[ Return to the SOAPBOX ]


"East Coast Clubbing"

In one direction, amplified by the red and blue lights sequencing throughout the club and incensed by throbbing beats coming out of the wall speakers behind you, you see a sexy Latino chick in a backless shirt and tight black leather pants. In another direction, you see a hardcore raver dussied up in the uniform baggy khaki pants, tight sleeveless tee, and blonde-dyed hair tips going crazy with neon green glowsticks. In yet another direction, you see the DJ and the crew of people behind him enjoying their night of power as the DJ spins records that gradually get the crowd more and more pumped up before a climax of sound explodes in the room and sends everyone inside into a heightened frenzy.

Ohh fuck is it fun.

Why am I telling you all this? I am not telling YOU, I am compiling my various experiences so I can remember them later. The fact that you can read about it is a privilege.

My entry into the club scene was never about the drugs or the women or the dancing or the liquor or the exhaustion and satisfaction at 7AM when you leave.

It was the music. It was all the music.

It all started in my first or second year of college when I had begun to get tired of rock music. I still to this day love it, but the Dallas stations have basically over the years subverted to a mash of classic rock/country/pop radio. There is no electronica and there is little good blues or jazz. Around this time, MP3s were just hitting the online scenes and they were proliferating through those who knew how to get them. It wasn't like there was a big Napster network back then.

At around the same time, my brother moved to Austin while I was at school there and he began sharing music with me that he thought I might like. I liked what he listened to on his car stereo and eventually he took me to places like The Red Room, which is primarily a drum and bass club, but also has another smaller floor where they play hiphop. Anyway, I got to see DJ Dara spin one night, and got to see Moby, DJ Soul Slinger, and 187 spin at some big Austin warehouse that had shitty acoustics. I really dug that music. Meanwhile, my roommate had been getting into trance and house, but he'd been listening to stuff like Erasure and pop dance before that.

So the rock world I knew was dying. Kurt Cobain was already gone and the big bands were fading away. The energy was going to R&B, which I don't like much. In Europe, electronica was huge and it hasn't even yet begun to become big in the US. The Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers and Crystal Method and Moby have helped, but it's still no big thing.

Unless you're a club goer or a music afficionado. I became both. Not an avid club goer, because I can only take so much of it at a time, but I downloaded shitloads of various electronica and came to love drum and bass and jungle the most out of it all. To this date, DJ Dara and 187 are two of my favorites out of everyone. Aphrodite and Roni Size also fuck my ears up.

Anyway, some time passed and I graduated school and electronica matured since then and I had become more refined with my tastes regarding it. I still didn't like house or trance that much.

A week or two ago I went to Philadelphia to stay with a friend who I used to work for but who now is an absolute saint to me. She hooked me up to the Philly scene first, and it was all a welcome departure from Austin and Dallas. While Dallas is getting better club-wise, it's still sub-par. And Austin? Austin's a joke. Live music capital my ass. The Red Room was closed because of supposed drug activities when more black people started showing up there, which is a complete joke because it's not like there wasn't drug activity before.

Anyway, the first night we went out, it was supposed to be a simple affair. We went to see X-Men and everyone was trashing on it afterwards, and then somehow we ended up going to meet some of her friends nearby at a gay leather club. Haha, that was different. I had two women with me so it kept the guys away. But the friends we met were extremely friendly and were always making sure I was okay with everything. The thing about me is that I don't really give a fuck what people do. It was definitely different, but never unsafe, and always fun, and a learning experience. The music was pretty lame, like remixes of Madonna, that style. We didn't stay long because we had other things to do. But hey, it's hard to beat grabbing something to drink at the bar and getting a condom and lubrication jelly at the same time.

The guys we met went with us to another gay club, since the club we were going to next wouldn't really pick up until later that night. This one was called 2-4, and had quite a lot of heteroes, considering. The music didn't thrill me that much, but I met a guy who was also straight, so that was funny, and another guy who came up from Dallas and always spends a fortune on clubbing, and who would later take all of us in a limo to the next stop, Shampoo.

Shampoo is like the madhouse of Philly clubbing. It's a massive club with numerous bars and dance floors, all with different styles of music. Needless to say, it was packed and there were plenty of glowstick dancers, crowds of sexy women in tight black dresses and the usual crowd of gay guys all in blue jeans with no shirts. But what made it unique was the frenetic pace of it all, and the endless climactic music. This didn't build up much, it was just nonstop pounding of loops. Luckily, it had some edge to it or it would've been pretty lame. What I love about clubs is that everyone there is having a good time and everyone is everyone else's friend, so there's no bad intentions or bad shit that goes on there. Everyone's there to have fun, and no one cares what you do there as long as you enjoy it. You can't get enough of the fine women dressed up and delirious with dancing. And it seemed to me that at these bigger, more serious clubs, there wasn't as much freaking as you'd see at, say, a Dallas club. The women were dolled up in great costumes or simple outfits, both just as sexy in their own ways. Besides, it's really the fluidity of their movements that does the trick.

I wished throughout my visits to the clubs that I had a girlfriend. This seems to be a common theme for me these days.

