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Rock & roll dance party

Powhaus arts collective catalyzes Tucson dance scene

Co-founder previews 'The Glitter Ball' at Rialto

Tucson is a hip town, and Powhaus is here to prove it.

On Friday, Jan. 29, the crew of the arts collective will take over the Rialto Theatre downtown for "The Glitter Ball," a multimedia tribute to the glam era of rock. Scheduled to perform are bands Silver Fox, Cadillac Steakhouse and Ultramaroon.  

Founded by locals Jared "Kitty Katt" McKinley, musician and filmmaker Clif Taylor and scenemaker Dallas "Desert Diamond" Reece, Powhaus saw an opportunity to bring together all the talented people they knew to throw a series of rock and roll dance parties at various venues.

Last week, I sat down with founder McKinley and his partner-in-crime - Powhaus video editor and videographer - Nadine Roselle. Whether Kitty Katt attended the interview is a point of contention.  According to McKinley, "We are definitely two different people, though we share a lot of territory. I do all the work. Kitty Katt is a philanderer, a loose cannon."

Roselle agrees that Kitty Katt is nothing but trouble. She leads a corps of volunteers in producing and documenting Powhaus events, including Andrew Brown (lead camera), Heather Woodrich (video jockey), Jonathan Saupe (production director) and Curtis McCrary (venue manager). 

According to McKinley, the dance parties started "because of my love of music. I am a music nerd; all of us are. I felt like there was nowhere to go and dance to the music we want to dance to."

Roselle remembers this moment: "I mean, I would be willing to hold out for that one Prince song, but Jared was not dealing with it."

McKinley turned to longtime Tucson fixture and rock guru Taylor and event maven Reece. All shared a vision of an event full of rock music for dancing, outrageousness, and the kind of general disturbance created by the best parties. 

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Once the Rialto Theatre's McCrary got on board, the scope of the events grew, resulting in a larger happening whose fare included multimedia installation, live performance art and music — and a dance party of epic proportions.

On Jan. 2, Powhaus threw their first event at the Rialto, Clusterf*&k. Drawing more than 500 people of all ages and persuasions, the night featured The Creamys, a surprise band, Tucson vets Winelord and the debut of the Mary Jane Scooter Club, who rode Vespas into the theatre to much fanfare. McKinley suspects that the fumes from the scooters were, along with the Rialto's drink specials, fuel for the Clusterf*&k conflagration.

Kitty Katt spins a sample set for The Glitter Ball   

  • Sparks "Amateur Hour"
  • T. Rex "Jeepster"
  • David Bowie "Hang Onto Yourself"
  • Suzi Quatro "48 Crash"
  • Gary Glitter "Rock and Roll Part 2"

"The Glitter Ball's" soundtrack is scheduled to be spun by Dan Shapiro, who has been with the corps since the beginning. For "The Glitter Ball," he will be joined by ubiquitous DJ Travis Spillers.

To keep these interesting on the dance floor, Powhaus started the Maximalist Dance Group (manifesto forthcoming), led by poet and dancer Drew Krewer. McKinley knew that getting the crowd going was key. "I know a bunch of people who are extroverts and love attention, who love to dress up. And they fill the dance floor. We have mods, we have queens, we have over-the top everything."

The idea of documenting the entire event and editing for web viewing adds a permanent dimension to the project. It also ups the ante for provocative behavior from partygoers: "We are giving people an excuse to get crazy," Roselle says. " If we document it, people are willing to come out and go to the max."

Also upcoming for Powhaus is a tribute to its antecedent, Andy Warhol's Factory, to be held on Feb. 26 in conjunction with the Tucson Museum of Art's Warhol exhibition. Expect impersonators of Factory luminaries, a Velvet Underground cover band, and a multimedia circus.

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Jan 25, 2010, 2:14 pm
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Kitty says, if you wanna see more pictures of our past event, Clusterf**ck, go here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Powhaus-Productions/226052797455?ref=ts#/album.php?aid=175079&id=226052797455

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Click image to enlarge

Courtesy Omer Kreso

Polly Higgins busts a move at Clusterf*&k, Jan. 2.

“Tucson is interesting. It is full of creative people. And Tucson allows [Powhaus] to happen, because it isn’t so developed, but it’s also big. Tucson is the smallest big city I’ve ever been to. So at Powhaus events, you will see people you have never seen before.”

— Jared "Kitty Katt" McKinley

Youtube Video

A Powhaus guide to glam style

As always, Kitty imposes no rules, and encourages only outrageousness

  • Feather boa
  • Sequins, lots of them
  • Glitter makeup
  • Silk, polyester or anything that shines
  • Boots with heels, hopefully ridiculous, for boys or girls — or others

In general, Kitty says: "Explode binary gender designations!"

If you go

The Glitter Ball, Friday, Jan. 29, Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress. $3 cover