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Hit the floor

A eulogy for Dead Hipster Dance Party

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Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to honor this thing called Dead Hipster Dance Party.

For after six years of Thursday night parties, Dead Hipster is coming to a close. The monthly '90s-themed nights will continue, but the weekly edition ends after Halloween.

Nightlife is always morphing, what with our town's ongoing influx of college kids who bring their changing tastes with them. But the hipsters-in-chief, DJs Michael Gill and Chris Baumann and photographer Abi Halland, have created an institution of Missoula's bar scene. I'm not sure where the name came from, though my theory involves how one feels the morning after a few "shots! shots! shots!" too many. (I'm told that Pedialyte pops are the best post-party cure, by the way.)

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  • Abi Halland

My first experience with Dead Hipster was during what I think of as the Lady Gaga era, in late 2009, when "Bad Romance" was in regular rotation. I'd heard fellow college kids speak in awed tones of a crazy DJ night where they poured watermelon vodka into your mouth; this seemed like something I should check out. I do not specifically recall my first times at Dead Hipster, but I do remember being at work the next day, bleary eyed and frying the breaded cod at the Food Zoo, and recounting that I'd just had the best night ever. I kept going, and kept making new friends and meeting cute boys, and I was hooked.

It's hard for us to get close to one another in Missoula, thanks to our western sensibilities of awkward politeness and personal space. Dead Hipster, bless it, has the keys to loosening us up and getting us to shake our groove things: copious amounts of cheap alcohol and pop song choruses that we all know, emceed by charismatic, grinning DJs. And there's the chance of getting into one of Halland's photos, which inexplicably manage to catch people at their most lively and beautiful moments. (Let us all pause a moment and consider how many goofy drunk faces she must be very kindly deleting each week.)

Dead Hipster resembles big-city club scenes a little bit, with the thumping hip-hop and girls in glittery outfits and spike heels, but it's still got a particular Montana magic. You will not find $1 well drinks in any club in West Hollywood or Manhattan, for one thing, or free street parking. And you can be dressed to the nines, but no Missoulian will raise an eyebrow if you're not. Looking around the Badlander on an average Thursday, I've seen all kinds of people: gay and straight, fat and thin, hip and nerdy and nerdy-hip. Apple Bottom jeans or boots with the fur are fun, but not really necessary in order to get low.

Dead Hipster has its detractors, for sure, and navigating a packed floor and avoiding potential creepers isn't for everybody. Nor are Top 40 lyrics particularly culturally enriching, though I do not see anything wrong with a little bump and grind.

I defend Dead Hipster because we have so few opportunities in life to completely give in to the joy of a moment. Every Thursday, as the clock ticks closer to Friday morning, Dead Hipster fosters those completely carefree minutes where we can move with abandon, say to hell with tomorrow, and dance like everyone—and no one—is watching.

Dead Hipster Dance Party is Thursdays at the Badlander. $3, with $1 well drink special from 9 PM to midnight. $7 cover for the final night, Thu., Oct. 31.

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