“‘What The Float’ is a dance party, its a chance to make new friends, there’s a lot of heart, there’s a story we’re telling,” explained Nick Ley, a member of the Los Angeles-based silent disco “What The Float.”
Every month, WTF’s rotating team of DJs host a thematic dancing tour through a different LA neighborhood. Each of these events features glowing headphones pumping out curated playlists that reflect the iconic nature of each enclave. This month, Ley presents “A Float Through Time,” which spotlights the rich cultural history of Korea Town.
“A lot of K-town was developed in the ’20s and ’30s,” said Ley, standing against a graffitied wall in an alley off Wilshire Blvd. “So, a lot of the architecture you see is from back then and its very classic. One of the places we danced past was the Brown Derby, which was a historic, iconic restaurant that tells the story of Hollywood. When we were dancing outside of it, I made sure we played some electro-swing music to pay homage to the time period. It’s one of those details we try to include to make sure that the music we play matches up with the environment you’re dancing through.”
When “What The Float” debuted in Los Angeles in 2018, the event resembled a musical bar crawl, with revelers dipping in and out of neighborhood establishments. But when the Covid pandemic shuttered LA’s bars, and everything else, “What the Float” was forced to evolve.
“The night is tied to bars and establishments, so when Covid hit we were really nervous,” confessed Ley. “But, before long we realized all we need are the headphones and people. In fact one of the first Floats we did coming out of the pandemic was through Griffith Park. We danced and hiked up the hill to the observatory, and it provided us such a unique experience. Something we wouldn’t have explored otherwise. Covid forced us to think outside of the box, and think of what other spaces we can Float in.”
One of the unique outdoor spaces incorporated in ‘A Float Through Time’ was a quaint park nestled in the middle of K-Town. This urban mini-forest featured a tree on which Angelenos are encouraged to hang tags bearing their hopes and dreams. Think of it as a wooden wishing well.
“When you get to the woods, the music pauses and its this introspective moment where you’re listening to a Ted Talk about how time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds,” described Ley. “How you’re supposed to do the active work to heal. And tied around the trees, something I noticed when I was scouting locations, were these tags with wishes on them.”
Despite “What the Float’s” positivity, the guerrilla nature of the event sometimes provokes local security, like it did at the end of ‘A Float Through Time.’
“Sometimes, like what happened tonight, we run into security who are just not about it,” chuckled Ley. “But the nature of Float is that it’s so transient. We have managers and staff members whose job it is to interface with security if we run into them. The manager will speak to the security guard to explain who we are and what we’re doing. And by the time they explain it, we’re already gone.”
If you wanna shake your ass at October’s ‘Float of the Living Dead’ in Burbank and November’s Float in Pasadena, hit up their Facebook page for more info.