Live: Dancegiving Music Festival at Revolution, November 26

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

greeted rapturously.
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.

Critic's Notebook

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.

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