The Party Don't Start Till Subculture Walks In

On Saturday, I sat at my desk alone and watched performers remix everything from “Mr. Brightside” to 100 gecs. The pinned Zoom screen cycled through the attendees and artists, showing short clips of eccentric kids bobbing their heads in their own LED-lit rooms. The chat was lively as people traded socials and bonded over pop culture references people made with their Zoom backgrounds. “We’re all friends here,” one partygoer said.

Subculture Zoom party graphic

Graphic by Zoe Axelrod

It was only my first Subculture Party, but I felt more welcomed than ever. Founded in 2018, Subculture Party started as a California-based space for queer people to party but was forced to move online in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, as co-founders Tyler S. and Gannon B. described, having to move to an online platform was a “last resort.” However, as their online parties began to prosper, they began to realize that Zoom offered more than they thought. “The best part of the events moving online is that people from all over the entire world can experience Subculture the way we've been doing it for all our local family,” Tyler said.

Now, parties are hosted almost every Saturday. They’re usually small, featuring more underground artists, but occasionally, the Subculture team partners up with a larger artist like Dorian Electra or That Kid to host a release party or fundraiser. The most important connection Subculture Party has, however, is TikTok. On the app, people often post vibrant recaps of each Zoom rave, drawing in new partygoers every week. Plenty of hosts of each party also come from TikTok, with popular creators like @punker_irl, @gogogabriella and @iguana_alana often popping in to host parties. Because of this, Subculture Party has become one of the biggest spaces for alt kids to gather and make new friends, with almost every partygoer donning eccentric makeup, outfits and occasionally cosplay before joining. “We have always encouraged self expression because part of the fun is dressing up and living your fantasy,” Tyler said.

For an organization that mainly grew online because of the pandemic, it’s hard to say what its future will look like once in-person parties return. However, the team is set on one thing: after the pandemic, they won’t let their Zoom parties die. In addition to continuing their online parties, the team hopes to eventually step outside of the Catch One Jewel’s Room where their in-person parties were held. “Our passion lies in creating fantasy worlds for people to play in & escape reality, Tyler said. “We had so many amazing and iconic memories IRL, so we can't wait to continue with our LA family, but there might possibly even be a little US tour.”

For now, fans can count on the near-weekly Subculture Parties that happen via Zoom. In a world where hopes of in-person shows and parties returning soon are low, Subculture Party is as close to the real thing as it gets, and it’s safe to say that I’ll be there again next Saturday dancing alone from the comfort of my own room.

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