When you hear that James Murphy is DJing a Fashion Week party, you go. You just go. Noting that we had to be back downtown at midnight (“We’ll just go for an hour, guys, it’s James Murphy!”), we rallied our A team for the second time this month and jumped on the A train uptown to the Hudson Hotel.
We arrived at the swanky hotel’s outdoor park at around 10:30, to a buzzing party. The usual mix of after-work finance people (still toting portfolios and suit jackets) mingled as they braved the long lines to the bars. A DJ played a mix of disco and house while a scraggly-faced James Murphy (in a suit!) looked on. Host Andy Shaw and his girlfriend walked around a long table, insisting that friends partake in their pitchers of sangria and other bottled beverages; “I’m doing this for your benefit,” she insisted. “The white sangria here is amazing!” At exactly 11:30, the park cleared and we were alerted to a venue change — while Murphy was indeed DJing, he’d now be holding court at the Hudson Bar. Shaw led about 30 friends — in the style of a field-trip chaperone — to the door and past a growing line at the red ropes that blocked just about anyone else from getting in.
The bar makes a great first impression: The floor is made up of glowing tiles, with a low ceiling painted with whimsical bursts of color. Golden yellow chairs and low-seated couches line the similarly painted brick walls. A mix of dolled-up girls and DFA fans danced with intent through an early mix of ’80s pop (the Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed,” etc.) and disco remixes. Some quick chats in the bathroom line confirmed that it didn’t matter what Murphy played to this crowd — everyone here was his biggest fan. “I made it here from Bensonhurst in Brooklyn!” says one girl. “That’s nothing!” replies another. “I’m in from New Jersey. My boyfriend’s a DJ, and we couldn’t pass up hearing him spin.” Nearby, Shaw receives another bottle from hotel staff; his table is swarmed. “This is my fifth of the night,” he laughs. “I don’t care who has a drink. My new thing is to ask anyone who asks for a drink if they know my name. If they do, they’re good by me! Everyone here is good people.” (Once again, this guy is really just the best.)
Some combination of the host’s friendliness and Murphy’s set kept us out about an hour longer than intended. Around 1 a.m., we were in a cab and on our way from the Upper West to the Lower East Side — four in the back, with one giggly girl not-so-discreetly laid out over the three taller passengers. With a quick stop at Pianos for Wednesday-night rap fete Players Club, (resident DJs include Philadelphyinz’ Skinny Friedman and Fool’s Gold’s Sammy Bananas), we were on to the next one. “Do you know of this club?” asked a visiting friend, as he pointed at an address on his phone (200 Rivington Street). “House of House and Kim Ann are DJing there. Let’s go!” So we went.
The venue wasn’t a club so much as the basement of a restaurant. After walking a few blocks past the usual Rivington Street mix of dive bars and lounges, we arrived at our destination — noticing our confusion, the usual gaggle of partiers on cellphones outside, cigarettes in hand, pointed us to the right storefront. A cheery man took our $3 cover and let us pass him into a glowing pink stairwell, which was a battle in itself (we dodged a low-hanging ceiling pipe while carefully teetering down a curvy set of stairs). The basement was tiny, humid, and could most likely hold 40 people when filled to the brim. A rickety bar served up $4 beers while Hercules and the Love Affair’s Kim Ann Foxman, hidden by a baseball hat and oversize T-shirt, DJed to her sweaty dance floor. “This is the New York I wanted to see!” exclaimed Peter (a DJ from Minneapolis), noting her rotary mixer. A thick fog of humidity blurred a man in a tribal tunic, convulsing to the house that played above. “I haven’t even heard most of this before,” Peter added, still in awe.