Imagine what endless miles of asphalt roads and concrete towers in a typical North American city do on a typical day. They serve as infrastructure. Roads to walk on to get from point A to B. Bridges to drive over to get to the other side. Subways to transport long distances underground. Enter one dude with an MP3 player and portable FM radio transmitter and add a few hundred boombox-toting partiers tuned in to that signal, and those same streets turn into a road revelry rooted in ridiculousness.
That ridiculousness (with its own sense of purpose) is the Decentralized Dance Party (DDP), a free mobile dance event with no central audio source and no central location. Though Decentralized Dance Parties are spontaneous in nature, like any other event they are planned to start at a specific date, time and location. The DDP crew arrive at the specified site with boomboxes (though partiers are encouraged to bring their own) and the party wanders from there. Born from 20 people partying on a beach in Vancouver, Canada in 2009, the DDP crew’s Party Safari Tours has since brought impromptu, urban dance mayhem to tens of thousands across North America.
Classics from the 80s and 90s like Bon Jovi and House of Pain lay the soundtrack for these dance-wanderers. Wearing banana costumes, three-piece suits and superhero outfits they bounce along bridges on mini-trampolines, spin through skate parks on office chairs. They sit in public fountains and splash dance, set up on streets and breakdance, partner dance, solo dance. Rules are few; the more liberated and free the better.
The sense of liberation comes largely from people coming together to collectively reorient their psychogeography. As the party winds its way through the chasms of the city, previously well-trodden paths gain new meaning as new sights erupt into the collective party consciousness and new ways to interact with the environment emerge. Seeing public space with new eyes, decentralized dance partiers ask not what the streets can do for them, but what they can do for the streets.
Now decentralized dance partiers are asking another question: how can we bring the DDP to a larger audience? How can public-space-starved urbanites turn their asphalt and concrete from one of mind-numbing utilitarianism to one of good use?
Party instigators Tom and Gary have sworn to deliver Decentralized Dance Parties to every single country on the face of the Earth. No small claim. One that would be difficult for the small crew to accomplish. So they’re working on designing an open-source, easy-to-use and cheaper version of their gear so that parties can be thrown by anyone, anywhere (the name of the project is Social Stereo). Decentralized dance as it’s meant to be. Urbanites fighting the workday doldrums may soon be faced with the option of a spontaneous dance party, right smack in the middle of their day to day.