Last Friday, Holocene held its first dance party since the coronavirus pandemic shut down Portland's live music industry.
In many ways, it was like any other DJ night at the Buckman nightclub. Resident DJ Ben Tactic and Nathan Detroit bumped house music from the venue's stage, cloaked under a layer of psychedelic lighting.
There was one major difference, though. Other than the DJs and staff, the club was completely empty.
Unable to host an audience in real life, Holocene decided to livestream the event on YouTube. It drew close to 700 viewers—more than twice the club's capacity.
"For us, it's like, if you miss being able to come out and go to our dance nights, we want you to be able to have that opportunity at home with your roommate or your pet," says Gina Altamura, the club's head curator.
In lieu of a cover charge, the venue posted an optional donation link in the YouTube stream's description box. The first livestream raised enough money to cover the cost of developing and running the stream, plus extra revenue for a fund that goes toward Holocene's staff.
Holocene plans to ramp up its virtual events. The venue has a project underway called Constellate, in which local musicians are provided a pack of audio samples to turn into songs for a benefit album. There'll be more remote dance parties, too.
"We're hoping to do a lot of them," says Altamura. "We want to make our space available as much as possible on this virtual plane."
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