“So what exactly is this event?”
This is the question I was asked repeatedly ahead of Dream Machine. And each time it stumped me.
Was it going to be a rave?
A festival of art installations?
A networking event for gen Z risings with millennial moons?
In the end, Dream Machine was all of that and none at all.
The Kollection’s first event back had been in the works for seventeen months. Its original date was that fateful weekend in March when the world shut down. While the Kollection began as a music blog in 2010, its transition into event planning gave its leaders and followers something concrete to believe in. Their “experiences,” as the Kollection Kult likes to call them, in Los Angeles over the past couple of years solidified the collective as more than a group of Santa Barbara kids who know how to throw a sick party. Sure, the Kollection kept its audience entertained through devotion to editorial expansion. But the pandemic had benched half of the team and they were itching to return.
Return they did. Dream Machine was held at Awa Oasia, which is basically like if Downtown LA had its own Hogwarts Room of Requirement for creative events. Attendees entered the space on a red carpet — a kitschy nod to the Kollection’s rejection for the LA establishment but love for any and all things glamorous.
Inside the open-air gallery was somewhere between a WeWork office and a warehouse party. Hors d’oeuvres of all status symbols grazed the bar. Maguro nigiri and smoked salmon tartines neighbored meatballs and mac and cheese. The bars were crowded with ready-to-party guests, but with enough bartenders akin to a well-staffed private school.
Deeper into the space lived the artist stations. Everywhere you turned Justin Barreras’s larger than life graffiti art and installation coated the venue. If you knew anything, it was that JB Was Here.
Courtney Kinnare’s paintings dominated one corner. Guests wandering around her station consistently zoned out of their mingling, hypnotized by the magic of her abstract creation.
“I should have brought a bag,” was a quote frequently stated around Nicole Tiedman’s screen printing table. The rampancy of Laughing Geisha purchases may as well have been a Dream Machine souvenir. In the hallway stood Shelley Grice’s oil paintings. One in particular stood out: two identical women donning head scarfs and dark shades faced each other playing chess. The mirror imagery and strategic game at hand eluded to notions of competition, solidarity and the nature of female bodies at large.
Its Pink-Wall-esque background and intimate figure detail showed the pleasure and talent that grounded the work. The art at Dream Machine wasn’t afraid to be fun because each artist was clearly confident in their work’s importance.
The main event was in the back. The Kollection had transformed the space’s courtyard into their own little high-brow DoLab. Six-foot tall yellow flowers and an array of disco balls framed the stag. DJs wielded Nexus-2000s and Funktion-one speakers.
The Secret Lineup Revealed
New York house innovator, Wev, setting the mood and opening with style.
OWSLA pioneer and genre disruptor, Mija, dropping in to pick up the energy.
Durante weaving together a dreamy, dance-evoking set.
The legendary John Tejada headlining with a 90-minute build of drivey techno that complimented day turning to night.
I spent my time at Dream Machine wandering around these stations. I learned working the door for an LA party requires a unique skill set. Explicitly, one must scan tickets and temperatures. Implicitly, one must know the faces of the up-and-coming stars and famous-adjacent people. Without such knowledge, you will repeatedly be approached by your boss who quietly informs you that no, this person and their entourage do not need tickets and do you live so far under a rock that you really don’t know who they are?
The strangest part about this event was the people I saw. I’ve spent my fair share of time in LA, but I’m no native. I’m a New Yorker and I don’t work in the capital I Industry. Still, I bumped into surprising familiar faces. People I knew distantly in college, someone I’d seen around the office of an internship, even an old camp counselor. Humans who if I hadn’t seen them with my own eyes, I would have never believed they would end up at the same event. It appeared the Kollection functioned as some kind of underlying web, tethering disparate individuals to a community so palpable yet simultaneously natural it was like the creators had accidentally happened upon it.
Near the end of the day, I was standing behind the giant school bus in the back of the courtyard. The vehicle served as the psychedelic backdrop for the DJs and the viewing deck for VIPs. (The inconsistency of wristband colors in this so-called secluded area was a sweet testament to the Kollection’s incapability to perpetuate any structure of status and exclusion.) I was speaking to one of the manager’s parents, who spent the better part of the 70s as the tour manager for legends. We’re talking Woodstock headliners, disco queens, people who created the lexicon of great music. He lived through a time when trends were innovative, not derivative. When culture dared to look forward, instead of standing in the saccharine quicksand of nostalgia. So I knew it meant something when he looked around the space and said with a knowing smile,
“You’re lucky. There’s something really cool going on here.”
What exactly was this event? To be quite honest, I have no fucking clue. But maybe that’s what’s so great about it. Dream Machine embodied the Kollection’s refusal to confine itself to any genre – of music, cuisine, craft, or audience.
The only commitment they’re willing to make is one to taste and heart.
This piece was written by Ashley Futterman and the respective photographers are tagged. Thank you to Decade House for spearheading the after movie. Access each photographer’s full gallery below and be sure to tag them and @klctn when sharing on socials.