If you went to a dance music event ten years ago, you might have seen a couple ravers throwing around glowsticks or waving LED lights around, enjoying the music.
Fast forward to 2015, and gloving has become a popular sport, far beyond the realms of dance music events. With companies like Emazing Lights producing high tech glove lights, more and more glovers are emerging from the dark and throwing light shows all across the country.
What used to be solely attributed to raves is now transforming into a popular art of expression for many people, like Brian Campana of San Diego. I sat down with Brian to talk about his journey from playing with lights as a teenager to now earning top spots in glover competitions - and the inspiring connections he formed along the way.
How did you get into gloving?
I've been messing around with lights since I was 15, and I'm 24 now. Back in the old days of poi, I started doing poi with glow sticks and shoelaces. Super randomly, in 2011 I had some extra cash and bought a glove set.
My first show was Nocturnal 2008. Good times. Back then I used free hand lights. I didn't have any gloves or anything. They're called iNovas, just a 3 mode light you swing around.
How did you get good at gloving?
For the first year or two I didn't know any other glovers, I was just kind of that guy that gloved at parties sometimes. Which was fun- but then I started really getting into it and practicing once I met all the Ambience people. Being around other glovers is what really pushed me more.
It's a club actually at school. There's one at SDSU and UCSD. There's Ambience in San Francisco too; they're all over.
I met Diana at a party, who started the Ambience chapter down here. I had already graduated at the time and I was at work. My friend who was there told me, "There's some chick gloving here - you gotta show up!" So I brought my gloves and I've been hanging out with them ever since.
SDSU meets every Wednesday night and UCSD meets every Tuesday night every other week usually.
Well, we talk for a bit about what's going on in the club, fundraising, etc., if we need to. But then we pretty much just shut off the lights and start throwing shows for the rest of the evening!
People talk about glover's block, where you kind of plateau for a little bit. It's almost like you're stuck at whatever level you're at and you can't really think of new moves. But Ambience really helps with that because you can bounce new moves off each other.
I've tried to take a week off to take a step back. It's a matter of breaking the muscle memory you fall into because once you start doing the same moves over and over, you start subconsciously doing them all the time.
Sit there, mess around with your fingers pretty much. There are online tutorials for new moves, but I haven't watched one in a while. They are definitely helpful for beginners.I don't like to teach exact moves because it kills the creativity, but it's good to show the new people a baseline.
The most basic thing is a finger roll. If you can do that well you can apply it into almost everything. I use it a lot in my shows.
For me, the most important thing is the musicality. Make sure you're hitting the beats right, actually going with the music. Anyone can sit there and mess around with their fingers, but if you're not going with the music then what's the point? I'd rather a show be super into musicality than super technical.
I glove because it's a form of expression. Throwing shows is the most fun because you get the energy and the music. But that's only half the scene now because there's many glovers who aren't old enough to go to shows, so they record videos of themselves. I can't dance at all, (laughs) so I use gloving as my expression.
What is your favorite music to glove to?
It depends what mood I'm in. I'll glove to anything by Seven Lions any day of the week. Chillstep is my home base, kind of slower but a little bit dubsteppy. Even Odezsa or Flume, some slower tracks. Sometimes at a show I'll get down to some festival trap.
You can glove fast, but you'll get really tired after a few light shows. It all comes back to the musicality, you can half time a show to the beats instead of hitting every single beat. It's about playing with the speed and timing.
The only reason I won't give someone a show is because I've already given so many shows that I need a break for a little bit. It's not that I wouldn't be enjoying the festival - I LOVE gloving. I will glove the entire night and be fine, but sometimes I need to take a break to catch my breath a little bit and drink some water (laughs).
No, not at all. There's times I'll be gloving to myself, just going with the music, and people will come tap me on the shoulder and ask. Sometimes I'll be waiting for someone to ask, because I don't want to be that guy that walks around and asks everyone, "Hey do you want a light show?"
That gets brought up in the gloving world quite a bit, because back in the day, light shows went hand-in-hand with people getting messed up at shows. But since then, there's so much more to it now. There are legitimate competitions that are put on by the bigger companies, like a sport.
There are plenty of glovers that will say that drugs do help their shows. But there are just as many people that don't do drugs, and give just as good shows or better. It really depends on the person.
It's hard to nail it down specifically unless there's a signature move someone has done. So it's impossible to say which move belonged to whom, since there's so many videos online now.
Every Monday there's a new move posted, called #NewMoveMonday in the Facebook group Glover's Lounge. But I'll try to take that move and do a different adaption on it, to make it my own.
I placed 4th out of 50 people at BOSS Competition hosted by Emazing Lights.
Usually how they do the competitions is you're guaranteed 3 or 4 rounds, then they place the Top 16 into a bracket. You get points from a few different things, like musicality, technicality, cleanliness of moves and from those points you are ranked. They do a great job of judging each round. They have a DJ that plays different genres per round, like round 1 is dubstep, round 2 is chiller stuff, etc.
What lights would you recommend?
I use their newest chip called the Chroma24s. But it really depends what modes you want and what colors. Just within Emazing there's 4 or 5 different chips.
It's growing every day. It started in SoCal which is the hub, but it's all across America now, even in Hawaii. It's spreading to Europe now. I have a friend in Israel gloving - they're all over.
Yes, absolutely. There was a video of a kid in Hawaii who was eleven years old and he was amazing. At the same time I know a guy down here who is in his thirties and still gloving strong.
The female glover scene has been growing a lot, so it's help building the scene even more.
It's not necessarily the younger glovers but the newer glovers are catching on way faster. There's more resources now and way more moves and ways to record shows, thus way more videos. Glovers Lounge now has 13000 people so there's way more material to learn from.
Mirror practice is pretty good to help, but I like to record myself to get the angle better, the exact way someone would see the show. It's good to see yourself and critique your flow.
Transitions are important, being able to tie moves together and make it a full show, rather than just placing moves together.
I don't know, probably playing video games or something (laughs).
I have so many more friends and people in my life that I met through gloving. Because of the gloving groups on Facebook, I even have friends in Florida, Seattle, etc. I'll have someone hit me up who is coming to a show in California, which would have never happened if I wasn't a part of it.
I gave a guy a show at an event and he wanted to tip me for it. It's not unheard of in the gloving scene, but I told him, "No, no, I was doing this anyway, why do you want to give me money for something I've been doing all night?" But he was arguing with me and very adamant about it and made me take it. It was about $10 bucks. But I've heard of people coming back from EDC with $100 in a night.
What's cool is a few times when I've given people shows and they told me, I want to learn to do that. It's awesome to inspire people to glove, and who knows if they got really into it. I might have changed their life.