Washington, D.C. loved us. The producers loved us. But did Phase 1? A warm night led to hot costumes and a huge turnout when the doors of Phase 1 opened for their first Burner experience. Phase 1 is the new venue for an established event — this is the 4th Naughty SnowBall from Mischief and DC Santarchy.
There is just no way for producers to explain to a venue manager what they are in for with Burner parties — especially one with ‘naughty’ in the name. The security and bartenders were obviously unprepared for the fabulous level of art, sass and drunken revelry that we can achieve.
Hundreds of Santas, elves, reindeer and even a brave menorah filled the space and spilled out onto the sidewalk outside; some were sexy, some had presents, some were ready for imminent zombie attacks. Everyone was loud and filled with holiday cheer (or at least alcohol). The sound of laughter and “Ho ho ho!” filled the air, mixing like music to the sound of… bees? Several groups were inspired by an inside joke with the Mischief crew to dress as bees, or Santa-bees, or naughty-elf-bees and regularly swarmed through the party, taking over dance floors and mixing it up with the professional performers.
Photography by William Tanksley. View the entire gallery here.
The vibe inside was top-notch, as a giant Cheshire cat head oversaw the dance floors and the DJs, contortionists, hoopers and circus acts made sure everyone was having a good time. The new venue did not have much outside room (so not much fire, unfortunately), but it did have five bars and four dance rooms, and lots of space for art. One gingerbread house had a DJ, a cuddlepuddle and a hot tub all made out of candy that was being slowly devoured by sugar-happy bar flies. Meso Creso completely covered the ceiling, walls and floor of their room in fabulous draperies and squish, creating a most attractive and comfortable puddle that pulled us right into its magical depths. Inflatable snowmen and mischievous art filled the hallways. Everywhere I went people were having a good time and enjoying their night. The menorah was drinking with Santa, the snowmen were getting hot with the ice fairies, and even the reindeer had the night off and were sticking their gloriously glowing noses in everything. At the end of it all, a well-planned art-bus, Blackbird, was waiting in the alley ready to shuttle smart guests to an after-party that continued the naughty snowballing.
While the planning by Mischief, DC Santarchy, PEX, Meso Creso, and PLF turned the night into an incredible, art-costume-music-magic-packed extravaganza, the poor planning on the venue’s side almost ruined it. Upon entering we were greeted with confusion and chaos, and waited 20 minutes for someone to find the list, then for someone qualified to read the list, then for someone qualified to say those on the list could enter, then look for the stamp, then give up on looking for the stamp, look again, and give up again. Many people trying to give the front door their money gave up as well, and simply walked in. Later, this seemed to be fixed as they made a different door the main entry — but first closed the doors and told everyone outside there was no more re-entry at all. When this happened at 1 a.m. I saw several people walk off with more coal in their souls than holiday cheer. All the bars were distressingly understaffed, and as sweet as the bartenders tried to be about it, nothing can sour a drink like having to wait a quarter of an hour for it.
The layout of the venue was confusing — while there were four rooms of great music and even more full of art, it was nearly impossible to find the bass room in the back, and it seemed like only the main floor was designed for more than 20 people. There was definitely a moment on the back dance floor where, surrounded by sweaty bodies and tiny hallways, I realized that if there were a fire — this is how people get trampled.
While meeting other people is fun, I am not a fan of Phase 1’s method of required introduction: that is, being crammed so tightly together in the hallway that you need to exchange names — and probably phone numbers — with the people around you after you’ve stepped on their feet. Someone is nuzzling your shoulder, and you don’t even want to know where your hands have gone as you try not to fall over in the crush. Overcrowded? Definitely. Understaffed? Absolutely. Out-of-control? That’s what we do! Of all people that I want to be with at a claustrophobic and confusing party, give me the costumed and chaotic over bros and beer gardens any day! The event went till 3 a.m., which almost balanced out all the time spent waiting in line and wading through walls of people. All I heard all night was great music and rave reviews of the music and art. At least five people told me about the gingerbread house, and even more told me in detail how much (or how little) they were wearing. I love our annual Naughty SnowBall. The people involved obviously put in a lot of work, and it is echoed in the costumes, art and energy of their guests. Hopefully Phase 1 loved us enough to amp up their game as well, and have us back in the future.