The art of ‘gloving’ has been a prevalent presence at music festivals for years. I remember seeing a gloving light show performance for the first time at my very first festival, Spring Awakening 2013. I was immediately mesmerized by the colors and patterns, making it a point to start learning how to do it myself first thing when I got home from the festival. At that time years ago, the resources and tutorials available to learn how to glove were very sparse; but at long last, we have an in-depth guide to the art of gloving, written by none other than the gloving legend himself, Joshua Pilla, aka ‘Jest’, as he is known in the festival community. I had the opportunity to sit down with Jest and pick his brain about his experiences in gloving over the years, and some details about his book.
Festival Squad (Neil): Hi Joshua, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us about your new book! In one sentence, can you summarize the ‘art of gloving’ for people who might not know what it is?
Joshua: Gloving is the use of LED MicroLights placed inside white gloves in order to create persistence of vision illusions timed to music. It’s very much a stylistic combination of magic and dance.
FS: I understand you have been gloving for over 8 years now! How did you get into gloving?
Joshua: As a child I was always interested in “the astounding.” I was fixated on anything that could stimulate a reaction of wonder and amazement. Skills and talents like object manipulations, cardisty, and sleight of hand became my childhood muses while the latter even developed into a sort of career in my teen years.
One of the magic routines I would perform involved the use of colored thimbles, little finger caps, that I would manipulate to appear, disappear, and multiply. Since the very beginning, that effect was set to music and intentionally choreographed like a dance. It was midyear of high school when a friend put me on to electronic music. He would play music in the halls via a speaker as he walked between classes and do a liquid wave with his hands. It interested me greatly and he told me to visit a website called floasis.net which was a project put together by Kai Sosceles and Houdoken, two liquid-dance legends. I used this information to learn my first hand wave and used that simple technique in my thimble magic act. I performed this combination of liquid-dance and magic conjuring set to electronic music until around 2010, a friend told me that what I was doing “looked just like Gloving.” I didn’t know what Gloving was at that time, but once I saw it, I instantly knew and told this friend “well that’s what I’m trying to do!”
FS: What made you so passionate about the art of gloving?
Joshua: My interest in Gloving reached a tipping point in 2013 at Ripon College in Wisconsin. This nowhere-place in the middle of a nowhere-state was where I decided to spend a year in higher education. I learned a number of things at this school that made me realize I didn’t need to waste my time and money at a fancy, $40k+ a year school. Despite my short time at school, I learned one of the most influential pieces of information about an ancient Sanskrit art form called mudra yoga, which I will describe in detail throughout various parts of my book. In short, mudra were hand gestures that were used for both meditation and dance. These gestures were a language for dancing, while also being a healthy body and soul aligning stretch for the hands. This information empowered me to take gloving light shows seriously as an art form and a worthwhile endeavor. After all, if hand gesture dance art was good enough to survive through the ages from the time of ancient Sanskrit, then there must be something to it that is fundamentally moving and a memorable experience. Learning the history of mudra in dance set in motion a passion for bringing that level of complexity and storytelling into the light show meta. There were a number of these so-called “ah-ha” moments over the course of my Gloving progression, but none were as pivotal as learning these ancient secrets. All of these moments of progression and reasons for my passion for light shows mixed themselves into a special concoction of circumstances that lead to this book.
FS: A little known fact about me is that I had the opportunity to join you and a group of other incredible glovers as part of the Emazing Lights FaceMelt Crew at Electric Forest 2017. I know you’ve had many such experiences over the years at festivals. Can you tell me about some of your favorites?
Joshua: My personal gloving experiences are so vast and varied that the stories could be written into another book. I’ve been to 50+ music festivals, traded light shows with hundreds of glovers, traveled to nearly every active gloving community, and competed in the biggest competitions in the community, both online and IRL. My favorite memories include IGC (2014-2016) as well as my 3 Pro Bracket Lights On! placements. Memorable festivals for me include Electric Forest 2014, TomorrowWorld 2015, Lightning in a Bottle 2016, Lost Lands 2017, and many many more.
Electric Forest 2014 was my true initiation into the festival and gloving world. I met Vincent Van Flow, RDub, and Bojangles for the first time and these guys became good friends of mine.
TomorrowWorld 2015 was a fully paid trip by EmazingLights for FaceMelt Crew, and it was amazing, and terrible all at the same time. There was a hurricane that was hitting land that weekend which caused almost shin-deep mud, but that did not stop us from having a blast. One night, we set up a line of light shows on the main boardwalk in the campsites. People lined up for literal hours as we gave show after show after show.
Lightning in a Bottle 2016 was a trip for different reasons. It was my first East Coast festival, and lots of NorCal glovers were there. The PLL fam was there in full force and their campsite was popping with activity every night, and they gave out custom family festival bands that I will cherish forever.
Lost Lands 2017 was unreal. It was the largest gloving pit the world has ever seen. The event was nonstop lightshow fun from the second the sun went down. Lost Lands 2018 was also a great turn out for gloving, and actually held the title for largest FaceMelt Crew event.
FS: Do you have any words of advice for glovers who are just starting their gloving journey?
Joshua: Yes! 61,883 words to be exact. I wrote a book detailing the history, culture, technique, theory of gloving light shows just for the reason that beginning glovers didn’t have a good enough resource to learn the foundations of our culture. It’s true that they can go online and participate in the forums on Facebook, watch videos on YouTube, and find lots of obscure information in the dark crevices of the internet, but it’s also true that gloving hasn’t had the benefit of more than a few short decades to lay its foundation. As the years go by, the history of our community could be lost without more projects like this.
Get your own copy of Mastering The Art of Gloving: The Literal Hand Book by Joshua ‘Jest’ Pilla at http://yougotmoves.com/handbook!