“I’ve never done K, but I’m always with people who are doing it,” said the girl behind me at House of Yes last night. She was shaved bald except for a long tuft in the back, wearing a tie-dye shirt and talking to a skinny boy in a half-open military shirt. Behind them floated two girls in head-to-toe black, linked by a chain that hung from matching chokers around their necks, looking somehow naked despite full coverage. I’ve seen pictures from Burning Man, and this was basically that, minus the desert.
Ketamine: The Musical was designed to draw this exact crowd. According to Anya Sapozhnikova, co-director and producer, the show was so popular—the first one immediately sold out, and the House of Yes scheduled three more—because “ketamine has become the drug of right now.”
If you’re a grandmother like me, the last time you even heard the word ketamine was watching Macaulay Culkin in Party Monster, and you’ll be forced to google “Is Ketamine popular”, which apparently it is. The bizarre thing about ketamine is how essentially anti-dance culture it is; it’s classified as a dissociative anesthetic with a touch of psychedelia, but most people say the anesthetic part blocks out everything else, which means you’re in a loose, feel-nothing zero state—if you haven’t already passed out.
This musical hits the loose and the psychedelic bits for sure, leaving behind any empty, anesthetic sensations: “the show is about someone’s journey on ketamine,” Sapozhnikova told Paper, “but it’s more about mind-altering states than the drug itself.”
What does that look like, exactly?
The roughly two-hour spectacle was super cirque, full of ketamine puns (intermission was the k-hole), and infinitely danceable (though most of us were sitting). At the start, a two-foot-tall bag of ketamine swung across the audience and a woman with an incredible butt ripped it open and bathed in it before dangling from a classic aerial hoop. More aerialists dressed in white joined her, pulling themselves up swaths of hanging white fabric, writhing under dusty white clouds.
But as soon as a theme took hold, it ended: following those white-bathed aerial acolytes, a stand-up-comedian-style DJ read emails under the influence—the words morphed and wiggled on screen while he rap-rhymed the contents. After that, cupcakes danced to “Gooey” by Glass Animals (David Kiss and Sir Kn8 get the Musical Direction credit) and two dancing tongues licked on a couch while leaping eyeballs watched. Actors were billed as “EVERYONE at the House of Yes.”
Was the audience fucked up? Probably, yeah, but there was also a casual poolside cocktail thing happening. Sharp-nosed guys with expensive haircuts and strong necks (models?) stood up during intermission to oggle the raffle winners, a couple. The couple’s prize was to take off all their clothes (all their clothes) and get in a bubble bath in the middle of audience. The two chained girls carried them each a tequila shot.
Was I fucked up? No, just my usual post-dinner zinc tablet (one-hundred-percent grandma), but I could definitely claim that ketamine provided me with approximately one hour and fifteen minutes of quality, wild-eyed entertainment. Am I headed to Burning Man next week a changed woman, one of those girls who wears short skirts with a belt on top and leather dangling from confusing places? Hell no.
But that’s not the point; Ketamine: The Musical is a good show and you should see it if you get the chance. Their final show is tonight at 7:00PM, and it’s completely sold out, but they’ve been tweeting when tickets are available at the door. Plus, after tonight’s show there’s a pre-Burning Man party you could crash. If you’re into that sort of thing.