Dance Party U.S.A.

Dirk Shafer captures the circuit-party scene on digital video

"Circuit parties," the massive days-long gay events held periodically in major cities and fashionable resort towns nationwide, are a subject ripe for movie treatment, and Dirk Shafer's film does a good job of capturing this scene, particularly its destructive side. While dance parties are supposedly celebratory events, "circuit" affairs are more like Olympic competitions. Physical beauty is the sine qua non as pumped pectorals clamor for space in the dance spotlight, and sheer stamina is demanded for all the "designer" drug-taking that fuels the sexual action that starts once the dancing stops. When Circuit is on its game it's very telling, and where it's at its best is detailing just how difficult it is for men so hedonistically self-involved to love one another. But what's most memorable about Circuit is that it's shot on digital video, whose tiny camera enables Shafer to navigate spaces both large (the Palm Springs "White Party") and small (the tiny trailer in which the hero lives) with considerable aplomb.

 
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