One of the biggest questions people have about Psychedelia is: “What should I wear?” With this post we hope to help you figure that out by sharing what we’ve learned over the years about black lights and reactive costumes and accessories. Below are some notes and products that we’ve found that work.
When you are searching, learn to look for popping fluorescent (not just neon) and the “hyper-white” which is the nearly fluorescent looking white color you will see in some clothing, feathers, and other costume parts. This white will often glow like gangbusters, where other whites will look dull or not glow at all. Many products will specify whether or not they are black light appropriate. Key words to look for are fluorescent and/or black light reactive and/or UV reactive.
If there is any question for glow, a portable black light flashlight is the safest way to check, or you can bring your item down to The Spot in the weeks before Psychedelia and check it out in our black light boxes. We use REAL black lights at The Spot, not just purple or UV lights, and anything claiming to react to real black light should shine like a champ.
Unfortunately many white fabrics, tapes, plastics, and other items will not glow as much as you might hope. Besides looking for the fluorescent hyper-white, here are some notes:
White clothing can go either way. Anything with a lot of white threads will often glow. Once you learn to see it, you can often tell from looking at the thread whether or not it will pop.
Screen-printed whites usually WON’T glow.
White embroidery usually WILL glow.
Cottons, especially 100% white or heathered cotton clothing, usually will glow. So will most spandex.
Bleach and bleached items will glow. There are types of laundry detergent that will cause fabric to glow or to glow better.
Other colored fabrics will sometimes glow very well if they have a white cotton thread base.
White thread t-shirt trim will often glow, so even if your shirt doesn’t glow your threads sometimes will.
Fluorescent fabric depends on the fabric. Fluorescent yellow is usually the brightest.
Fluorescent spandex will often glow really well.
Cheap women’s fluorescent spandex undies from Target or similar stores will often look amazing and can be worn over tights for the short-shorts look.
Body suits work too.
Fluorescent netting often looks like it should glow, but plastic-based usually won’t. Fabric/cotton based usually will.
It is extremely hard to tell which fluorescent fabrics will and won’t glow without the black light test.
Wigs can go either way, depending on the base material.
Many types of white and fluorescent feather and fur will glow well.
Fluorescent poster boards glow very well and offer lots of costume options as they are cheap and easy to draw on and cut and tape together.
Cheap plastic fluorescent or black light reflective items will often glow very well and not break the bank.
Creative uses for poster board. The year before these guys won the costume contest as a pair of giant highlighters.
Spray paint and body paint will glow if they say fluorescent. Check out Casey’s radioactive man!
Fluorescence in paint, tape, clothes, plastic, fabric, make-up, hair gel, hair spray, fake eyelashes, nail polish…pretty much anything with actual fluorescent added to it will look amazing. Use a blacklight to check!
With body paint you can give the impression of floating bones, wings, or whatever else you want to paint on your body.
Highlighters glow and can be used to decorate skin (not sure if it’s recommended, but it works).
Laundry Detergent with any type of bleach or bleach substitute will usually glow and cause things painted or washed in it to glow.
Glow Sticks, Glow Jewelry, El Wire, and Christmas Lights
Glow sticks or jewelry of any type and small lights in reds, blues, greens, purples, pinks, and neon yellows are appropriate for Psychedelia. Clear or white lights are interruptive to your eyes at Psychedelia and so not appropriate. The little packages of glow sticks for $1 at Michael’s Art Stores don’t work very well, so are not recommended.
Blacklight balloons glow fairly well.
Popular for Burning Man, also awesome for Psychedelia and other black light events, electroluminescent wire is a thin, flexible string that glows like nobody’s business. The power pack is small and light so you can stick it to your body or clothing without too much disruption, then use the wire to make your costume fantastic!
Available at McGuckin’s or online in various colors. McGuckin also has some light up flat strips that are pretty cool.
Or: Amazon.com: 9ft Lime Green Neon Glowing Electroluminescent Wire (El Wire) (Also available and fine for Psych in blue, neon orange, neon yellow, neon pink.)
Glow in the Darks
Glow-in-the-dark items do not usually “pop” so they are not so good for Psychedelia. Known exceptions – glow in the dark spray paint (Krylon), glow in the dark chalk, glow stars and planets.
