Originating in the early rave days, the first well known instance of gloving could be credited to Hermes, who put 10 Rav'n lights into a pair of white gloves. Few could've guessed that the simple act of making his fingers dance in the darkness would be the beginning of an entire scene in today's EDM culture.
Today, companies like EmazingLights sell millions of gloves, orbits, poi and other light show related items in a plethora of colors with much more advanced variations and modes. Aside from bringing gloving in the hands of consumers, Brian Lim (EmazingLight's CEO) and his company are pioneering the gloving movement into the skillful expression of art and dance that it is becoming today.
On Nov. 15, EmazingLights is hosting it's fourth annual International Gloving Championship at the Yost Theater in Santa Ana, featuring a Tournament of Legends, LED hula hooping, poi performances, workshops, Q&A panels, DJs and a performance by Finger Circus dance crew, who were recently featured in Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" music video and a McDonald's commercial showing off their tutting skills. Though there are many advanced glovers using techniques like dialing, digits, conjuring and even musicality and beat matching, we caught up with this year's IGC Golden Glove Award winner Skittles, whose real online identity has been kept largely anonymous until now.
Skittles, or Davis Duong as he's known by his co-workers at Google in San Francisco, was one of the first glovers who ever promoted himself online and created the first true gloving fan base. His YouTube channel, an homage to the old school rave Jujubeats and his Alhambra roots, has almost 5,000 subscribers and millions of views. Launched five years ago, Skittles took a more active approach in pushing his videos than his predecessors Wongton, Tear Drop, Mystic and Serenade whom he was largely influenced by. "They really set the bar for gloving at the time and I wanted to get to their level through practicing at home and eventually at events," says Duong.
At the time, 99% of glovers were just waving lights, but these pioneers were creating a structure, form, flow and rhythm which set the groundwork for basic gloving today.
Skittles created the style known as impact. "At the time I didn't have a name for it. I didn't even think about names for moves," he says. He wears a blue light in one thumb and red light in the other while the rest of his finger are all the same color. He does tricks to highlight the accented thumb colors and creates moves to impact on these lights. "There's a glover named Fry who's probably the best impactor for modern day gloving," adds Duong, who has since retired his gloves to focus on his marketing career at Google.
During Skittles' time, he and his peers developed moves which are the foundation of gloving today. At the time it was innovative, but today it has flourished into much more than waving random lights. Techniques called dancing, tutting, liquid and digits make gloving more of an art form. Likewise, it's grown out of its usual rave setting (in part because it's been banned at events like EDC and HARD Summer) and progressed into all genres of music, not just EDM.
"You don't have to go to a rave to see these insane moves and creativity," says Duong. "These conventions and competitions defined gloving as something separate than it was previously."
Just like any other hobby such as gaming or skating, gloving enthusiasts meet up to practice on weekends at one of the three EmazingLights retail stores for their Thursday Night Lights, Friday Night Lights or Gloving 101 events. "I still keep in touch with the whole EmazingLights fam," adds Duong. "Me coming down from Nor Cal shows that we are still a tight-knit community regardless if I'm active or not."
Aside from receiving his award, Duong is also DJing the event under his alias DVS. Through gloving he meet Scott Land who is one part of Slander, the rising trap duo originally from Orange County.
"It's funny, we used to face time and video chat. I would teach him a few things and give him advice," says Duong. "To flip that around he is the one that taught me to DJ." Duong has now DJed at clubs like Circus and Exchange LA's Gallery Room as DVS, opening for some of his favorite trance and techno DJs.
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"I meet a ton of people because of gloving. It's nuts how big my network grew just because of the EDM rave scene," he says. "Every aspect of my life leads back to that, including my current position."