Monday, February 25, 2008

Event Review: Fuck Shit Let's Dance at Deco

Our second installment of FSLD matched the first in terms of numbers, though the energy was a bit different and the presence of gay boys somewhat diminished. The compensating factor was a crossover of "straights," which, along with a conversation with Baron von Luxxury on the history of disco, helped me refine my idea of what I'm trying to accomplish with this night. We also learned that we can function with great agility in the face of the, um, challenges that club promoting presents. We still have a few things to figure out about this particular space and event, but I think that's what makes throwing a monthly party an interesting experiment in party logistics and mass psychology.

First, the numbers: the clicker showed 126 when we closed out, which is nine short of the last time. There were some people I was expecting to see who didn't make it out, which would have filled in a good chunk of that. In the further game of "who are these people," we had one group of five young Asian couples show up, and during Lord Kook's set he had the rapt attention of four young women who let out with a periodic "wa-hoo!" while grooving to his set - though a rather unusual situation for him, he did seem to enjoy their enthusiasm. There were several male/female couples, including the very hip DJ Candy (Bender, Heat) and her husband Twig (artist-in-residence at Heat), and another couple that I swear were tripping tits, since I couldn't understand a damn thing they were saying to me all night (I later had reason to believe that she was the ex-propriertress of Jezebel's Joint, the club that had previously been in the Deco building, though I couldn't find anyone to confirm that). The gay guys who did show up were of a pleasingly diverse variety, though I was especially happy that the neo-tribal and punkish alternaboys were well represented. Among our scenester stars were Johnny Cocksville, who wandered the club with a crop, looking for a suitable object upon which to apply it, Dan Karasic and DJ Donimo of Lucky Pierre, and DJ6 of Lucky Pierre and Bender. I would be remiss if I didn't also mention the giant pink and green rabbit, and Superboy.

As for the challenges, they ranged from personnel problems to blown speakers. Kitty, our coat check girl, called me at 5.30 and told me he'd had to go in for a root canal during the morning and was in no shape for a long late night. I was able to find a substitute, but then when we arrived at the club it was pointed out to us that one of the main suspended floor speakers, a JBL 15, had a completely shredded cone. We all scratched our heads over how this had happened (Kiko, the security guy, said it was like that when he showed up for work on Wednesday, and the club was closed on Monday and Tuesday), since those things are pretty indestructible, but there was only one thing to do: I got in the rental car, came home, loaded up one of my own JBLs, and got back to set it up fifteen minutes before we we were supposed to open. This still left us with the tasks of setting up the downstairs and cleaning up the coat check area, but all was ready on the dot of 9.

Though we were ready to go at the appointed time, it still took a while for things to take off. At 10.30 I was wondering where the hell everybody was, but by 11.30 we had a solid dancefloor. Neonbunny played a great set of harder electro to an unfortunately mostly empty room, and when Baron von Luxxury and Johnatron came on after Lord Kook they too had moments when the dancefloor seemed to thin out. This seemed to be another big difference from the first FSLD, when the dance floor was packed the entire time, though we also had a lot more in and out traffic this time as well. I was scheduled to go on at 2.00 when the Baron and Johnatron came off, but the dance floor energy was fragile enough that I decided it needed a more confident and able guide, and turned things over to Lord Kook again.

During a smoke break outside the Baron and I had a long conversation about disco music (broadly defined), and though our tastes run in somewhat different directions, we do share an interest in the social/cultural implications of the disco experience. This, along with a conversation I had with a gentleman at the end of night at the coat check, really made me put some thought into what I would like to accomplish with this night. He seemed to be a Deco regular who decided to come check out the party; in kidding tones he said he was suprised at the way the upstairs was set up "without glory holes." He then asked me when the next Starfucker was going to be, and I told him that it was done as a regular night, but would be back for Pride (taking over our fourth Friday, in fact).

