A shroom rave called Mushwomb sprouted last January as the new moon entered the Year of the Rabbit, a most auspicious time to hop down the rabbit hole. On the industrial outskirts of downtown, next to a Starbucks and Jack-In-The-Box, was the graffiti-covered gate to a secret club. The queer-run spot is a vibey oasis in a city where nightlife is dominated by sterile Hollywood nightclubs or spooky warehouses run by cocaine cartels. As a golden sunset slid into pink dusk, a procession of grizzled psychonauts, cunty club kids, plant medicine mamas, and other merry characters followed the musky tendrils of incense towards a candlelit door.
Mushwomb was an experiment probing the liminal space of imminent psychedelic legalization. The shroom rave was sponsored by COLORS and Mycroboost, two buzzy mushroom brands with products at the leading edge of the thriving gray market. Rather than booze, non-alcoholic drinks and teas infused with nootropics, chaga mushrooms, and THC were also served at the bar. Merging psychedelic and rave cultures, Mushwomb raised pivotal questions for the emerging era of post-alcohol partying:
How might the energy of a dance floor shift if everyone is vibrating on psychedelics?
What new aesthetics emerge from a social space designed for intentional substance use?
Can nightlife be sustainable if its economic model does not revolve around booze?
The term “mushwomb” was coined by plant medicine educator Mikaela de la Myco (aka @mamadelamyco). De la Myco’s practice revolves around how mushrooms and herbs that promote blood flow, known as emmenagogues, can assist with everything from motherhood to pregnancy and non-hormonal birth control. “The womb is a portal—it is literally a place where reincarnation occurs with eggs cycling through,” she explained. “Mushwomb consciousness is a blueprint of our ancient relationship with the cosmos—it archetypically keys to us that death-rebirth cycles are an intrinsic part of the human experience.”
Making their way into a warmly-lit lounge, the shroom ravers blinked and giggled. Gaping over the entrance hallway was a glorious pussy portal—a Koons-like sculpture that had taken two Hollywood designers several days to construct. Pink labia carved from foam parted open like ruffled curtains, framed by whiskers of pipe cleaners curling into pubes. Like a crown jewel at the top of the hood was a glittering clit the size of a melon. One raver cackled to his friend as they strode under the clit: “Now you have no excuse to find it!”
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Squeezing through the pussy portal, people popped out onto an airy warehouse space where mushroom lanterns glowed from wooden beam rafters, and pink laser beams pulsed along silver fractals of a spinning disco ball. A belly-dancing woman who often shows up to raves alone to twirl for hours was the first to hit the dancefloor—a good omen. Mesme, a Singapore-via-Tehran DJ fast becoming a darling of the LA underground, warmed up the wintry afternoon with soulful, 90s house music. Soon, a psychedelic therapist was bouncing her toddler to the groove, while a cluster of queer club kids congregated by the DJ booth, sipping Ruby—a punchy, low-cal hibiscus tea with cans cute enough to collect.
Perhaps even more crazy than microdose mushroom use was removing alcohol from the bar. Booze is the economic backbone of the nightlife industry and such a deeply ingrained social lubricant that we equate the feelings of being drunk with how we’re supposed to act when hanging out: extroverted, convivial, chatty, loose, confident, uninhibited.
But there is a growing body of parties oriented around weed and psychedelics: The acid-laced, 36-hour techno party No Way Back, which takes place every Memorial Day weekend in Detroit. The growing microscene of ambient music events in Los Angeles and beyond, where shroom teas and chocolates are served over picnic blankets. The culture of California weed events, where due to legal restrictions around the sale of cannabis, no alcohol can be sold. These parties suggest that booze-free parties are not just possible—but preferable.
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At Mushwomb, many headed straight to the booze-free bar to check out the array of trendy drink brands catering to the Cali Sober-curious. The adventurous went for spicy blood orange cocktails from bonbuz that hit like crack in the face, thanks to green tea-derived caffeine and nootropics like L-tyrosine and 5-HTP. Others gravitated towards botanical brews from Optimist, particularly a smoky potion of sage, ginger, cloves, and habanero. Stoners opted for cans of THC-infused sparkling water from Calexo, delivered to the club earlier that day by two mustached gays in tiny shorts and roller skates.
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Learning to socialize on other substances is a mode of engagement that could be learned through new communal experiences, especially since it is not yet supported by the media or culturally-accepted rites of passage (like college binge drinking). Shroom raves could open up new modes of social engagement: introspective, meditative, empathetic, tranquil, attuned to the energetic instead of verbal. What if we could normalize hugging on the dancefloor, instead of slurring speech into each others’ ears?
Come nightfall, the Mushwomb dance floor was heaving, and DJ Ty’s blend of jubilant house and garage was like a joyride for the soul—a feeling of peaking suspended. By now, the vibe shift was apparent: without the drowsy depressant of alcohol, bodies bounced with the buoyancy of clean energy and lips curled into grins—even the air smelled fresher somehow. In between the contagious euphoria—the locomotive propulsion of truly getting your groove on—strangers exchanged looks: do you feel it, too? Then came SPRKLBB’s propulsive tech-house as the dancefloor coalesced into an orgiastic sea of bodies, momentum building into a climatic roar.
Over in the adjacent lounge area, a quieter ambiance settled over those who’d come to take a break from the dance floor’s sensory stimulations. Some sat on chairs perusing copies of the latest issue of DoubleBlind magazine while smoking CBG joints from Dad Grass and sipping soul-warming cups of Chaga Chai mushroom tea. A DJ walked around the room with a bowl of fruit, handing out cherries and oranges. A child zipped in between the rotating legs of yogis engaging in an impromptu stretching session on the ground. On a couch surrounded by ferns, a preternaturally calm trip sitter gave out cups of water while holding space for newbies feeling the jitters of their first microdosing experiences.
A crowd gathered around a table where Mycroboost reps handed out samples of gummies made with functional mushrooms like Lion’s Mane and reishi from giant glass jars. As awareness around psychedelics grows, a wider cross-section of the population is looking to engage with both psychoactive and adaptogenic fungi in settings outside traditional ceremonies, therapist offices, and Big Pharma. Mushwomb was a gateway to the mushroom kingdom for some of these folks, offering a path to holistic hedonism that was probably less cringe than 6 a.m. sober raves like Daybreaker and other Burning Man-inspired wellness parties.
The party wound down as DJ Kerry took the decks for a comedown closer, spinning cosmic disco and wonky house that captured the quirky groove of a shroom trip. The last few left standing on the dance floor spun around in hazy happiness, loose limbs brimming with amplified rapture that cracks open when bodies truly get free. When the last record finally faded out, there was nothing left to do but collapse on the couch in a furry pile. An angel even swooped in with dumplings to feed the hungry mouths.
Philosopher Nick Land once described the accelerationist concept of hyperstition as “ideas [that] bring about their own reality…transmuting fictions into truths.” Under intentional conditions, shroom parties can, in fact, be safe containers for psychonaut experimentation conducted under communal codes of care. Perhaps with enough libidinal investment, Mushwomb could be a self-fulfilling fantasy—a myth made flesh.
Michelle Lhooq investigates how counterculture is evolving in the age of platform capitalism, algorithmic oppression, and drug legalization. Subscribe to Rave New World here.