Gaffer’s tape is a cotton cloth based tape that is normally used in stage and production work. The gaffer is the head of the lighting department on a film crew, and the lighting department uses this kind of tape to hang things and tape wires, cords, and cables. The tape is very strong and removes cleanly, unlike duct tape which often leaves residue. Some gyms use gaffer’s tape all the time, but we prefer regular duct tape for most of the year. For one reason, gaffer’s tape is generally 3-4x more expensive than duct tape per roll. A 2″ wide roll of gaffer’s fluorescent can cost $20 or more.
Because of the cotton-cloth base, many types of gaffer’s tape may offer some glow, but only the fluorescent colors (orange, pink, green, yellow) offer the real blacklight reactivity and “pop” we are looking for with Psychedelia. White doesn’t work as well as you might expect.
We use over 50 rolls of 1″ gaffer’s tape in these four colors to tag the problems and decorate the gym each year. Some companies will offer these fluorescent bases with additional patterns–camo, triangles, hearts, stars and moons, celtic knots, and more–which give some variety; however, we usually turn each problem into its own work of art, so the specific color/pattern of the base tape is not that important at Psychedelia as long as it glows.
Also important to note, some rolls of pink/orange and yellow/green will look the same in blacklight, but others will not. This is because sometimes a company will use, for example, orange fluorescence to make the orange rolls and the pink rolls glow. The colors look different in regular light, but in blacklight the color of fluorescence is what you see, so they will look the same. We’ve had the same company send us pinks that looked orange and pinks that looked pink, all in the same batch. You can check this roll by roll with a portable black light flashlight.
Gaffer’s tape rips more cleanly, easily, and evenly than duct tape. Because of this, gaffer’s is good to use for decoration as you can rip different widths of tape off the roll. You can also purchase rolls of varying width; local tape company Identi-tape has 1/4″, 1/2″, 1″, and 2″ options and can often do custom batches of bigger or smaller rolls with patterns on them. Perhaps you’ve seen the tape they made for E-Grips, The North Face, The Access Fund, or Atomik Holds. They also provided the 2″ Caution Cable tape we used for finals tape in 2012.
Gaffer’s can make some great costume additions, as you can make things like suspenders and leashes out of it by taping two pieces together, or by taping it around existing fabric, plastic, or whatever else you’ve got going on. It won’t work well when the fabric stretches, as the stretch will break the adhesive and the tape will come off.
Where to buy: you can order gaffer’s tape online from many retailers. We get ours from either Bron or Identi-Tape. You can order online from Identi-tape here:
IDENTI-TAPE – 1-inch Gaffer Tape (different widths available, we usually use 1″ and 1/2″)
IDENTI-TAPE – Gaffer Symbols Tape (fancy gaffers, with symbols)
Only the fluorescents–pink, yellow, orange, green–will “pop” under the black light.
Identi-tape has other awesome tapes as well for hula-hoop decoration and other uses. Some of the hula-hoop tapes glow but they are not as flexible or sticky as gaffer’s so we can’t use them for wall decoration. They might work well for costumes. Identi-tape has a black light in store so they can check for you, or they can send samples. The ones we tested (all non-gaffers) that worked were:
IDENTI-TAPE – Colorful Holographic Sequin Tape (fluorescent colors)
IDENTI-TAPE – Colored Prismatic Tape (fluorescent green and yellow, don’t know about pink)
IDENTI-TAPE – Decorative Glitter (Sparkle) Tape (fluorescent green and yellow)
“Glow in the Dark” tapes usually aren’t that great for Psychedelia, as they glow dully in the black light.
Other things to consider
It is fairly dark at Psychedelia and there are many people. Make sure your costume doesn’t drag on the ground and there aren’t lots of protruding parts to snag on holds or poke other people. Also, if you do paint your hands only paint the backs to avoid making the holds dirty or slippery.
So that’s it! Now you know how to make a costume that glows. What will you do? Well, for starters, our 2013 Psychedelia theme is…
The Day of the Dead!
This theme gives you tons of room to be creative, as one of the main parts of the Day of the Dead costume is the white (make sure to get glowing white!) skull mask. Beyond that, anything goes!
So there’s the theme, there are the tips, run with it! We’re excited to see what everyone comes up with!!!
Full results coming soon, but here are a few photos and the results of the open final. Finalists were the top 6 men and women from the youth and adult session combined scores, they got preview, then 4 minutes each for attempts on the final, if you got on the wall at 4 minutes you got to finish your attempt, onsight format so competitors couldn’t watch until they’d climbed.
