The Art of Gloving in Vancouver

It was just over a year ago that I was completely hypnotized by a new dance art. As I scoped out the music and the crowd getting ready to enjoy my new scene for the night, my vision shifted to some incredibly shiny lights floating beautifully on the dance floor in sync with the music. There was Allan Kidson, wearing white gloves with multi-coloured LED fingertips, completely mesmerizing people around him, making even the most energetic dancers still going late into the night stop dead in their tracks, abandoning their moves to watch him work his magic.

As soon as I saw that his lightshow was over, I asked for one of my own, and there I was too, jaw dropping in surprise, nodding and smiling in agreement tracing his delicate moves with my eyes left and right, as he spun the lights around himself in perfect sync with the beats. It was magnificent, unique, and extremely impressive. I had just discovered the art of gloving and there was a world out there yet to uncover. Gloving originated in southern California in 2006 when the world’s original glover, Hermen inserted ten LED lights into his white gloves and began the movement. Originally witnessed at raves and shows, gloving has evolved and spread far beyond rave culture into a separate form of dance. It continues to grow and spread exponentially in recent years while still keeping its roots in rave culture.

“That was amazing.” I said to him, and saw the same conversation take place throughout the night as he wrapped up his final moves each show. Since then, I have repeatedly attended a number of Vancouver clubs and EDM shows where I’ve seen lightshows take place in every direction, each in a different style and attitude. I am still in complete awe of this insanely unique art that takes true talent, technique and incredible patience to master, and even then there is more to conquer. Having spent a considerable amount of time enjoying the growing Vancouver EDM scene, I set out to ask some of Vancouver’s finest glovers all about their magic – why they got started, what it means to them and where they see the art form going in the future. Meet the crew:

Allan Kidson

ALLAN KIDSON

Years of experience
2 years+

Favorite music to glove to
Trance/ techno/ dubstep

Where you can find him gloving
Gorgomish/ Celebrities/ Red Room

What gloving means to him
Connectivity

Ravi Dhaliwal

RAVI DHALIWAL

Years of experience
1.5 years

Favorite music to glove to
house music, some trance

Where you can find him gloving
Gorgomish, Vancouver EDM shows

What gloving means to him
Captivation

Vanessa VieraVANESSA VIEIRA

Years of experience
1 year

Favorite music to glove to
house and trance

Where you can find her gloving
Gorgomish, Celebrities, Barnone, LED and Vancouver EDM Shows

What gloving means to her
Expression

Jamie

JAMIE VON S.

Years of experience
6 months

Favorite music to glove to
Deep and progressive house

Where you can find him gloving
Gorgomish

What gloving means to him
Soulfulness

What made you pursue gloving?

Allan I had never seen or heard of gloving before my receiving my first light show at Organix. I was amazed at the connection I felt with the glover – it felt like magic. I thought that if the experience of receiving a show was that amazing, then giving one would be a whole new level to explore.

Ravi – It was at Doomsnight 2 years ago that I received my first light show. I decided to buy my own gloves to create images that I would like to see and give people that same experience. 

Vanessa – When I first came across lightshows at EDM shows, was really intrigued. I then met Allan at a club and after he gave me a lightshow, I was hooked and started watching Youtube videos from Emazing Lights to learn. When my boyfriend, Ravi got into it, I began practicing with him.

Jamie – A friend gave me my first lightshow and I simply had to try it. The fluidity of the motions really impressed me.  I’ve always been shy of dancing in public and this was a way for me to sort of distract people from dancing as they got caught up in watching the lights instead.

How would you describe your gloving style?

Allan – My style is tutting and wave-tutting oriented – fast-paced and fairly complex looking to the untrained eye.

Ravi –
I integrate dance into my gloving. I don’t think that that it should be limited to just hand movements. I move my whole body to the beat making my light shows a little more stimulating for the viewer.

Vanessa – I am all about the flow. I love to let my fingers flow to the music and whip around. It’s almost like my fingers become water and one move blends into the next. I also love to be dramatic with my gloving and try and add dancing into the mix. Anything that makes someone’s eyes go wide and put the biggest smile on their face is always the most fun.

Jamie – I’ve been told it’s very “housey” or liquid based. I want the motions to look smooth; that’s my main goal when I do it. I also make a lot of creatures and organic motions with my hands when I glove, so that could be signature style.

