December 12th, 2011 12:29 pm | by RUTH BROWN Arts & Books | Posted In: Theater, Visual Arts

Kickstart my Heart: Decentralized Dance Party

20,000 ghetto blasters can't be wrong


Kickstart my Heart is a semi-regular blog series on Portland Kickstarter projects we don't hate.

Tom Kuzma and Gary Lachance are a couple of Canucks who, as the Vengaboys used to say, like to party. They've been throwing impromptu public dance parties around that country above the United States for two-and-a-half years, powered only by an iPod, a radio transmitter and, sometimes, a Nintendo Power Glove. The amplification comes courtesy of the guests, who bring boom boxes and all tune in to the DJ's FM radio broadcast.

Now they're headed south of the border for a U.S. tour, hoping to bring Decentralized Dance Parties to cities across the nation, with a stop in Portland on Dec. 28. And they're looking for $999 to help get them here. WW spoke to Lachance last week about what to expect:

WW: Tell us a bit about Decentralized Dance Parties and how they come about?
Tom and I grew up together and moved to Vancouver about six years ago. I had an old boom box from my dad and got my first iPod 2006. I noticed there were inputs on the back, and we could plug it in, so we started taking this boom box everywhere we went, crashing parties running around at night, everywhere we went we’d take it with us. We used to do a thing called the midnight mass bike ride, where we'd go out with about 100 people in the middle of the night and rip around on our bikes just partying and having adventures, and we’d always take the boom box with us.

Then one night another guy had a boom box and eventually both of our iPods died and we tuned them both into the same radio station and created a really cool distributed sound effect and then I had the idea of "What if we got 100 stereos together?" and we got our on transmitter and became our own radio station and a few years later, had the time and energy and resources to start putting it together. That was about two and a half years ago. And we haven’t looked back. The first six months we grew from 20 people to like 20,000 showed up for the [Vancouver] Olympic Party. It’s all just totally word of mouth, Facebook, YouTube videos.

What kind of music do you play?
All the classic party tunes. Lots of booty bass, Eurodance, classic rock. And a few special selections mixed in. Basically the ultimate party playlist of songs that get people having the best time.

So why are you taking it on the road to the states?

We’ve done a couple of Canadian tours already now, this is pretty much the logical progression. We took it as far as it can go in Vancouver and our dream is to take it around the world. Why Portland? How we do the tour is think of cities we’d like to go to and set up Facebook events and say, “If we get a big enough responses, we’ll come to your city. And Portland was one of those cities, so we’ve divided the tour in half—the first half is a West Coast/South tour, so it’s Seattle, Portland, L.A., Phoenix, Austin and a couple others. The response was good, lots of people have reached out to us.

Con Bro Chill, he’s this crazy lacrosse playing musician from Portland and he reached out to us and we’re going to try to shoot a music video with him on the way back [from the tour], maybe do another party.

Do the parties just take place in the street?
Pretty much. Always in public places. We just arrive in the city and let people know the starting point and they meet us there.

Have you had trouble with the cops?
No, we always coordinate with the police and they’re pretty stoked on the idea. We always promote it as an alcohol free thing. No, it’s been great. We’ve worked with them. We’ve done 30 parties now and some of them were huge. We always have reciprocal respect happening.

How long do they go?
They go anywhere from three to—we did one here on a ferry boat that went 10 hours.

Do you make any money out of this or is it a labor of love?
Definitely a labor of love. We’re hoping to break even on this one, which is why we've got the Kickstarter fundraiser pages set up. We’re trying to figure out some sponsors right now. It’s definitely not for profit right now, but it’s going places; we’ve got some production companies that have contacted us about turning it into a TV show and that sort of thing.

Tom and Gary are still $641 short of their goal for Portland. You can give them some of your hard-earned here.
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