During Friday’s Fashion’s Night Out spectacular, we were faced with a dilemma: Should we head to SoHo to elbow our way through boutiques for a free cupcake, attempt to walk in heels around the cobblestone of the Meatpacking District, or wait in mobs of lines uptown just to be near someone famous? Figuring that we’d be better off actually having some fun, we headed downtown for our own FNO, with less waiting and more dancing.
We got to Dame Dash’s Under 100 at around 10 p.m., fashionably early and right on time — the line to the bathroom was longer than the line to the open bar. Tonight, The Fader was celebrating the release of its Fall Fashion issue with live performances by Dipset producer AraabMusik and South African cover star Spoek Mathambo. Huge prints from the magazine adorned the brightly lit gallery, while tipsy patrons roamed about sipping on beers and pretending not to notice that Dash himself lurked in a balcony above. Though it was obvious most couldn’t care less about Fashion Week, people-watching is half the fun at these things. Spotted: Acephale Records founder and Modular affiliate Patrik North in a silver chain cross attached to a skull, Group Tighteners heads Jamie Granato and Sam Hockley-Smith (also a Fader editor) laid back in flannel, and True Panther’s Dean Bein in a a brightly patterned vintage shirt paired with a slouchy jacket and a cigarette.
Down a set of stairs, though, was where the real party began. The basement was small, sweaty, and mostly dark, lit only by lights aimed at a folding table with an MPC player and a tiny, quiet man stretching his hands behind it. Without a word, AraabMusik attacked the machine, pounding out beats, looping samples, and throwing in vocals on top. No screen or mic, just buttons and knobs and hands moving so fast they blurred before our eyes. This is what scratching is to DJs, except here we’re not bored watching it — the room was half dance party, half wide eyes and gaping mouths. After a few routines, he closed out with a slew of hits — “A Milli,” Busta’s “Touch It,” Juelz Santana’s “Whistle Song” — mixed into each other so quickly that the girl in front of us barely had enough time to shout, “Ohhhh, this is my jam!” before being cut off. It’s a tough act to follow — as AraabMusik left the stage (followed by an entourage of guys twice his size), everyone in the tiny basement swarmed upstairs for air (and another drink). As for us, it was time for our next stop.
After a short cab ride from Tribeca to the Lower East Side, we found ourselves at BEast for a party hosted by Latino go-to culture guide Remezcla. Where once, a hip downtown party would have topped out with a Latin house DJ, recently we’ve been privy to the Dutty Artz crew, Que Bajo at Santos, and even Diplo playing Moombahton (the slowed-down reggaeton created by electro-club DJ Dave Nada) at Electric Zoo. Tonight, we went for DJ Orion and a performance by Mad Decent’s Maluca. Walking into B East is overwhelming — it’s a mix of button-downs, ladies in fancy dresses standing on couches, and party-hopping, skateboard-toting locals. One of the latter pulled three beers out of her purse and passed them around to friends: “I came from an open bar, of course I brought some. I’m gully like that.” The cumbia playing above cut out as someone got on the mic: “Make way for Maluca!” A circle cleared in the middle of the floor, and soon the saucy Dominicana was screaming through a few tracks while jumping around in a gold-sequined cardigan, backed by two dancers (wearing huge t-shirts emblazoned with “Maluca”) and pulling in unsuspecting tourists who amicably tried their best to dance along (while their friends laughed and took pictures). “I was having the worst day ever, and because of you all, I’m having the best night ever!” she screamed. We could relate.