On July 23, 2021 the Foundry—the Fillmore’s “club within a club”—traveled back to the early 2010s. The intimate venue was mostly filled with a crowd of young women, some of them wearing shirts indicating which group of fandoms they belonged to: One Direction or the Jonas Brothers. As a self–proclaimed “Directioner,” I found the experience amazing, joining others living out their fandom dreams at the “Best Night Ever: One Direction vs Jonas Brothers Dance Party” event.
The venue had a DJ on stage who interacted with the crowd, making it a more concert–like experience. However, the best aspect was spending time with people who were excited to meet others who understood the experience of belonging to a fandom. The Foundry had two sections, with a 21+ area toward the back—making the experience even better. It was almost surreal to be in a club–like environment, listening to One Direction and the Jonas Brothers, with other related artists such as 5 Seconds of Summer, Taylor Swift, and Big Time Rush playing occasionally. Screaming along to Olivia Rodrigo’s “like a damn sociopath” line from “good 4 u” with other people, a drink in hand, was cathartic—especially after a grueling year in quarantine.
I didn’t hesitate to purchase my ticket as soon as I learned about the event. After seeing videos of themed nights at other clubs on TikTok, I wanted the experience of singing and dancing along with others after long months without live shows.
Videos featuring themed “dance parties” popped up in social media in early 2021, in countries such as Australia where COVID–19 cases were low. Reactions included comments such as “*cries in american*” as people wished they could experience something similar while in lockdown. In these events, fans get the chance to interact and dance with music from a designated artist playing exclusively that night.
Later in the year, Club 90s LA, a “roaming dance party” that hosts events at different venues, started hosting similar events in the United States. The club’s upcoming events include Olivia Rodrigo’s SOUR Prom, Taylor Swift Night, and Chromatica Rave: Lady Gaga Night. Some of the most popular events on social media have included Olivia Rodrigo Night, becoming popular after SOUR’s release.
Even though these events aren’t replacements for concerts—the experience of listening to an artist live will remain unmatched—it’s a great way to enjoy music with others who have similar tastes. It's also a great way to experience a similar environment to a concert for a significantly cheaper price. The dance parties are special, principally for fans of artists like One Direction who no longer tour, as it allows them to experience their music in that setting again. Fans seemed to share this sentiment as they rushed to buy tickets for the Philly dance party, selling them out in just a couple of days. As the date came closer, tickets were sold on social media and other resale sites for as much as $100 apiece—a stark mark–up from the $17 face value.
Despite the popularity of these dance parties—notable through the ongoing social media content and the replication of themed nights by other venues—it’s questionable whether this is only a trend. As venues open up, fans may be more inclined to attend actual concerts. On the flip side, growing numbers in COVID–19 cases due to the Delta variant may prompt restrictions to return, affecting the operation of such large events.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience and definitely recommended for anyone who enjoys dancing and belting out their favorite songs—die–hard fans or not. It was incredible to be able to enjoy songs that I used to love with others who got just as excited as I did when a new track played. The event was definitely everything my 12–year–old self dreamed of when I danced alone to Take Me Home in my poster–clad room.