From The Trenches: Laura Sanfiorenzo, DiSORIENT’s Cat Herder

(I was honored to sit down with one of the majordomos in DiSORIENT, NYC’s premier Burner camp & underground party cohort. If you’ve enjoyed yourself at a DiSORIENT event in the last couple of years, you probably have Lady S. to thank for it. Been a fan of their work since 2006 when I hung out in their party dome, while searching for the DiS art car in the deep playa. They’ll be making Glamtech happen again, and as I’ve said before, this is not a party to miss. See everyone on the 13th!)

Laura S.1. What is your favorite thing about the NYC underground/burner dance music culture? What is your least favorite thing about it? The unspoken and unconsummated relationships. No matter the kind of parties fit your taste in NYC, you will always see the same people. These are the people that love the same music as you and are in it with you for every show and every set. You may not know them or their names or their stories, but you know their faces and you see them every time you are out. You share with them a nod, a smile, a wink, something to let them know that you know they are there and that you are there for the same reasons. That moment, those relationships, that is my favorite thing.

My least favorite would be the posers, the people in it for the money and nothing pure, but parading themselves around as something more. Underground culture was developed to get away from that. I find it a shame to see so many production companies using that culture and what we have created to line their pockets.2. How do you juggle your day-time responsibilities with the “bad bitch corralling Burners” night-time persona that you’re known for? Ha, I didn’t know that I had a persona I was known for, but I can dig it. The short answer is coffee, a lot of it. But in reality, I really have no idea, none of us do. I spend most, if not all of my time, multi-tasking and working as a unit with the rest of our production crew (for Burning Man and parties) to make sure it all gets done.

Most, if not all, of what I do and what Disorient does could not be done without all of us working together, even if it looks like only one or two people are doing things. Disorient is volunteer run, which means that we are all doing this for the party and for that indescribable Disorient feeling. That’s not a big motivator for some, but it is for us, and somehow we all find a way to make it all work, just for that feeling. But, ask any of us how we do it and all we can say is, “I don’t know, we just do.”

3. DiSORIENT is definitely one of the more lady-friendly nightlife providers here in NYC. Did that happen by accident, or has it been an intentional journey? I don’t know if I would say it was an accident or intentional. I think it was just a result of how the landscape is changing. Now, more than ever, you see women taking charge, on the decks and on the event production side of things. We book our DJs based on their sound and talent and the people involved are the people that are looking to throw down, sex is inconsequential. But I do have to say, as a woman, when I noticed how many ladies were spinning for Bioluminescence once we released our line up, it did feel good.  4. What kind of music do you listen to when you’re not at a DiSORIENT party? I would say that much of what I listen to is what you would hear at a Disorient party. We try to focus on people we believe are talented, local and up and coming, people we would want to party with and go see, so these are the people I spend my time listening to. BUT, give me a dark room and some techno any day of the week, any time. I cannot deny that techno has my heart.

5. As a party producer how do you deal with harassment at parties and gender-based accusations that you don’t know what you’re doing & other ambient gaslighting? I don’t. I don’t entertain it and refuse to, whether in the context of myself or anyone on my team. I have dealt with lots of gender based bias in the NYC burner community and NYC nightlife. I’ve had people straight up ignore me because they have biases toward women, had people play the “you don’t know what you are talking about” game, even so far as people telling me I should hire a professional party planner because if I don’t, I will “be embarrassed.” What do I say to them? I let them know very quickly that they can either change their attitude or not be involved with anything having to do with me. This is New York and its 2015. I will not be involved with anyone, on any level, who thinks that such behavior is acceptable and will shut down anyone I come in contact doing such things. As for those gaslighting types, so far they have found that I can be a hard egg to crack, since my directness does not jive well with gaslighting 😉 6. Are there any trends in NYC dance music that you’re really into right now? Burner-centric or otherwise? Live music production at parties. I love it. The idea of being part of the experience that inspired someone to create music is amazing, and creating the experience that helps make that happen is even more amazing. I find that those nights are often the most memorable, and those tracks and sounds are the ones that stay with you. We have even done it a few times in the Disorient realm, most recently with Oshana, who produced live at Bioluminescence.  7. How did Country Club go? Do you have any advice for aspiring festival producers now that DiSORIENT has thrown it for a number of years now? Country Club was amazing! The only advice I have for festival producers is to make sure they are always keeping everything in line with their vision and manageable, as things can get out of control fast, especially in a festival environment. For us, Country Club, is less about the “festival” experience and more about sharing our Disorient experience and what it means to be Disorient with others, so we keep it tight and silly. Producing a weekend like that is really about staying true to what you want and making sure it’s manageable, because in the end all anyone will remember are the vibes. 8. If there was one person you could book for a DiSORIENT party with a wave of your magic wand, who would it be & why? That is probably the hardest question ever, mostly cause you don’t know what you don’t know! We try to focus on up and coming locals with solid talent, who haven’t necessarily gotten the international exposure others have, while still bringing in some of our faves like Francois K, so it’s hard to guess who we may come across next. Locals we have our eyes on now include Oshana, Connie, PJay and Carol Ferraz, who have all played for us recently.

BUT, if I absolutely had to choose who to book and location, etc. were no issue, for me personally, it would be Pan-Pot. A few years ago, before I was heavily involved with Disorient, I saw them at this underground party in some random warehouse in Rotterdam. It was that party and the atmosphere they created that really brought me back to remembering what it meant to be underground and sparked the beginning of my deeper journey with Disorient. 9. Any secret surprises you can share that Burners can look forward to out on the Playa this year? It wouldn’t be a secret if I shared it, but I can say to think operatic. Other than that, mums the word.

10. Finally, what is one thing you wish you could tell people about the Burn, DiSORIENT & transformational festival culture in general? It would be to not get caught up in all the extras, complications and drama. Remember what this is all about. If you aren’t having a good time, you’re doing it wrong. Shameless plug! We just updated our Glamtech line up to include AntheaFrancois K and Abe DuqueLaura DiSORIENTAnd I can confirm that there will in fact be an afterparty for Glamtech and it will be a short cab ride away from the main party, details will be released this weekend and more at Glamtech 🙂

(Photo by Ale Garcia)

One thought on “From The Trenches: Laura Sanfiorenzo, DiSORIENT’s Cat Herder

  1. Pingback: Why We Burn: Nuvoletta, Art Direction into the Deep with DisOrient | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

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