The event’s title seems like an oxymoron: “Broadway,” with its fuddy-duddy reputation in certain quarters as old, overpriced and out of touch, together with “Rave,” a word that conjures images of loud, ecstasy-fueled, late-night dance parties.
But the Broadway Rave tour seems to reflect an attractive frisson in that coupling: There will be a dozen of the events held across the country in May alone, with a stop in Richmond on Friday, May 12th.
“When we first considered it, we wondered if people would think it was weird,” says Alex Badanes, who came up with the Broadway Rave concept with his friend Ethan Maccoby. Thousands of musical theater fans have apparently found it liberating instead, coming to the dance parties fully outfitted in costumes from their favorite shows, with bolder ones jumping up on stage to perform at the prompt of the rave’s DJ.
Badanes and Maccoby founded Burwood Media, a company that has been producing themed late night parties ever since their Emo Night Brooklyn event became a popular draw starting in 2015. Their suite of brands now includes shows like Gimme Gimme Disco and Gasolina, a full production reggaeton dance party, that they send to venues all across the country.
“Coming out of COVID, we were getting the business back up and running,” explains Badanes. “And we spent some time thinking about what kind of genres we wanted to tackle next.” Badanes and Maccoby had always loved Broadway music and both spent time on stage in school, though Badanes says, "Unfortunately, I was always typecast as ‘the guard.’”
“We thought if we could do it, it’d be so much fun, so we were like, ‘Let’s give it a shot,’” continues Badanes. He says the first event at the Brooklyn Bowl last August drew a couple hundred people but that it was the TikTok videos that came out of it that really made the event gain traction.
“We have some awesome people on our team who are really funny and we came up with a lot of fun concepts,” he says. “All of a sudden we were getting all of these messages saying, ‘Please come to Chicago, please come to Florida, please come to city X, Y, and Z.’”
The event’s popularity sometimes means there will be raves in three different cities on the same night. “Yeah, there are a lot of logistics but we have an amazing team of DJs, some of whom have experience performing on Broadway,” says Badanes. “We really have our A-team on this show, and we really go all out. We have amazing visuals and work with venues to put on awesome shows.”
Badanes says that the crowd that comes out for Broadway Rave is definitely different from those at the other events he produces. “They all know the routines and everyone wants to get involved,” he says. “They’re not just hanging out in their own separate cliques in the crowd. Everyone’s very social with each other.”
But he also says that there is a similarity to all of the raves: “There's always tons and tons of enthusiasm.”
“As a Broadway nerd, which I consider myself, you can sometimes feel a little outcast from society," says Badanes. "But in this space, you're among your peers and that presents a really awesome opportunity to engage with different people, meet different people and just celebrate this music.”
Broadway Rave will be held on Friday, May 12 at the Broadberry, 2729 West Broad St., starting at 9 p.m. Tickets available at https://broadwayrave.com/.