NEON DESERT: SLC art gallery and streetwear boutique set to host visually-striking party this weekend

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(ABC4) – Corey Bullough knows a good party.

When he was coming up as a house music DJ a decade or two ago, he fell in love with the local underground scene.

The venues to gather, dance, and enjoy the emerging genre were as diverse and creative as the music itself.

“Friday and Saturday, there would be warehouse parties, but back then it was like, call a phone number and they’d tell you where to go,” Bullough describes of the scene, which operated in secret, throwing large-scale parties without any sort of permit at various locations all over the Salt Lake Valley. “It was always at a weird place like a bowling alley, or one time it was in the hallways of a shopping mall. Ice skating rinks, all sorts of weird, weird places eventually, like a lot of them, out in the desert or like rock quarries and things like that.”

This week, Bullough has been preparing for a throwback to those nights in the desert at his shop, Fice Gallery, a streetwear boutique that doubles as an art gallery in downtown Salt Lake City. In the 14 years that Bullough has owned Fice, the place has earned a reputation not only in local fashion circles, but also with the up-and-coming artists looking to express themselves in a variety of mediums. One of the pillars of the shop is its monthly art gallery and gathering.

This week’s show, dubbed the Neon Desert, will be one of Fice’s best ever, according to Bullough.

“It’s definitely in our top three, in terms of production,” he explains to ABC4.com.

From a visual perspective, walking through Fice’s doors and into the ‘Neon Desert’ is expected to be a completely immersive experience with several different worlds to explore. Guests will move through the retail space and through a hallway leading to a jaw-dropping outdoor house music party, with immersion into another world built by students from the University of Utah’s multidisciplinary design program.

Austin Aubry, a Utah design graduate, has been leading the student team through the project and says attendees can expect an atmosphere that is highly creative, colorful, and Instagrammable.

“One of the main goals of the event is to have it be a really inclusive, open, welcoming environment where people can both come and enjoy themselves and music and the art, but then newcomers can also show up for the first time, get to meet people and like really learn the history and context behind like this kind of up-and-coming scene here,” Aubry explains.

The look of the event, which is free for admission with a suggested small donation to an arts-focused foundation, is so interesting, even the early stages caught some big-time attention. While working behind Fice on the centerpiece of the outdoor experience, a massive NEON DESERT mural, the artist was approached by an interested and inquiring stranger.

As it turns out that curious passerby was commercial music superstar Post Malone, who makes his residence in Utah and is known to hang out in the area around Fice. Malone had stumbled onto the project in construction and wanted to see what it was all about.

Malone was obliged with a tour of the Neon Desert and given a can of spray paint to put his own touches on the mural.

Events like the one set for this Friday, with a bit of a celebrity flair – Malone is not set to perform at the Neon Desert, but many of the most well-known local DJs are slated to spin at Fice – have always been a part of Bullough’s vision. The space at his store-slash-gallery has always been intended as a place of gathering and appreciation for local artists.

“It’s like, whatever people, and whatever ideas come to me, I’m happy to help facilitate things,” Bullough says.

He also can’t resist a chance to get behind the turntables himself once again, he admits.

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