Everyone was very, very excited to hear that Mannie Fresh would be headlining the grand re-opening of reOPENed this past Friday night. The weekly celebration had been on hiatus since Santos was shut down and had left several hundred party-goers without their Friday-night go-to. After weeks of hype and anticipation (and bouts of drowning ourselves in Mannie Freshness), we were just as ready as everyone else to go back. Unfortunately, we all had to a wait a little longer. Three or four hours longer.
At around 10 p.m., the overeager (us included) headed for the doors, only to be told that the venue wasn’t quite ready yet. Patrons were asked to wait right outside the club or return at 11 p.m. — a dilemma for those who had come early to avoid the $20 cover charge that started at that time. The more savvy customers headed to the side door for Federation Sound’s invite-only EP-release party in Santos’ basement (Max Glazer popped up to the door himself, asking bouncers to allow anyone who was waiting in the cold inside), while others simply left in frustration. By the time 11 rolled around, midnight had become the new opening hour. At midnight, we were told that things would be sorted out by 1 a.m., with the cause for the delay being a “rock show that went later than expected.” More persistent party-goers paid the cover charge with resignation and got sent to the basement, now technically part of the club night, with reOPENed residents Glazer and DJ Gravy on deck.
The basement soiree made all that trouble worth it. An intimate gathering for the 17th installment of Scion AV’s mixtape series, Max Glazer’s Federation Invasion: 5 The Hard Way, the early-evening fete featured guest performances from Natalie Storm and Tifa (2/3 of TNT), Mr Lexx, Terro 3000, and a handful of guests and dancehall dancers. Noting hesitance from some pockets of the crowd (those who had no idea where they had landed), Storm and Tifa played impeccable guest hosts, encouraging girls to jump onstage, eventually pulling four on for a dance-off during a rendition of “Back It Up.” The Blackgold Dancers moved through the crowd doing routines and jovially encouraging others to jump in, though they were all business onstage during Mr Lexx’s commanding dancehall jam “Dem a Pree,” which managed to pull in even the most adamant of bar lingerers. A guest appearance by Ricky Blaze (including crowd-friendly performances of “Keep It Goin Louder” and a rendition of Gyptian’s “Hold Yuh”) rounded out the slew of performances.
By 1:30 a.m., the crowd had split into two. Half the patrons yielded to the unexpected turn of events and threw themselves onto the dance floor; the other half pushed up against the bar, anxiously looking toward the door for updates on the show they’d actually come to see. “I don’t know if I can handle another hour of dancehall,” one girl said to another, nervously running her French-tipped nails through her hair. Lucky for her, a mass exodus signaled that the upstairs floor had finally opened, though a sense of frustration remained. Amid much hype from Just Blaze on the mic, Mannie Fresh took on a room that was nowhere near as full as it should’ve been, given all the folks who’d already bailed. And the producer’s short-lived set was a peculiar mix of party classics for the grown and sexy: While we were expecting some sort of throwback, we were also hoping for a lot less Michael Jackson and a lot more, you know, Mannie. Hip-hop figured into his soundtrack, of course — we think we heard some Masta Ace in there – but there was absolutely no reason for anyone to back their thang up, or get their roll on, or even bounce around to his signature “Fr-Fr-F-F-F Fresh.”
Just Blaze, though, proved why he’s the party’s resident. The second he regained control of the turntables and threw on a quick mix of hip-hop bangers (even some house late-night), we felt back at home at reOPENed. Wallflowers bounded onto the middle of the dance floor, a slew of now very drunk couples got grabby while grinding up against each other, and a dance competition broke out in the middle of a rowdy circle of revelers. What had started off as a half-filled room of irritable patrons adamant on finishing out their night had turned into a raging spectacle in less than 30 minutes. Fortunately, the club has has thick-skinned nightlife veterans as residents; hopefully Tuesday night’s event goes smoother.