A year and a half ago, I went to a The Danger party for the first time, and had my mind blown.
I was naive and exuberant. Oh heck, I still am. But I’ve learned a little more. I used to benchmark my nights out against that one night, because it. Was. Amazing. But now I have a new party to yearn for, which seems similar but is really very different. Check it out:
|Came with …||A girlfriend who was kind of freaked out by it||An insider who introduced me to everyone, including the organizer|
|All about the …||Spectacle||Music|
|The Scene||Artists and hipsters||Musicheads and DJs|
|Who Knew About It||Everyone and their sister||Those in the scene|
|Venue||Third Ward||An empty commercial space downtown|
|Ended at||3 am when the police came||After 8 am|
6:00 pm, Friday
I was recovering from being sick all that week, and had a sore throat. I turned down an invitation to a dinner date, saying that a 10 pm reservation was just too late.
But then M. called, saying there was an underground party that I would just love, and I shouldn’t miss it. “A third of the crowd is musicheads, a third of the crowd is DJs, and a third is the DJs’ girlfriends and boyfriends. It’s all about the music.” Sold.
I pulled a sequined All Saints dress out of my closet, that I’ve never worn and decided, “Why not? Let’s get some use out of it!” I layered a fitted black sweater, jean jacket and faux fur vest over top, with black tights and lace up flats. I threw some stuff in a neon orange cross-body bag and headed downtown.
Here’s my track of the day. It’s not quite the mood of the music out that night, but I’m obsessed with it so I want to share it with you:
M. met me outside and we went around the corner to grab cash–illegal venues don’t have credit card machines. Inside the bank, I could hear the deep bass thumping through the ceiling.
We returned around the back of the building, inside a nondescript door, up a bright white staircase into a vast, stripped commercial space. Inside this giant, white concrete box, the music swelled and thumped.
Far on the other side, over the heads of the crowd, I could see a giant screen showing psychedelic visuals, below which a DJ hunched over his table. The lyric-less house techno was as stripped and basic as the space, purely functional. I closed my eyes and let it break over me. As I waited to check my coat, I fought the urge to dance, but gave in as I saw that all the other girls were bouncing along to the infectious music. How could you help it?
New York girls were everywhere. Tall, beautiful, girls with bored eyes, boots and slouchy dresses, silk blouses and hot skirts. M. couldn’t walk five feet without running into someone he knew. But we finally made it back to to the VIP section, where a group of Russians–two men and two pretty things–waved us in. One blond bounced in platform pumps. “That girl is going to hurt in a half hour,” I said to M. “Oh, she’s Russian. They know how to work the heels.” He handed me a cup with a tag that said “Drink Me,” catching my eye and nodding. I did and the music swelled and grew large and all encompassing. “I’m so happy,” I said to M. “This is so amazing I can’t stand it.”
M. would periodically disappear and leave me in the VIP section, but I knew he would come back. My sweater was stuffed in my purse, so my sequins sparkled in the flashing lights. (Hey, if you don’t have long Russian legs, you do what you can.) I sidled up to the side of the DJ stage, between two speakers stacked ten feet tall to watch the DJ work. When I dance, I like to bounce my hips, float my hands in the air, close my eyes and wave my head from side to side. But the jaded girls didn’t do that. They stared at the DJ, hands grounded on a purse, speaker, barrier, whatever was available, feet rooted to the ground, bending and straightening one knee with an aggressive hip-jutting motion. I liked it– it was stripped-down dancing like the music.
I didn’t have a wristband to get into the VIP section, but I’m beginning to learn that a sparkly dress and some convincing B.S. will get you in anywhere.
I was making friends with girls in the bathroom line, and being picked up by boys every time M. left me. I felt like I had been talking so much that I hadn’t really been listening to the music. My voice was starting to fail me, growing hoarser and hoarser.
Nobody could fathom that I had never been to a BLKMarket party before. “Where are you from? Wait, you’ve lived here for three years? I don’t understand. So, what do you do when you go out? How could this not be your scene? You’ve never even heard of this?”
I tried out different answers. “I go to bars?” “My friends aren’t into music like this.” “I’m a WASP.” “I went a private liberal arts school.” “I’m really not that cool.”
“Can I ask you a question?” I said to M. after dragging him to the open empty space behind the VIP section to sit down and take a quick break. “You’re really intelligent and well-educated, I know that. Do you ever find all these people a little … shallow?”
“Oh yeah,” he said. “I come here for the music, not the people. These people, they will talk to you and be in your space, touching your arm and stuff–super friendly. But none of it’s real. [I know all about that. It's called sorority rush, but not as fun.] You just have to be here, in this moment, and not worry about what will come after.”
“That’s very Buddhist of you,” I said. “Isn’t that why people get drunk and party? So they don’t have to think about the past and the future?”
This video is from another BLKMarket party, to give you an idea:
I idly wondered if it was light outside yet. The final DJ pair was up on stage and the music refined itself and rolled out over the thinning crowd of diehards. I stood in front of the stacked speakers, and when I held my hands up, a breeze puffed over them on each beat, whisping my hair.
My energy was starting to flag and my hair smelled like smoke. (What would be the point in prohibiting smoking when the whole party is illegal?) M. joined me, and I turned to him, throwing my arms around his neck and thanking him for bringing me here. I was so grateful it made my heart hurt.
Perhaps this all sound boring to you. Where is the spectacle? The famous people? The outrageous events?
It’s true. There weren’t many stories imbedded in the night. The people I met were associate producers, financial analysts, waitresses. But it was still amazing, because of the music. You have to witness it to understand how music like that can make seven hours drift by without your even noticing.
I grabbed my coat from the coat check, testing out my French on a cute garcon before M. inserted himself and scared le monsieur away. We pulled on our coats and emerged into the gold early-morning light. Joggers were out on Houston as we wandered down to Katz Deli for a bite. I was still elated and wide awake somehow, practically dancing down the sidewalk.
It was one of those New York nights that make everything–the overpriced rent on a tiny apartment, the indignities of the subway, the overcrowded everything–totally and absolutely worth it.