Shampoo has a ton of different events every weekend. For example, they were going to hold a party for the Republican Convention that was gonna be in town the next week. They had some celebs showing up and all in all it was going to be early morning madness.

We left Shampoo at, I forget exactly, maybe 4AM. Everyone of course was X'd out except for me, since I don't do drugs like a good little boy. Or a control freak. Or whatever you want to attribute it to. With no limo to carry us this time, we walked for a bit, passing one outdoor rave that was still going, and some other warehouse raves that had some music that I preferred more. One crazy thing I love about clubbing is opening the exit door and seeing the sunny street outside, because the sun just came up and everyone is just waking up right as you're beginning to power down. Absolute fucking craziness.

The other thing of course is that you get Sunday to cool down and then by Monday you're back to your regular life with a day job or classes or what have you. It's like letting your other personality come out and play for a bit.

The week passed and it was Thursday when things REALLY started to get interesting. My friend took me out with the same woman that went with us the first night, and we went to Fluid, a drum and bass club. Now, I don't know what the fuck it is exactly, but drum and bass clubs just REALLY get me going. They are so unique from other dance clubs, in that they're more interactive, I suppose, and they appreciate the importance of building up and bringing down the beats. Drum and bass basically consists of what their name would suggest. It is loops with HEAVY bass and fast drum sounds. At clubs you will have an MC who pretty much raps over the DJ's spins and THAT is one thing I really dig. The MC is so important, in my opinion. They all have the same type of voice, harsh, black, and flowing, but it just brings the music to another level. You have a different type of crowd, as well. You won't have flashy clothes so much -- usually it's more grungeware and the music is harder and darker and I have a feeling that the people who listen to it appreciate it more than, say, people would at a Shampoo or Paradox in Austin. I mean, you GO there for drum and bass. If you've never heard drum and bass before, you are NOT going to enjoy it the first time. There was a hetero couple in there, fairly dressed up, and they weren't getting into the music at ALL, even while the crowd was jumping and screaming for the DJ to do a rewind. It's just so different, with lots of different beats and sounds meshing together in a less harmonious and cohesive manner at first hearing. With more refinement, one begins to feel the flow of it so much better.

As you can tell I LOVED Fluid. One of the DJs tore the roof down when he played what I think is one of the most brilliant mixes I've ever heard. He teased the crowd with a sampling of Morcheeba's "The Sea", interspersing the chorus with hard beats and fast richocheting drums. After a particularly hard part, he would slow it way down and you'd hear the chorus in all its laid-back glory. Everyone fucking loved it. I so wish I could hear it again. We were trying to figure out what this one girl up in the DJ booth was doing, as she was probably working the lights or something. I think she was called The Empress and she must've co-owned the place or some such. I think most of the guys there were staring at her. I know I was.

Unfortunately Fluid is one of those smaller clubs so city laws made it close down at 2AM. Did I mention Fluid had a weed room in the back for people who just wanted to sit down and relaaax?

Late Friday night we drove up to New York City from Philly, which took a couple hours I guess. We were going to Twilo that evening, one of the biggest clubs in NYC and probably the world for that matter. I got to go along the New Jersey Turnpike and see the Statue of Liberty and go in the Holland Tunnel and all that good shit. I hadn't been in NYC since I was a little kid. The air just smells of attitude.

Twilo is built inconspicuously into a row of buildings, with only a small sign outside saying what it is. It seems like most clubs do not have clear markings of what they are, so you just have to know where they're located. Anyway, we got there early, at like 2AM, and there was a line that took half an hour to get in. We were worried that it might be shut down that night since the previous weekend, there was a kid who came up from Baltimore and overdosed on Ecstasy like a fool (come on, who overdoses on X?) and died. So everyone thought maybe Benito Giuliani (as they call him) would bust the place. Instead, there were posters everywhere warning of undercover cops and shit like that.

Being a Confederate rebel from the friendly state of Texas, it was funny to hear the line guards speaking in thick New York accents commanding everyone to push forward. There was a group of Japanese kids in front of us and when they had to show their IDs, one of the girls had forgotten hers. How fucking stupid is that? Who knows what happened to them.

Everyone else we were going to meet there was running late and as a result, they had to wait an hour or two outside in line. The line ran around the block to get in. Some people were speculating it was so packed not because of worries of being shut down, but because Sasha and Digweed, the resident DJs (of one day a month), had released a new album not too long ago (Communicate). Even when we got there, the main floor was PACKED. Apparently the place has a capacity of 7,000 people and it was jammed. People everywhere: men getting up on the pedestals in huge scorpion and butterfly costumes, hordes of scantily clad women gyrating, and one group I particularly enjoyed watching because they were so stylish, this Asian crowd of kids that had full-on raver gear and were dancing ALL night almost non-stop. They had the hip clothes and the moves and they were having a blast.

