My horror fixation stayed with me even once I went beyond the facade of scary imagery, because I believe there are metaphorical truths in the genre about our fears and how we might overcome them. These themes became especially relevant as I went through college; experiencing a lot of changes and obstacles. I never fully felt like the things one is “supposed” to do after high school were right for me. I kept questioning where it was all headed.
Even once I transferred to art school, where the focus lied more within my interests, I still felt like the odd one out. The program I majored in—graphic design—was geared more towards practical uses. I remember wanting to leave my program—not because I wasn't learning, but because I felt like I wasn't using those skills to create what I wanted. I felt stuck; like I was being kept down.
So I did just that—I made t-shirts, and I wore them. Often. I started selling my designs to others too, either online or at markets. But when it came to sharing my creations at school it was a challenge to get the professors at my college to appreciate them. I remember not feeling encouraged or supported because my t-shirts weren’t an assigned project. But I kept asking myself: How are we supposed to stand out if we're all doing the same thing?
This was all happening at a time when I was a typical college kid living in one of the biggest college towns. I liked to party, and I liked to throw parties. It wasn't unusual to find a bunch of my friends huddled in my apartment for a screening of a scary movie followed by a dance party to shake off our nerves and celebrate being alive. At this moment in my life things mixed together so perfectly. I wanted badly to be doing and creating what I wanted, but there was a fear stopping me; afraid of sticking my neck out incase it would get chopped off. The struggles on the TV screen were seeming all too familiar. My life was starting to feel like a horror movie. And I decided I wanted to live.
THE BRAND IS BORN
I accepted Converse's offer, but soon after graduation I still wanted to make t-shirts. Only I wanted to create a cohesive line; a brand, instead of the one-offs I had been doing. It’s often said that you should do what you know, and what else did I know more than my life? Horror movies and dance parties still inspired me to keep fighting for myself and what I wanted. With my love for horror movies and t-shirts, it just seemed inevitable that they would come together. Dance Party Massacre was born.
In an awesome bit of coincidence, my last day at Converse happened to fall on a Friday the 13th. Many people would take that as a sign of bad luck, but I took it as something good. It didn't scare me; I had already faced my fears. I didn’t let the fear of the unknown stop me from pursuing my dreams. Now I can say without reservation that I am putting Dance Party Massacre’s motto into practice: “Live While You Can.”
I hope you will follow me along for this ride, and maybe take some of that advice into your own life. Like a horror movie it might seem a bit scary, but there’s no better feeling than living life like this is the one chance you get.
-Alex Dakoulas, Founder of Dance Party Massacre