Sunday, September 24, 2006

Degenerate Art High School

Danger! Art! High School
Lawrimore Project, Seattle, WA

dae3For the uninitiated, the Degenerate Art Ensemble is, well, uh... it's a band sometimes, and a dance troupe other times, and an orchestra, and an experimental theater company. They perform pieces that bore their way into your skull and can either make you feel supremely enlightened or profoundly unhip. Tonight's loosely organized and happily chaotic party is called "Degenerate Art High School, " and it's a fundraiser for the group.

detention-roomMy friend and I arrive in our best plaid skirts and begin our first lap the Lawrimore Project, which is so spacious and lovely we almost forget we're next to the former INS jail. We have the main performance space, a detention room, a bar in the back, and a dunk-tank outside that features various band members in full marching band regalia. Activities include musical chairs, speed spelling bee, the wonderful Aerialistas, and the DAE band led by majorette Haruko Nishimura. You can see both the Aerialistas and DAE in this video.

cowboy-cheerleaderThe crowd is just on the fringes of Seattle's hipster scene. Most of the people are normal art-loving 20 and 30-somethings, with a sprinkling of adorable boys in skirts, space-age girls holding snakes, nerdy-looking guys dressed as shop or PE teachers, an older man who tries to look down my friend's top, and a local newspaper writer who later will throw his gin and tonic on my legs. However, none of these characters can out-character Stop Rape Guy and Crazy Girl.

As you can see in this fuzzy picture, he wears a t-shirt emblazoned with the words "STOP RAPE." She starts off with a wool cap and jacket, but sheds these items throughout the evening. Their respective bloodstreams course with a substance that is definitely not alcohol. Stop Rape Guy stumbles into people and things in his effort to get everyone to dance. DANCE!!! (My friend suggests we make t-shirts that say "Stop Stop Rape.") Crazy Girl gets progressively more belligerent until her coup de grace during the second round of musical chairs.

musical chairsThe nice orderly hipsters pay their five bucks to participate in musical chairs, where music is performed by DAE. Just before the round begins, Crazy Girl and Stop Rape Guy decide to join in. She barrels her way around the chairs with the group and he marches in the opposite direction. At first we think she's funny, and then when we realize that no security person is on the way to haul her ass out, the tension rises.

Crazy Girl is fearless--she flings herself on chairs when the music stops, frequently keeping that chair lodged between her legs as she crashes onto the floor. She climbs over the other players and walks across the chairs. The crowd is temporarily stunned into silence by this trainwreck until their fear/protection instincts take over and they start yelling "GET HER OUT OF THERE" to no one in particular. Where are the gallery owners? Where are the security guards? Finally both she and Stop Rape Guy are subdued. By this time the crowd is so invested in the safe completion of the game that they go completely bananas when the adorable girl in pink wins the round.

The organizers somehow recover from that disaster, but now the schedule is thrown way off and we don't get to see the Mike Min piece that we're here for. On our way out of the event we pass by Crazy Girl and Stop Rape Guy, who are lying on the cement ramp outside yelling about a sea of blue vaginas. For some reason, their continued attendance was allowed. It's an appropriate end to an exciting and degenerative art show.

Fanalyst Rating

Fashion: **
Scene: ***
Band/Audience Rapport: ****
Audience Focus: ***

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