Live: Dancegiving Music Festival at Revolution, November 26
|Photo by Ian Witlen|
America's Backyard, Revolution, Green Room, Fort Lauderdale
Saturday, November 26, 2011
View a slideshow from the event here.
Better than: Eating leftovers.
Along SW Second Street on a beautiful fresh and sunny Saturday afternoon, there was a very tangible sense of occasion in Downtown Fort Lauderdale for the return of Dancegiving. It all felt slightly surreal and momentarily cosmopolitan as world-famous DJs and their entourages were seen wandering around and looking slightly lost and confused outside Voodoo around the block.
Successfully launched last year, in its new form, it feels like a much more ambitious and structurally adventurous event. Whereas previously it was essentially an expanded club event split across America's Backyard, Revolution, and Green Room, this year the block north of Revolution was blocked off, and the main focus during the day is the large outdoor stage, which gave the day a festival vibe.
Last year's electro-house feast has been expanded to other electronic subgenres considerably, and the familiar low-end rumble of Miami hero Juan Basshead and verbose rhymes of MC Jumanji were heard upon entry over at the Dubstep Base stage. These guys seem like South Florida veterans nowadays, and although the crowd was relatively sparse and they'd be better-suited to a later time slot, they did a good job of getting things going.
There was a slightly strange atmosphere during the day -- the indoor venues were mostly empty and lacking in atmosphere, and there arguably isn't enough known quality or big names across the lineup to get people out before the evening arrives. Even an established and local relative big-hitter such as David Solano seemed to struggle -- or maybe people were just pacing themselves.
The arrival of Diplo at 6 p.m. was clearly eagerly awaited as what is usually the Revolution parking lot starts to fill up as dusk descended, and predictably his bass-inflected party set transformed the night. His ability to effortlessly weave between disparate artists and genres in a highly dexterous way is one thing, moving seamlessly among bassline house, Rihanna, moombahton, an edit of "Look at Me Now," Drake, Skrillex, Busta Rhymes, and a destructively heavy remix of Waka Flocka's "Hard In the Paint." But more than just pure mixing skill is the overall eclectic originality that separates him from all the other artists on the lineup. There were no rules or limits to what he did, yet everything from the mesmeric light show, ritualized stage-dancers, floating giraffe visuals, working of the crowd, and song selection seemed to synergize into a defined creative vision. Arguably the best DJ/producer in the world right now -- it was an ideal hourlong set that was greeted rapturously.
|Photo by Ian Witlen|
By the time main-stage headliner Wolfgang Gartner took the stage, the night seemed to have adopted something of a hedonistic vibe and people wanted to dance. Gartner has developed into somewhat of an elite main-stage performer during the past year, a point reflected in his intense light show, production, and impeccably executed set. Focusing on his recent album, Weekend in America, he delivered an intense hour of dominant electro-house to the impressive crowd that gathered in the outdoor arena, and plenty of people were losing their shit down the front.
With the event presumably a success, let's hope Dancegiving continues to develop and returns next year. Transforming downtown Fort Lauderdale into a multistage dance festival felt strangely exciting and overdue. With a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and good organization, the integrated internal venue structure and outdoor arena clearly works well. There's clearly a market for this type of event, particularly with Ultra seemingly intent on positioning itself within the three-day $350 bracket. One senses that further lineup diversification might be required to ensure it remains fresh -- many of the countless identikit commercial and electro-house DJs that played aren't worth a mention -- but overall, it would be good for Fort Lauderdale if the event returns on the same scale next year.
The crowd: A young party crowd, primarily 18 to 30. A few decked out in embarrassing neon rave gear, but primarily it was quite a relaxed and eclectic crowd. I spotted about four people with Skrillex-inspired haircuts. A decent portion definitely weren't 18 but definitely were on ecstasy.
Overheard in the crowd: "Let's got loaded!" -- a guy wearing a white South Florida Sea Rescue T-shirt while caning two beers at once and gurning his face off. Quite clearly enjoying spending his holiday weekend on dry land, away from the wild and dangerous seas.
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