Listen to Lena Willikens' set at Mutual Dreaming back in May + read a Q&A with resident Aurora Halal below.
How would you describe your music policy?
Mutual Dreaming has always been about obsessions of mine, the weirder music, and outlier artists. Its been all over the place from PPU boogie parties, DJ Stingray's NYC debut, Dr Rubinstein, etc, always with a similar spirit of playfulness. I'm never wanting anything standard or genre-abiding. I saw the fliers and artist choices as a bat signal for people open to that. Besides the guests, one of its goals has been giving local artists a proper stage, proper sound, and seeing that talent really flex & develop.
What makes a great party?
A great party is a very elusive thing, only possible when all the details come together and form a collective unconscious that's bigger than any one element. You can just feel it in the air, everything's churning deeper and feels unstoppable, and that's when personal transformation is possible. You can't always predict when it will happen. As an organizer I think you can help get it there by setting some things in motion, but after that it just unfolds on its own.
What does your party stand for, and how do you express that?
I have a few half-joking mottos. 'Strictly for the freaks' is something my friend Max D said years ago. Coming from a very conformist city, DC, that has meant the music lovers & friends that you really had to work to find. In my dream world it would be full of people in crazy outfits, but to me freak means something more like a believer in underground culture, and that doesn't necessarily look cool. The other motto is 'DIY the only way to fly.' Meaning: no sponsorship, nobody else producing it, no need for commercial success, all my projects are meant as a transmission from my imagination. This is really important to me.
What’s the greatest problem facing club culture in your city?
Dancing is technically illegal except for a few commercial clubs, so the nightlife I've been interested in has mostly been underground in lofts and random spaces. There's always a risk of getting shut down, losing tons of money, and the safety and exits can be sketchy. In recent years especially since the Oakland fire, I have been extra cautious and turned to more legal places, but I'm going back to the underground spots again. Has to be that way if your tying to catch that feeling of a special space for one night only. Another problem is bros and finance people ruining the vibe, groping girls, etc. Occasionally I'll get discouraged, worrying it will never be the same, but you just have to keep pushing further into your zone and outrunning them.
What’s your favorite memory of the night?
After 7 years its difficult to pick a favorite but I guess I can think of a turning point. 2013, before Sustain-Release started, I had stepped back after a few unsuccessful nights and wondered the way forward if I would continue. I found an incredible loft with lots of strange rooms, and organized a party with new label at the time, White Material vs Vereker. The owner of the space was a weirdo, but as the hours got closer, it became apparent that he was never going to turn on the electricity. I googled him and realized he was an actual scam artist. The truck showed up with the soundsystem and it was now or never, so I called my old space 285 Kent which had ended its 4 year run the night before, so it was open and available for one last party. We roll up to find the toilets had exploded, and there's disgusting chunky brown water covering the entire floor.. we're mopping, and frantically setting up a huge parachute installation on the ceiling, and then the fog machine breaks. But after all that chaos, the result was absolutely pulsing with life force energy. It looked and sounded the best it ever had so far, the music felt new, and I glimpsed the power and potential of our scene, and since then the parties seemed more potent, focused and magic.