Jun. 02, 2010 - Issue #763: Nextfest
Nextfest's NiteClubs return in infamyMore than with the other curator jobs at Nextfest, running the NiteClubs carries certain notorious expectations alongside the title, expectations currently bearing down on Beth Dart. Not that she's worried. Reassuming her role as, in her own words, the "Über-mistress" of the NiteClubs for a third straight year, she seems gleeful to be programming the trio of eclectic, multi-disciplinary parties scattered throughout the weekends of Nextfest to uphold their longstanding reputation for late-night malarky. The only expectations that seem to be making Dart wonder come from festival director Steve Pirot himself. He has yet to catch the NiteClubs' most fabled night.
"The past two years, within about 10 minutes of opening the doors the venue was packed and we had a lineup the rest of the night—Steve hasn't been able to get into Smut Night because we were at capacity before he could get there," she laughs. "So he's a little nervous this year. He's heard all the stories, but he's never been able to take it in. He's never seen Smut. He's only heard the stories. He almost feels like doesn't want to see it, because it might not live up to it. Or maybe he'll jinx it."
Given the stories floating around, you can't blame Pirot for wondering what's been going on at his festival behind capacity doors: year one, on a dare, a particular Edmonton theatre figure was to down someone else's urine—though whether or not the deed was actually done has never been confirmed (Dart herself was supposed to switch the piss for apple juice, but ended up busy at the time of the consumption). A more recent tale involves two sweaty individuals covering themselves in saran wrap and dancing to Christian Hansen's set, with the sweaty wrap being removed afterwards, wrung out and, uhh, drank—"to see whose was the best tasting," Dart giggles, "That is art."
It's not all dirt, of course: aside from Smut night (June 12), there's the fist-in-the-air-charge of Rise Up! (June 4), another returning evening theme featuring performances under the banner of "the politics of anything," and new night, Technation (June 11), "about how modern technology runs through our day-to-day life as well as our performance capability." Dart sets the concepts for each night—based on artistic trends, memory of what worked before and the strength of early submissions—the artists propose their ideas, and she combines the most promising into each evening.
And while Smut's certainly bolstered a lurid reputation for the whole thing, Dart isn't specifically pressing for shock value—though she's found that even without her guiding hand, infamy has a funny way of perpetuating itself.
"Well, people always ask, is this coming back, is this coming back?," Dart says. "Sometimes people come to me with pieces that totally fill that reputation, and then other times it's a whole different direction. It kind of depends what people are bringing to the table." V
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