As the night sky dimmed and the streetlights glared, a triumph of frill emerged in the DC community of Friendship Heights. Reverberating bass stomps echoed in the distance as one hundred or so patrons took to the Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s neighborhood to protest his longtime reluctance to recognize basic human rights of the LBGTQ community. This wasn’t your hippie grandma’s protest of the ‘60s; this was a full on dance party. The crowd expressed themselves through the music of Whitney Houston and Lady Gaga, dancing the night away to show that the LBGTQ community will not go quietly into the night.
The protest comes at the heels of the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. While there is an overwhelming sense of despair in the community, local DJ Joshua K. Swensen is looking to channel the same spirit of this protest with his event Activate at La Botanica January 21, one day after the inauguration.
Swensen has been spinning records in the Alamo City for about three years. A transplant from the NYC Vinyl dance scene of the 90s, he has taken the city by storm over the last six months becoming an integral part of the thriving dance scene in San Antonio.
“I want this event to be a release, I want people to dance out their angst,” he said explaining the goal of Activate. “It’s a celebration of the LBGTQ community.” To help him usher in the dance catharsis, rising local acts Wayne Holtz and House of Kenzo, will take the stage dancing while Swensen spins tunes all night.
House of Kenzo has been making waves lately, not only in the local scene, but even on a national level. Recently featured in Vice’s electronica affiliate Thump, the collective have garnered a spotlight in the local electronic music dance scene. The article describes their brand as “a mix of Hood by Air and The Fifth Element with a Texan twist.”
“They are all super talented and driven,” expresses Swensen. “No one is doing anything like them at all. They are pushing the boundaries of dance and LBGTQ culture. They’re avant-garde and people gravitate to that energy.”
The crew blends influences through several outlets of expression including performance art and music, but their biggest draw is in the theatrical dance choreography that is a staple in all of their performances. In the last two years, House of Kenzo have not only become a force in the music and LBGTQ communities, but have established an essence embodying the underground culture of San Antonio.
Wayne Holtz often collaborates with House of Kenzo and has developed quite a following in the local music scene. His performances take equal inspiration from the work of Gaga as it does indie darlings Architecture in Helsinki. He describes his sound as Britney Spears meets Grease that hankers in elements of the TV show Glee. “I want people to leave my show with the same pure joy of a child watching a show,” Holtz explains. “It just makes you want to get up and shake your ass.”
Wayne has spent the last year hustling in his creative endeavors, performing several times throughout the month, not only to promote himself but to showcase many of the local bands he’s become fans of over the years. He explains that he is a product of the local music scene. He learned how to sing from friends and cites local band Voodoo Boogaloo as inspiration for him to start channeling his creativity through original music.
It’s a testament to San Antonio’s music scene that Activate is aiming to provide the same creative outlet. Swensen puts it best when he says, “No matter what the so-called power elite do they can never take away our dance, art, music, and creativity. And they can never take away our love.”