Men’s final was on the mega volumes on the Font boulder and was set mostly by Jonny and Jon, with some help from Danny. The finalists order was a little off as we misplaced a scorecard and there was some confusion about Greg Seitz. Greg ended up running first in finals (meaning he qualified last) though he really qualified 2nd or 3rd overall. Greg gave an amazing attempt, nearly flashing the boulder, but he fell off touching hold 13 and wasn’t able to get back up there.
Second out was Owen Graham. Owen is Team Texas alumni and has spent the last couple of years attending college in Fort Collins. He is a strong young lad and did well on the final, working his way up the volumes to a score of hold 10 on his 3rd go.
Third out was Matt Lubar. Lubar was a long-time Spot Team Member who for the last couple of years has been with Team ABC. He’s an awesome guy and we were really psyched to see him in finals. He gave an astounding performance, sending the problem on his 2nd go to the screams of the crowd. Nice job Lubar!!!
Fourth out was Matt Wilder. Wilder is a famous rock climber, guidebook author, and underground genius with many hard first ascents of boulder problems and scary trad climbs to his name. He’s also a regular fixture at Spot Series events and has been in pro finals many, many times. Above you’ll see a photo of him winning the costume contest. In finals he gave a good show, using his trad skills to static through a dynamic move near the top. Unfortunately his feet slipped and the next go was the same, giving him a score of hold 10, 2nd go.
Fifth out was Sergei Kiefel, also a long-time Spot Team Member who moved teams a bit in his teens before setting out on his own. He’s a great climber who is just getting stronger and stronger, and he came into the final looking very fit before he spun a hold, taking a technical as it immediately dropped him to the ground. The next two goes weren’t great but last go he worked his way up to hold 10.
Finally Gun Show 2012 Winner and top qualifier Ben Hoberg came out. He slipped his first go, but 2nd go he crushed the problem and topped out the boulder. The crowd went wild. Nice job Ben!
Men’s Final Scores
1. Ben Hoberg (top 2nd go, 1st place qualifier)
2. Matt Lubar (top 2nd go, qualified lower)
3. Greg Seitz (hold 13-)
4. Matt Wilder (hold 10, 2nd go)
5. Sergei Kiefel (hold 10, 3rd go)
6. Owen Graham (hold 10, 3rd go, qualified lower)
Women’s final involved two hanging dog bones and a rotating pipe on the Hueco Boulder. There were a few rules (don’t get stuck in the ropes, don’t crawl over the top of the pipe, don’t hit your head on the bones, and don’t forget to pat the bat!).
ABC climber Isabelle Goodacre came out first. Isabelle has done pro finals at the Spot before but not yet this season. She did well, managing the bones and the transition to the pipe before falling off grabbing hold 10. She did the same thing twice more, nearly holding the usable portion of hold 10 for a score of 10-.
ABC climber Laurel Todd was next and gave a dominating performance on the bones and the rotating pipe, falling as Isabelle did trying to stick the swing on hold 10. Score: 10-.
Hailey Bridgewater was next. I’d never met Hailey before but she is a strong young woman from Iowa who is now going to school in Fort Collins. Hailey climbed well, but she said she’d never encountered features like the bones and rotating pipe before and she had a little trouble working them out. She figured it out 2nd go, then fell moving toward hold 10 but not sticking it. Score: 9+.
ABC climber and Gun Show 3rd place winner Margo Hayes was up next. Margo came out, got set on the start holds, then promptly misjudged the move to the swinging bones and fell. She looked a little surprised to have fallen, and with renewed determination jumped back on the problem, got through the bones and across the pipe, stuck hold 10, hung the difficult swing, then hiked her way to the top. The crowd went crazy. Nice job Margo!
Spot Coach Tiffany Hensley was next and she gave a great performance, moving left hand to hold 10 instead of her right. She then matched, then hit hold 11 and nearly hold 12 but she was in a weird body position and fell. Next go she looked similarly strong but again got a bit backwards, moving solidly to hold 12 with her right hand, but she was unable to unfold herself. Score: 12.
Finally Gun Show winner Nina Williams came out. Nina has been looking stronger and stronger in competition for the last two years and she’s been doing quite well. Here she looked ready to flash, but fell as everyone else but Margo did on the move to hold 10. Next go Nina stuck it and finished the problem to secure first place as she qualified higher than Margo and they climbed the final in the same number of tries.
