Alex Balladares Explains the Performance Art of Gloving

If you haven’t heard of gloving, you’re not alone. But the mesmerizing performance art born out of the electronic dance music scene has become an international, underground phenomenon complete with high-stakes competitions. Among its top performers is 23-year-old Balladares, nicknamed Cypher, who not only dons the signature white gloves with programmable LED lights in the fingertips, but also works as an associate brand manager at Anaheim’s EmazingLights, the retail company at the forefront of the movement.

Is gloving considered a dance style?
You could say it’s a freestyle dance form or a flow art, like fire spinning. It’s focused on hand and finger movements, though recently more people have been incorporating full-body movements.

What got you started?
I saw some people doing it in high school, so I bought a pair of gloves and taught myself by watching videos. I was not a great dancer, but I liked that I could do these cool things with my hands. I met a lot of great friends through it.

What are the performances like?
You have to feel the music. You pick one person and perform right in front of them.

How did you wind up at EmazingLights?
After three years of gloving, they saw me and sponsored me. I made content for them on social media. Then I applied to work here, and they took a chance on me. It’s great; I get paid to go to festivals and develop our competitions. And my parents finally saw this as more than a weird thing people do at raves.

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