'at home.' I can't help but to want to pay that forward and create that safe space of openness and freedom for the next generation of ravers who might not even realize just how much they need it."

Katalyst Presents: The 1st Annual Hunger Raves will take place this Saturday, June 7 at Safety Wolf. Safety Wolf is located at 4215 Thurman Rd, Atlanta, 30288. This 18 and up event is $20 to enter at the door, and secure, fenced parking is $5. There will also be a canned food drive to benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank, so please bring your unwanted or extra canned goods for this cause. For more information on Katalyst Presents: 1st Annual Hunger Raves, please visit the Facebook event page.