Philadelphia wastes no time when it comes to having fun. A short three weeks after our various New Year’s Eve celebrations, the Space Pirates have not just transformed but transported the Art’s Garage from North Philly to the magical realms of Enchanted, a revival of the art intensive , environmental experiences that Art collectives in the city seek to create. It’s not enough to just find a hole in the wall and a sound system, not for a lot of us, because we have seen and danced and partied all over the night, at every place imaginable. It isn’t easy to impress someone who has been boogying for close to a decade from coast to coast, and the artistry being demonstrated out of the Chemical Cove and its adjacent Space Pirate Lounge is simply extraordinary. These people are producing the kinds of events that inspired them to get involved in the scene in the first place. Not just a time and a place, but a show, a spectacle that invites you not just to watch, but to participate. These parties are an art form, and they are at their highest beauty when they are fun and engaging.
Though the core group at the center of the events still maintain all the logistical responsibilities (venue, sound, permits, etc.), the people putting in the hard labor and man hours to create literally rooms and rooms filled with art is as vibrant and organic as the event they are creating. New pirates are brought in with open arms, most of them wrangled by friends already involved, but many are simply appreciators of the events they produce and just want to be part of the community responsible for something so rewarding and inspirational. With a large (but perpetually cramped) workspace filled floor to sealing with tools and projects in different states of readiness, you are only a complete novice until the moment you ask for help. Almost all the talents you see are self-taught or also very new, or both, but the skills come with time and practice. No one knows anything about woodcraft, LED lighting or Costume design before they ask someone to show them, and this artistic development is at the core of what makes these events so successful. People come together because they have a vision of a good time in a creative space, and they learn from and teach each other how to make their dreams a reality.
Though the timeframe fluctuates between events, these parties typically take about 6 weeks to produce from the first meeting between the head honchos to set up inside the venue. Over the course of that month and a half, you’ll see between 10-30 people of various occupations and skill sets in and out of the studio space at all hours of the night and day working on their projects. More experienced pirates oversee the direction and management of the crafts so that resources aren’t wasted and old art can be recycled or repurposed. Some of these volunteer craftsmen work in food and beverage institutions, and there is almost always someone donating food and drinks to keep morale high. The main art space is also where the DJs in the crew get a chance to practice their trade, filling all these preparatory art parties with the all-important beats that keep us working long into the night and morning. Resident DJs can try out new tracks or techniques before their performances during our events to insure that every facet of their set is practiced and quality is insured.
Photography by Becca Levy. View all of the photos from the event here.
Enchanted, the entire event, was loaded into and out of the venue in about 10 hours all told. It was a massive woodland forest with glowing insects and faerie creatures sprawling over rolling hills. A treacherous mountain path lead up into the Kingdom of Bass, a medieval themed room complete with suits of armor, iron cages, a St. Andrew’s Cross and its own castle wall (which had been video mapped and rocked insane projections all night long). One could find respite from the intensity of the surging dance floors by relaxing in the Candy Kingdom’s Cuddle Puddle, a sweet little room that boasted bawdy gingerbread men and a massage chair. Outside crowds of unicorns and trolls huddled around gas lamps while a troupe of fire-artists kept them busy with twinkling lights until the early hours of the morning.
Enchanted was a great event, but not just for the people who attended. It helped pull the Space Pirates back to their roots, a strong community-driven, art-centered event that brought vision and creativity to a space we’d all been to a thousand times and made it look like new. With over a hundred years of event planning experience coordinated into one effort, the rag-tag group of scientists, artists and educators that make up the Space Pirates understand that when it comes to throwing a magical party like Enchanted, you need to stick together or else you’ll just end up lost in the woods.