“People don’t really realize this, but the reason we are who we are so boldly out in the open is so that other like-minded people can find us,” said Nick Abarca, creator of Sensory Overload Empire. “If we all pretended to be like everyone else, we wouldn’t be able to find each other.”
Finding a place for yourself in society among people who support you and can give you the basic human needs such as companionship, love and affection is, well, necessary.
Sensory Overload Empire, founded in 2011, is a local EDM event-hosting company and rave/party social group whose main goal is to provide a safe space for people who want to express themselves freely, use the rave scene as their means of connecting, collaborating, creating deeply meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships and finding overall happiness.
How did Sensory Overload Empire come about?
Nick Abarca grew up here on the Central Coast and like any normal young adult, he wanted to party.
The problem was, it was hard to find the parties. When he did find them, he noticed an annoying pattern of the hosts not taking care of the party-goers and this really bothered him. Although there were general rules at parties, there was very little enforcement and most people got away with unacceptable behavior.
He made the decision to work the rest of his life to change the way he and his friends experience parties and to create the ideal party scene.
Abarca wanted to provide a beacon of light to attract those who felt the same.
He spent the rest of his teen years forward studying sociology and psychology, trying to figure out why it is that people do what they do and why some parties worked and others didn’t. After years of implementation and evolution, he formed a list of rules and social standards that he holds people accountable for at his parties.
Essentially, these standards lined up with the known rave mantra PLUR (peace, love, unity, respect) but it includes and extra ‘R’ at the end, which stands for responsibility.
Using these and his rules of conduct, Abarca, with the help of his girlfriend Arielle Zippi, began throwing their own parties and thus, Sensory Overload Empire was created. This unique rave community is changing the way people party.
How is SOE different?
Abarca started off with VIP parties, which only allowed for the select few that were invited by Abarca to attend.
Eventually, the strict rules were converted to be more suitable for a public setting. Included is a membership system in which he, as the event thrower, knows and identifies each of the attendees, therefore if someone causes a problem, Abarca himself knows to blacklist them. This is a very different system than any other rave community.
“All the people that I’m partying with are my friends so it’s in my best interest to protect them and help them and make them comfortable,” said Abarca. “I love hot girls, and I want the hot girls to be comfortable. If they think they’re gonna get some dude’s tongue shoved down their throat then they’re not gonna come hang out with us!”
As straight forward as this is, it’s pretty true. I’d much rather party in an environment where I feel safe and welcome than one where I have to dodge come-ons and advances.
I think it’s important to note here, Sensory Overload Empire isn’t opposed to sexual behavior at all. In fact, they are very, very open about their sexualities.
This is another thing I find fascinatingly unique about the group. They just let their colors fly and as long as you’re accepting and/or comfortable being around sexual content or participating, you’re welcome to join in. Be warned, some content is X-rated.
This is also where the rules and conduct play a heavy role, for obvious reasons.
Another huge difference is the end goal for these guys isn’t profit. In fact, if we’re talking monetary success, this community would be an utter failure given the amount of money they’ve put in to creating the ideal party environment. Many other localized rave communities are in it for the money, which comes back around full circle to the fact that the hosts could care less about the people attending.
What is SOE’s role in building a community:
Abarca emphasizes the incredible impact that being involved in a rave community can have on someone who is still searching for these aspects in their life:
“To me what it provides is such an important thing to humans. They need interaction, they need love, they need to be able to find their soulmate: All these things that in the real world, you don’t have an efficient way of getting.”
He believes that many people don’t think they need these basic human needs or know what it is they need to go find in order to be happy and that’s why they don’t know how to be happy.
This lifestyle is the key to happiness, he claims.
Lacey Buck is a 26-year-old Cal Poly graduate who attends the SOE events to be around the fun and like-minded people she’s befriended.
“The SEO events are so inclusive,” said Buck. “It’s easy to feel comfortable and at home even if I don’t know anyone at a certain event. It’s a nice escape from every day life.”
I think that beacon of light is shining brightly now, drawing in many like me, Abarca, Zippi and Buck.
What is SOE’s utopia?
SOE strives (and is thriving in my opinion) to provide a perfect environment where people can harmoniously live in happiness and have whatever they want.
Abarca and the SOE team plan to spend the rest of their lives chasing the perfect world for themselves while also working to provide it to their rave community.
They put on shows at least once a month that provides local DJs a venue to play, ravers a place to express themselves and people to make bonds with others who are on the same wave-length.
A recent addition to SOE events are their Community Collaboration events in which the public is welcome to come and share/ educate/ collaborate on different activities together. They take place during the day and provide a space for the rave community to come together and connect in an environment they enjoy. Activities include kandi making, DJ practice, group massages, fire flow, hooping, zip lining and anything else that is brought/ shared by other attendees.
Sensory Overload Empire has a website, but disclaimer, it may not be safe for work.
If you’re the type of open-minded person who thinks this style of partying may be a something you’re willing to experience, I encourage you to do so. Abarca and his friends in this rave community are some of the most intoxicating and interesting people I’ve ever met. I’m already grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend with them.