A Dispatch From Cielo's 12-Hour Haiti-Benefit Blowout

Phillipe Devereaux, a/k/a the guy with the Haitian flag, reveling
Phillipe Devereaux, a/k/a the guy with the Haitian flag, reveling
Puja Patel

Sunday night's "Song, Dance, & Love" Haiti benefit was a 12-hour marathon of just that. The song and dance was provided by house maestros Louie Vega, Francois K, Danny Krivit, Hex Hector, Willie Graff, and eight others; the love oozed from the visibly emotional patrons.

Really, the best part about Cielo is that it looks a lot like the inside of a giant genie's bottle. The walls are made up of soft, pillow-like logs that stack all the way to the ceiling. A collection of disco balls, prevailed upon by a fantastic light show, sparkle over the sunken dance floor. Plush seating and intimate tables-for-two are scattered two steps up, right in front of a glowing bar manned by a pair of bartenders who will dance your drink over to you. And then there's that drag queen who seems to float over the crowd on a disco ball of her own with her six-inch stilettos and mile-high afro. We're pretty sure she can fly.

By 1 a.m., Josh Milan was on the decks, and the party had become a college-style mixer. Two dancing strangers screamed over the bass and shook hands in introduction; the organizers drifted through, thanking people for their support; a jersey-wearing man pulling a shy wallflower onto the dance floor. Meanwhile, a man with a Haitian flag draped over his shoulders spun through the crowd, occasionally waving the flag over his head. "Both of my parents are from Haiti," he explained. "I saw the flyer for this on the street and had to come over. It's so good to see how willing everyone is to support these people." A teary-eyed eavesdropper chimed in--"This music is about love. We want to show Haiti that they have our love." (Suggestion donation at the door was $20; proceeds went to Doctors Without Borders.)

Unfortunately, the venue cleared out soon after. The party had hit its 11th hour, and even the most adamant dancers had taken to leaning against the bar and chatting. Apparently that wasn't enough for the venue, and they turned on the lights and started ushering everyone out an hour earlier than scheduled, with one act left to perform. Willie Graff managed to sneak onto the turntables regardless, if only to provide the Jones Girls' "Nights Over Egypt" as exit music for the few disgruntled patrons left.


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