Come Expecting a Celebration, Not a Show
By ALLISON CONSIDINE
Wednesday, January 16, 2019  •  
Wed Jan 16, 2019  •  
Borough Play  •   0 comments Share This
"What's the worst thing that could happen -- you're going to be uncomfortable?"

Diana Oh's latest offering is tough to define but oh so much fun

Diana Oh is throwing a bash and everyone is invited. On Friday and Saturday evenings at Brooklyn's Bushwick Starr, the genre-busting, fourth-wall-smashing performance artist hosts The Infinite Love Party, an immersive shindig with a picnic-style potluck dinner, a deejay and dancing, aphrodisiac tea and finger painting, and a variety of eccentric merrymaking. Just be sure to BYOB -- that's bring your own blanket because yes, sleeping over is an option.

The idea for The Infinite Love Party came to Oh during her personal search for self-love, a journey that took her on solo trips to retreats in Utah and Thailand this past year. Upon her return to New York, she invited co-creative director Kevin Hourigan and a team of multicultural collaborators dubbed Super Queero Heart Questers to help with the event, an inclusive celebration of otherness catering to people of color, the LGBTQ community and their allies.

Upon entering the totally transformed theatre, revelers are asked to remove their shoes in order to romp in the play space, which overflows with bubbles, twinkly lights and streamers. Amusements include swings and bouncy balls, aerial silks, a wall for finger painting, games of Twister, even a quiet tent for Zenning out. Space designer Carolyn Mraz and lighting designer Kate McGee, who both worked with Oh on her last unconventional offering, {my lingerie play}, used children's museums for aesthetic inspiration, "Carolyn knows what my heart looks like, and Kate knows what my dreams look like," Oh says. "I wanted there to be tactile things for people to do, just to get people out of their heads."

Revelers at
Revelers at 'The Infinite Love Party'

Participation is key at The Infinite Love Party. After all, it's an experience, not a show, though there are bursts of performance, including original songs, a brief awards ceremony and short "liberated performances" by Questers and brave guests. "It is about offering freedom and stepping out," Oh says. "It is breaking space, creating change and setting an intention."

The loose structure was dreamed up during a few days of Quester training as Oh and her cohorts meditated, listened to "thought leaders" and cast spells. "They're so uninhibited," Oh says of the Questers. "I'm surrounded by people who make me feel free."

The group's goal is to liberate partygoers, too. For example, Quester DJ Nessuno encourages eye contract and physical abandon during the party's 38-minute dance break.

"Nessuno has a deep, deep well for humanity and an incredible gift to guide, facilitate and unlock people," Oh says. "I think what she really wants is to allow people to feel gratitude for being alive. What does it even mean to gather bodies in a room together like this?"

Leave your inhibitions at the door at
Leave your inhibitions at the door at 'The Infinite Love Party'

That question is at the heart of The Infinite Love Party, which differs from a traditional nightclub outing not just because of the performances, but also because it's dry. Guests are encouraged to let their hair down and bond without the help of booze or the distraction of screens (cell phones are a no-no). Celebrants may be surprised by how challenging being present in the moment with others can be.

And that's the point. "What's the worst thing that could happen -- you're going to be uncomfortable?" Oh asks, noting that everyone signs a Code of Conduct promising to "honor the space and take care of the people and wonderfulness inside of it." "It is so squishy and loving here," she enthuses. "There are so many pretty things to look at and corners of the room to sit in. When you come, it is going to be fine."

Take it from this introvert who can't dance -- I still ended up making new friends. It's no wonder some folks don't want to leave, which is why it ultimately transforms into a platonic slumber party. "There is something so sweet about sharing a night together, letting it continue, and sleeping next to each other," says Oh, who always stays over. "It deepens people's connection even more."

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Allison Considine is a staff writer at American Theatre magazine. Follow her at @theatric_ally. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.

Top image: Diana Oh in The Infinite Love Party. Photos by MariaBaranova.

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