Drop down the rabbit hole with Lucent Dossier for an immersive entertainment experience that turns fantasy into reality.
Stage lights bathed the three athletic, nearly naked bodies in an electric glow as they posed in a bathtub in the center of the dance floor. Hundreds of flamboyantly costumed guests pushed in close, but not too close, since they didn’t know what was coming next.
Out came a chair, a ladle, and a cauldron of a gooey, thick chocolate. Standing beside the tub, two other performers drizzled the chocolate syrup over the dancers positioned in the tub. They started to move in sync with the energy of the crowd and the rhythm of the music, rubbing the chocolate concoction all over each other. Hands went everywhere, slowly and sensually bathing each body. Then came the whipped cream. It was the biggest, sexiest chocolate sundae ever — Lucent Dossier at its best; sexy, sticky and surprising.
If you haven’t heard, Lucent Dossier is a cutting-edge troupe of entertainers with a reputation for creating edgy performance art. They mix modern dance, original music and the most unique post-apocalyptic, neo-tribal, steampunky costumes and bizarre makeup into a wild night of audience participation theater performed in a converted factory warehouse in downtown L.A.
I’m an unabashed fan of Lucent Dossier. They have a way of making me feel like I can be my wildest, weirdest self and no one will judge me because, well, because we’re family. A Lucent Dossier experience is a little like living in an insane asylum run by patients who’ve gotten hold of some potent magic mushrooms and decided to dress up like circus players. Everything is beyond stylish, perfectly tattered and no one believes in matching.
“I wanted to create a beautiful lunacy,” said Dream Rockwell, the singular creator of Lucent Dossier, during our recent lunch interview in Larchmont Village. “I think people are way weirder than we think we are, way more unique than we’re led to believe. I thought if I could let people experience that, it would make them happier.”
More than 800 people were able to experience some of that unique weirdness in early March during two nights of “private parties.” Compared to Cirque du Soleil, 800 people may not seem like much, but Lucent Dossier fans are, in fact, fanatic. This is a hardcore group that relishes each new show and often spends days, or even weeks, putting together their own costumes and outfits for the occasion.
For the performance in March, the warehouse was decorated on the ground floor with comfortably stuffed couches and chairs around a dance floor, while the upstairs was dressed up like a bordello. There was a little kitchen in one corner where they served fries, popcorn and other snacks, and in another corner was a “cuddle” room with pillows spread about on the floor. Just outside the cuddle room was an airbrush artist painting faces, and around every corner, an unexpected surprise.
One guest watching the show for the first time called the performers “tireless” because the show went on until 4 in the morning with a new set starting every 15 or 20 minutes with dancers, aerialists, bordello lap dancers, and of course, the chocolate sundae.
One new Lucent Dossier fan is Svjetlana Jaklenec, a writer and director from Canada who had a friend dancing in the March 2013 show. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” she says. “They really create their own little world and they let you come in and share it.”
Michelle Socci, a West Los Angeles psychotherapist says, “It was a surreal experience. I felt like I was part voyeur and part participant. They really bring you into their world, but they never let you forget whose house it is. I loved it.”
Lucent Dossier was created in 2004 by Rockwell, a Canadian transplant, by way of New York City. Trained in commedia del’arte, acting, singing, dance, improvisation and anything else she could find in New York in the late 90’s, she dreamed of creating something that would use all her skills.
Not long after reaching Los Angeles, Rockwell found her way to Burning Man, the infamous art and culture festival that takes place in the Nevada desert every August. As Rockwell was wandering about the vast dry lake bed known to “burners” as “the playa,” she met a mysterious man who told her to focus her talent and energy in one direction if she wanted people to take her seriously. She took his advice and began to focus all her skill and talent toward the vision that eventually became Lucent Dossier.
As much as the crew and the guests seem to love the private warehouse performances, setting up the shows are problematic because city red tape makes getting the permits for their parties an arduous, frustrating and very expensive process. It would be smart for the ruling class at City Hall to find ways to encourage entrepreneurs like Dream Rockwell by making the process easier. The Lucent Dossier crowd couldn’t be much mellower, so requiring armed guards, for example, seems like serious overkill.
Assuming the roadblocks aren’t insurmountable, there is a demand for the kind of escapist experience that Lucent Dossier provides. “People are looking for a different kind of entertainment,” said Rockwell. “When we did our first shows at the Edison back in 2007, we had 750 to 1,000 people show up and lines around the building.”
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Lucent Dossier founder Dream Rockwell talks about her inspiration to create an innovative, immersive entrainment experience.
Given the demand, Rockwell has plans for more private parties, with the next to be held on May 17 and 18 at their downtown warehouse. There are also upcoming shows at Coachella, Lightning in a Bottle, Burning Man and other festivals.
Rockwell also wants to create a new home for Lucent Dossier. “We want to move to the next level,” she said. “We want to dream bigger. We want to create a place that doesn’t exist right now.”
The visionary behind Lucent Dossier says she’d like to create an event that will take place inside a dome. The inside wall of the dome would be used as a cinesphere-style, interactive projection screen, there would be an aerial water element and multiple stages in and around the crowd to create an immersive experience.
But for now, Dream Rockwell and her Lucent Dossier family will bring their unique version of weirdness with them wherever they perform. From my point of view, that’s a very good thing; I’d love to see a bigger dose of weirdness on the L.A. culture scene.
For information on upcoming performances, visit lucentdossier.com.