Sensory Illumination is more than just another party. It has become an art collective in many ways. There are fire performers, aerial artists, graffiti art, hula hooping, and so much more. The atmosphere of the venue itself has become greatly anticipated because of the degree of artistic value and adventure that it adds to the event. Also of course, the music. This year there will be over 20 DJs both local and otherwise, with four stages.
Every year the event continues to grow and flourish with the community. I sat down with Greg Briggs, the man with the original plan and he explained how Sensory got started.
In 2004 Greg and his family went to Burning Man for the first time after a friend told him he was going camping. They were there for 4 days and left with what he called a “What happened mode.” After going back in 2006, he returned to Boise and sought out local electronic music, but couldn’t find it anywhere, so they decided if they wanted to go to a show they’d have to throw it themselves.
The first Sensory was March 2nd of 2007, which he describes as quaint, but a blast. People wanted more. This was the beginning of Sensory Illumination as we know it. Originally, because Facebook wasn’t up yet and MySpace wasn’t very big either, flyers were made and put on friends’ houses and doors to get the word out.
After that first year it was moved to OPA Cazba, because it had an outside area which was appealing in many ways. There was room for more than one stage, broadening the overall experience.
“I got really tired of the set up, a one stage DJ plays but what if a DJ comes on that you don’t like, then what do you do? I like when the parties are a little more of an adventure, because to me it was a lot more about creating an experience than just listening to the music.” Greg said
The outside van (if you have ever been to a Sensory event before you know exactly which van I am referring to) has been coined the RAGE CAGE, with reason. It is an absolute blast. Cloth and carpet covers the walls and floors with handles on the walls so that you can balance yourself because this van rocks, literally. Everyone in the van is either dancing their heads off or holding the handle bars rocking the van and having way too much fun. Meanwhile there’s an amazing live DJ rocking along with you. It’s one of the many Sensory experiences you should not miss.
Originally the Rage Cage was started as another stage for DJs to perform at so that there were as many DJs as possible playing at Sensory, making it so that there wouldn’t be competing events the night of Sensory,
“Then the outside van started getting a really big reputation for a really fun place to play so now I have DJs requesting to play the van. It’s just a unique experience that’s just ours,” Greg said.
This year will have the first triple person DJ set. They are called Run BRC, which is three DJs that are going to play a 45-minute set. All three of them will be rotating out about every third track. This should be a great set to see in the insanity that is the Rage Cage.
Eventually the event outgrew the Fattys/OPA space and is now at China Blue, which has made more room for growth, more people to attend, and more room for Greg’s vision of the mystery and experience inside the event. I asked him what people should expect this year and if he had any kind of theme in mind. He went on to tell me that, “We have some really cool stuff from last year that didn’t arrive until the day after Sensory so this year we are gonna double up the fun stuff at the venue and outside. This year is going to be a really good time in there. We have a lot of jellyfish this year, but the theme is really just [to] have a great night! Come to an awesome party with awesome music where everyone is out there purely to have fun. There is going to be nobody sitting in the corner bored.”
“Walk through the place, check it out. Try and check out all of the cool spaces. I love the idea that at the end of the event if you are telling a story about something you saw there to your 10 friends and none of them saw it but it was still one of the coolest things you’ve ever seen. I really like that. I want there to be surprises and I want there to be a sense of adventure as you go through the place.”
This is an mind blowing local event that draws in people from outside of Boise and if any of you are worried about losing our original Sensory to growth into something like EDC I wouldn’t hold your breath. When I asked Greg what he thought about the steady growth and if that was a possibility or a goal to grow to that size, he was, if nothing else, uninterested. He went on to say, “I’d like to see it grow a little bit more but really I don’t need a bigger party. I don’t make a dime on it. All the money gets turned back into local art projects and things. I don’t want to be making money off of it. I think some of the charm is that it’s a local fundraiser for Burning Man art, Esthetic Evolution art, Burning Man Decompression art, and I think that’s just where my heart is at”
“I think that our party attracts a great group of people, I don’t know. When you look around almost everyone is in costume still which is great. It means a lot of people are really going all out for it,” Greg said.
In the end, it all comes down to the fact that this is an event that is put on purely for the love of the music and the experience. The people who started the event are in it to share that love and the people who attend could not be happier to do the same. It is a sensational place to open your heart and mind to something different, beautiful and all its very own. Boise, we have a gem. Sensory Illumination VIII will be at China Blue once again this year with more space outside than last year, making room for even more fire play and anything else they can cook up. This Saturday at 8pm. Get your tickets here!
Like Greg said, “Let’s have fun, let’s be totally goofy, why not?”