Dancegiving Music Festival
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
After that and with darkness descended, the party was in full
swing. The indoor venues still seemed relatively quiet, but over at the
dubstep stage, Excision was throwing down some crazy heavy beats and got
an engaged crowd throwing its hands in the air in that bass-wobble
way. House legend Roger Sanchez was ripping it up on the main stage with a
tight and focused set that sounded sonically epic, while almost at the
other end of the spectrum, Dieselboy's jungle-infused gritty drum 'n'
bass ripped it up on the smaller stage.
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
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
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.