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VIDEO: Dead Disko is an Anchorage dance party with artistic twist

  • Author: Megan Edge
  • Updated: August 9, 2019
  • Published November 20, 2013
To the people of the Northern Light Collective (NLC), Dead Disko, a monthly "undead dance party," is a meeting of artistic minds. The collaborative events combine light and video projections, dancing, body paint, and DJs mixing house and electronic tunes they've created or dug up on the Internet.

For the people of the Northern Light Collective (NLC), Dead Disko, a monthly "undead dance party," is more than just a good time -- it's a meeting of artistic minds. The collaborative events combine light and video projections, dancing, body paint, and DJs mixing house and electronic tunes they've created or dug up on the Internet.

"Dead Disko is a good night to go out, and a beautiful place for the community to come together and kind of shake it down," said Colin Bonfield, better known by his DJ name, Clint Samples.

On the day of a show, Bonfield never stops moving, first bringing in equipment, then creating the set and finally playing music that seems to give the audience an uncontrollable urge to dance. For the October show, Derek Herre, also known as DJ Ryan Derek, joined him. The two build a set that will eventually come to life with bright lights and obscure videos.

While the DJs work to set up the venue, the dancers are busy creating works of art on their bodies and faces. Savanah Sease and fellow dancer Renee Tracy kneel down in front of full body mirrors, dressed in black and white clothing and transform themselves into zombies. Sease's zombie look is classic, Tracy's is much more elaborate.

During a show, the women dance through LED hula hoops, twirling them, tossing them and moving with the beat. And although they both hula hoop and dance during Dead Disko, small things set them apart in front of the crowd.

Tracy sports thick, black boots with a black-and-white-striped dress that looks like it belongs in a Tim Burton movie, and her dance moves are sharp and quick. Sease wears tiny ballet shoes so she can move more gracefully around her hoop. She's wearing black yoga pants, and a black and white sports bra. Her moves are exaggerated and swift.

Both girls lose their hoops occasionally, but they smile and jump back into their groove when the music allows.

"It is like running a marathon," said Sease. "On some nights we might be up there for six hours, but it's a lot of fun."

When Dead Disko begins, the crew members from the Northern Light Collective start working together, mixing music with video and dance. The DJs even get into the act as they entertain, talking to the crowd and dancing to the music they mix.

"Dead Disko is a group of people acting toward one goal," said Herre. "Other events are just one person acting toward their own goal."

Bonfield, Herre and Sease all agree that the undead dance party has changed in its five years of existence. Formerly a staple of the Anchor Pub, Dead Disko was forced to find a new home at Chilkoot Charlie's, in Anchorage, after the Anchor closed its doors. The dancers and musicians have changed, and incorporating music videos in the projection mapping is a new addition.

"Everybody needs something to do," said Herre, after an October show. "This is our something to do. We are facilitators. We don't want to sit at home and play music. We want to share our music with the world."

To watch this video on Vimeo, click here. For the YouTube version, click here, and be sure not to miss a video by subscribing to Alaska Dispatch's YouTube channel.

Contact videographer Tara Young at tara(at)alaskadispatch.com and reporter Megan Edge at megan(at)alaskadispatch.com or contact her on Twitter @megtedge.

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