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A Grateful Dead dance party

Humboldt Brews welcomes Arcata Dead Heads to dance the night away

On Saturday night, Feb. 2, local Grateful Dead fans gathered at Humboldt Brews (HumBrews) in Arcata to experience good food, drinks and a psychedelic light show while the Grateful Dead blasted in the background.

Will Ozone was one of the few fans who attended this event, hoping to enjoy a welcoming environment while listening to a personal favorite. Ozone heard of The Grateful Dead back in 1982 at the age of 14. While he was drunk; he thought he was listening to “slow country music” and didn’t get into to it at first. Later, Ozone went to college at Lafayette, in eastern Pennsylvania, where the “hippy” scene was huge in the Northeast and acid was used by almost everybody. Thus sparking an interest with the band once again.

“It was all about the acid, and you know like ‘seeing God’ and everything, and seeing the shows,” Ozone said.

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Found footage from the 80’s and 90’s being shown throughout Hoff’s presentation. Saturday, Feb. 2. | Photo by Skylar Gaven

Like many others, Ozone spent the rest of the night smiling, laughing and taking advantage of the dance floor. Visual effects and video were provided by the host of the late-night event, “Marmalade Sky,” also known as Fred Hoff.

Fred Hoff is a fellow “Dead Head” who has seen the band in concert over two hundred times, and has met multiple members once or twice over the years. He made “tie dyes” back in the day and would sell them at Grateful Dead concerts. Hoff traveled from southern California up to Oregon, back and forth just to see one band.

“I still would’ve been at it if they were still playing; it’s like a drug, it’s addicting, that whole like seeing America on the road, seeing new people, and you’re seeing music; it’s just totally addicting, completely,” Hoff said.

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Fred Hoff (“Marmalade Sky”) managing each visual effect as the videos continue to play during the show. Saturday Feb. 2. | Photo by Skylar Gaven

Hoff created a ‘light show’ that lasted for almost four hours; filled with old camcorder recordings he found through the internet of Grateful Dead concerts, and his own visual effects that he made or recorded to go in the background of the videos.

“When the Grateful Dead used to play stadiums and different venues, somebody back in the 80’s and the 90’s snuck in one of those old camcorders and set up there and filmed the whole show,” Hoff said. “That’s one of the cool things about the ‘Dead Scene’ is that they allowed all that stuff to happen, they looked the other way.”

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An open dance floor for local “Dead Heads” to show off their moves, as old footage plays in the background. Saturday, Feb. 2. | Photo by Skylar Gaven

“It’s cool, you don’t see that kind of video everyday,” Ozone said. “I see a lot of different ones, this one’s kind of unique, you know?”

Hoff has been producing and hosting extraordinary ‘light shows’ like this at Humboldt Brews since the early 2000’s. He mentioned that him and the owner of this Arcata pub used to play in a band together. To this day the owner continues to let events like these take place because of his love for music.

“He has given me the chance to do this Grateful Dead night right? And I’ve done it for like the last 10 years, and I try to make it better, put more stuff into it, more set up, because when I first started doing it none of that stuff was set up; the walls, all of the backdrops, all that stuff we put up and left in there we just keep adding to it, making it better each time; and then when bigger bands come into town, he usually hires me to do that,” Hoff said. “I have it all set up and just bam, go for it.”

HumBrews offers a variety of interesting events and live shows for Arcata residents to check out. Humbrews employee Paul Roach explains how each showing has a different turn out depending on who is playing. Regardless, Humbrews still continues to carry out lively entertainment for all adult ages, younger or older.

“We probably got three to five shows a week,” Roach said.

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Psychedelic effects in the background of footage created by Fred Hoff. Saturday, Feb. 2. | Photo by Skylar Gaven

The Grateful Dead Dance Party was a nice example of how an inviting venue can bring back a nostalgic setting for a small community of “Dead Head” hippies.

Hoff was thrilled to bring back the Grateful Dead experience to Humbrews, as the band truly meant something special to him.

“It was just endless, cause they played like every season; there would be at least 25 shows,” Hoff said. “It was a trip.”

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