As we approached the Crystal Ballroom, it did not take long to realize what we were in for. Droves of costume-clad party-goers gathered outside, awaiting entrance to Wonderland. We were all there for Living Prism’s 3rd annual Down the Rabbit Hole. Taking to heart the madness that Lewis Caroll wrote about it in 1865, Đår Sernoff – Living Prism’s chief mischief maker – and his motley crew transform a portion of Portland into a fantastical land wrought with perplexing paradigms achieved through mysterious mastery.
The parallels with the tale ran much deeper than the event’s namesake. Entering the ballroom, we were greeted by the most magnificent of flower-folk, welcoming us to revel in the rapturous regality residing within. The walls were strewn with scrolls designed after pages in the books themselves, complete with accurate depictions of the art at the time. The centerpiece of the ball, as one would expect, was a stage paying homage to the dimension of time. Intricately-cut gears of wood surrounded a warped clock, that sat below a glowing keyhole, through which we could see the silhouette of Alice tumbling to her eventual ecstasy.
Wandering around, we found numerous delights to the senses. The mezzanine was a bazaar of the bizarre – works of wearable art from Gato Montes, a collection of Chris Dyer pieces representing the artist above on stage, and a plethora of gems and stones. Journey upstairs to the balcony and we were treated to a conference of nomads of the highest order. Patrons gathered under the fabled tree our beloved Cheshire calls home. The ground was strewn with pillows and other soft, loungy materials, making it irresistible not to park yourself for a little and take it all in. To top it off, long tables were replete with teacups, saucers, and all the objects of a mad hatter’s affection. Angelic attendants were serving a strong brew, brightening the spirits of anyone who wished to imbibe. And for our musing, there were two artists painting surreal images inspired by the sounds below.
The soundscape of the night was beautifully crafted. Mr. Moo and And/Or enticed us and led us in, not unlike the white rabbit heading towards the arboreal portal. As we tumbled down to Wonderland, we became hypnotized by the Eastern inspired percussion of Drumspyder. Landing on our feet, the ambient aural aberrations of Bluetech played softly to us, making it all the easier to drink that potion and eat that cake. Finding our way into Wonderland, we followed the sounds of Phutureprimitive who reminded us where we were by queuing up a remix of Gary Jule’s Mad World. And just as we thought we had come to understand this magical place, Antennae arrived, hitting us with so much psychedelic bass. Through it all, we were fortunate enough to watch the amazingly talented Chris Dyer paint a Cheshire cat that inspired whimsy in all who chose to take its gaze. Surely, it was a fantastical journey through sound, but there was much much more abound.
Interspersed throughout the evening were a variety of performances so grand even the Queen would be impressed. Oregon Country Fair’s performance troupe, Risk of Change, gallivanted through the crowd taking the persona of flamingos and the royal highness herself, playing the most magnificent game of croquet. On stage we were captivated by the variety of Wanderlust Circus. Their routine ranged from feats of incredible strength to dastardly aerial acrobatics to some truly imaginative work with a hover board. And as Antennae took the stage, so did all of the Alice’s from the crowd – both men and women.
There is no doubt in our mind that Living Prism is doing its part to “keep Portland weird”. Together with other crews, like Savory Events, we are incredibly excited for the future of this scene in Portland. This city seems to breed a certain kind of creativity that is evident both in the event production and its participants. We can’t to see what’s next!
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