Memorial Day Weekend is traditionally when masses of Americans come out of their winter shells and start stretching toward the sun and other activities to get their blood pumping. This year, we are “especially hungry,” in the words of Erin Barnes of Meow Wolf, to experience something more socially connecting than just a BBQ or hike. That’s why, as public relations manager, she scheduled their Danceportation PARTY PORTAL event over this long holiday weekend, and it was a hit. Over four floors, a rotating cadre of DJs pumped music into arenas of art that seemed designed for this endeavor. Partygoers danced, explored, laughed, talked, and breathed all throughout the different metaverses created inside that awkward-seeming white building sitting hunched between the freeways in downtown Denver.
Choosing to embark in social gatherings again like dance parties is a big decision after two and a half years of living with Covid. Meow Wolf has been especially cognizant of how COVID has shaped our world, since the Denver installation opened during 2021; they began their life at 65% capacity and have been sitting there since. The PARTY PORTAL series of events isn’t a stunt to try and up those numbers, though: all other Meow Wolf installations have raves once a quarter, and we’re well behind the curve because of COVID.
There is no pushing the envelope when it comes to safety. Every employee is tested every two weeks, and training for other potential risks is ongoing. Every employee recently underwent training to recognize when someone has been rufied or when someone may be attempting to roofi another. That sense of safety was very tangible among the partygoers throughout the night, a distinct difference from a regular club setting. Meow Wolf staff is also equipped with appropriate overdose countermeasures (such as Narcan or Naloxone) to assist in the rare case someone would need it. Security and other staff say drug use at Meow Wolf and their special events is rare, and the experience at Danceportation bears that out. Partygoers were all about immersing themselves in the pre-prepared psychedelic experience of the installation, elevated by the added art of the DJs. What a truly ecstatic communal experience, without the need for any additional stimulants. Although regularly placed carts provided alcohol, there were mocktails, coffee, and even MoonWater (it’s locally bottled Denver water).
The entirety of the art encompassing the visitor to Meow Wolf was enhanced exponentially by the talented performances of the DJs and the expert sound systems. The seamless joining of each area of the installation made Convergence Station transform into the living piece of art it truly is; the dancers in their exciting and artful club wear only heightened the entire experience. The respect and joy present in this environment was almost startling after such a long time apart from social outings. Six hours dancing and playing Disco Bingo at this event will fill your cup for a long time.
From the time we entered the installation to when we left, we were greeted with joyful beings tangibly excited to share this experience with us. Watching dancers break dance for the first time since we were in high school provided a nostalgia shot. The communal feeling of serenity and happiness as we traversed each area of each floor is definitely an experience worth repeating. The installation seemed to throb and bounce itself with the beat of the DJs and the heartbeats of the partygoers. The costumed docents were full of life and energy, their smiles and engagement almost contagious. We left feeling tired but uplifted, excited to share the next Danceportation event with friends and family.
Checkout the Meow Wolf website for future Danceportation and PARTY PORTAL events.