New York City blew all the other cities I've been to clubs in away. It was no contest. NYC is something else entirely. They know how to fucking party. The floor would periodically mist up with cold water and so you couldn't see much except reflections of the colored lights, and then it would fade away and you'd resume seeing the mass of dancers and you'd pay attention again to the thumping beats, this time being trance stuff. Trance will build up its music as well and when Sasha and Digweed (Digweed being darker than usual that night) hit the top, people were just grooving and flowing all over the place. I have never been in a place with that much raw energy before. It rushes into your body and you can't help it. When you're in Twilo, you feel like your body is consumed with power and that the whole outside world halts for an evening while you just indulge in whatever you want to indulge in. No, I was not on drugs.

Twilo redefined the standard for me. I can't go to any piddly little club now and enjoy it when I have seen 5000 people on a dance floor dancing to GOOD trance music, all of them in stylish, appropriate dress and knowing how to move. It's a far cry from dance floors with just a few people on it, all grabbing each other and wearing dress clothes and not fitting in much at all. At Twilo, it's the real shit. There was one guy walking around with this light gear on his head and in his hands, so that when you put on a special eye visor, he would move the lights around in front of you and it would look as though you were X'ing, and it really messes you up (in a good way). I watched while he moved all around this one guy and the guy was completely digging it.

We left at 7AM, when people were beginning to fade away and were falling asleep on the couches and whatnot. Again, opening the door to bright sunlight was strange, and we were half-asleep on the way back, but my friend decided to drive me past Wall Street (so I saw the Merrill bull, but I didn't see the Exchange itself because they actually blocked off Wall Street. You're walking back to your car in full club gear and meanwhile people are walking past you in regular clothes in order to go to the street market to get food for the day. Funny shit. Two worlds colliding.

I think I woke up the next day before the sun went down.

Our plans fell through for Saturday night, but we were really tired anyway. We were going to go back to NYC to go to Roxy or Exit, another of NYC's big clubs, this one with actual snow that falls on the floor and also a DJ booth that moves up and down between the numerous floors. At the top on the roof is supposedly a garden. This is for next time I go clubbing, I suppose. :)

But no worries. In NYC, every day is a fun day. We went Sunday afternoon and hit Vinyl, a club where you supposedly unwind from partying hard on Friday and Saturday. It didn't seem much of a slower pace than the rest...hehehe. We agreed that this was some of the best house music we'd ever heard. They varied from tribal beats to blues-ey stuff to pure house. The club had no alcohol, just "smart drinks" which had different juices and stuff in them. It was a good time and it was fun to dance to. The mix of men to women was fairly good although, like all clubs, more men than women. And more gay men than women, too, I think.

After two or three hours we went to Fun, which hadn't really gotten full yet since it was still early. Fun is a bar, not a club, located in Chinatown. It has huge screens everywhere, and they played everything from some weird Asian film to old episodes of Soul Train (with a full score of breakdancers and bad bad bad clothing with huge words like "WORD" flashing on the screen like in the old Batman). The waitresses were quite hot and I was told ours gave me gaga eyes, but I never believe stuff like this for a second, even when another women notifies me. Uhh, so anyway, the music they played was old school hiphop, so we really enjoyed the nostalgia. Memories of Public Enemy and NWA and even Positive K.

After that we concluded our night with Limelight, which is a club built into a church. It's really fascinating because there were huge stained glass windows and an altar and pews but at the same time a huge dance club-ish two-person crucifixion model hanging above the altar and gay guys kissing on the pews and a big couch area up at the top just below a huge rose petal window. The DJ booth was built underneath that top floor and it kind of looked like a place where people of distinction would've sat. The music I thought was pretty weak and I was kind of worried about getting back to Philly on time to catch some sleep before my flight in the morning. But the whole idea of Limelight was astounding -- it really caught my eye as a fusion of old and new. Surely sacriligious, but at the same time ingenious.

That ended my whirlwind club tour of Philly and NYC, and it surely opened my eyes. I met some friendly and caring people there that I can just hang with and have a good time with, and I cherish that opportunity. Now, I know my parents will probably read this (since they are regular readers, unfortunately) and they will flip out even with full knowledge that they used to see this kind of shit when they were younger. Hell, they probably did more outrageous shit than I ever have. And yet they'll say drugs are bad and the gay community is risky to be around and shit like that, not because they discriminate or anything, but just because they're parents who worry about their son.

So I post this all in full knowledge that this material could be inserted negatively into conversations for years to come, because I think it sufficiently opens up another facet of my personality and experiences that will later provide clarity when I'm old and retired and want to know when I made certain breakthroughs or transitions or leaps in maturity.

And god fucking dammit, one day I'm gonna be the DJ spinning in that booth, driving everyone wild. I will be concentrating on the records and controls with my heads down and a pair of Sony MDR-V700 headphones (highly recommended) wrapped around my head, and meanwhile in front of me are thousands of screaming people floating on air, forgetting all their problems and insecurities in their normal lives, and just having fun and enjoying the fact that they are alive. I would be the valve that allowed it to flow out of them, I would be the focal point, the instigator, but never the main emphasis or attention of the show.

[ respond to this in the General Discussion forum ]


[ Return to the SOAPBOX ]


benturner.com:  click here to start at the beginning
RECENT NEWS (MORE):  Subscribe to my del.icio.us RSS feed! about moods | mood music
12/03/08 MOOD:  (mood:  yellow)