With the growing popularity of EDM music, a new art form developed, glove lightshows or “gloving.” Gloving was first coined in 2006 when a man by the nickname, Hermes, placed ten LED strobe lights into the fingertips of his white gloves. Since then the light shows have gotten more complex with a wider array of LED light colors and patterns. Nowadays, the sensation of gloving can be seen at EDM and electric music festivals/concerts. In California, gloving has expanded so much that there are actually formed gloving teams. One particular Northern Californian team goes by the name Team WHOMP. I decided to get a better understanding for this new art form by interviewing a few of their team members.
Randy Credo and Timothy Lin, otherwise known as Icky and Domo, had started Team Whomp on April 23, 2010. “Whomp” had come from the infamous “whomping” sound created by the basslines of dubstep, which, at the time, was Credo and Lin’s music of choice. The duo started off by holding double lightshows or “light jobs”, where two glovers would come together and combine their efforts to perform. Throughout the years, the team expanded and today consists of five members: Randy Credo (Icky), Timothy Lin (Domo), Kenny Jiang (Kuma), Lorenzo Renojo (Zojo), and Andrew Kim (Akimbo). When I first encountered gloving, I felt completely mesmerized by the light trails patterns that the multicolored fingertip lights would create. It was truly an out of this world experience.
To glovers, these light shows are more than just a party trick. “I would describe gloving as a creative expression and interpretation of oneself. I say expression because not everybody likes the same moves; some glovers conjure more, some are more liquid, some are more technical,” Lin said. Just like dancing or creating music, gloving is an art form with lights. “What got me interested is how you can make your feelings and emotions visible with the music,” Credo said. I can attest through personal experience and say that whenever music (regardless of genre) is playing the background, these glovers will subconsciously begin moving their fingers to the beat even without gloves.
Unfortunately, with the rising amounts of drugs being used at raves, gloving has been given a drug stigma. In 2006, a 15-year old girl had passed away from an overdose at a rave in Los Angeles; this led to a crackdown on the rave scene. Gloving became banned at certain Insomniac events and even labeled as paraphernalia. “Team Whomp has a motto, to make gloving fun for people who aren’t on drugs. We also made Whomp into an acronym: We Hate On Meth and Pills. It’s silly but we try to show that you don’t need to be on drugs to enjoy a lightshow,” Jiang said. It seems to me that the purpose of a lightshow is to let your eyes fool you into watching the trailing patterns of the lights. No drugs necessary. This can be achieved by holding the light show close enough to the person’s face so that their eyes become slightly crossed. Again, no drugs necessary.
However, that’s not the only criticism large event holders have towards gloving. Gloving is also seen as a safety hazard. Before the bans took hold, people would sit in the middle of a crowd in order to receive a light show. This would make it difficult for people who are trying to walk by. “There’s never been a dedicated spot for people to give lightshows I guess. I think if they regulated it a bit better or set zones for lightshows it’d be ideal,” Jiang said. (Now there’s an idea!)
So what’s in the future for these glovers? Well, as the audience, that’s really in your hands. As any new art form begins to develop, there will always be people who criticize it for being foolish or childish. However, with enough open minds and interest, gloving has the potential to become an even bigger phenomenon. “I want it to be something that people can enjoy on a massive level; much like the blown up display of an orbit visual on repeat at EDC 2010. I want to be able to see my show up on the big screen!” Lin said. So, I guess the only thing left to ask is who wants a light job?
Check out Team Whomp: