The breeze was cool and the dress was business casual as the Decentralized Dance Party Boston got underway at the end of the Long Warf Pier. A combination flash mob and rave the Decentralized Dance Party was started in Canada, in 2010 by and Gary LaChance with a boom box on the back of a bike, and the simple idea of bringing people together through the promise of good music and a good time.
Dance party dates are set in advance, and locations are announced online through social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter the day before the event takes place. Funded through a Kickstarter campaign, the Decentralized Dance Party has been taking it’s, “Party Safari,” across the United States since early this spring. “As long as you have the right attitude, they will come,” said LaChance in a short phone interview.
He was right, by about 8:30 on Wednesday May 30th, the air was electric, and the crowd had swelled. The party was ready to get started as Kuzma and LaChance briefly introduced themselves to the crowd and laid out a few ground rules. There were really only three, “No boombox left behind, be respectful of the city, be respectful of law enforcement,” said LaChance. Everyone got tuned into 99.9, and those who wanted a boom box were offered one to carry with them, “If you’d like a boom box now’s your last chance,” he said, “but, pleeeease remember to return them.” Armed with a glowing “Disco Stick,” Kuzma led the ecstatic revelers like the Pied Piper down the Long Warf pier into the city. Sound blasted out of the dozens of boom boxes simultaneously broadcasting, “You gotta fight for your right to Paaaaaarrrr-tay,” as surprised restaurant patrons and staff excitedly took pictures of the passing crowd. Kuzma led the dancers to the Rose Kennedy Greenway where the expanding crowd wove in and out of the Harbour Islands Pavilion in a long Gloria Estefan fueled Conga line.
“That means hands on hips,” said LaChance, for those who weren’t sure what the Conga line protocol was. As the second half of the group caught up, the crowd danced their way into the Rings fountain, where they splashed and played in the spraying water to the dance club favourite, “What is love?!” That was really just the beginning.
It felt like we were in a 80’s music video and the route they took us on over the next three hours was circuitous and part of the Freedom Trail. It included two laps around Quincy Market, dance circles at City Hall Plaza, a jaunt around the Suffolk County Superior Court, a pause at Park Street and eventually we were deposited right on Boston Commons front the State house around 11:30 where the crowd dispersed. The dancers were not entirely unsupervised. The Boston Police, accompanied us on parts of our journey, providing safe passage for the spirited group. There was also a team of, “Banana’s,” who provided crowd support and collected unwanted boomboxes throughout the event. “The police officers have show up and they’re very cool with what we’re doing,”said LaChance, “so be respectful, and give them a high-five and get them dancing.”
Although I didn’t catch any Boston Police officers breaking into dance, the spirit was in the air and I did see a few good-natured, wry smiles as we passed by. Even the Boston Fire Department made a cameo when we were paused at City Hall Plaza, dancing to Billie Jean, “Apparently someone called this in as a bonfire,” said La Chance around 9:55.
Walking (or dancing) around the streets of downtown Boston with a group of total strangers, dressed in business suits, animal costumes or yellow caution tape, and listening to loud dance music it’s not hard to think that this wouldn’t bring a group of people together. The group of people who gathered were as diverse and eclectic as the music played and everyone was unified in their simple desire to have a good time.
“I heard about this on Facebook, through a friend,” said Anna a local undergraduate. She and her friend Jessica, who was visiting from Texas, were surprised by how cool Boston can be. “The event is awesome! It’s a lot more fun than I expected!” she said.
The evening wound down in the Boston Commons. Partiers were reminded to leave the borrowed boom boxes at the Merch stand or closest exit before they left, and respect the police officers who were present and ushering people out. “It’s been a pretty awesome three hours, so I’d like to thank the Boston Police for escorting the whole party,?” said LaChance, “thanks to all of you for coming out and looking good on a Wednesday night.” The Decentralized Dance Party has been making its way across the United States on its Party Safari since early this spring. It was a big hit at SXSW and it seemed like a big hit with the Dancers who made it out on Wednesday night in Boston. It’s next stop is New York City on Saturday, after that they finish up their United States tour and have plans make the Decentralized Dance Party a global phenomenon. It was a lot of fun while it lasted, and with their mission accomplished in Boston I’m a little sad I can’t be in New York when they touch down. But, hopefully as LaChance said in closing, “we will see you in the future.”