With a rich history involving psychedelics, the stairs at the Crystal Ballroom have served many roles in the eyes of party goers, and this past weekend was no different. The steps acted as the proverbial rabbit hole, ready to take those who entered into another world. The ballroom itself, was a clear representation of Wonderland. And just as Alice made the leap of faith, over a thousand people did the same this past Friday, following their own white rabbits into a room full of mad hatters, caterpillars and cheshire cats for a meeting with the Queen of Hearts.
Alice in Wonderland enthusiasts made their way to the sold out dance party to honor of a story everyone loved as child and then grew up and fell in love with all over again. Friday’s celebration marked the third year that Living Prism has put together this shindig, previously held at Refuge. This year, however, was the biggest yet with more performances, more art, and more music than before. Big names of the psy-dub world like Bluetech, Phutureprimative, and An-Ten-Nae filled out the bill and required a larger space this time around.
The new venue however, didn’t diminish the artistic flow that made the first two parties a hit. The event was twenty-one and up (sorry tweeners) so the vibe-killing drinking divider was taken down and the organizers chose to forgo the VIP section. From here it was a choose-your-own-adventure book. On the balcony, there was a section of live painters, plush cushions for lounging and a Mad Tea Party with the Hatter himself serving hot tea for all the dancers in need of rejuvenation. On the dance floor was a photo booth, several gallons of drinking water, and a trippy stage design that would make Tim Burton jealous.
Music started with Portland’s Mr. Moo as he brought several instrumentalists to join him. Lots of drums and horns created a worldly sound and brought the crowd to the front of the stage in time for Mr. Moo’s predecessor, Drumspyder. Each DJ played nearly 50 minute sets that incorporated a number of performance artists joining them on stage. Dancers of all variety, decked out in extravagant costumes, lead the audience with their moves. After a welcoming introduction by the night’s appointed emcee, the dreamy downtempo purist, Bluetech hit the decks. Following, was a whole lot of bass.
Phutureprimative took stage next, joined by body builder who was quick to show off her strength. She proved a steel rod, an iron pan, and a phone book were no match as she ripped them all to shreds, to the crowd and everyone’s amazement. Phutureprimative’s music borders on dubstep but with smoother transitions, making the dance patterns come easy. Following his set was the Wonderland-inspired costume contest hosted by the rambunctious emcee and the Queen of Hearts who decided together who stayed and who was dealt “off with their heads.”
Before An-Ten-Nae came out for the final set of the evening, the emcee invited everyone dressed as Alice in the audience onto stage. Soon there were about twenty different Alices dancing to the thundering bass lines the San Francisco producer was pumping away. An-Ten-Nae is the innovator of the “acid crunk” genre which hits heavy and changes direction as soon as you think you understand it. With a sea of sweaty costumes, he closed out with the befitting Jefferson Airplane classic “White Rabbits.”
The set-up of this event made it clear this wasn’t Living Prism’s first go around. A lot of thought clearly went into the artistic nature of this year’s Down the Rabbit Hole. The leading person behind the event, Dar Sernoff, describes the drive of Living Prism as more than just coordinating a concert, but “to cultivate a more complete story. That features not just music, but art and performers with a focus on quality and community.”
They nailed their mission this time around. Yes, there were renowned DJs playing for over four hours, but there was also so much to see and people to share it with. Not to mention a theme that faded the lines of reality for a night of adventure. After all, everyone was ready for their trip to Wonderland, they just needed a white rabbit to show them the way.
Words by Colin Hudson, Photos by Masha Schevchenko.