In the intersection between a gay club and an underground rave, hyperpop is quickly finding its place in the local nightlife scene.
Following last month’s Bubblegum Bass Dance Party honoring the late hyperpop pioneer SOPHIE, the Wooly, located at 20 N Main St., will be hosting a hyperpop-themed night Nov. 20. The event was planned by Respite Events, a promotion company based in Gainesville.
The themed night seems to join the venue’s diverse lineup of monthly dance parties catered to specific audiences, such as Y2K-inspired Von Dutch & Velour dance party and Pop Punk & Emo Night.
The event Oct. 15 was welcomed by a strong sense of community. Both the organizers and the DJ were impressed by the turnout and excitement in the audience, which motivated them to plan a follow-up event to keep the momentum going.
Initially, they planned on a January date for the follow-up event due to the venue being heavily booked for holiday parties, but as soon as a spot opened up for this month, they pulled together the hyperpop-themed night.
While at the beginning of the first event there was a fear of not having enough people attend, the community showed an interest in what the night offered.
The event was mainly promoted through word-of-mouth and by members of the community sharing about it on social media, with dedicated accounts such as the Instagram page @ufhyperpoppers promoting it online.
There were worries that no one would show up, and event organizer Alf Posen even described the first few minutes of the event as a “little awkward at first, like a middle school dance.”
Eventually as the night progressed more people joined, and this awkwardness turned into celebration.
DJ Drew Love mentioned that one of his favorite moments of the Bubblegum Bass Dance Party was when a giant circle opened up on the dancefloor.
“It almost turned into a soul train kind of vibe where people would go in and do a dance and then stop and somebody else would come in,” Love said. “For some of the tracks, you could barely hear what I was playing over everyone singing along, which I thought was beautiful”
After the event, Love commented on posts tagging him and the venue, and he let attendees know of the upcoming follow-up event. He said the event promotion was mostly organically done by members of the community with an interest in hyperpop.
“We’re seeing that Gainesville wants it, and it’s a passion on both the promoters and my part,” Love said. “It was something they loved, it was something I loved, but we weren’t really sure who else loved it.”
With goals of making it a recurring monthly event, organizers kept building on it and started adding features, such as community resources and a drag performance.
WellFlorida’s High Impact Protection team, a program of the local health council that aims to decrease the spread of HIV, will be tabling offering information about resources and providing attendees with at-home HIV testing kits.
University Club Drag Race alum Tatiana Summersreached out to the organizers after attending the Bubblegum Bass Dance Party and told them that they were going to attend the upcoming Hyperpop Night. The organizers then asked Summers if they would like to perform at the event.
“I’m performing at UC Saturday and I just saw the flyer and I was like ‘Oh I’ll stop by afterward,’” Summers said. “I’m literally walking across the street after I perform at UC, probably wearing the same thing.”
The Wooly is located only a street away from University Club, Gainesville’s only LGBTQ club space. With hyperpop being a music genre pioneered and settled by queer people and having mainly a LGBTQ audience, the event overlaps with UC’s established presence in the community.
Summers sees this as a good thing.
“Usually, University Club is the only LGBTQ club or bar in town… which is great, but it’s cool to have more queer spaces to go to in town, even though it’s not labeled as a queer event,” Summers said.
Posen said in an email that they hope the event provides the local community with a type of queer dance spaces that were prominent when they first moved to Gainesville.
Put together by passionate people catering to an excited audience, the event gives people that might not usually participate in the nightlife scene a space to enjoy the music they don’t hear being played anywhere else. For some, this is especially meaningful..
“I was really thrown back at the end of the night with people that were coming up to me and thanking me, telling me how they finally felt represented in the Gainesville nightlife...and how they felt safe going out and finally hearing music they wanted to hear,” Love said. “We were just doing this to have a fun night and it meant so much more to so many people.”
Respite Events promoter Tyler Thompson said he hopes the hyperpop night will provide the audience of young queer adults with a safe space to have fun and be themselves, much likethe Bubblegum Bass Dance Party proved to be.
“I’m excited for people to just have genuine fun because I know the world can be a crappy place, so if I can just facilitate someone just having those moments of joy, that’s everything,” Thompson said.
With the gradual addition of different features, organizers hope to make the event bigger every time, and they hope to provide the audience with a safe, welcoming space to have fun in the community.
Contact Kristine at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow her on Twitter @ktnedelvalle
Kristine Villarroel is a second-year journalism student at the University of Florida and a staff writer with the Avenue. In her free time, you can usually find her making playlists or talking about the full moon.