Style to spare: That's what's gonna be throwin' down at the Ritual Expo, a "bazaar-haus" day-to-night party and fashion event, coming this Saturday to the Fillmore. The mix makes sense, since the magic of mike artists has always gone hand-in-glove with clothing and accessory design. Though club kids and the producers who cater to them claim comfort as priority one, nightlife costuming has as many conventions and flourishes as that of operagoing.
Break down that costume, and what you've got is an assemblage of gear -- as in "sick gear, dude" -- thoroughly understood by the local and national design studios/vendors who'll be hustling their wares at the Expo. Notable affectations include a predilection for semifunctional extras like stash pockets and reversibility. Roominess is key, of course, as are a delicate mix of bright colors and the obligatory references to New York boroughs. L.A.-based operations vie with the Right Coast folks for superiority, touting their tongue-in-cheek ruffles, faux fur, and faux-casual blue denim styles. Look for some in-your-face one-upmanship in the Expo's featured fashion show.
Despite the SoCal and Big Apple contingent, the Expo is closing its six-city tour in this town, thank you, feeding the local conviction that as a center of club and street culture, San Francisco trumps L.A., New York, Chicago, Boston, and cultural stepchild Seattle at a walk. Even so, there's not a lot of local representation in the show. Home-grown record label Ubiquity is one exception, but its threads line is still in its infancy, and includes only T-shirts and the occasional hoodie bedecked with various logos. The biggest draw at Ubiquity's booth may be the mini-CDs thrown in with clothing purchases (plus vinyl and other music for sale).
Musically, the Expo will cater to the full spectrum of clubgoers the designers hope to attract, and the lineup is likely to keep the dance floor hustling throughout the show. Entertainers range from straight hip hop and rap to big beat, house, and even the Latin jazz and abstract beats of DJ Tomas. Other performing artists and DJs include Matt Black of Coldcut, Francois K., King Britt, Medusa, Jazzanova, Tony Watson, Jerome Sydenham, Said, MC Bahamadia, and Detroit's Slum Village.
Sources say that tour sponsor ArtistDirect may be foundering -- despite heavy investing from four of the Big Five record labels, its stock has slid -- so catch this show while you can. The pitiless New Economy rules say there may not be a next year.