BOISE -- An investigation by KTVB found hundreds of young people in the Treasure Valley are spending weekend nights at a popular activity their parents may know nothing about.
On a recent Friday at a Boise dance that attracted 500 people -- some in their teens, some in their 20s-- our hidden cameras captured a scene that has some parents concerned, police on patrol, and one high school principal taking action.
A flyer sent around high schools touted a February 11 dance called "Heart Beats."
"It's loud, it's dark. There are a lot of flashing lights, techno music. It is, I believe, the environment the kids are coming for," said Renee Waite, an Ada County Probation Officer.
This dance, and others like it, are sometimes referred to as raves.
"You can call it what you want. Officers look at what it is," said Boise Police Dept. spokeswoman Lynn Hightower. "These parties are called 'over-under parties.' There are people as young as 13-14 and as old as 28-30 who are legally allowed to be at these."
What troubles some adults is the fact a teenager shares a dance floor with someone who may be twice their age.
"The culture of raves, while it is mostly about music and dancing, I think along with that culture comes the potential for drug use, for alcohol, particularly ecstacy," Waite said.
"That's a potential situation that you can see right away that we're dealing with an unsafe environment," said Capital High School principal Jon Ruzicka.
Audio Thrill Productions, a company that is getting a lot of attention from kids because of the dances it puts on, has also caught Ruzicka's attention.
"I recall talking to two parents right after Christmas that they were basically shocked and misinformed that they thought these were school-sanctioned, school-sponsored dances," Ruzicka said. "At the particular Christmas dance, the parent had observed a lot of kids not wearing much clothing, and that was a concern for them."
While no principal has a say in what goes on at these raves, the police do. Boise PD officers were present at the Valentine's dance to patrol and to educate unsuspecting parents.
"The officers out there who talked to parents, definitely had the impression that the parents really didn't know what kind of event it was, in fact they had misinformation that it was a school event, and it wasn't," Hightower said.
At the Heart Beats dance, our undercover cameras recorded people making out, guys and girls with shirts off, some dancers stripped to their underwear, and behavior that Ruzicka calls "wandering hands."
"Most of that is curtailed at a high school dance because there's adult supervision," Ruzicka said.
"I think anytime you have a mix of teenagers at an event, you get a variety of things," Waite said.
Tim Beck, the man who organized the Heart Beats dance, says he shares responsibility with the venue for what happens at his dances. He also believes he provides a very safe environment for attendees.
Prior to Heart Beats, Beck says he met with police officers several times to ensure that his event stayed within the law.
"I can only do the best I can, but I'm not going to lie, there's probably some people that might, like, smoke a bowl (of marijuana) in their car, then come in," Beck said.
Boise PD officers issued three citations to minors for alcohol consumption at Heart Beats.
"There actually wasn't a lot of illegal activity seen by the officers, although they heard a lot of rumors and innuendo and hearsay," Hightower said.
"It's not my responsibility how people dress," Beck said. "If people want to show off their skin, then that's their choice."
"The thing for me that's frustrating, is I know that kids are putting themselves in a harmful situation, and I know for a fact parents don't have the correct information," Ruzicka said.
Information regarding Beck's dances is available online and anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can see what goes on at one of his dances. His website has hundreds of pictures, even a section for parents that includes his email address to address questions.
Even though Beck says everything about these dances is out in the open, Ruzicka sent a letter home to parents to bring into the light these dimly lit parties.
"I just feel my responsibility is to make sure I can get accurate information to the parents so they can make a good decision about whether or not their child should attend these dances," Ruzicka said.
"So parents just need to know what these are, so they can make an educated decision. Is that some place they want their child to be?" Hightower said.
"Parents are responsible for their own kids," Beck said. "Okay, so kids lie to their parents. I guess that's an issue with parents being good parents and not having their kids lying to them and doing research on where their kid is going."
Beck says he learns from each dance he puts on; at his next scheduled event in March he intends to separate teens and adults into two different dances. We have since learned that the difference between the two dances is a bar. According to the website selling the tickets the "Teen Night" is open to all ages without a bar. He's also inviting parents so that thet can decide whether the dances are suitable for their children. A link to his website can be found here.