Dotcom kicks off Internet Party party
The Internet Party Party was a long time coming after Electoral Commission advice led to the last attempt being canned. Last night, more than six months later, the party finally kicked off at Auckland's Studio. Its purpose? To encourage youth to vote. At 22 years old, Jess McAllen is part of the demographic the event was trying to inspire. She reports on the evening.
7.30pm: Miriam Pierard is at the door. She's wearing fake cat ears and has whiskers drawn on her face. She's also the Internet-Mana representative for Auckland Central. A man in a light blue suit walks past the line and asks if we are ready for the party of the century.
7.45pm: No one is on the dance floor. But people are slowly starting to arrive. Most are in the front part of The Studio - away from the loud music.
It's in the front that Internet Party members Brendan, 23, and Paul, 53, are sitting on a leather couch. So why are they here?
Brendan is who the Internet-Party should be canvassing. He's a youth and designs computer software for lawyers. He tries to attend any political event in a bid to learn more about politics and doesn't know who he will vote for yet but that voting is important: "It's the only way to affect change."
Brendan says youth are turned off politics by all the lying: "one person says something, the other says the opposite. You don't know who to believe."
8.45pm: Four people on the dance floor and none of them dancing.
The front-room has gathered a range of eclectic people - one man wearing a hat so tall it could rival Pharrel's Grammy-award attire. Everyone is chatting but no one is on the big empty dance floor.
Brendan pops up. What are his thoughts on the lack of party at the Internet Party Party?
"It's like the internet," he observes, "full of nerdy people who don't like dancing."
A young man takes a swig out of a can that suspiciously isn't for sale at the bar. He is 20-year-old first time
voter Jesse Saunders.
"I'm deciding between National, Greens and these guys though I'm not registered yet."
At the door he forfeited his $30 entry fee by signing up to the Internet Party, instead scoring a cheaper $2 entry.
Saunders is at the party after a strange occurrence at 1.30am in Glen Eden.
"Me and my friend were going for a walk and went past some billboards and this guy came out of nowhere and said we should come along to the party's meeting in Kelston last Sunday. Then we were invited here.""
His friend pulls out a business card saying Tai Harawira - "it was this guy. Do you know him?"
9.45pm: Admittedly you begin to get a bit infected with the spirit, with the giant cat looming over the stage like a puppet master controlling some strange dance moves. The music is pumping, the energy is there and, as young people finally file into the room, you start to think maybe, just maybe, this stuff could actually work.
There are about 70 people on the dance floor.
9.55pm: L.A.B takes to the stage - but Dotcom was meant to be there at 9.50. The lead singer yells out: "Good to see some crowd on a Wednesday night!" and the audience cheers and whistles. "We're all voting, right people?" - Less cheers, no whistles.
The singer - who shared the stage with Dotcom at Rhythm and Vines repeats: "I give it to you, you give it to me. We want that energy" over and over until the beat drops. He dances a storm, shaking violently (on purpose) and rocking his afro back and forward. Strobe lights come on.
The room suddenly fills up as Dotcom takes the stage.
"That was so dope!" he exclaims.
"We make politics less boring and more fun.
"Just imagine, in three years you could tell your parents what to do."
He went on to clarify that it doesn't matter who the audience votes for (just vote) and together we can make this country cool and fresh and young.
Wading through the crowd, like a beloved king, Dotcom high-fives his adoring fans. He's surrounded by a throng of people near the front of the stage - everyone wants to take selfies. It's madness. From every possible angle there is a different person cramming their face into the shot - most won't even feature the side of Dotcom's cheek. This carries on until he reaches the end of the room.
On my way out I spot Laila swaying in rhythm with the dubstep playing and moving her black heels in sync.
Does she like the music?
"Yes, I actually do!
"I used to run to music like this because it goes with your pulse."