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How to Join the Robot Dance Army in San Francisco

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Photography by Beth LaBerge & the Gray Area Team

I like a lot of things that have come from Montreal.  There’s Cirque du Soleil, poutine, Steven Pinker, and now techno robot exoskeletons.   I know what you’re asking yourself right now, “are these the product of a secret Canadian Space Force project, sent here to make Americans more polite?”  The answer is not ‘no’.  I asked the robots’ creator, Louis-Philippe Demers and he didn’t deny it, but rather simply said that the ‘Inferno’ project was about ‘fun’.

Louis-Philippe Demers co-creator of Inferno using robot models to manipulate the dancer’s actions

There are currently 12 robot exoskeletons in San Francisco, fully operational and ready to scare the shit out of you at the Gray Area Festival on Mission St.  Stuart & I, along with ten other brave souls were suited up and strapped in Wednesday evening for a ride unlike anything outside of Ripley’s ‘Power Loader’ in the movie Alien.

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Sigourney Weaver in the movie ‘Alien’

In a cacophony of sound, fog, and beams of light, the robot dance began.  Part DJ, part puppet master, Louis-Philippe Demers and Bill Vorn began playing their industrial techno, performing beats live on drum pads and laptops.  And we, the freshly formed robot rave army began to move and convulse in glistening metal, shooting beams of light from our wrists and pouring sweat from our pores.

You’re free to move your legs to the beat, but your arms and shoulders belong to the Canadian Daft Punk for the entire dance party.  I never thought I’d see Stuart dance to electronic music, (it’s not his favorite genre) but there’s something about being forcibly moved by hydraulic limbs that will put anyone in the mood.

Needless to say, this is an experience unlike any other, I had a fantastic time, albeit we were all quite sore this morning.  Tickets are still available for later shows of Inferno at the Gray Area Festival, From July 25 through 28, Inferno will be presented at Gray Area’s Grand Theater in San Francisco.  (And someone should definitely invite SF’s original dancing robot to this.)

If robots aren’t your thing, there’s the incredible looking ISM Hexadome 360° Audiovisual Experience at Pier 70.  In partnership with the Institute for Sound & Music Berlin, exhibiting artists including Thom Yorke & Tarik Barri, Ben Frost & MFO, Holly Herndon & Mathew Dryhurst, Frank Bretschneider & Pierce Warnecke, CAO & Michael Tan, Lara Sarkissian & Jemma Woolmore, Peter Van Hoesen & Heleen Blanken, René Löwe & Pfadfinderei, Suzanne Ciani & AudeRrose.  July 25 through August 3.

All Gray Area Festival Info Here

Robot Photography by the incredible Beth LaBerge & the Gray Area Team

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor here at Broke-Ass Stuart. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

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