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AstroProm II @ Vox Populi.

February 19, 2015

Space-Prom-Proofs-030Text by Dan Halma. Images by Charles Shan Cerrone.

Traditionally prom nights are generally uniform affairs. There’s the rush to get suits and dresses matched and ordered, the booking of limousines, the planning for after-prom parties and the loom of graduation following a memorable night of dancing and partying.

This changes when prom night follows a theme of “Stars Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” colliding with one of Terry Gilliam’s nightmares in outer space in addition to robot battles and a musical performance by a band of time traveling cyborgs from the planet Vitrus.

Saturday, February 7th was such a night when Vox Populi was home to “AstroProm II: Promageddon,” a prom night set in a “… future-dystopia-space-time [where] proms have become outlawed by the evil Galactic Empire and rebels have to hold their sacred proms in the shadows.”

After climbing up to the third floor of the Vox, visitors were greeted by a tin foil wrapped security desk that was flanked by old televisions broadcasting white noise. Beyond the desk lay a classic prom-styled balloon archway that underscored the atmosphere beyond its latex borders. Crossing the threshold presents guests with yet another prom classic: the prom photo booth. But it’s at this point the similarities between regular prom and AstroProm end.

Accenting the Vox’s minimal overhead lighting were green and red strobe lights projecting an ever-changing array of patterns and symbols across the dancehall. The center left of the room served home to a makeshift bar, decorated with silver wrapping paper and Erlenmeyer flasks filled with mysterious blue and red drinks.

The bar menu, though small at only four drinks total, reflected the theme of a party in space. In the category of mixed drinks, options included Moon Juice (gin and fresca), Fuzzy Cosmonaut (vodka and tang), and test tube shots that featured a mysterious combination of ingredients, but those feeling less adventurous were welcome to drink some of the finest Earth Piss (Pabst Blue Ribbon) this side of the Milky Way Galaxy.

A little after 9 p.m. Trial by Battlebot, the first of the evening’s events, began. After signing up in an elimination bracket, combatants were called to the stage two at a time to don their armor and learn the rules of combat. Each suit of armor consisted of a large cardboard box decorated with a wall of CDs on both sides and armholes covered with flexible aluminum tubing. On the upper corners of each suit were two CDs held to the suit with duct tape.

The rules were simple: the first person to knock both CDs off of their opponent’s armor wins.

Participation was widespread and competition fierce. After an hour and a half of rigorous battle only the first round of battles were completed. This served as the perfect time to postpone combat in favor of the night’s musical entertainment: West Philly based band, Starwood.

The “cyber art rock” group’s set began with some technical with bassist ZeeBot’s amplifier, but this afforded frontman Gabriel Starwood ample time to provide their backstory to the audience: sent back in time from the year 2776, Starwood, a “man-machine and master manipulator” and a small team of android musicians fled their home world of Virtus moments before its destruction. Since then they have called Earth their home and have taken a keen interest in humanity with Starwood having controlled the minds of famous individuals such as Nikolai Tesla, John F. Kennedy, and Brendan Fraser.

Joined on stage by keyboardist NeXus, synth player GeeRod and drummer CenSor, Starwood performed an eclectic mix of electronic vibes and punk rock energy with the songwriting chops of prog rock only briefly slowing down their futuristic sound so that prom-goers could slow dance to a cover of The Penguins’ “Earth Angel.”

The band kept everyone in the Vox dancing until close to 1 A.M. and would have continued to do so for even longer if the performance wasn’t interrupted by Space Cops and a warrant for Starwood’s arrest.

AstroProm II was the brainchild of Chloe Bach and Zach Shapiro, friends and former roommates, who hosted the first AstroProm at their home in June of 2012. After going through possible themes for a party, the duo decided to make their own and came up with the idea of an astronaut party, Bach explained, but dropped the astronaut theme in favor of a more general space theme.

“We turned our house into a space station,” said Shapiro. With whitewashed walls, their kitchen wrapped in tin foil and a bridge made from old keyboards, Bach and Shapiro did just that. The first party was such a memorable night that friends were hitting up the duo to throw another one years later. Although friends offered crowd-funding the second party, Shapiro paid for everything in addition to taking the lead on organizing AstroProm II.

“We all kind of know each other through this other band that does a really big show on Halloween,” Shapiro explained, referring to The World/Inferno Friendship Society and their annual Halloween show, dubbed Hallowmas, “so we want to do another right before Halloween as a kick off for that.”

But that all depends on how much they make back from the night.

“This is not about money at all,” Shapiro adds. “Even if I lost $200 I’d still do it. I just think this is the coolest thing ever and I’m stoked on it.”

  1. February 19, 2015 2:58 pm

    Hi, I was at the event (the girl as the space cowboy taking a test tube shot) the pictures looked amazing, I was wondering if there were any additional pictures You would be able to send my way! Thanks 🙂

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