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'Hit the Lights' Gloving Club Comes Out of the Dark

A new student club at Mountain View High got a lesson in the challenges to self-expression when they had to fight the stereotypes of rave and drug culture to get started.

Take a stroll down Castro Street one evening and you might notice the swirls of red, white and yellow LED lights on the fingerstips of some teenagers.

Walk in front of them and they might ask to give you a "free light show." Then they'll point to a white donation box next to them.

Light shows, and the type these teens from perform called "gloving," have been associated with raves, parties with electronica music where the drugs and light shows might be found.

However, these four teenagers near the patio chairs of and finally got a gloving club approved at school to show their self-expression through light shows. Now they'll try to change the perception people have about this art form in society.

"The club started this year, because sadly since lights are affiliated with raves, everyone thought we were going to be doing drugs in the classroom," said Aritz Bañuelos, a junior at MVHS and the club president of "Hit the Lights," which launched on Jan. 13, 2012.

"Eventually the police department took a vote and felt that we were responsible enough to actually start the club, and they trust us."

But it wasn't the who stood in their way. Actually, the department spokeswoman, Liz Wylie, said she had not "heard of anything like this," and was "unaware of any laws specific to light shows."

"This isn’t really a Police Department question," said Wylie about the street performance. "It’s more of a code enforcement issue. I would call them." An email request to code enforcement was not returned.

The actual challenge to the student group came from the administration of the high school, according to a school administrator William Blair.

"Kids are excited and we usually encourage them to file paperwork," said Blair, the faculty advisor to MVHS' Associated Student Body (ASB).

According to Blair, the first step for a club to receive recognition would be to send its paperwork to the ASB, which approves or rejects a club. Then a committee of club presidents approves or rejects. Clubs can be rejected, according to Blair, if another club has the same focus or if the club hasn't found an advisor.

Sometimes the last level, and not all clubs get there, is with the school administration because there may be issues of liability. For example, if students want to start a BMX bike club, Blair suggested.

"Because gloving is connected to raves and lights are paraphanelia," said Blair, "anything associated with drug culture we have to be careful about because we have to put our name on it."

Blair explained that perhaps the kids felt that there was a delay in their paperwork. "We get all kinds of requests," he said. "And they place limitations on liabilities."

"Those boys told me that they want to take it back," he said about the light shows. "That it's about celebrating art and not drug culture.

So these kids have begun to gather with their white gloves on Castro to raise funds to buy gloves and LED lights for other members–a good set can cost about $64.99–to do more light shows. They hope to perform at a pep rally soon.

Doreen Manke, the mom of freshman Jimmy Manke, sat across the street at dinner and kept an eye on her son. She thought his friends "were good kids."

"I know the kids he hangs out with," she said.

Manke said that her son and his friends play on the marching band and now he also practices gloving. For the sake of her son, she supports his drive to get it away from the association with drugs and raves.

"I figure that this was one of those phases that would pass quickly," she said. "But it's actually really pretty."

Ray Morneau March 09, 2012 at 07:09 PM
I am glad to see gloving getting more attention. It's beyond me - my creative streak doesn't go that direction. But it looks like a good way to polish and use a different skill set and to express oneself. It's also good that folks are watching that it doesn't take a wrong turn, like promoting drugs or bullying or vandalism, even though that would seem highly unlikely. It as been around for awhile - just with a pretty low profile, I guess .... at least as far back as when my sons were in high school (band) nearly a decade ago. I think I'll take a walk down Castro Street:-)
Claudia Cruz (Editor) March 09, 2012 at 11:53 PM
I was very surprised to see the kids gloving ... first off because I had no idea what it was (!) and because I do associate lights show with rave culture. As I observed the students I saw how passersby looked at them, and I'm sure they thought the same. However, the students seemed very committed to gloving as an art and also appeared to be very centered. It was fun to watch them and they are helping me think differently about lights.

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