My Three Most Memorable Experiences as a DJ in NYC
At Bar Two Days Before Halloween
This year, two days before Halloween, I DJ’ed at the usual place I DJ, a piano bar/restaurant located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. My DJ partner and I dressed up as “DJ Jekyll and MC Hyde.” The name we came up with for our party was the regular name of our party, but with words that were “Halloween-y.” Instead of “society” it became “secret society”; instead of “fitness,” “science,” and “musical merriment” it became “necromancy,” incantation,” and “musical animism.”
I had vaguely dreaded the night, the same way I vaguely dread similar holidays — New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day — holidays in which your primary objective is to be more fun or, in the case of Valentine’s Day, more romantic or considerate than usual. These holidays always seem to create feelings of expectation and, because of that, feelings of subsequent disappointment.
I had not planned well for the night. With only a few hours to go before our party, I had no costume, just a few assorted novelty items: some braids of synthetic red hair purchased from a costume store, a top hat I had borrowed from a friend. Finally I bought a $7 makeup kit from a nearby drug store and painted my face a green-white shade, then affixed a few strips of brownish-red synthetic hair to my face, as a sort of evil Leprechaun-looking goatee.
“I kind of like it,” said my DJ partner, but I knew it looked like shit.
You know what though? I was having fun. Because I am always afraid to fuck up my glasses, I had never put on face makeup before. The process was easier than I had expected it to be. It was just like rubbing soap, or acne cream, onto your face. What else had I expected it to be like?
My DJ partner and I went out to the bar, set up, received our free drink tickets, and began our set with tracks from an album called Doo Wop Halloween, which we had just downloaded a few minutes before.
And then none of our friends showed up. Behind the DJ booth, I proceeded to get very drunk. In addition to our normal allotment of free drink tickets — four or five each — I had, in my pockets, a number of free drink tickets that I had saved up from our previous parties. The drink I was ordering was a whiskey cocktail called “The Grey King.” The Grey King comes garnished with an extravagantly-cut lemon slice and it is also one of the most expensive liquor drinks on the menu. I would finish one of these and then order another.
My stomach was getting uncomfortable. I remember repeating the phrase “I’m going to go vomit in the sink,” like some kind of a mantra, although I cannot remember if I actually vomited and, if I did, whether it was in the sink.
During my DJ partner’s set I got up to go the bar, then to the bathroom, then back to the bar.
I started a conversation with a pair of girls wearing bright orange wigs. They were the only people dressed up at the bar and, although I did not find them particularly attractive, I felt the urge to talk to them. One of them found my costume, in her words, “interesting.”
“That’s great,” she said, laughing.
I told her thanks.
“How’d you get it to do that?” she said. “Your goatee?”
“It’s not real,” I said. “I cut synthetic hair into strips and then latexed it onto my face.”
The girl laughed again, a little more quietly this time. I noticed she did not ask me what exactly my costume was. I considered whether I should tell her and decided against it. The girls went back to talking and I stood there for a minute, waiting for the bartender to bring the two Grey Kings I had ordered for my DJ partner and me.
With the drinks in my hands, I invited the girls to come hang out at the DJ booth. The girls sort of nodded without saying anything and it occurred to me the girl who I had thought was interested in me had actually just been interested in making fun of me, or fucking with me, and I went back to the DJ booth and sat down next to my DJ partner and asked him what he was playing next.
A little later two girls I’m sort of friends with came up to our booth. I felt excited to see them, but then I felt worried and slightly embarrassed, because they were the only people we knew who had shown up and they were not wearing costumes.
“Where’s the dance party?” the girl who knew me better asked. “We want to dance. Play some Db’s.”
I told her I wanted to, but I couldn’t. “We’re only doing Halloween-themed stuff tonight,” I said.
“This isn’t a good place to throw a dance party,” she said, gesturing around the bar. The other girl looked around at the empty dance floor and the giant white piano occupying the middle of it, unplayed and suddenly grotesque, and I put on the song I had planned on playing before the two girls had arrived. When I looked up a minute or so later, the girls were gone.
I don’t remember what else happened, although apparently, later that night, something else happened, with Robin, one of the co-owners of the bar. I found this out later from my DJ partner, over Gchat the next day.
“Oh guess what, I just ran into Robin,” said my DJ partner. “She talked about how wasted you were. She seemed impressed.”
I was surprised. I asked him how Robin knew that, whether one of the bartenders had told her.
“How’d she know that?” said my DJ partner. “She was there! She said you kept asking her for more drink tickets and she kept pretending she didn’t have any, so you wouldn’t get more drunk.”
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i inhaled deeply. your scent, your deodorant, your cologne, even your morning breath. i know these scents so well and the familiarity is comforting.
This video of a puppy watching a scene we’re so familiar with and evoking the same sentiments we once felt is oddly heartwarming, extremely precious and a dash of funny.
You died, and the hope that you would one day love us back the way we loved you died with you.
Weight Watchers likes to say that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. Which I guess means they’ve never tasted Cinnamon Toast Crunch.