7 Sep 2014


From Standing Room Only, 2:49 pm on 7 September 2014

DANCE art club
Photo courtesy of D.A.N.C.E. art club.

Some of Auckland’s visual artists are putting away the brushes and the paints and turning to dance as their weapon of choice. For Ahilapalapa Rands, it’s about growing a more diverse audience.

I really believe art can be relevant. But it has a bad habit of being inaccessible for a lot of people.

Ahi (as her friends call her) is the curator for an exhibition called Welcome at Artspace on Auckland’s Karangahape Road. Amongst the several different works that make up the show is a contribution by the D.A.N.C.E. art club collective of which she is a member. D.A.N.C.E stands for ‘Distinguished All Night Community Entertainers’ and the six year-old club have a history of creating events and exhibitions around ideas of community engagement and interaction. For Welcome, they will attempt to break a Guinness World Record by dancing for a really, really long time.

The record that we’re trying to break is the longest marathon club DJ. If we’re going to break it, we have to go for longer than 168 hours, which translates to seven days.

And to break the record, D.A.N.C.E. member Vaimaila Urale says they need a lot of volunteers, including time keepers, stewards and most of all, dancers.

“Church youth groups, sports groups, a lot of arts students. I think we’ve calculated 252 volunteer slots and the event is 24/7. We need people who are game enough to come into the gallery at 2am, 4am, 6am, in the morning.”

So why break a record? Ahi says it’s all about how the club operates, looking for new structures and opportunities that haven’t previously been put into an art context. In the past they have performed inside pool halls, shot and then screened movies and driven a mobile radio station around Lake Taupo.

“It draws on the things that we love. Working with communities and finding new communities to engage with.”

Club member Tuafale Tanoai, AKA DJ Linda T, will be the woman on the decks. Her plan is to play lots of locally produced music, indigenous recordings and music from across the Pacific as well as hits from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.  For seven straight days.

“Don’t freak out,” she says. “The only one who is stuck there is me.”

Photos by Radio New Zealand.

But you can’t just get up and dance for seven days; you have to get match fit first. So each week the group have been running a Zumba class for all comers, upstairs in Artspace.

“It’s a way to build a rapport with our volunteers,” says Vaimaila. ”Anyone can come along and get fit.  When it comes down to it, we’re all about inclusivity, not exclusivity. Breaking down that hierarchy and creating a space which isn’t just open to art lovers or those who’ve been educated in the tertiary art system. And that reflects the community that we all come from. Social engagement. Diverse audiences.”

More dancing
Photos by Radio New Zealand.

Produced by Justin Gregory