Women’s Pro Final Results
1. Nina Williams (top 2nd go)
2. Margo Hayes (top 2nd go, qualified lower)
3. Tiffany Hensley (hold 12)
4. Laurel Todd (hold 10-. 1st go)
5. Isabelle Goodacre (hold 10-, 1st go, qualified lower)
6. Hailey Bridgewater (hold 9+)
Stay tuned for full comp results and more photos soon!
Thanks for coming out and we hope you had a great time at Psychedelia!!!
If you hurry you can still catch 1.5 hrs of climbing + the pro final, costume contest, food, beer, huge raffle, blacklight awesomeness, did we mention the costume contest? $15 for spectators (includes Wahoo’s food, drinks, Avery beer, raffle ticket) and $35 for climbers (climbing, drinks, Avery beer, Wahoo’s food, raffle ticket), extra raffle tickets are 3/$5, costume contest is open to all, 40 new boulder problems with several ALL NEW special features, it’s gonna be off the hook! So get down there!!!
We’ve got some great surprises in store for you at this year’s Psychedelia. 42 new problems (10 rec, 10 intermediate, 10 advanced, 10 open, 2 open finals) and a bunch of awesome blacklight decorations and cool new features mean this Psychedelia is one you won’t want to miss.
IMPORTANT — If you want to climb in the blacklight, you have to come to Psychedelia (Saturday) or you can come to the private Living Social Halloween Party that will take over the gym on Sunday.
Click this link –> Rock Climbing Party, Beer + BBQ – LivingSocial <– to find out about that party and buy tickets if you’d like to attend. Basically it’s private (i.e. the gym is closed to normal customers) blacklight climbing with a costume contest and Avery Beer and Famous Dave’s BBQ after party. We will set some more problems after the comp on Saturday night, so Sunday there’ll be even more blacklight problems for you to try.
Monday we can’t have the lights off all day so the gym will be lit normally. That means if you want to climb in blacklights this year, you have to come to Psychedelia (highly recommended!) or the Living Social party (also should be very cool). For more details check out their website and call their help line, cause the Spot is closed tomorrow for the finishing touches on Psychedelia light set up and decoration.
Oh yeah, and current active Spot members can still climb at the Boulder Rock Club for free Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with a photo ID. Thanks BRC!
On Saturday, October 22nd, we will be holding Psychedelia! As usual, our pre-Psychedelia setting schedule is set back 1 day because we need extra time for decorating. What does this mean for you, Spot members? An extra day of free climbing at the BRC! (current, paying, active members only)
Setting & Closures Schedule
9 pm – Begin stripping Beach and Dojo. These walls will be closed to customer use until Psychedelia on Saturday, October 22nd (if you’re in the comp) or Sunday, October 23rd, if you’re not competing*.
*A note about competing. Of late we have been noticing a reduced number of participants in the recreational and intermediate categories. If you are considering competing but feel intimidated, here are a few things to think about:
1. These comps are set for everybody. There are 42 new problems–10 Rec, 10 Intermediate, 10 Advanced, 10 Open, and 2 Open Finals. This means that each category has the same # of problems set for it and no matter your category you are welcome to work problems in any category above or below your own.
2. The goal of our comps is to foster fun events for the climbing community. Everyone should be there psyched to see everyone trying hard, regardless of their ability.
3. Food, drinks, a huge raffle/giveaway, fun special events (in this case a blacklight costume contest & a trapeze act) and a pro finals are there to make the festival even more festivally. Competing costs $35 and Spectating costs $TK
Beach and Dojo are closed all day for setting. Rest of gym is open.
9 pm ish – begin stripping rest of gym with River wall. There will be at least one wall open for climbing until regular closing time of 11pm.
Gym closed. Members can climb free at BRC with their card and a photo ID.
Gym closed. Members can climb for free at BRC with their card and a photo ID.
Taping volunteers show up for your volunteer shifts! If you aren’t sure when you’re supposed to be there, email firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate with Andrew Clinkingbeard.
Also, if you know you are coming to Psychedelia (of course you are!) please save time and effort and Pre-register. Psych is $35 or, for only $40 more, you get the rest of the season (two more comps) and a free SBS 7 t-shirt–that’s a $65 value–so you’re saving $25 on the whole package, which is like getting one comp for free!) Spectators can pre-register as well by calling the Spot or stopping by before we close on Wednesday night. Pre-registration speeds up the process coming in the door of this always-busy event.
See you at Psychedelia!