A month ago I was sitting around with some sorority sisters, having a cocktail, and telling a story about a fascinating night out. And then another story. And then another one.
When one friend gushed, “Alden, I love hearing these stories about your life. It’s so entertaining,” I blushed. I feel like I’m always talking to much, taking up space in conversation. But lately, she’s right. My stories have been just so damn good. And I haven’t been sharing any of them here. (Well, except this one.)
That’s because this blog is about living sustainably. And what does a DJ booth, a magician, and butt naked and un-photoshopped celebrities have to do with living sustainably? Nothing, really.
And yet, these stories are too good not to share. Mildly inappropriate? Eh, depends on who is asking. If you are a former classmate from my blog- and publicity-averse alma mater, I can imagine you saying, “Alden wrote a blog about how she walked out of the Standard hotel at 9 in the morning,” with a raised eyebrow. But I’ve effectively stopped caring about that subset of the population.
And there is my mother (Hi mom!) and my sister who is a total prude. (Sorry sis, it’s true. But that’s part of why I love you.) For these reasons, not every detail needs sharing. But I find these shiny moments of New York insanity beautiful and exciting, even if they are de rigeur for a certain set of New Yorkers who may pat me on the head for my naïve enthusiasm. I’ve given all of this consideration, and decided I’m going to pay homage to the second half of my tagline, “… in the city,” by throwing up the more notable events. I’ll start with last night.
(PS: This isn’t even the best story. Stay tuned for more.)
I Know the DJ
I love music. Hence, I love DJs. I’ve spent the last few months fraternizing with the guy I’ve referred to as “The DJ” among my friends, and my Spotify playlist is bumpin’ as a result. Despite really enjoying his company, I eventually realized that I needed to move on. (The exact moment can be found in this post.) Mainly because he was unreliable and had odd moments of crass frattiness.
But also it was weird to call him a DJ when his equipment had blown out and he wasn’t even DJing anymore. He was no longer being a waiter to support his DJing on the side. He was just a waiter, and I found his almost complete lack of ambition uninspiring. (I do owe him for introducing me to Floating Points and Koreless, though.)
I really do believe that if you make space in your life, new people will fill it for you. Well, a new DJ entered to fulfill my amazing-music needs, and he’s quite an upgrade.
Michael Arana is a lawyer and DJ, and he’s good at both. I haven’t witnessed his lawyering in action, but his pedigree–Stanford undergrad, NYU law and a stint at Lowenstein Sandler –speaks for itself. And after last night, I can vouch for his DJing ability as well. Here’s a smart lawyer who taught himself to DJ and now draws crowds of hundreds at top-notch NYC venues. It’s a LinkedIn profile deserving of respect.
I should probably clarify now that my relationship with Michael is entirely platonic. My friend is a friend of a friend of a friend of his, and he’s such a gentleman that after I met him at a bar doing a set, when I sent him a Facebook message asking about a music phenomenon, he drafted a thoughtful reply and quickly invited me to some of his events.
He does a weekly brunch, for which I could not find any girl who was available to come with me. Too bad, because apparently they were dancing on tables and one of them (the tables) split in half and crashed to the ground. “Everyone stopped and looked … and then just kept dancing,” Michael told me. Nice.
Last night I brought my girlfriend, who shall be called J, with me to Cielo in the Meatpacking district to see his set for Wobble. He describes Wobble as his “upstart tech-house label.” Whatever it is, it’s amazing, and it’s every third Friday at Cielo.
At first when I realized we were going to a party in the meatpacking district, I groaned. “F–ing Meatpacking district,” I said to J. “I’m never dressed slutty enough, you have to wait in line just to prove you’re pretty enough, and the guys are terrible.” I hoped maybe Cielo was different.
Well, it didn’t really matter what Cielo was like, because J and I got in for free by RSVPing to Arana’s list, and we walked straight to the booth. I expected just to hang out for a little while and then get out of his way, but Michael opened the door and welcomed us in, pouring us drinks and inviting us to hang out there the rest of the night. (And effectively saving us probably $90 in total on alcohol.)
If you ever have the opportunity to hang out in a DJ booth–and I mean a real DJ booth, one with a raised platform and a door and a shelf full of fresh glasses for pouring drinks–take it.
J and I loved it. We barely left the booth all night, except to use the bathroom. We hit the dance floor once, but left after five minutes of physically pushing sketchballs off of us. So we retreated back to the booth to dance there and hung out with cool people.
You know that moment when the DJ gathers up the music, pushing it higher and higher, tensing the dance floor? And then he drops it and the sound explodes and everything is right with the world? Yup, there’s a reason electronic dance music (EDM) is picking up cultural speed this year.
The sound quality inside the booth is the best in the club. The drinks are free. You never have to deal with self-involved guidos hitting on you. You can watch the DJs work, which propelled our enjoyment of the music to whole new levels. Michael handed us a video camera, and we took turns recording the crowd with their hands up and zooming in on Michael’s hands skimming over the dashboard. J really wanted to press the button for the fog machine, so I marched up to the lights guy and asked, and she got to do it. It’s the little things, guys.
I loved the set from the female DJ, Niki, as well. Michael talked about her skill with a sort of awe, which I too felt only five minutes in. It was mesmerizing to watch her tiny butt bounce around in her form-fitting striped dress as she worked the equipment, unleashing energizing beats that demanded you dance.
We were there until 4am, closing down the club, and then headed out to Brooklyn for an after-party involving some Romanians and a tweeter that is just entirely too large for an apartment.
If you want to hear what his music sounds like, here you go. I’ve been bouncing to it at work, it makes for nice energizing ambient music.