Another Angle on Looptopia
By Shannon in Arts & Entertainment on May 13, 2007 9:15PM
While we didn't sustain any permanent injuries Friday night or Saturday morning, we too were participants in Looptopia. When we first heard about it lo so many months ago, we thought it was finally a way for Chicago step onto the world stage, regardless of the Olympic nod. After all, if Paris, Rome, Montréal and São Paulo can do it, why not us? ... Well, we found that out the hard way.
Since you presumably already know about the fallout either firsthand or from reading Chicagoist's first post, we'd like to focus on some of the sights and sounds of the all-night festival instead. Yes, sounds! We've provided sound links (if applicable) to go with our pics for an audio/visual feast.
The scenes that took the cake for us were the various Redmoon installations throughout the Loop. We say "throughout," but they were really clustered together quite closely in the Madison/State region. They had definite color themes going, but other themes were less clear. A blue one involved an Abe Lincoln look-a-like playing an autoharp while a girl in modest 1800s farmgirl clothing (replete with bonnet) tried to pierce potatoes with her withering gaze. Another, this one green, had a man playing a digeridoo against the backdrop of a schoolteacher very adamant on the education of apples, which she communicated in song. We couldn't possibly make this shit up. As quizzical as the Redmoon stuff left us, it still made for good street spectacle with plenty of onlookers.
To satisfy our inner bootyshaker, we resolved long ago to check out any dance parties involved in Looptopia, no matter what. This resolution prompted us to make some regrettable choices. We checked out the MF Chicago event at the Sullivan Dock (a.k.a. Carson's old loading area) and instantly felt five years older. Club kids danced and cheered everywhere with boundless energy and flashing novelty items, reveling in the flimsy excuse for rave-like conditions. Our favorite exchange came as we snapped a pic of one of the few paintings in the area: A guy came up to us and asked if we "got the proof." After we professed ignorance, he said, "You know, the proof? It's in the pudding." Yup. The old "smile and nod" adage never felt truer.
Since the overcrowded Sullivan Dock was a bust (from our wizened perspective), we also scoped out Macy's party at 7 on State. This required us to suck it up and actually step foot in Macy's, but we survived. Shoppers were everywhere, and it was no more evident than at the party itself. It looked as if the store itself had dumped all manner of shoppers onto the 7th floor for food, drink and ... a surprising lack of dancing. There was one mosh-pit-like entity and that was it. It felt more like a hob-knobby club than a dance party. Expecting too much from Macy's? Ah, that's where we tripped up.
We got a bigger kick out of other people dancing at the Dance COLEctive in the Cultural Center. We didn't realize it was something of a to-do; we just ended up in the Civil War hall because it was the only place we could sit. But we should have known it'd be a draw when our companion said people kept coming up to him and asking, "Do you know vere is ze Dance COLEctive?" We weren't aware there were many German dance-lovers at Looptopia, but who knows. Dubbed "Spaces In Between," many female dancers displayed stop-start movement to a driving techno rhythm, easily the best music we'd up to that point — that is, if you don't count Abe Lincoln.
Our most personal experience was at I Am Robot and Proud, or rather DJ Emulsion, since the Robot as advertised was stuck in Canada. Don't ask, we don't know either. Left to our own devices as our companion took part in the chess tournament outside, we were free to enjoy the minimal, mostly cheerful blips and bloops that issued forth from Emulsion's laptops, set to a visual panoply of random, disjointed images. Initially we thought it'd be a dance set like MF Chicago, but the exhibit exemplified low-key with just two tables and the projected visuals. As a result, people got bored and there was a high turnover. We didn't care. These were the people who wanted to see the show for novelty. We figure their line of thinking was, "Robots?! Cool! I'm in!" without knowing it'd be electronic music. While we would have rather had a dance floor going, we were grateful for the experience. It was also the only time we spent any money in the Loop. We certainly can't say that very often.
All photos by the author. We encourage you to share your own Looptopia photos in our Contribute section.