2016 marked the 7th “SXStreetcrash,” an interactive, guerrilla performance event held in the center of 6th Street, Austin’s downtown nightclub district, during the massive SXSW Music festival. It’s hosted every year by Crash Alchemy, a local arts collective.
This year’s SXStreetcrash was a tribute to David Bowie, in honor of his recent passing. For the first time, the local chapter of the Decentralized Dance Party joined in, providing sound through their synchronized boomboxes. The DDP is a movement that originated in Canada which believes in promoting world peace through partying, and they use a portable FM transmitter to create a dance floor in the streets.
The idea of the Streetcrash is that the participants, including many community volunteers, gather ahead of time to create characters for the performance and practice a set of dance moves. Then, the group filters out into the 6th Street crowds, acting strangely and attracting as much attention as possible before, suddenly, coming together in a grand performance that “crashes the party.”
In practice, some characters work better than others. There’s a lot of weirdness on 6th Street already in the middle of SXSW, from a guy with a giant light up Bernie Sanders head to just the usual local color, so it takes a lot to stick out. But the people who stick out at Streetcrash really attract a lot of attention, from the “guy on acid” to the drunken spaceman to that topless Mad-Max-y barbarian woman.
The guy on acid, in particular this year, a deceptively athletic, half shirtless guy stumbling around, kept drawing attention and people’s smartphone cameras. His transformation was fascinating, including a costume change, and going from out of control stumbling (but never falling) to skilled acrobatics. Definitely a “drunken master” type, that one.
This year’s Streetcrash culminated in a David Bowie dance party set to the DDP’s boomboxes. The group then invaded the court yard outside Easy Tiger bakery and bar, which was hosting a corporate-sponsored music event. The SXSW volunteers stationed at the entrance threatened to call security, before finally relenting and allowing the performance to go on.
Dancing and cavorting, the group gradually gathered around an image of Bowie cleverly projected through theatrical smoke, turning it into a makeshift altar to that great God of Glam.
You could almost feel his glittery spirit watching over us, and blessing our weirdness.
SXStreetcrash: A Tribute to David Bowie In The Streets At SXSW article & photos by Kit O’Connell are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://kitoconnell.com/sxstreetcrash-tribute-david-bowie-streets-sxsw.