Lois Lambert Gallery presents “The Real Future: Dancers at The Lot, Los Angeles”, a series of photographs from artist photographer John Nyboer. This collection of photographs is an intimate look into “The Lot”, a vibrant underground dance community thriving in the parking lots and warehouses of downtown Los Angeles.
The idea for this series of photographs was born on November 8th, 2016. As Nyboer walked through the streets of downtown Los Angeles thinking about, “the fear and ignorance that had prevailed in the 2016 election”, heard the bass thump of music. He followed the sound and it led him to a group of dancers in the middle of a parking lot.
“I heard music and saw a group performing a dance routine in a parking lot, a synchronized body of movement and shadows beneath a harsh security light. I headed straight for the scene and saw a collective made up of people from everywhere. I knew immediately that this was a future worth representing. I asked the person next to me:
“What is this group up to?”
“Popping. It’s a popping class.”
“A dance class? Right here in the f****ing parking lot?”
When the dance ended, Nyboer made his way to Slim Boogie, the leader and teacher of the group. Slim is a professional dancer who performs around the world and is embedded in the recent cultural history of the Los Angeles dance scene; he started the group to build up the dance community here in LA. Unlike countries like Korea or France, which have full time paid dancers competing professionally, the U.S. does not offer much support for dancers. The Lot allows dancers from L.A. and all over the world to practice, meet other dancers, and hone their skill in a supportive circle of expression.
Nyboer was so impressed by the diversity of the group, its positivity, and the style and beauty of its dancers, that he was compelled to document their work. In the same spirit of openness that the group shows new dancers, Slim welcomed Nyboer as a photographer of this largely underground movement. “The Lot” represents what the future could manifest if everyone lived according to the ethos of these dancers whom, in his words, “represent the best of humanity”.
Nyboer made the decision to photograph in natural light without flash to captivate the essence of the dance. Slow shutter speeds mean that Nyboer sometimes captures just the movement, creating a ghost-like figure within a crowd. In the image “Mad Lines”, the photograph is bathed in a pink and orange hue caused by the difficulty of realizing true colors in the dimly lit parking lot. The faces of the dancers in the background show attentiveness. In their expressions you can see them critiquing one another while acknowledging the skill and creativity of each dancer. Nyboer wants people to imagine placing themselves in the middle of the dancers, to feel “the joy, courage, and community that drive this art form.”