The dress code is simple: head-to-toe black. In contrast to the sweaty young people at a typical electronic dance music show pushing their way toward a DJ, this night's Elektro Grave attendees, comprised of about 30 people, appear to at least be old enough to remember the dark era of 1980s gothic music. A few folks wear chains, some wear dark lipstick and the group's unofficial photographer hides his entire face behind a scary plastic mask. Some spectators bob their heads with drinks in their hand, while others go absolutely nuts, running all over the open space at the Hop!
On stage DJ Ryan Hollingsworth, aka Doktor Reaktor, is mostly obstructed through smoke that rises out of a full-size decorative coffin. He mixes electronic beats with obscure goth and industrial music created largely by bands that don't exist anymore.
The electronic aspects are that of classic techno: no fancy drops, bells or whistles. Adding an electronic element keeps the music relevant while simultaneously paying tribute to goth as it used to be. Hollingsworth describes it as, "one foot on [EDM] and one foot wandering."
Since April 2013, Elektro Grave has appeared at the Hop! about once every month, sometimes rotating between different themes like sci-fi night, glam night and various costume parties. All of the event planning, booking and imagery is created by Hollingsworth.
"You can look forward to the same group of people," says Justin Chavez, an active member of the Elektro Grave community. Despite this subculture's hard-core appearance, Chavez assures that they are "a loving and accepting group."
Growth has never been their main focus, since electronic goth music was never a fad in the first place. And they're OK with that. As a small but mighty cohort, the Elektro Grave fans don't seem to mind their sparse attendance. Instead of catering to the mainstream to attract more people, "We stay within the genre because that's what we like," says Hollingsworth.
"[The DJs] put a lot of heart and soul into their music," Chavez says as he looks down at the stage from the balcony. He talks about the friends he looks forward to seeing every month, the respect he has for Hollingsworth's dedication to this project and of course, the music, which he says is, "really easy to move to."
Nearby on the balcony, a group of roughly 10 eyeliner-clad audience members are gathered together when the face-masked photographer interrupts mid-conversation. Like a mascot at a theme park, he uses his hands and body expressions to signal he'd like to snag a group photo. As the beat pulsates through the room, they squeeze together, throw their arms around one another and say "cheese." ♦
Elektro Grave presents: KrampusNacht • Tue, Dec. 16, at 8 pm • $5 under 21, free over 21 • All-ages • The Hop! • 705 N. Monroe • thehopevents.com • 368-4077