Every now and then a tribal baritone yell cut through the fog of the Pyramid Club last night, though I was too busy dodging slaps from the man in front of me to seek out the source. A new wave of smoke and pummeling bass prompted a second pair of arms to flail in my direction, as I carefully maneuvered my way out of harm’s way and to the safety of my huddle. Welcome to the latest edition of Ghe20 G0th1k, a social experiment turned booty brawl, and my new favorite party in the East Village.
Voguing is a respected art here, and it’s not exclusive to the gays. While scene queens and party divas strut about, everyone is welcome to share the dark dance floor. Don’t expect to be coddled though: The patrons of this mostly queer party have absolutely no qualms about testing your abilities. Here, you earn your way to the middle of the dance floor through friendly dance-offs that prove you too can keep up with the fast-paced drums that provide the foundation for the club-meets-goth fete. When we walked in around 12:30 a.m., resident DJ Venus X was on the decks, dancing along to a quickly mixed set of Baltimore Club, R-Kelly (what? yes!), Bollywood remixes, and sissy bounce, akin to what Girl Talk would do if he had a taste for bass. “It’s a democratic approach to music that’s inherently queer,” Venus explains later. “It was initially dark wave and juke, and started to expand from there. We try to stay away from obvious American music and instead do a lot of black house, Middle Eastern music, stuff like that.”
By 1 a.m., the fog from the smoke machine had thickened, blurring everything beyond a foot or two, but guaranteeing wallflowers anonymity as they made their way into the mix. One black blob with a baseball hat grinded up against another with a feather headband as a now-dulled red light flashed above. (Overheard: “I told you that this was a fashion party! It’s such a scene, just look at everyone!”) A buzz of excitement by the bar told us that M.I.A. had arrived, fresh from her show at Terminal 5 (her DJ, Asma of NguzuNguzu, was scheduled to play later). The partially redeemed musician was enveloped by a gaggle of characters: one extremely huge bodyguard, several young girls with matching hair (backup singers, we’ll assume), and a group of awkward straggling teenage boys. They huddled in some sort of security circle, though beyond a knowing look or two, no one dared approach her. “You’re responsible for my whole look, you know,” one especially sarcastic boy quipped from a bar stool as he half-rolled his eyes and straightened his boldly printed shirt. “Oh my god, how dare you!” chided an embarrassed friend nearby, clearly fawning over the star.
By 3 a.m., the venue had cleared out, showing no signs that just a half-hour before, it was home to a raging, uninhibited dance party. DJ Asma had taken over the turntables (though M.I.A. was long gone) and was now playing hip-hop remixes to the DJs who’d just arrived to support her (Dave Nada, DJ Sabo, Uproot Andy, and Zuzuka Poderosa included). A straggling gay man sidled up next to me, putting his arm around my shoulders. “Thanks for coming, I appreciate it,” he said. I asked if he was the promoter. “No, not at all! I’m just happy we’re here, aren’t you?”
The next Ghe20 G0th1k goes down on October 27th at Gallery Bar.
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 28, 2010