Dance: The new 'political' revolution

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Special to the Journal-World

FROM LEFT, Meredith Vacek, Justin Riley and Mark Hurst are founders of Lawrence's Dance! Dance! Revolution.

Bodies clad in red and black uniforms gyrate to the thumping beats of electro, '80s and post-punk music against a background of dance propaganda videos. The revolution has begun.

Dance! Dance! Revolution -- part protest, part celebration -- will begin at 9:30 p.m. Saturday at The Jackpot Saloon, 943 Mass.

Just what exactly the group's three members, Meredith Vacek (deejay J8), Justin Riley (deejay Q3) and Mark Hurst (deejay X9), all Kansas University students, are protesting is unknown.

"We don't want to reveal it at this time because we believe there are government operatives monitoring us," Vacek says with a smile. " And we don't want to give them clues as to our further activities."

Although the group's political agenda will remain anonymous, it is hoping to make a statement about politics and activism.

"Doing this night is kind of a way to make politics fun and try to put it into your life in some sort of way other than just voting time," Hurst says.

"It's getting people interested in changing things and being proactive and taking a more active role in our democracy," Riley adds. "It's also trying to bring together all these different types of people, unified under one idea. Dancing is the unifying theme."

The trio pushes the boundaries of musicians and performance artists by combining elements of both forms at these gatherings.

"Dance revolution really breaks down the barrier between audience and participant," Vacek says. "There wouldn't be a revolution without the people there."

The idea began two years ago when all three members began to discuss their political viewpoints. Coincidentally, the first dance revolution was on the same weekend the group found out about an ordinance in New York City requiring clubs to have a permit to allow dancing.

"We just thought that was so stupid," Hurst says. "If something like that can happen in New York, it could spread here. The timing was just perfect."

Past Event

Dance!Dance!Revolution

  • Saturday, May 1, 2004, 9:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Jackpot Music Hall, 943 Mass., Lawrence
  • 18+ / $3 - $5

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Exploring the idea that many radical political organizations attach visual aesthetics to coincide with their political agenda, the group turned to various communist leaders and craftwork for inspiration. This led the ensemble to adopt uniforms of all black with slim red ties and red armbands.

Participants in Dance Revolution are encouraged to show up in the uniform for a discounted entrance fee.

"We are taking a political image and making it a fashion one as well," Vacek says.

Revolutions are held twice a year. This year, the fashion show, political rally and Dance! Dance! Revolution decided to team up to bring Lawrence one jam-packed day of events.

All of the participants in the three events have known each other for years and have similar political ideas.

"It makes a wonderful bookend for the entire day, too," Hurst explains, "just to go from one event to the other and then just to be able to celebrate how much fun you've been having. I think a lot of people's outlook (on politics) is so glum. 'That person is so political. That person is so serious.' Why can't we just have fun with it?"

Despite a somewhat serious facade, that is what the Dance! Dance! Revolution wants to do. Forget the uniforms, the propaganda videos and the dance enforcers that prod people to keep on going; the idea is just to get folks to come together and celebrate.

"People can expect to see our dance propaganda videos, a mix of performance art and different media and music," Vacek says. "They can also expect to see all the hottest people in Lawrence getting down in black and red as part of the revolution."

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