‘God's Basement' Rave Takes Over Church Hall, School Cafeteria

PHILADELPHIA -- A local school is angry about an underage rave party that's being held inside the school.

Lu Ann Cahn and the NBC 10 Investigators went undercover to expose what happens when school lets out.

Inside a rave party, there are drugs and underage kids. Where's the party? Your teen might know. Some call it "God's Basement."

During the weekdays, the basement is a typical school cafeteria. But when the sun goes down on Friday nights, the basement in West Philadelphia is used for something else.

It's no grammar school, but you can get quite an education from "Tru Skool" rave party headquarters, Cahn reported.

"We are so horrified by what happens," said Marcia Ross, of the Global Leadership Academy.

NBC 10 showed administrators of Philadelphia's Global Leadership Academy Charter School what they found in the basement on a recent Friday night. It's your basic rave, complete with techno music, lights, and glow sticks.

Cahn reported that she slipped in undercover with a couple of other NBC 10 employees. She paid $15 to get in. They were searched at the door for weapons.

Inside, they saw alcohol but mostly marijuana and lots of kids lighting up. One was wearing a pillbox around his neck. Others had lollipops and candy pacifiers, which are popular among teens taking the designer drug Ecstasy.

Experts said some like to put Vicks VapoRub on the inside of a mask to enhance the experience.

Elsewhere, a nitrous oxide balloon is being filled for another kind of high. The crowd is young.

"I did not talk to anyone that was of age. Everyone was 20 or younger, and there were some people who looked like 16 years old," one NBC 10 employee said.

"It's dangerous," said one mother, who asked NBC 10 to protect her identity for her child.

The woman said she found out about the Tru Skool rave and her 19-year-old's Ecstasy habit on a MySpace page. So, she called the NBC 10 Investigators.

"They're going there and they're allowed to do drugs in these places, openly. They're doing Ecstasy," the mother said. "I think it's despicable."

"We try our best to stop it. If our best isn't good enough, we apologize," said Mickey Fronick, of Tru Skool Productions.

The party promoter said there's a no-drug policy and that safety is first. He said he threw on the lights and ended the party the NBC 10 Investigators attended early because of a fight.

Why does he call it "God's Basement?"

"Because it's pretty much hot as hell," Fronick said.

And because the basement's in a church, which rents the space to him on weekends. During the week, it's rented to the school.

"I don't have any information on it right now," said Bishop Benjamin Peterson Jr., bishop of the Bible Way Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

When the NBC 10 Investigators showed him their video, Peterson said he was, "very surprised, very surprised, especially of this group. That's such an orderly and mannerly group."

"We've had numerous conversations with the bishop of the church," Ross said.

Charter school leaders insist he can't be surprised. They lease their school building from Peterson's church, and they sent the bishop a letter complaining about the filthy conditions of the basement, evidence of illegal drug and alcohol use.

"He claims that they're innocent parties, that there's no alcohol and basically that, I guess, we are overreacting to what we see," Ross said.

"All our contracts read no drugs, no alcohol and no smoking in the facility," Peterson said.

But the school said it has to pay a cleaning crew on Monday mornings to get condoms and drug paraphernalia up before students arrive.

"Well, in the past they have told us, and we have rectified the situation, and we've made proper changes," Peterson said.

"They lie. They tell lots of lies," one school official said.

After NBC 10 started asking questions, Tru Skool canceled the next rave party. But the church will be collecting rent from another kind of party scheduled for this weekend in "God's Basement" -- this one for "pimps and hoes."

"If you guys close this place down, we would be more than grateful because it is horrible," Ross said.

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