Dance club

Inside social media! The Social Distance Dance Club at the Armory

“Social! The Social Distance Dance Club” runs April 9 through April 22 at the Park Avenue Armory.
Photo: Bet Dukovic for New York Magazine

On a recent afternoon at the Park Avenue Armory, Daft Punk’s “Lose Yourself to Dance” blared from a DJ booth. A disco ball shimmered above our heads. With my eyes closed and inhibitions released, I felt a sensation I hadn’t felt since the pandemic ended New York’s nightlife (and, therefore, my groovy moves) 13 years ago. month: total liberation. The reason? “Social! The Social Distance Dance Club,” an interactive art exhibit that gave one hundred people at a time the chance to be in a “club,” if the club in question was like the resurrected Studio 54 as a sweaty Pilates class.

Dreamed up by artists David Byrne, Christine Jones and Steven Hoggett at the start of the pandemic, the show gives each participant their own kaleidoscopic orb of light to dance in, creating individual spotlights. “The idea of ​​moving in sync with strangers is a transcendent experience,” says Byrne. “You are part of a larger entity. You lose yourself, and there is a feeling of ecstasy in losing yourself. Throughout, pre-recorded narration, voiced by Byrne, guides the crowd through choreographed or freestyle moves. When he orders participants to do “puppet legs,” for example, everyone raises their appendages as if they’re connected to an invisible string.

Participants must take a rapid coronavirus test and go through a brief incubation period before being allowed to enter the space exercise room, as well as maintain a distance of 12 to 15 feet from others – a contactless process which Jones says mirrors when we are suspended, in regards to the pandemic. “We were very clear at the beginning that it was designed for this in-between moment,” she says. “For a time when people feel safe to start being together indoors again and discovering works of art, but they’re not ready to be in a theater on Broadway next to a thousand other people.”

“Social!” sold out all of his dates within hours. “It was a deluge,” says Byrne. “People really want to do this stuff.” The creative team hopes the performance will travel to other cities in the near future, although they recognize the cost will likely be a deterrent to some institutions. No expense was spared for the intricate lighting arrangements, which, as Jones said, were like works of art in themselves. ” We do not talk Lion King,Byrne jokes, “but it’s not like, ‘Throw out some lights and blast some speakers.'”

About halfway through Social!’s 55-minute runtime, I circled my green circle in an attempt to jitterbug to a remix of Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing.” Across the room, a therapy dog ​​was swinging its tail in ecstasy. And in the back row, I saw Byrne in a red circle, letting the clarinet solo take him on his own journey.

Photo: Bet Dukovic for New York Magazine

Photo: Bet Dukovic for New York Magazine

Photo: Bet Dukovic for New York Magazine

Photo: Bet Dukovic for New York Magazine