Glowing white teeth on sets of strobe-lit legs… a whirling rainbow pinwheel arcing across the back wall… one sad balloon bobbing in the corner… the tepid level of stimuli at a Simon’s Rock dance isn’t enough to create the illusion of an ecstatic rave crowd. Navigating through these glowing teeth on legs gathered in sparse clusters, these minefield bursts of sound, it’s almost impossible to really lose yourself. I was at this Saturday night’s Twins Dance, wearing my self-consciousness plastered to my forehead like an old bandana. The only twins I saw were a pair of ‘80s girls – glinting glitter eyes, stripey thighs, ponytails on the side.
It was a three-DJ lineup of Moses Sukin, Kali Malone, and Clara Liberov. The Snack Bar was rumbling like a hungry hive before the doors opened, but dances always start slow -- an over-calculated exaggeration of the Simon’s Rock Time phenomenon (basically, if you show up on time, you’re showing an uncouth amount of desire to be there). During Moses’ set, the first one of the night, I met two girls who were walking out smiling and laughing uncertainly: “It’s scary…”
Well, it’s certainly twitchy -- machine-heart blips shot through with samples (Pixies, M.I.A., Rebecca Black), and some Dubstep whub-whubbing. There were many points where the music would jolt to a halt, then ooze slowly into a tectonic-paced grind that no one wanted to attempt. General disorientation of hesitant movement... a few earnest dancers were still bopping along to each jilted half-beat while the rest stood still waiting, trickled out the door, or reclined on the back wall watching that rainbow pinwheel of lights circle behind the DJ himself, hunched intently in the ghost-glow of his Macbook. This is not to say that there weren’t genuinely danceable moments in the set; but with too many beats artfully skipped in the remix for people to get their own heartbeats revved up to it.
The ensuing sets garnered much larger crowds. John Snyder made an appearance; sitting on the sidelines in a knot of friends, basking wide-eyed . In one unlikely, magical, fleeting moment, Corey MacGregor walked through the thundering room spinning juggling sticks, smiling meditatively. Kali herself was looking effervescent in a high-piled ponytail and a high-waisted jungle-print spandex outfit.
Dancing in the half-dark from cluster to cluster, sneaking from one tendril of ghost-strobe flesh to another, just when I began to lose myself, something would come crashing in – literally, in the form one of one energetic epileptic ragers running through the crowd – to remind me where I was. Between dipping out for breaks and chatting around the water cooler, the crowd volume undulates like an amoeba as the dance goes on. Clara’s set closes out with a real shot at transcendence, which I catch on the wind as I’m walking back to Hill; the sound of Pink Floyd’s “Great Gig in the Sky”, soaring moaning into the night…