The first Shrek Rave was carried out with the success of a Texas execution in Los Angeles last year. At mere conception, it may have seemed like a hit – without necessarily giving glimpse into the nationwide party it would become. Shrek, one of the most successful animated franchises to come from outside Disney, occupies – alongside the hearts in children inside many Americans – a dark digital space, a countercultural current.
The pandemic might have bottled a fever for popular parties while simultaneously pushing many purveyors further unto the internet, the Shrek Rave’s perfect advertising vehicle.
Not that the Shrek Rave needed advertising, because Rico Nasty and Yung Gravy, the twin flames of cultural fate, danced over the stage and the proverbial future of that very first Shrek Rave in Los Angeles. It’s all been green gravy since.
Now, the Shrek Rave is everywhere. East Coast, West Coast, Rust Belt, and every other region in the country hosted a handful of Shrek Raves in 2022. In the nation’s capital, the ever-talented Simpson graced green audience as one of their disk jockeys.
The New York Times covered the Shrek Rave when it came to Brooklyn. What the New York Times forgot was: Shrek 2 was far better than the original. On September 23rd, the Shrek Rave came to New York City for the second time. And the Shrek franchise is batting one hundred on second iteration. This time its green ears, fairytale creatures, swampish stench of love, and so much more that is maybe innocently indescribable to the rational human psyche landed in Manhattan at Webster Hall, a nightclub near Astor Place.
Like partying itself, Webster was boarded up during the pandemic. Like partying itself, Webster was deemed a necessity of the people and for the people once public health was largely in the hands of medicine. Webster Hall reopened to host electronic dance music in an open theatre setting. The Shrek Rave was the nightly flow of iron and oxygen to the blood of a nightclub, an industry, or a people depending on how you look at it.
The music at the Manhattan Shrek Rave was EDM remixes of classics from the Shrek franchise soundtrack, classical electronic dance music, and Cardi B.
Ninety percent, when asked what brought them to the Shrek Rave, said Tik Tok. Isn’t it a sign of the times that none of them said the New York Times. And none of them will say from Riley Van Steward’s little article in Forbes either.
“We’re gay and we f*****g love Shrek,” said one man dressed as a pig. His friend, also dressed as a fairy tale pig, said, “we’re two little piggies looking for a third.”
We’re trying to get rid of ogres,” said their friend and he passed a button with some anti-ogre imagery. “We’re exploring straight culture tonight,” said the fourth friend. “Usually when we’re here, everybody is half naked.”
“It’s a fantasy party. It welcomes everyone. I’m here to practice my necromancy,” said someone close by.
“I saw the Shrek Rave sold out sign” that hung outside the venue for the past couple weeks “and knew I had to come,” said one man with a head of green yarn. “I went to Michaels,” he said. “I made this.”
From behind him a woman came offering candy. She gave the yarned man a lollipop and the next person chewing gum.
The security guard confiscated most of the edibles from people’s pockets and bags at check-in. But she let the boy who offered her two gummies advertised as one hundred milligrams each keep the rest in his pocket. They cheers-ed their candy, and they exchanged a few words while the line grew.
There was a tall teenager in a blue hoodie and grey sweatpants accompanied by a short woman in full scarlet dragon regalia. She ran into the crowd to greet her friends while the less enthusiastic of the two was still shuffling past the stairs. When asked what brought him here, he said “my girlfriend.” When asked what brought her here, he said, “I don’t know. She’s weird.”
Three women dressed as three blind mice. They said they did so “to rally.” It was another woman’s first rave. A man wore archery gear made with Coach and other high-end handbag straps. “F*** it up, bro,” said one man. “F*** it up.”
“It’d be a lot better if they tipped,” said the bartender.
“I had a boyfriend,” said one woman dressed as Donkey. “I keep thinking about where the soft curve of his stomach dipped and met his pelvis. You know? And I thought coming here tonight would give me a reason to forget.” She raised her drink in cheers when she left.
“This is the first costume we thought of,” said a curly headed boy painted green from face to pelvis. He was with four friends in the same costume. “We thought everyone would be dressed like this,” he said.
“That is the best Shrek costume I’ve seen,” a man in a donkey costume told them. It was not even the best Shrek costume in the limited eyesight where they stood.