For the past seven years in the fall, independent nonprofit experimental arts space The Lab has put on a wild online 24-hour telethon to raise funds. (In the Before Times, a rotating audience also got to view the live pleasure of its Jerry-Lewis-on acid-like antics.)
This year, the venue known for its heady programs and deep explorations of contemporary culture is adding another fundraising blast: A 12-hour online Dance A Thon (Sat/10, 7:30pm to Sun/11, 7:30am) featuring some very big names in underground rock and electronic music.
And perhaps you as well? That’s right, supporters who want to help hoof it to raise funds for this dance competition—organizers are aiming for $25,000—can sign up to be part of the action during the 50-minute dance segments. You can also just watch along and donate if you like!
There will be plenty of energy and artistic sparks to get you going, because it seems the Lab (which has been around since 1984) has pulled out the stops for musical guests. DJs include chthonic free-jazz poet Moor Mother, ambient heroes William Basinski & Preston Wendel (as Sparkle Division), beloved experimental duo Matmos, ecstatic electronic rabble-rouser Dan Deacon, The Garbage Man aka Grouper, Brontez Purnell, Greg Saunier of Deerhoof, and tons more. Plus emcees Peaches Christ, Fauxnique, and Marvin K. White.
Participants need to start a fundraising page and secure at least $75 to enter—and there are all kinds of prizes from Bandcamp, including a $50 Bandcamp gift card for the Best Dancer (audience choice), $150 Bandcamp gift card for Highest Fundraiser, and $150 Bandcamp gift card for the Last Dancer Left Standing.
Despite that last prize, however, this is not going to be a virtual scene from They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?—well, not exactly. “Inspired by the Dance Marathons of the Great Depression that provided sustenance and entertainment to people during a crisis, funds raised during the Dance A Thon will help The Lab continue to provide direct financial relief to artists while offering all of us a chance for celebration and connectivity,” said Executive Director Dena Beard in a press release. “Let’s Dance!”
Artist Constance Hockaday talked about the importance of the the Lab in helping artists with direct assistance. “During the pandemic, artists were in this particular category where all of our shows were canceled and the floor just fell out beneath us, financially. Out of the blue, I get a call from the Director of The Lab, which is a small experimental arts organization in San Francisco, and she says how much do you need? How much is your rent? I’m sending it to you today. I started crying, I was speechless.
“In that moment there was an overwhelming feeling of care and being held by a community.”