meet the woman behind l.a.'s first weed rave
Michelle Lhooq talks about about creating an inclusive space, ethical consumption, and raving stoned.
Michelle Lhooq’s Weed Rave is the first of its kind, giving women and queers a place to talk about the rapidly evolving weed scene in LA. And, of course, to rave for 12 hours, starting at 4:20 in the afternoon. She had talks (“Sex Work Vs. the War on Drugs”), cannabis yoga on the roof, THC coffees, and obviously raving courtesy of DJs from across the world. “Can we please talk about how tired we are of people saying ‘Aren’t you gonna fall asleep at the weed rave,’” the invite read. “LMAO no bitch, because this party is going to be insane!”
Michelle’s panelists included cannabis advocate Jannice Griffith; Buck Angel, who runs the only LGBTQ delivery service; Lynne Lyman, the California Director of the Drug Policy Alliance; and Jen Seo and Michelle Rene, the women behind one of the oldest weed dispensaries in LA. Evidently, an expert bunch well versed in both education and recreation. “I was like, there are so many MedMens and so many other corporate companies out there” says Lhooq. “I want to uncover other people in this space that aren't getting as much press.”
i-D talked to Lhooq about what she wants to see in the weed world, caring about ethical consumption, and why stoner raves are the best.
What makes me laugh is when I think of a rave, I don't particularly think of smoking weed.
That's actually a really common response. People don't associate weed with rave culture, but it surprises me because there are lot of rave histories that are intertwined with weed. For example, all of the dub music and jungle music, drum and bass, certain genres of electronic music are really, really covered in weed. But I think that it suffers this reputation of being a substance that will put you to sleep, that will just sort of like make you feel antisocial and not want to go out, not want to leave your house.
That's sort of the cliché. What I'm really trying to do with this weed rave is shift that paradigm and show how complex of a plant this is, how many different types of ways that you can actually experience weed. You don't even need to get stoned on THC. CBD is such a huge thing right now, and there are lotions and sort of like topicals that you can put on your skin if you don't even want to ingest anything.
I think that one of my intentions was to sort of bring people up to speed with everything that's happening in the weed industry right now, that I've personally been discovering since moving here [to Los Angeles] and going to tons of weed events and trying out new things.
How did you get into the rave scene?
I have this background in rave culture because I was a music editor at Vice, actually, for Thump and Vice.com, and I knew, like I said before, that it paired really well with weed. I actually think that it's a better substance for dancing than alcohol because alcohol sort of dulls your senses and kind of takes you out of the moment. You get a little sloppy. Whereas, weed sort of sharpens them, and it makes you more sensitive to sound. I think you hear more. I think you go into the experience more.
I've talked to DJs about this, too, and they have agreed that the weed dance floor has a totally different energy from a more alcohol-based party. They feel like people are more personal, like people are more intimate. Also, at the last weed rave, what was really cool is seeing people sharing weed and passing joints around, blend in, sort of talking to strangers. It was a reminder that weed is actually a very social substance, contrary to this reputation of being an insider introspective kind of thing.
Who did you want to represent at the rave?
One of the things that I wanted to do with Weed Rave is connect companies run by women, run by people of color, run by queer people, to an audience that cares about ethical consumption. I think weed is this unique industry in that ethical consumption is not just a nice thing to have, but I think it's a requirement. Because if you think about the history of who the war on drugs has disproportionately affected, there's a lot of social context to where we are now, and I think it's really important, this core of companies run by these sorts of people to sort of rectify these historical injustices.
Also, I just think that's just important in general. I have a book coming out on 4/20. It's called Weed: Everything You Want to Know But Are Always Too Stoned to Ask. It's like an illustrated guide to weed. But while writing this book, I sort of set out this secret challenge for myself to only interview women, people of color, and queer people, just because I was like, there are so many MedMens and so many other corporate companies out there. I want to uncover other people in this space that aren't getting as much press.
What was the vibe of the rave?
One thing that was really important is sort of like nature and bringing plants into the space. We have a florist come in and do beautiful custom floral arrangements because I think, obviously, it's super connected to the earth. When you bring plants into a warehouse, you create this sort of different vibe that's very, again, welcoming. I think it's a bit more feminine than the harsh angular line of most industrial spaces.
I don't understand why everything has to be like Berlin.
Right. I'm tired of pretending that I'm in The Matrix. That moment is a little tired.
Did you have fun?
I had my moments of being on the dance floor and seeing everything that was happening. I was really struck by the energy on the dance floor. I think that was the most interesting social experiment part for me. What does a weed-centered dance floor look like? What does it feel like? Again, the warmth and the unpretentiousness and sort of the goofiness, the goofiness was a really fun surprise. People were giggling and being stupid. There wasn't any of that typical, "I'm so cool. I'm just going to be here at the rave looking really..," that kind of vibe. That wasn't really the vibe. It was more of about strangers becoming friends, and that was really cute.
What's next? Have you got more raves coming?
Yes. I actually just got off the phone with some potentially sponsors for the next one. I'm looking to do it in February at a fucking spa.
To finish, what would be your kind of like top weed raving tip? Which is a basic question, but I like a basic question to round things out. What's nice to smoke, or do you think edibles are better for a longer raving experience?
Pace yourself because I think a lot of people smoked a ton in the beginning. Literally, their eyes couldn't open, and they had to leave. So I would say maybe starting out with CBD and low THC flower and then remembering that the effects of weed sort of compound. If you smoke more, you might end up passing out too early. I guess also balancing out your intake. If you're smoking a ton of weed, why not drink a CBD coffee?