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Friday, July 15, 2016

The Mission Gets Lit With Glow Con, a No-Glowsticks Party for the LED-Obsessed

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 10:00 AM

  • Courtesy of Permission Granted

If a normally dark corner of the Mission turns a mysterious shade of bright purple this weekend, don’t panic. There are, probably, no aliens nearby. It’s just a glow convention.

Glow Con, a one-part tech conference and two-part underground dance throw down — or perhaps, glowdown — runs for 12 hours Saturday at The NWBLK, a design gallery in the northeast Mission. The event features talks about the latest in LED technology and workshops in flow arts — think poi, hula hoop and staff spinning — by day, and art cars, DJs, a “glow saber” battle and generally psychedelic Burning Man vibe at night. Glow Con is the first convention/party from Permission Granted, which Ben Greenberg said he was inspired to start after a string of successful house parties at the hacker house 20 Mission.

“This is us leveling up in a big-big way,” Greenberg says.


With virtual reality demonstrations, deep funky house and thousands of shiny toys on display, Glow Con is one of those parties that can appeal to an app developer or a bohemian warehouse dweller. It comes at a tense moment for the northeast Mission. Neighborhood groups have been organizing against what they call “The Beast on Bryant,” a high-end housing development set to demolish the entire block across the street from The NWBLK, where the now-empty warehouse that held art spaces Inner Mission and CELLspace stands.

Greenberg, a software engineer who moved to the Mission four years ago, says he thinks parties that offer art and technology together can help bridge the divide between longtime Mission artists and newer residents, who are often too focused on gold rush-style tech jobs.

“The message we’re delivering to people is ‘hey, you’re part of SF, use your energy to contribute,’” Greenberg says.

And, if that contribution should involve spinning a trippy object that glows a mysterious purple, he’ll be there to help. Greenberg started the sales website as “a half joke” in 2013, and now it will be the main vendor at Glow Con.  
click to enlarge "Nova" by Christopher Schardt. - COURTESY OF LOVETECH
  • Courtesy of LoveTech
  • "Nova" by Christopher Schardt.
The centerpiece of the party lineup is The Dancetronauts. They perform on a double-decker art car that can raise a platform stacked with dancers and speakers 40 feet in the air. There are also beats from DJ Rufio, Jacques Cousteau, and Rich DDT of LoveTech, which curated the art installations. The virtual reality headsets come from Upload VR, and the truly glow-obsessed can come early for talks about “the science of super-bright LEDs.”

One thing that won’t be at Glow Con: a million glow sticks. They are strictly verboten.

“The only glow sticks we’re allowing are for performers,” Greenberg says.

The cynical might see an ulterior motive behind a glow party that doesn’t allow the most common bit of glow schwag but sells plenty of its own. Greenberg counters that he has a perfectly valid reason for the ban.

“They leave a mess,” he says. “The whole Burning Man thing is ‘leave no trace.’ And there’s way more cool things than a glow stick out there anyway.”

Glow Con
, Saturday, July 16 at The NWBLK, 1999 Bryant St. 

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Devin Holt


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