As a resident club DJ who travels around the southeast and midwest, I normally spin a five- or six-hour set of commercial and electro house for a mixed gay/straight crowd. Aside from the occasional opening gig (George Acosta, Dave Aude, Boy George, Junior Vasquez), the idea of doing a one hour set is pretty alien.
And then came GlowRage.
GlowRage is a traveling party with open format DJs blasting the club with music while dancing girls spray the crowd with neon paint (that glows under the powerful black light). Additional paint is available for sale for clubbers who want to take matters into their own hands. The vibe is best described as a mini-festival inside a club exploding with raging energy and excitement.
Arriving early on the Sunday afternoon, I met the first team of guys who drove down from a gig in Louisville. They were clearly tired, but with the aid of a few Red Bulls they jumped right to work, planning everything to be done, constructing their set, and covering every square inch of the club with plastic wrap. As impressive as their work ethic was, their camaraderie and team ethos is what was even more evident. In addition to the inside jokes and ribbing each other, there was a familial tribe spirit, like a traveling circus of performers who bring the party to a new city each night.
Throughout the day, additional people arrived - some flying in from Chicago and others driving up from Pensacola. With so much work to be done, everyone jumped in to help each other. There were no egos, attitudes, or even negativity, it was PLUR in the true sense of the word.
As showtime neared, everyone gathered for a huddle and the leader complimented everyone on thriving and doing so well with such a rough week as everyone had been doing events around the country. I could see in everyone's eyes how much they loved working together and how great they felt to be united. No, not in a scary cult way, but more like a modern tribe.
Rarely do I feel nervous when spinning, but as part of the team, the pressure was on to really start with an explosion. This wasn't a set to warm people up as the clubbers ran in and were ready to explode. Not really an open format guy myself, I quickly adapted and mixed in and out of songs after about 2 minutes- or what I call ADHD DJing. All the time, jumping up and down like I see the guys at the big festivals do. It felt really awesome and the crowd was into into it from the first beat.
Then, the paint started spraying everywhere. And by everywhere, I mean everywhere. The clubbers were armed with squirt bottles that they exploded on each other and themselves. MC Stoags jumped on the mic to welcome everyone (and ask them not to aim the paint at the stage). He was a true hype man and got the crowd chanting along.
After my set was done, it literally took me 10 minutes to come down. I totally get why DJs love playing festival sets so much. You try to jam as many peaks in as you can just to make the crowd go nuts. Its a completely different style from a five-hour residency and something I look forward to doing again.
Going into the crowd to catch the next DJ Snakpak, I have never been hugged by so many straight guys in my life (or been offered that many shots). I rarely drink, but when someone splatters you in the face and hands you a shot, how can you say no? As hot and sweaty as I was, I dove in and danced for at least an hour. Watching Snackbox spin, he was so full of energy that it's hard to believe how sick he was - and he braved through it with the sole mission to energize the crowd.
The official opening came with four gorgeous ladies wielding spray cannons and literally drenching the crowd with paint. The effect under the black lights and strobes made any sort of drug usage unnecessary. It really was a flashback to the old school ethos of clubbing, it doesn't matter who you are or what you look like, when you are in the club - you just dance and let it all out. And one thing to point out, even though the ladies were dancing on stage and spraying the crowd - they were sexy and classy - not turnt out and trashy. Though, if there was one critique I had for the night it was the lack of a female DJ (seems like a perfect fit for Dani Deahl) and the lack of a male go-go dancer (a role which model boy Stoags could have easily filled as well).
MC Stoags transitioned to DJ Stoags and his set was full of surprises with everything from dubstep and trap to electro and banging hard house to heavy metal and classic hip-hop. The crowd really had no idea what was coming next. Especially when DJ Reklaim went really dirty and aggressive, it was like everyone caught a second or third wind. The fact that the dance floor was still packed at 2:45 am closing time on a Sunday night is a testament to how incredible the party vibe was.
All of the DJs hung out and took pictures with clubbers (if I had a buck for every person who said it was the best night of their life) but as soon as room was cleared - everyone went into cleaning mode. Paint was vacuumed up off the ground (made easier by the salt that was spread out throughout the night), all the plastic came down as the equipment was packed up. As tired as everyone was - the GlowRage team and the team of Play Dance Bar - everyone worked together and the room was quickly returned to how it was 12 hours earlier.
With the cost of big outdoor festivals skyrocketing to the over $200 range and many clubs being converted into bottle service enterprises, GlowRage and other traveling parties seem to be the refuge for Joe/Jane average to go out and have an amazing night dancing to energetic music for an experience they will never forget.