Transformation Weekends: Hydrate Nightclub
In 2003 I was tasked with creating elaborately themed events at the just opened Boystown neighborhood dance club, Hydrate, as part of the series I pioneered. In addition to the themed environments, I would also design and often participate in a late night dance floor performance/experience. It was my first regular work in a nightclub and both incredibly exciting and thoroughly exhausting. I created custom video content as part of each theme as well as themed staff uniforms. I was given tremendous freedom to create, which proved to be an unparalleled learning experience with plenty of life-lessons along the way! I often pushed the limits of what a tiny storefront nightclub experience could offer. I’m surprised people didn’t get hurt, lol! One of the first themes was called Storm featuring Hurricane Hydrate, where I “artfully” trashed the place and where my part in the performance had me flying a kite in a theatrical “storm”. On the relatively tiny dance floor, Amidst flashing lighting and booming thunder, it actually rained via a high pressure misting system, and I was carried away on a cable and pulley system. We were never short of ambition! Here are some highlights from the 25+ themed weekends.
MANY thanks to the talents of Charles “Jackie” Garner, Brett Locascio, Jim Glaub, Jessica Gonyea, Richie M. and Teena Angst (Ben DeLaCreme) for their help making some unforgettable moments.
This was one of my favorite. CAFETERIA incorporated all your iconic elements from school lunch time. I also created a performance for drag performer extraordinaire Teena Angst (Ben DeLaCreme) as a vintage inspired dancing milk carton performing the new hit “Milkshake” song by Kelis. I’ll never forget the moment. Major thanks to Charles “Jackie Garner for helping to make this so special.
I designed a performance for Teena Angst (Ben DeLaCreme) as a single serving milk carton dancer complete with straw hat.
HYDRATE LANES, AIR HYDRATE
Hydrate became a bowling alley and then an airline. Air Hydrate took flight as one of the most popular nights transforming Hydrate into an airline Included pilot and runway technician costumes. A choreographed stewardess performance to a custom mix of Kylie Minogue’s “Light Years” took place on the dance floor stage. This is one of the first times of many that I had the pleasure of collaborating with the brilliant Teena Angst (Ben DeLaCreme). I regret there aren’t more images or video of the event!
I programmed the illuminated letters to progressively illuminate and the neon ball had a intermittent flicker.
I’ve always had an interest in science and laboratory equipment and vintage chemistry sets, so I built a theme around that, blind to obvious drug references that seems so obvious now, or that to some, I had created a meth lab. I learned from this, but visually it was still one of my favorite themes. Below is the ambient video content I created with Teena Angst (Ben DeLaCreme) and Richie M.
UPSIDE DOWN, LAUNDROMAT, HEAVEN & HELL, DRUNKEN SAILOR, PLANETARIUM
The LAUNDROMAT theme was another one of my favorite weekends. A very graphic-heavy theme with a lot of fun resources. The dance floor was turned into a conceptual washer/dryer where a giant illuminated sign signaled the wash cycle (cue the foam and bubble machines), the rinse cycle (cue the H20 misters), and the drying cycle (cue the fans with dryer sheets attached). Good clean fun! So was the UPSIDE DOWN theme where I inverted anything we could including the sign out front and the logo on the staff’s t-shirts. The performance featured Teena Angst (Ben DeLaCreme) , with myself and Jorge Quintero hanging upside down from the ceiling. Hydrate is spilt into two sections, at the time a red space and a light blue space, perfect for a Heaven and Hell weekend.
My detergent inspired graphic was utilized on staff t-shirts, video graphics and rebranded detergent bottles
3 faux washing machine displays were constructed using layered components, each included a rotating image of laundry.
Planetarium weekend featured a variety of planets including one that appeared to rotate, thanks to a projected mapped effect.
GHOSTBUSTERS, CARRIE, PSYCHO, HAUNTED HYDRATE & HOLIDAY
Each weekend in October was a different Halloween theme.
Ghostbusters, a personal favorite was so much fun to create. We built some very realistic Ghostbusters costumes, with Teena Angst (Ben DeLaCreme) as the most convincing possessed Sigourney Weaver. Among the decorations was an enormous print of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man peering in from outside a section of Hydrate’s windows and a hologram, projection of Slimer the ghost.
Carrie was advertised as a 60’s prom, but during the late night dance floor performance, everything went to Hell.
Psycho was brought to life with a variety of vignettes from the movie, many featuring lighting or animation effects.
Halloween weekend, Haunted Hydrate featured a large variety of intricately carved jack-o-lanterns, moving bust statues and a variety of other special effects.
The giant Stay-Puft image I created, positioned outside a large bank of windows looking into the club.
I made this Ghostbusters sign using red theatrical gel for the deeply saturated color, laminated over a large format photo copy to give a glossy appearance.
Brett Locascio, Teena Angst and I were invited back in 2005 where we created a late night performance featuring an effect using steel grinders on her neck bolts while she sang a special mix of Jennifer Lopez’s “Alive”. It was one of my very favorite performances.
A haunted portrait I created of Teena Angst (Ben DeLaCreme). The eyes moved left and right activated by motion sensors.
DRAG AEROBICS, TWISTED TUESDAY & MORE
In addition to my signature Transformation Weekend, I occasionally created custom installations, video content or other creative contributions. A Drag Aerobics Infomercial was a video loop I created for the launch of Hydrates “Hydrag” drag performance events. A Twisted Tuesday ad video created for a new special guest-hosted evening. The two additional video clips were from the STORM event.