The Illumibrate Silent Disco had Boiseans JUMPing to the Beat 

click to enlarge 20180302_200744.jpg

Lex Nelson

Moving up the stairs at Jack’s Urban Meeting Place during Illumibrate 2018 was like jostling in the center of a stampede. Small children in masks of glittering face paint scampered underfoot, while adults wearing bracelets and necklaces made of glow sticks charged after them, attempting to shepherd them to the next attraction.

“Where are we going?” shouted one man to a woman a few steps above him.

“Up!” she replied, pointing a flock of kids up the concrete steps.

When he asked which action-packed room they were heading to, she replied with an exuberant, “I don’t know!”

click to enlarge In the dark Inspire Studio, kids and adults created sentences with sticky notes. - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • In the dark Inspire Studio, kids and adults created sentences with sticky notes.

That exchange summed up the whole event, really. Hundreds of Boiseans milled through the seven-story building and around its courtyard March 2 for the inaugural JUMP community festival centered around color and light, excited to be there without knowing exactly what they were there for.

Every room was packed: It was impossible to turn around without meeting a blast of color and sound. In the Inspire Studio on the fourth floor, a cluster of children sat in front of a projector, watching a woman lift rocks from a pile on screen, while others milled around the walls of the darkened space, arranging neon sticky notes bearing random words into sentences.

On the fifth floor, kids and teens lined up to get their faces painted along one wall, while in the nearby Loft, small stands of light-tipped “wish trees” were set up, part of an international project designed by the musician Yoko Ono. Attendees of the event wrote their anonymous wishes on paper tags and hung them on the trees. A small sign explained that the wishes will be sent to Iceland and buried alongside those of other participants worldwide as part of a memorial for John Lennon. In the Pioneer Room above, JUMP Studio dancers debuted CHROMA, a 12-minute dance performance that had a line of people coiled around the entire floor in anticipation.  

click to enlarge Check out the slideshow below to read some of the wishes from the Wish Trees. - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • Check out the slideshow below to read some of the wishes from the Wish Trees.
The fifth floor was also home to a major pulse point for the night: a Silent Disco facilitated by the local company Kaleidisco. Attendees could snag a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and tune in to one of two channels, each playing different music. Depending on which channel they chose, their headphones would glow either blue or green, signaling their preference to nearby dancers. For those without headphones, the room was oddly quiet, with low-level background music playing that didn’t match either channel.

“I’m not sure what to expect,” Kaledisco co-founder Kyle Smith said before the event, referring to the fact that it would be open to all ages. “I’ve just asked the people who are playing [on the deck that is open to the public to sign up for DJ slots] not go the most vulgar route.”

click to enlarge The Silent Disco was a sea of people dancing, chatting and waiting in line, many of them kids. - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • The Silent Disco was a sea of people dancing, chatting and waiting in line, many of them kids.

By 7 p.m., just an hour in to the disco, all 350 pairs of headphones were taken—at least half by kids under 15. Groups of toddlers, teens and adults filled the space, some forming dance circles, others sitting on couches bobbing their heads, and still others lined up to get their photos taken at the illuminated photo booth in one corner. Even some babies, perched on their parents' laps, wore giant headphones over their tiny ears. Near the door, where a line of people waiting for headphones from outgoing dancers stretched toward the elevators, a rack of wigs and other props was on offer, tempting those coming in to dress up.

“I love this place!” said Valerie Brooks, a JUMP volunteer who made the drive in from Eagle to pass out headphones at Illumibrate. “I volunteer here all the time, and this has been a really fun event.”

click to enlarge Some Silent Disco attendees dressed up in quirky costumes for the party. - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • Some Silent Disco attendees dressed up in quirky costumes for the party.

Without headphones on, the disco was a bit perplexing to watch, but with them, things slotted instantly into place. Suddenly, the 8-year-old breakdancer at the center of a ring of clapping friends was moving to the beat of a top-40 hit. Change the channel, and it became clear that the group of teens boogieing in the middle of the vast space was dancing to Lou Bega’s “Mambo No. 5.”

“I think it’s the novelty of it—everyone’s a little hesitant at first, just because of the whole ‘silent disco’ [thing], you can’t hear any music and it seems weird,” explained Smith. “And it is weird, but that’s what makes it great.”

The disco certainly lived up the Smith's description; not only was it weirdly great in itself, it was perfect for the odd, upbeat collection of events that was Illumibrate.



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