An event for every kind of raver

Dark Palace pulled out all the stops for its Denver debut. Photo: Samantha Camp • The Sentry

Dark Palace pulled out all the stops for its Denver debut.
Photo: Samantha Camp • The Sentry

Meow Wolf’s Dark Palace provided opportunities for all types of Denver ravers to let loose. The psychedelic event took place on November 22, 23, and 24 of 2019. 

Held at the National Western Complex, organizers put every bit of space to use, converting the arena into the main stage where ravers gathered in masses before the stage and in the stands, jiving to the music. The second stage was across the hall from the arena complex, in a more small-scale locale with short ceilings that provided what felt like an underground rave experience in something like a parking garage.  

The three-day event hosted over thirty artists and DJs, meaning the music never stopped and there was never a down moment. Among these artists were such names as Claude Vonstroke, Shlomo, CharlestheFirst, and many more. No matter what artist took either stage, however, moshes formed before them, swaying trance-like to the music. 

As is the case with any Meow Wolf event, however, music was not the only draw for Dark Palace. Dark Palace displayed what Meow Wolf does best: provide a truly immersive experience. For the nights of November 22-24, the National Western Complex was the National Western Complex no more, but rather an alien mindscape crafted with blacklights, neon lights, and surrealist decoration and art. 

While crowds of ravers gathered before the two stages, just as many Dark Palace-goers wandered the halls and nestled into surreal side rooms. No matter where one moved, there was a disco ball, monolithic neon pillar, blacklight art on the wall, and more. As mentioned above, even the small side rooms at the National Western Complex were put to use. What these rooms previously were was indiscernible as during Dark Palace they were high school hallways with lockers and neon lights, fully padded rooms with bird feathers and cushions on the floors, areligious prayer shrines for personal issues, or even so much as a Tibetan pregnancy shrine. Anything that might have been familiar no longer was, allowing ravers to feel truly transported away from their present place and into somewhere else entirely. 

Of course, Dark Palace could not have been possible without a veritable horde of organizers, and that is exactly what they had. Teams of medical staff patrolled the event, making sure everyone was safe. Security kept an eye on everything. And everywhere possible, staff members were present to provide help or give directions. These organizers didn’t detract from but rather enhanced the experience as it showed that Meow Wolf and its supporting staff not only wanted their patrons to have a good time, they also wanted them to have a safe time.  

Leaving Meow Wolf’s Dark Palace cemented the fact that the event was more than a rave; it was an experience. Walking out, the ghost of the music’s beat stayed in the throat and chest, and the outside world was the one that appeared alien. Before then, the Dark Palace-goer had been in another world, in another time, not with other people but with other souls.

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