Play with fire at the Illinois Obscura Society's carnival-themed launch party!
Dancers at the Dance-O-Mat in Christchurch, New Zealand (all photographs by the author)
The two dancers shuffled through songs on their iPhones, deciding which track they would dance to next. Their stage was behind them, a polished wooden square situated at the center of a vacant lot in Christchurch, New Zealand. Huge yellow speakers leaned out from all four corners, turned up high.
Then it was decided. The next song would be Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk."
Plugging her phone into a washing machine on the edge of the dance floor, one of the dancers, Grace Cabell, checked the coin slot on the side of the machine then pushed play. Across the front of the machine was a label: "Dance-O-Mat."
"You just have to put two dollars in and the machine plays your songs through the speakers," she told me. "Luckily someone else must've just put money in. We don't have to pay!"
The performance unfolded for a select audience of passersby, including a Canadian tourist who promptly left his two friends to join in. Funky bass lines and Mars' high tenor reverberated among nearby pillars of concrete and mangled steel.
The remains of the Christchurch Cathedral, with the Chalice sculpture celebrating the city's 150th anniversary visible behind.