Prepare to engage all of your senses at Meow Wolf’s Dark Palace—a three-night “dance obscura” event—coming to the National Western Complex November 22–24. Brought to you by the minds behind the Santa Fe, New Mexico-based art collective known for the House of Eternal Return and the upcoming interactive art space in Denver, the festival will feature a slew of electronic sounds from headliners like Claude VonStroke, MK, and Guy Gerber, along with six local DJs and 15 local artists to complete the immersive experience.
Meow Wolf is no stranger to music festivals—the arts collective is fresh off its second Taos Vortex music festival this past August. And while the group is only hinting at what can be expected from Denver’s Dark Palace, Meow Wolf event director Max B.K. offers a comparison: Taos Vortex was more of a “summer smile,” and this upcoming Denver rave will feel “more like a smirk.”
If that doesn’t raise an eyebrow, the lineup of artists—covering mediums from digital art to textile-based works—contributing explorative installations will.
“We’re trying to find people who are going to help celebrate the synthesis between warm light and tangibility, and what is found in the spaces in between darkness,” says Sophie Cruz, events arts director.
Two names on the roster include Denver duo Chris Coleman and Laleh Mehran, a pair known for their mesmerizing works of light and digital ingenuity, who previously worked with Meow Wolf on the zany, art-infused Kaleidoscape ride at Elitch Gardens. Other featured artists include multimedia creator Matt Barton, as well as LED- and motion-focused Denver Digerati—the organization behind the Supernova Outdoor Digital Animation Festival, which took place earlier this month.
Also making an appearance is the textile-obsessed Secret Love Collective, the group behind the ornate fabric photo booths featured at Meow Wolf’s community meeting in Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood last year, during which the group discussed its corporate social responsibility plan for its future Denver location.
B.K. says the team was interested in exploring the magical sensations connected to technology at Dark Palace, and Cruz drove home that idea, mentioning inspiration from age-old ideas like light shows as the earliest forms of entertainment, or the distorted experience of using a camera obscura.
“There was this magical inexplicable, unexplainable feeling that came around [these technologies], where now, technology does have this almost coldness to it,” Cruz says. “And [our focus] is bringing back an incandescence to that type of light and illumination.”
Festival-goers should also anticipate some unconventional performance art to breath life into that theme, with movement artists Werk Out Palace and the Girls of Denver Kiki Sessions, as well as Rainbow Militia, a group known for their vibrant, circus-inspired performances.
Rounding out the trippy art offerings, Dark Palace will feature works from graffiti-inspired Moe Gram, and plenty more from Chelsea Crandell, Emma Balder, and Collin Parson. Denver art experts will still be kept on their toes with a few lesser-known names, like Ethnograph, Psychopomps, and John Medina rounding out the event.
While electronic sound waves might not be loud enough to tune out the other allegations circling the company—such as a class-action lawsuit, gender discrimination and fair-pay actions, and wage theft claims—Meow Wolf is planning even more Denver events leading up to the opening of their permanent installation at I-25 and Colfax Avenue, which is slated for completion in 2021.
“We want to give people a sense of what’s explorable,” B.K. says. But if none of that tells you what to expect from Dark Palace, Cruz and B.K. offer this final nugget of advice: “Bring a water bottle. Bring a friend. Get ready to dance.”
If you go: Meow Wolf’s Dark Palace takes place Friday, November 22 through Sunday, November 24 at the National Western Stock Complex, 4655 Humboldt St. Tickets are $20–$85.