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irish kelly

Both my husband and I unintentionally participated in a moronic American St. Patrick’s Day tradition: green or “Irish-themed” garments. He wore a Guinness tshirt and I wore a green sweater. I didn’t think of the significance until someone at work pointed it out, all like, “Oh, of course you’re wearing green because it’s St. Patrick’s Day and you’re Irish!” Grumble.

I did, however, do one corny Irish thing. I made Irish Car Bomb cupcakes, which admittedly have a rather offensive name but are so SO good. I brought some into work yesterday and three people bit into them around the same time and all collectively groaned in delight. I tried one last night but it had been in the fridge and I hadn’t let it warm up enough. The now solid ganache filling fell out and the icing fell off and rolled around on the floor. I had to go searching for it under the couch and that was a proud moment in my life, let me tell ya. “Honey, lift up the couch, my cleavage didn’t catch that mouthful, dammit.”

Anyway, this post is titled “irish kelly” for a reason. Years ago, I was a rather active participant in the “rave scene” (ugh that phrase makes me barf) in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas. You may be surprised to know that back in the late 90s and early 00s, Pittsburgh had a thriving dance scene, with multiple large events every weekend and plenty of smaller things during the week. I think between 1999 and 2000, I got a total of 15 hours of sleep.

Now, I’m sure I’ve conjured up plenty of frightening images for you. And while I did partake of the “party favors” for a short period, I was not 20/20 special report fodder. I did not wear pounds of plastic kiddie jewelry, my pants did not double as parachutes, and I did not regularly collapse into a puddle with a chattering jaw and dilated pupils to work on catching mono from a guy named Smurf. I mostly just had a blast being young and taking advantage of my total lack of responsibilities and my now non-existent ability to stay up for as long as I like by going to parties and dancing my butt off.

I did, however, have a “rave name.” Rave names, of course, were the nicknames that people gave to each other to enforce this identity that we were part of “the other,” the alternative, the underground, the secretive, none of which was really true by the late 90s when raving was firmly above ground, peppered with the odd renegade party under a bridge or in a cellar somewhere.

Raving’s inextricable relationship with the nascent internet probably aided the creation of rave names. Party information was passed along via email and message boards and I was on an email list called pb-cle-raves (Pittsburgh-Cleveland Raves) for many years. As nearly everyone with an online identity goes by something other than the name that they were born with, these identities bled into raving.

Many people had nauseatingly sweet and sunny rave names like Sunshine and Bumblebee and Rainbow. Others came into raving in the age of Hackers and cyberpunk (see also: my buddy count zer0), and then there were guys like my husband’s crew of friends, who had rave names like “Hector.”

Mine was Irish Kelly. At the time that I subscribed to pb-cle, my email address was CCeallaigh at AOL (ha!). Ceallaigh is Kelly in Gaelic (so I’m told), but of course someone else on AOL already had that handle, so I added an extra C. Nobody, least of all me, could pronounce that name. To add to the confusion, there was another Kelly who was one of the biggest rave promoters in the city. To differentiate between us, she was Kelly Downlow (her promotion company’s name) and I became Irish Kelly, owing to my Irish-themed n00b email address.

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