At midnight inside Exchange L.A., “Rave of Thrones” was in full swing and DJ/Game of Thrones actor Kristian Nairn was about to hit the stage. A digital snowfall poured down the projection screens. Over the sound system, Old Nan, a character from HBO's hit series, talks about White Walkers.
Soon, the magnificent Iron Throne, a symbol of the power struggles that dominate George R.R. Martin's fantasy epic, appeared. The throne was quickly engulfed by flames as Nairn walked on stage. He waved to the crowd, slouched over the decks, thanked everyone for showing up to the party and launched his set with a word that ruled the night.
The Lannisters can have their feuds. Daenerys Targaryen can continue her journey to the land that once belonged to her family. On Wednesday night, the Iron Throne belonged to Hodor.
In Game of Thrones, Hodor, played by Nairn, is a large man who only says one word — “Hodor.” He's not a major character in the show, but he has become a phenomenon. If you click on hodor.org, you can hear “Hodor” over and over again. There's a Hodor Keyboard app for Android. Hodor T-shirts have turned up everywhere from Etsy to HBO's online shop.
Nairn was a DJ with a long-running residency and remixes to his credit before he became TV famous. Now that he's known as Hodor, Nairn's U.S. tour is a Game of Thrones fan-fest by design. Costumes were encouraged and the number of Targaryen blonde wigs in the house was rivaled only by the number of Game of Thrones t-shirts.
It wasn't just the fans who got into the spirit. The icy north invaded Exchange for the night. Fake snow covered the staircases. Prop crows peered from barren tree branches set up along the hallway. There were few spots in the venue that weren't part of a Game of Thrones immersive experience.
Next: More photos of the merry revelers…
Once Nairn began his set, the sold out crowd migrated to Exchange's main dance floor. Save for a few wanderers, the venue's first floor was largely empty. Upstairs, though, the bodies were packed tightly on the floor. From the balcony, we could see the back of a football jersey that read “Targaryen” bouncing up and down. A guy dressed as the much-maligned King Joffrey danced near the back.
See more photos from Rave of Thrones
Nairn's name appeared on the screen, followed by the notation, “a.k.a. Hodor.” People screamed. The DJ turned to look behind him, laughed and clapped along with the crowd. He played an 8-bit version of the show's theme, which was one of the big hits of the night.
Joining Nairn on stage were two go-go dancers who captured the spirit of the TV show and the night. Dressed in themed outfits, they interacted well with each other and with the crowd. Their moves were both timeless and of-the-moment, sexy and powerful, much in the way that Game of Thrones can be.
An hour into the set, Nairn pulled out his camera and turned it towards the audience. A sample from the movie The Warriors — “I say the future is ours” — filled the air. In the middle of the dance floor, a tall man dressed as The Hound— complete with a suit of armor and a prop sword and chicken— posed for multiple cell phone photos. A guy with two, large fans moved through the crowd fanning people.
Not everyone at the party frequents places like Exchange. A couple of folks we met came out simply because of Game of Thrones. Still, it was a welcoming environment for both GOT fans and club kids.
What “Rave of Thrones” did incredibly well was create an environment that bridged the pop culture fan communities and the club world. Unlike a lot of fan events we've attended, the music didn't feel like it was an afterthought. We were actually there to see Kristian Nairn spin. And unlike a lot of club events, Rave of Thrones didn't neglect the details. It was how big club nights should be, an event that is about taking in every sight and sound around you.
Random Notebook Dump: Saw a girl on the dance floor with a glow-stick sword. I need one!
Personal Bias: Having attempted to learn Dothraki, I might qualify as a Game of Thrones nerd.
See also: Our Rave of Thrones photo gallery