Clad in ‘80s style business attire, armed with an FM transmitter and 200+ boom boxes, “Tom + Gary’s Dynamic Dance Party Delivery Service” stopped by Calgary on Friday night to host what was billed as a “decentralized dance party,” or “DDP.”
Beginning in Shaw Millennium Park, roughly 3,000 partygoers showed up to party, dance, and have a good time. The party was organized and controlled by two men, known only as Tom and Gary. One of them wears the FM transmitter in a backpack and controls the music through an iPod, and the other wears a microphone, which broadcasts across the system and communicates with the crowd.
At DDPs, the duo loan out their prized collection of vintage boom boxes to partygoers, and all tune in to the DJ’s master broadcast. Tom and Gary then dance their party through the streets of whichever city they may be in, along a preplanned route. There is no central location and no central audio source, hence the name “decentralized dance party.”
University student Colin McHattie was one of many Calgarians who attended the party on Friday night.
“I like it because it’s like instant camaraderie with thousands of people. Everyone is there for a good time, and it’s pretty safe because people just want to dance,” he explained. “It’s an amazing experience that I enjoy being a part of.”
The party hosts have planned a tour, called the “Party Safari,” to make 20 stops across Canada and the United States by the end of the year, and they eventually hope to make a stop in every country in the world. The parties are organized through social media websites such as Facebook. Together Tom and Gary create events for the chosen cities, promoting them on the websites where they supply details such as location, time, and theme of the party.
This is the second time that a DDP has happened in Calgary. Last year when it came, it focused on a Canadian theme, with partygoers dressed in red and white, and covered in maple leafs. This year the theme was “Strictly Business” and people were encouraged to come dressed in ‘80s style business wear.
On each event page, there is a link to “the party manifesto” which includes the seven commandments of successful partying. The commandments remind attendees to be “respectful of the people and property” where the party takes place, as well as encourage people to come without alcohol or at least be discreet about it.
Calgary police were on hand Friday and prepared for the party. They provided safe escorts for the mass of people by directing traffic, and they worked closely with Tom and Gary to control the crowd. Police kindly dealt with those who climbed street signs, and asked others to pour out their alcohol.
The party swarmed the streets until it reached the fountain by the Nexen building. There, people splashed in the water and danced for nearly an hour. Unfortunately police did turn the party around after one person decided to jump on a vehicle. The DDP then headed back to the park where the mass stayed for a few more hours.
“Tom,” who acknowledged that his real name is Ryan but didn’t disclose his last name in keeping with the spirit of the event, noted that he took over for the original “Tom” last year. He explained that he and Gary want the DDP to spread and be hosted by others around the world. “But the two people that have the party will always be called Tom and Gary,” he said. “Even if it’s two girls: Tom and Gary.”
He added that the party hosts are very grateful to be able to have the parties and work together with the police.
“Calgary has a ton of party spirit. We love this place,” he explained. “The police are awesome too. We don’t have a permit, we get a ton of noise complaints, but they still allow this to happen.” He smiled as he looked around at the thousands of dancing people.
As for the Calgarians who attended, many wrote on the Facebook event page after the party with positive messages.
For instance, Chris Gardener wrote, “This was definitely the best night of my life,” while Nic Topps is “Stoked for the next one already.”