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Three weeks after debut, $3,500 Apple Vision Pros are already a techie party staple

Are we surprised?

People skate in a dimly lit venue with colorful lights and disco vibes.
A partygoer skates while using the Apple Vision Pro headset at a Community Arts and Technology Symposium party at the Foundry in SoMa. | Source: Courtesy Liveo

For Apple, it has become de rigueur to introduce a new mind-blowing technology with a staid and choreographed public announcement from company headquarters in Cupertino. But once a device is released into the wilds of San Francisco, it’s a whole other story. 

In early February, just hours after Apple's Vision Pro mixed reality headsets went on sale for $3,500, the AI collective Cerebral Valley threw a dance party in celebration of the device at members-only Embarcadero club Shack15. DJs donned the sleek gray goggles amid flashing lights and swirling video projections, while face computer-wearing partygoers bobbed their heads and swiped their fingers through the air like they just didn’t care.  

“Instead of doing the boring tech talk, they threw a rave,” said startup founder Alex Reibman, who attended the party. “It was like a cross between a science fair and a music festival.” 

While it had the trappings of an EDM nightclub, the Shack15 affair also felt a little off, with partygoers pinching and plucking invisible objects from the air, while inside the device, they multitasked, watching viral YouTube videos or confronting 3D dinosaurs through their micro-OLED displays. 

“You saw people pinching stuff in the air with their fingers,” said Reibman, describing the thumb-to-index finger-tapping gesture that lets Vision Pro users control the device. “It's almost as if they kind of enter their own dimensions.”

A woman wears an Apple Vision Pro headset, illuminated by glowing blue light, at a party.
Party attendees at Cerebral Valley’s Apple Vision Pro party at Shack15 try on the headset and test out apps on the night of the device's launch. | Source: Courtesy @cerebral_valley

The gesture has already become commonplace at hackathons and development demos across the Bay Area over the last month, with engineers and early adopters gathering to test the Vision Pro’s impressive powers. But the move—and the —the groovy, Daft Punk-like headset—are also popping up at private parties around San Francisco, with trend-savvy entrepreneurs and event promoters using the device as the basis for themed Vision Pro parties, or just an excuse to whip out an expensive new toy in front of friends.

‘It’s a new party trick’  

Reibman said the Vision Pro has made multiple cameos at house parties he’s attended in recent weeks, while Nick Linck, founder of the Residency, a four-month co-working and co-living program for tech founders, recounted the Vision Pro making a surprise appearance at a recent dinner party when two attendees pulled their devices out of their backpacks right before dessert. 

 “It’s a new party trick, almost,” Linck said. “It definitely raised the excitement in the room. … It becomes a talking piece.”

The most formalized social event around the Vision Pro may be CATS, aka Community Arts and Technology Symposium, a newly launched party series at the Foundry, a tech-focused industrial-style event venue in SoMa, where trippy new technologies and art projects are often showcased side-by-side. (Think giant Furbies skating on a plastic ice rink under psychedelic lighting, live painting demos and guests making cat ears at a craft bar.)

The CATS event is the brainchild of creative director Colin Lowenberg and collaborators Eli Sakov and Rachna Bafna, who launched the concept with a Festivus-themed party over the holidays. Ahead of another bash earlier this month, Lowenberg, an entrepreneur in Founders Inc.’s Vision Pro Residency, asked members in his program to bring their devices to the party. That resulted in DJs jamming with the device, dancers grooving with it and skaters skating with it.

Konrad Gnat dances while wearing his Apple Vision Pro headset at a party organized by Community Arts and Technology Symposium. | Source: Courtesy Konrad Gnat

The next CATS party, which happens March 14, enthusiastically markets “more energy … more art … more cats … more technology… and more Apple Vision Pros.”  

“Just because you're using AI or using VR doesn't mean that you can't create beautiful soulful art,” Lowenberg said, referring to a Vision Pro-generated painting one guest created that he hopes to turn into a backdrop for a future event. 

He dreams of a day when augmented reality closes the gap between technologists and artists in the city. “We want to bring soul back to tech,” he said. 

But is it awkward? 

While a face computer may open up limitless creative possibilities, it doesn’t always make for easy conversations with strangers.   

At Shack15’s soirée, Reibman noted the difficulty of trying to read his fellow partygoers’ facial expressions while their eyes were sheathed by the Pro’s opaque lenses.    

“It was almost like during Covid, right, when everybody started wearing a mask,” he said. “It's like, they're talking to you, and you know they're emoting behind the mask, but you can't really see it.” 

Konrad Gnat, a software developer and startup founder who attended Lowenberg’s CATS party in February, said he only felt comfortable bringing his Vision Pro out because the invitation to the party explicitly told him to. While he’s amazed by the device’s capabilities and hopes to create innovative new work in “the medium, like da Vinci,” he wouldn’t have adorned the expensive piece of hardware under different circumstances. 

A person in a red jacket and Apple Vision Pro headset wears red cat ears and gestures with his finger up in the air next to another person.
An attendee uses the Apple Vision Pro headset at a Community Arts and Technology Symposium party held at tech-focused events space the Foundry in SoMa. | Source: Courtesy Liveo

“I don't really see the reason why people would be wearing it around, just walking around being at a party or something,” he said.  

Like passing tech crazes of yore (the Google Glass, the BlackBerry), the era of the Vision Pro party may be short-lived. Already, some observe that the novelty factor of the device is wearing off. 

“I would be surprised going forward if people are using it at parties because it’s clunky, it’s expensive and doesn’t provide a ton of functionality for that setting,” Linck said. 

As for Reibman, he sees the Vision Pro as more of an au courant “fashion accessory” rather than a new party fixture. He estimates that the device’s presence at San Francisco parties has about a month left—or “at least until something new comes out.”

CATS’ next Vision Pro party happens March 14 starting at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $30

Christina Campodonico can be reached at