A solitary open door on the main drag in downtown Fort Lauderdale shook the heavy July air with the sounds of electronic dance music. There were three lines of people waiting to enter the Technosluts party at Off the Hookah; the streets were clogged with a cocktail of phaser effects, diluted with undulating bass.
Past the welcome mat of vibrating speakers and the first of four bars, the dance floor was illuminated by the glow of a projection screen, dividing DJ from dancers but also exposing a mostly vacant dance floor. The bars were being held up by what seemed like all walks of Florida wildlife watching the center of the room and avoiding eye contact with those around them. The promise of EDM meeting S&M seemed like it was made on less-than-solid ground, but it was still early.
The more sultry side of EDM appeared on the patio. Partygoers in a group were shaking a leg (just one...) and bopping their heads to the bass. This is where the party started. This was the music that should have been playing inside! Mostly because it was hot out on the patio.
But upon reentering the main room at Technosluts 7, a pulse began beating. Performers in extreme garb started slowly pouring out into the crowd, and the folks holding up the bar seemed more inclined to interact with them than anyone else. The audience at this S&M-themed party lacked the gusto of the hard-core fetish scene, so freaky performer types were easy to spot among the crowd.
The men, if not wearing just a black shirt and jeans, are wearing no shirt -- and for them, it seemed to fill the responsibility of the theme. Women's fashions ranged from the youthful short-skirt-and-Converse-sneakers look to platform pleather boots with effective pushup bras. Not exactly S&M but definitely sexy on some level.
The performers were the heroes of the event. And no one could get enough of them. They offered some sort of psychological relief for the chronically awkward folks hiding behind their VIP tickets. The shift occurred about a quarter to 2 in the morning as a performer in four-foot stilts, wearing a pink corset loaded with glitter and flashing dreamy winged sleeves around, started to loosen up the crowd. This is what we'd been waiting for.
Following her was another performer in a chrome-colored corset, made up to resemble an android of sorts -- her silver Mohawk in full effect. They were fully integrated into the crowd now, with wigs and outrageous costumes, some super sexy and some eye-catching in other ways.
When they weren't bringing the crowd together, they were dominating the stage. Different acts throughout the evening involved fire and power tools, bondage accessories, and cages.
The music really picked up around that time too. Who the DJs were exactly, remained a sort of mystery. Certainly, we'd seen their names on the flyer, but in the moment, the need to remember names faded. The venue officially filled out, and the dance floor flooded. It was hard to tell if this was the point in the evening where everyone had enough to drink, or if the music and freaky visuals were enough to get people moving.
It got weird. Like the lounge lizard scene from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas weird. Heavy makeup, monstrous breasts, braided hair, body paint, glowing whirring appendages. It all came crashing into a crescendo. Then the whole thing gurgled, spitting you back out on Second Avenue, gasping in the still and humid morning.
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