Tonight at 10:30 p.m. by the Smith Campus Center at Pomona College, the “moving-flash-mob-dance-party” otherwise known as TERRA-rise will begin. As the night progresses, the party will move, music and all, from one unplanned location to another (so bring your wheels and boom box). The party’s goal is both “organized transgression” and “performance art” and is hosted by a group of Pomona students who call themselves the Club Kids.
Gabi nom de War PO ’14*, a Club Kid and one of the central minds behind TERRA-rise, said the idea for the traveling party came from a conversation she had with another Club Kid about “how spaces influence people’s interactions with each other. Specifically, how socializing spaces and party spaces all project a sort of narrative onto the kind of people there.”
“What we wanted to do was an experiment, performance art. Remove location from our interactions with each other and see if we could build up a distinct party identity that transcends location,” nom de War said.
The conceptual building blocks behind the creation of the event add a distinctly creative purpose behind the destructive edge of the party’s name. In fact, the party was funded as an Arts Inspiration Initiative by a grant, written by nom de War, from the Mellon Elemental Arts Initiative at Pomona.
“I want to call it art because there are certain things to learn from it,” nom de War said. “It could be awful, it could be great—it’s an experiment. And I think it’s about time to get away from the same party scene.”
Mixing up the party scene by breaking out of a singular location brings with it a few logistical problems solved by both new and old technology. As location changes are unplanned prior to the event, the Club Kids will be live-tweeting their new locations as they move around the campus. To keep the music going throughout the night, Adam Long PO ’13, a.k.a. DJ Organixxx, will be traveling with the party, live-mixing a collection of 90s music and partygoers’ requests that will be broadcast on a low frequency. Everyone attending can then tune in with their boom boxes or portable speakers to create a collective and transportable sound system.
“You can participate in a different way [at TERRA-rise] and not just go to 5C functions that have the same outcome every time around,” Justyna Bicz PO ’13, a.k.a. Justice-tina Day O’Connor, said. “It’s exciting to do something new and different.”
But as nom de War pointed out, although this type of party differs from the 5C norm, it is not entirely original.
“We’re not the first people to do this—all the good art has already been done. So we’re invoking themes of the past,” nom de War said.
In fact, the name of their group reveals the Claremont Club Kids’ inspiration. The original Club Kids of the late 80s and early 90s were a large counterculture group that defined and propagated a unique and notoriously eccentric party culture centered in New York. Nom de War described them as “ravers and zippie [defined as “like the modern hippies, but cooler”] personalities that would hold these ‘outlaw’ parties.”
Their socially disruptive parties gained huge attention primarily because they were free and mobile; the Club Kids traveled all throughout New York City, taking over subways, parks, and pizza joints with music and dancing.
“They were also just incredibly cool,” nom de War said, “they had the weirdest costumes, did everything for no reason. They were pretty enviable. We wanted to invoke those things and become like the modern Club Kids.”
Claremont’s Club Kids have embraced fully their inspiration for TERRA-rise, evoking in their event not only the original Club Kids’ alternative approach to party space, but also the wild eccentricities of their inclusive counterculture.
One such eccentricity is the use of false names by all Club Kids.
“I really like alliteration,” Nissa Gustafson PO ’15, a.k.a. Kid Calamity, said to explain the thought process behind her moniker. “I’m a Club Kid, and I’m about to cause some ruckus, in the best of ways.”
Although the monikers are expressions of individual creativity on the surface, they also are significant in the making of an inclusive and accepting scene.
“I think with the moniker it allows you a certain freedom. It’s your alter ego; it’s anything you want to be. Suddenly you become everything bigger than yourself; you’ve blown up your potential. You can really be anything,” nom de War said.
The alter ego of each partygoer also manifests in elaborate camp and kitsch costuming, another key eccentricity of the Club Kids. Everyone attending TERRA-rise is encouraged to channel his or her alter ego and go wild for the occasion.
Nom de War herself is planning on getting decked out in “hella green paint” and shaping her hair like a troll doll, because her alter ego is “obviously,” as she said, a troll.
“I’m sure this will draw the weirdest of the weirds on campus, which is a good thing, but that it’s open to anyone, really, is something that we’re trying to emphasize. It’s just a group of kids, anybody could be a Club Kid,” nom de War said.
So, what should you expect if you spend your Friday night following the TERRA-rise party and becoming a Club Kid?
“The zippie answer would be that you could expect nothing and everything. It’s an experiment, and it really is about the people. So if anyone is at all interested in being ridiculous, and a troll, and terrorizing the shit out of a public place … if you are interested in anything non-normative and transformative, this is for you,” nom de War said.
And in the end, it’s going to be a party.
“While it’s a little heady and talking about space and shit, it’s just fun,” Charlie Neibel PO ’15, a.k.a. Snot Release, said.
If you’re still unsure whether to experience TERRA-rise tonight, their Facebook event page makes a rather good point: “This will only ever happen once.”
Claremont’s Club Kids also include Rose Egelhoff PO ’14, a.k.a. Rose Ogeldorff; Naira de Gracia PO ’14, a.k.a. Byrd Bruja; Utsav Kothari PO ’14, a.k.a. Pick-Manic Pitchfork; Emily Glass PO ’15, a.k.a. Softballer88; Julie Shrieve PO ’15, a.k.a. Mrs. Kisses; Katherine Snell PO ’15, a.k.a. Baroque Bitch; and Lee Moonan PO ’16, a.k.a. Loony.
*The members of the Club Kids use false names to maintain the integrity of the event. Further reason for this choice is explained later in this article.