Messing Around

I-Drive’s art bar, DRIP, is painting the town red. Literally.

Roberto Gonzalez

With strobe lights flashing and live rock ’n roll thumping, water rains down from the ceiling onto a performance area covered in about one and a half tons of sand. Dancers splatter themselves, each other, and 100 or so audience members with brightly colored water and paint that flows freely from chandeliers and pours in from sideline buckets.

Brooke Pifer

There’s not a seat to be found; this show is meant to be interactive, with audience members encouraged to move along with the dancers. The band, a “don’t mess with me” pack of brooding rockers, fills the space with grungy guitar riffs and heart-slamming drum beats. The dancers explode into the performance area in the center of the room with free and brazen choreography. The scene is intense, passionate and a little wild.

Sixty minutes later, everyone expresses their reaction through a mix of zealous cheers and perplexed expressions. “What was that?” a guy asks his date. That was DRIP; an interpretive dance-based performance art show that loosely tells a boy-meets-girl, girl-gets-her-heart-broken, girl-bounces-back narrative.

The crowd is as eclectic as the show itself: 20-something hipsters, middle-aged tourists, even a few convention center-types sip on red, orange, yellow or blue colored draft beer poured by tank-top clad bartenders who seem immune to the excitement.

Anyone who has seen pictures or video knows there will be paint… lots of it. In fact, attendees sign a waiver acknowledging their consent to getting splattered; some even buy an $8 souvenir white t-shirt with the hope of some paint getting flung in their direction.

But even with the explicit warning given via the website, attendees are still surprised to find themselves in the heart of the splash zone, regardless of where they stand. Supposedly nothing will stain, but the waiver wipes DRIP’s hands clean of blame if it does.

Like all art, DRIP’s interpretation and reception are at the mercy of the audience. Not everyone will love it; heck, few people will even get it. But Jessica Mariko, the show’s creative director and CEO, is okay with that.

Roberto Gonzalez

“We don’t want to be another amusement park show,” says Mariko. “This is real and raw; it’s about the sweat and passion and the art. The people that come to our show tend to be open-minded.”
Having navigated through six years in Orlando’s cultural corridors with her on-demand dance company, Mariko set her sights on making DRIP a permanent show with a bricks-and-mortar venue and an original score created by one of Blue Man Group’s musical directors.

“I felt like if we created something really marketable, we could sustain ourselves and be a viable business,” she says. I-Drive’s building owners didn’t agree. It took Mariko more than a year to find someone who would let her lease, gut and completely renovate a space. With an army of volunteers at her side, it took her another year to transform the 5,100-square-foot former golf store into the dive bar entertainment venue it is today.

“We had musicians ripping up carpet, dancers painting the walls—literally hundreds of volunteers working for us. It’s amazing how much you can actually accomplish with less money than anyone could ever imagine,” says Mariko, who can see DRIP expanding to Las Vegas someday. “I hope that spirit stays with us as we grow.”

Tickets are $35
Thursday–Saturday 8 p.m.
21 and over

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