Decentralized Dance Party Field Report: San Francisco 2/14/17

TL;DR: A smallish but very cohesive Party that suffered from some setbacks but ultimately succeeded in creating a number of transcendent moments.

The rundown:

  • Party started roughly on-time at about 7pm
  • About 100 Partiers showed up at the start; the streets were fairly empty so we didn’t gain as many newcomers as usual, but our core group held strong all evening.
  • Route was very compact, with lots of stops within 2 blocks of each other. For this reason, and because of the necessity of moving slow due to antenna issues, we only got about halfway through the distance we anticipated covering in the 4 hours of the event.
  • Expenses were around $650 (including some new gear) and donations were around $700 combined online and in-person
  • Tom was Brett Monaghan; key volunteers were Eva Petakovic and August West. Contributing support from Mark Krawczuk with lots of support from others at the event.

What worked/Key magic moments:

  • New elements on the transmission rig: a hardwired mic setup (including phantom power supply and toggle switch) which reduced complexity and weight, and a ground-loop isolator which appeared to clean up the transmission sound quality a little.
  • Bubble King deployment was flawless — took about a minute to set up and 2 mins to strike. Highly recommended. Utilized during Tell It To My Heart (Taylor Dayne) and Freedom (George Michael). Very effective:

  • Hip-hop line dancing is bigger than anticipated — The Cupid Shuffle was a huge hit and had everyone moving together.
  • Having a burly shopping cart was totally key this time. In addition to carrying the bubble machine, a DJ light, a giant speaker, a car battery and inverter, the piano-phone, and a bunch of waters, it also provided a convenient spot to stash a few pesky non-functional boomboxes. Highly recommended.
  • Having a few Partiers help us empty batteries out of boomboxes into milk crates before we loaded them into the vehicle at the end location saved a lot of work and headache.

What didn’t work:

  • Volunteer turnout was light, perhaps because it was a weekday. I had 2 full-time helpers who were staying at my place, as well as a bunch of prior volunteers who came to Party (and helped out at the event), so it worked out, but more help would have made things less stressful and more fun all around.
  • Antenna issues were identified early: BNC connector on antenna cable was loose from repeated vibration/tension. This caused the transmitter to have difficulty “locking” to frequency when in motion. Transmitter was placed in a cart which limited motion except when the Party was moving. Long-term solution is expected to include replacement of the antenna cable connector, and strapping the transmitter to a board with a rigid armature that holds the cable still during future events.
  • Having the antenna near other electronics (DJ light, inverter, etc) caused some high-pitched noise on the transmission, but only really noticeable between songs.
  • I didn’t really give the full spiel and introduce the volunteers to look for if anyone needed assistance — because of the large number of people there who had attended or volunteered with us before, it worked out OK this time but shouldn’t be repeated.
  • Interference from a local Christian Rock station caused issues early on — all radios were tuned to 107.3 but we shifted at the start location to 107.5.d
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