What these conversations did was make me realize that, though we don't have a lot of the features you would associate with a gay night, like go-go boys, baby oil wrestling, wet jockstrap contests, or glory holes, I am more interested in the possibility of creating a night that, by virtue of the music that was played and the energy that was put forth, had a crossover appeal that could bring all kinds of people together. Sure it's important to me that our emphasis is on "a dance party for queers and their friends," but I want the friends as much as the queers. Something I realized later was that, despite having a sign on the door that advertised the night as exactly that, there were many non-queers who came through the door and hung out anyway. To me, that epitomizes the disco spirit; something that's associated with queers, but is also about openness and respect for everybody. I know we could get more gay guys to show up if we had go-gos or some kind of performance to appeal to prurient interests, but the moment we begin to do those sorts of things, I think we'll also begin to lose that crossover crowd. It's important to me that we don't do that because I do have this idea that, if club nights are about creating culture, I want to create something that enables people to transcend the barriers that exist between us, rather than something that closes us off in an insular world.

FSLD is pretty clearly going to be a work in progress for a while; aside from the abstract philosophical issues that need to be considered, there are very practical matters as well, like how to get more people through the door before 10PM (I'm open to any suggestions you all might have in that regard), working out the timing of the DJs for the different phases of the night, and what we can do to bump everything up a notch. I think there's a lot of room for us to grow, but as long as we can keep a steady crowd coming for the next few months, I also think there's the potential to do something we can really be proud of.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

For me this night proved at least one thing: Lord Kook rocks! He was way better than the visiting headliners. Loved his set!

Eric said...

I had a very good time at the party (although, I arrived on the later side of things, after 1am, and I ended up spending more time chit chatting with some friends in the front bar than dancing). It was nice, because you could actually have a conversation without shouting over the music.

One easy thing you can do to get people to arrive before 10 pm is the good 'ol "free before 10 pm" door policy. Of course, this would cut into your take at the door, so I'm not sure if you want to go that route.

In any case, keep up the good work. It will be interesting to see what shape the club ends up taking over the next several months.

-Eric G.

The Jaded Gay DJ said...

Hey Eric, glad you enjoyed yourself even if you did make it in late. Rest assured we'll always try to have some "chit chat" space; I personally hate going out to bars and not being able to have a conversation.

We already do have a "Free before 10" policy; one thing we might do is also see if we can cook up some kind of drink special, or offer some kind of "prize" to folks who show up before 11. We have an idea for something for next month, it's just a question fo whether we can find the appropriate wholesale distributor.

Anonymous said...

I got there early and I sure with there were some glory holes upstairs for that cute coat check boy! Yum yum!

Anonymous said...

Free before 11 or 12 would be better. The EndUp is always free before 12 midnight every Friday night.

The Jaded Gay DJ said...

Yes, but the EndUp has an all-night license for Friday and Saturday, and they have a huge post-2AM rush, so free before midnight makes sense for them. We have to shut down at 3, so free before midnight would mean that we really only had two hours in which we could get cover; since the DJs get paid based on a percentage of the door, I'm afraid that making it free for too long in the night would mean they didn't take home much cash for their effort. The Rod and Bearracuda, which also take place at Deco, are free before 10, so that's where we took our cue from. But free before 11 we'll think about for sure.

Anonymous said...

The bar should pay the DJs. Covers are so tacky. Charley Horse is always free, as well as Sick at The Matador, etc..

The Jaded Gay DJ said...

Unfortunately, it's up to the promoters to pay the DJs, not the bar . We have to charge a cover because our only other source of revenue, a percentage of the bar, is barely enough to pay our expenses for flyers , so if the DJs are going to make any money at all, it has to come out of the door.

I don't know what arrangement Anna has with Charley Horse, but I suspect that they have more people drinking at the bar for longer, and they might get a higher percentage of the bar tab. Also, they usually only have one DJ every event, where we typically have two, not counting our resident. Soooo, I suspect that they have a slightly higher margin than we do, and fewer mouths to feed with it.

There are other clubs that also don't charge a cover, like Sick, Bender, and others at smaller bars throughout the city, but, again, I expect that they have different arrangements reqarding how they get paid. I don't know of anybody who has an arrangement where the bar or club pays the DJs directly, it's always, in my experience, based on a percentage of the bar, sometimes after you have met a minimum.