Citizens of Basstown

Our magnificent seven speak out
By DAVID DAY  |  August 29, 2007

Doria Grace

The proliferation of dance parties in Boston has led not only to a rise in the number of DJs but also to a growth in the ranks of dancers. Whether it’s the Good Life on Saturday, Phoenix Landing on Sunday, or Middlesex Lounge on Tuesday, more and more Bostonians are getting out to shake it to club music. “Up All Day” e-mailed seven of these dancers to get their views. “I love going to where people genuinely love music and sweating it out on the dance floor,” says DORIA GRACE, a local artist and self-confessed “paper pusher.” “It’s so satisfying to be in your body and really expressing yourself to your utmost.” Political telemarketer VIBEKE ANGELLE says, “There’s definitely an element of mass hysteria that goes into a dance party once the lights are flashing. There’s a crowd movement. It’s harder to feel that natural inebriation at a house party or a show. It gives other people that don’t go out that often a chance to consort with people — a little infamy and popularity for your everyday college student or degenerate.” And this from VLAD KROMATIKA, a Cambridge-based conceptual artist: “Dancing, for me, is like a trance. It’s a really powerful experience when something can make your body and brain go wild and you completely forget where you are. An amazing party, in my opinion, involves blood-pumping music and a cornucopia of characters. I love seeing how far people can take their imaginations with how they look.”

“Being able to forget about the work day or anything else that’s been bugging me, if only for a few minutes,” is what software engineer JON THOMPSON looks for in a night on the town. “Fun just kind of happens when I’m dancing,” says Northeastern student and retail maven KEIGA MATSUMOTO. “I can have fun without having to make an effort. The party aspect allows for people to still socialize and meet new people.” Thompson concurs: “I meet new and interesting people every time I’m out. The supportive regular crowd keeps in touch in and out of the club.” And HARMONY DAWN, a massage therapist and psychic, makes this simple point: “I like to drink, sweat, and grind. For our group, the dancing does a lot more to bring people together than a concert or a sports bar.”

Our sample group were not without their criticisms. Although all seven praise the new crop of DJs (especially the superstar Hearthrob trio), they also lament the arrival of “predators” — people who come to watch and to make the kind of moves that aren’t related to dancing. “Don’t come to a dance party unless you’re going to dance,” says Kromatika. “It really surprises me how closed-minded people can be.” Matsumoto is blunter still: “Sleazy old men need to back the fuck up from girls just trying to have fun.”

Social networking has turned dance parties from dark, anonymous disco affairs into Internet-enabled photo-activated insta-scenes. Like others clubbers, Thompson posts his own party photos the next day; some of his sets get more than 1000 views. Sites like Flickr are flooded with pictures of a dance night almost as soon as it’s over. “Having pictures taken at these places week after week creates a familiarity,” writes Angelle, “and it drives people to want to look their best for the photographers.” For students like Matsumoto, dance parties are easy to promote on Facebook and elsewhere. “Dance parties aren’t a new thing. It’s just been more publicized.”

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