Are themed dance parties getting out of hand? Clint Frazier from 99ten and The Common doesn't think so
By Liam Newbigging | July 12, 2023
It’s a Saturday night, and I’m checking the various bills at my favourite venues to see what’s going on. One place is hosting an ABBA disco-themed dance party. OK, cool, but my platform soles gave me blisters at the ‘70s R&B dance party the other weekend, so maybe not. I wonder if there is an Emo night? But Blink-182 was just here, so I think I already hit my early 2000s music quota for the month. What’s this? A Dark Eighties Night at 99ten? I’m definitely feeling some post-punk, black leather and eyeliner. Sign me up.
The state of nightlife in Edmonton has seen a heavy increase in the number of themed dance events. I remember seeing the first hyper-specific themed event in 2018, which was the very first Emo night at The Buckingham. Flash-forward a couple of years, and the events are more popular than ever. General manager and talent buyer for 99ten and The Common, Clint Frazier, agrees, saying the turnouts are “incredible.”
“They’re always sold out. They’re always very busy,” says Frazier. “It’s a total blast, and people really love it.”
Frazier, who has been booking acts for The Common for around eight years now, says the influx became noticeable after the pandemic. “It’s the familiarity that really appeals to people.” He also says that folks have become more frugal with their funds and picky about what they’re willing to risk their money on for entertainment. This is why these themed dance parties have become so appealing.
“You know what you’re getting into. It says what it does right on the poster, as opposed to like discovering a new act or going to see a local show,” Frazier says.
Just this month, there are going to be four different themed-dance parties at venues like Starlite Room and 99ten. They include the likes of the aforementioned Dark Eighties Night at 99ten but are also as specific as the Taylor Swift Dance party at Starlite Room.
Dance nights are by no means a new creation. Venues have been gathering crowds for themed parties and dance events as long as disc jockeys have dropped needles. What’s different about today’s events is the sudden increase in frequency, popularity and the bizarre hyper-specificity of it all.
“Earlier this year, there was a Shrek rave at Union Hall,” says Frazier.
Yes, the hit 2001 animated movie has spawned many cultural phenomena, often drenched in postmodern irony, like the popular internet memes and videos which peaked circa 2015. But now, venues across the country participate in Shrek-themed EDM dance parties — it doesn’t get much more specific than that. Yet Frazier says the venue was still packed with Shrek devotees wearing green ears, makeup, and the whole swamp gamut.
“That sounds like it would be fun. It sounds totally absurd, but it sounds like it would be fun.”
With economic uncertainties affecting both patrons’ and venues’ wallets, Frazier says these dance events have been a bit of life support for local venues. As a musician himself, Frazier is passionate about supporting the local music scene, and doing the occasional themed dance party that packs the house helps venues like The Common and 99ten continue to do that. They’re also pretty fun.
“Anything to keep the lights on in this post-pandemic world,” Frazier says. “It helps the venue a whole lot to let us do the more original stuff and support our local artists.”