For the goth set, Kommencement breaks the norm

New energy, powernoise at growing weekly party

Scene: clubs, bars, nightlife

March 04, 2004|By Sarah Schaffer | Sarah Schaffer,SUN STAFF

David Hurley just wanted his weekends to be different.

The Alexandria, Va., resident said he wasn't interested in whiling away his free time at an upscale lounge or college-night dance party. Instead, the 21-year-old industrial-music fan wanted to be part of something that was loud, a little gloomy and above all things, goth.

Hurley found what he was looking for last September in Baltimore, when Sonar held its opening party for a weekly electro-industrial dance event known as Kommencement. The parties, which typically attract a crowd of pale-faced twenty-somethings dressed in black, seemed a perfect match for the young truck driver, and he's been making regular treks northward ever since.

Hurley is just one of many dark-clad devotees who, through stalwart presence at the event, have brought a new level of excitement and energy into what Kommencement organizers say was an otherwise stale scene.

"[With this party,] people get excited about coming out. People have really attached to the idea of something new," said Neska Lapicki, one of the event's founders, promoters and resident DJs.

And while the typical crowd isn't anywhere close to capacity for the cavernous club, which holds several hundred people on its busiest nights, Lapicki said the Kommencement audience has been growing quickly and steadily.

It outgrew its original home at the tiny Depot Club on North Charles Street (where the party began in May 2002). It is now attracting hundreds of die-hard fans, including Hurley, who travel from far afield every Sunday to experience the combination of industrial and powernoise music, dancing and, occasionally, live bands.

For Hurley, it's more than just the novelty that makes Kommencement attractive.

The parties, he said, are a way to connect with other like-minded goths, men and women who share a passion for hard-edged music and Siouxsie Sioux-styled fashion sense.

Compared to other clubs, "it's easier to meet people. The people are just a little more accessible," said Hurley, peering out from under his shock of fire-red dreadlocks.

Lapicki agreed and said the event, which she helped to create along with resident DJ Jose Perez (aka DJ Flashpoint) and others, is as much about community as it is about breaking from the norm.

"We're popping up on the radar everywhere," said Lapicki, who believes that Kommencement's expanding crowds and die-hard attendees are evidence that the night is becoming known as one of the central meeting places in the region's goth scene.

And though she's excited and somewhat shocked at the event's quick success, Lapicki is certain of the new roles she and her partners will play in the re-energized scene.

As players in what she calls a new underground music revolution, the Baltimore resident said, those who promote and support Kommencement are not only trendsetters and entertainers, they're also networkers and educators.

"There's a lot of good music. There's a lot of cool people. But they don't know where to go. We wanna teach them," she said.

For more club events, see Page 32.

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