Getting to know people at a party might be a whole lot easier now.
An event that began with one DJ's desire to break beyond the party scene has grown beyond its humble origins and become a movement unto itself.
Now in its third iteration, Body//Talk has expanded past its single-venue origins and into the greater Orlando area. A rotating cast of more than a dozen creatives has banded together to midwife an experience that aspires to something beyond mere partying — the beginnings of a community.
"Body//Talk is trying to bring a solution to a problem that's on the tip of all of our minds," said Jahfre Colbert, the Body//Talk director of events and communications. "Digital communication has become so widespread, but it gets in the way of more meaningful and substantive communication between people. We're trying to get people together and give them the excuse to do the more difficult thing of really getting to know new people."
Communication is of paramount importance at each event. Separate rooms are set aside as spaces for partygoers to cool off and converse, and members of the Body//Talk collective circulate throughout each venue to ensure a good time for all. Surreal costumes are in abundance, and face-painting stations, art installations and name tags emblazoned with famous identities — Yoko Ono, Abraham Lincoln and Andy Warhol, to name a few — are used as a way to encourage talk among strangers.
"All of this — the art, the music, the events — are tools to get us all together to have those conversations," Colbert said. "We use music as a vehicle to do that. Music is the strongest force that we know of that can get people to do that."
The event, which was formerly known under such monikers as v00d00 and Oake, got its start when Phil Santos, a senior economics major, became fed up with the atmosphere in Orlando's traditional music venues.
"I was just a DJ that wanted to play good music to people in an environment that was suitable for that music," Santos said. "I had been playing so many house parties and so many weird places and it was just so tough. I wanted to create an event where people are going because there's some kind of musical aesthetic, or some kind of message.
"I knew that traditional club venues weren't ideal to give [people] the best night of their life. I've been to so many clubs and there's something that just doesn't quite fit with what people want out of their night."
After some dedicated searching, Santos stumbled across The Space. This small collection of green-walled rooms snuggled above a downtown pizza parlor became an impromptu laboratory for experimental music events. Rent is donation-based, so small-scale events have an opportunity to exist external to the larger nightlife paradigm of ticket sales and door fees.
"I had been on the lookout for warehouses and non-traditional venue spaces for months," Santos said. "I came across a poster for The Space and went there — the rest is history."
Since its first event at The Space last year, Body//Talk has grown in both size and popularity. Its growth has enabled the collective to begin courting larger venues, such as The Peacock Room and the venues over in The Milk District, so-named for its proximity to the T.J. Lee bottling plant near downtown.
James Dechert, a local freelance photographer, has followed Body//Talk almost from the beginning. Despite its growth, he attested that the core draw of the event — its sense of community — has not faltered.
"It's all about community and welcoming everyone — being a really positive experience," Dechert said. "I shoot two or three shows a week, which is why this event was such a shock to me. Everyone was so welcoming and very positive. Normally when I'm at something like that, I feel like it's very judgmental and very territorial. It's a very different environment."
As for the future of Body//Talk, Santos said that his greatest aspiration is to see it housed in its own personal venue, a space where artists and creatives can gather to explore their fullest potentials.
"I want to bring people to the height of experience," Santos said. "Parties are places where we put down our phones and we go out and connect and we meet people and we participate in a community. That's what we create at Body//Talk and that's what I want to give out to the community."