What do you have to say about gloving being banned at some EDM festivals?

Allan – Authorities are behind the game in understanding that gloving has become an art form, and unfortunately there is a false assumption that gloving is indicative of drug use. Gloving supplements the depth of the rave culture and can vastly increase the enjoyment for the people giving and receiving the shows. It’s a means of connection. However, I also understand that banning gloving at some festivals may have reduced the seizure rate in individuals by a small percentage for those who have epilepsy.

Ravi – I think its unfair for gloving to be banned and for some to assume that it encourages the use of party drugs. One could argue that the whole EDM scene itself is about that but just like in any other scenes there are scapegoats, and in this case gloving is exactly that.

Vanessa – I understand some of the underlying reasons for banning gloving such as people sitting or lying down in the middle of the crowd which is dangerous, as well as the fact that people with epilepsy could go into seizure (although I argue that rave scenes with intense lasers are not the place to be for people in that condition) Do I agree with banning gloves? Hell no. Gloves are harmless. It’s all about being smart with how you act. If you are giving a light show, do not let the person receiving it lay down or sit in the middle of the floor where they could get trampled. Gloving is an art and for those who put in the time and effort, it really brings joy to glove at a show and give people an amazing experience.

Jamie – I think that’s silly, it’s like saying you can’t wear a shirt with a biased slogan on it because god-forbid someone gets offended. People are being far too concerned about appeasing everyone; it’s just another form of dancing that should be appreciated.

What advice would you give to beginners trying to learn?

Allan – Start with Youtube videos and tutorials! You need to know as many moves from others as possible to be able to connect the dots and create a completely new move of your own. Secondly, slow down. It’s human nature to want to perform a new move at full speed, but you will not learn it properly (or at all) until you slow it down to a crawl. Third, once you’re comfortable with a set of moves, don’t sink into the trap of just doing the ones you know. The perfect glover never gives the same show twice; you need to train your brain to actively create new moves and transitions in every performance- and it’s not easy!

Ravi – I suggest watching Youtube videos for learning simple techniques, but from there on you need to use your own moves and understand how they are put together. Create images in your head with your hands and the let the song be your storyline. Most of all put a smile on your face when giving light shows, let people know the happiness it brings you, and it will bring it out in them.

Vanessa – Practice, practice, practice. Watch videos as well as more experienced glovers at shows. Practice finger dexterity in your everyday life. I found that once I let my mind go about trying so hard to focus on one move then the next, I was free to just let everything flow together. Also, try to learn all styles. A lot of people are only good at say whips and tunnels, but never try tutting which is much more intricate. Letting yourself have at least the basics in all the styles of gloving will give you the edge to give light shows that vary. No one wants to have the same moves thrown at them over and over again.

Jamie – Don’t quit if you want to get good. Everyone has a hard time at the start so don’t say you’re stuck, just keep trying – it’ll come. Also be polite when you’re in public with those things, otherwise you’re as annoying as those guys who just go up and dance with girls thinking they’ll like it, shoving lights in people’s faces (unless they come to you) is a good way to piss people off!

Where do you see the art of gloving going in the future?

Allan – In my time gloving I’ve seen technology expand widely for lights – where you used to only be able to purchase bulbs that offer a single, permanent set of colours, you can now buy a single light that can simulate any shade of 12+ colours, in any of 8+ modes. Chip technology is also being introduced and the possibilities are endless!

Ravi – Gloving will grow just like the EDM scene has been in Vancouver and all around. Just within the past year its dramatically gotten bigger with every event; more and more people are becoming aware of the art and wanting to buy their own set of gloves.

Vanessa – There are already competitions taking place in LA hosted by the biggest glove supplier, Emazing Lights, and I only see it growing here in Vancouver too.. There is always new technology coming out for better lights and longer lasting batteries. It’s exciting to see what comes next! 

Jamie – Competitions are already taking place in and I can easily see it catching on and spreading more in Vancouver too. That being said in a way, I almost hope not, because it’s something special and unique only until everyone starts doing it!

The art of gloving is ever growing in Vancouver, so if you’re hoping to catch a lightshow, you now know where to find these talented glovers! The entertainment doesn’t stop there, light shows are even being enjoyed by Vancouver’s pets.. meet Gizmo, the mesmerized puppy!

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