Le Baron Chinatown
Thursday, May 3, 2012
When getting ready to see Swedish dance fiends Little Dragon at Le Baron Chinatown, I really only had one question: Would I actually get in? Yes, I was assured by one of the event’s men behind the curtain, Fabien Moreau, but I didn’t want to be late. “Come early, because it’s going to be a shitshow at the door,” he said in his Parisian drawl. In addition to being a globe-trotting coolness consultant for brands like Cartier and Michael Kors, Fabien (and his firm, Forward) are the organizers of the Encore! concert series, a sort of multimedia, multiplatform promotional event for Absolut, Le Baron, the bands, his firm, and anyone lucky enough to sneak past the famously difficult doorman at what Eater takes some kind of perverse barely-ironic joy in calling “the hottest club on planet earth.”
“Shit-show” is a little uncharitable, but when I arrived at Le Baron, the line did stretch a good three blocks. Indeed, much of Le Baron’s advance press has been simply about waiting to get into Le Baron, presumably because that accounts for a good chunk of most people’s evening when they go there (sometimes, as in The Observer‘s Foster Kamer’s case, only to be turned away at the door by “A French asshole in a bunny suit.”). But then, perhaps those other people weren’t lucky enough to have someone like Fabien on their side. When he poked his head out to let me in last night, he was assaulted by a chorus of desperate people calling his name, hoping to catch his eye and get ushered inside. “These people have been waiting all afternoon,” one bouncer said to him, gesturing to a gaggle of hopefuls obviously ecstatic to have their case made. Fabien smiled and shrugged took me inside.
Not to pile on, but Le Baron is indeed an amazing club. Ornate Chinese lanterns glow over deep red walls, embossed with dark outlines of nude women in various impossible and uncomfortable positions. It is small (intimate, I suppose, would be the word), but the sound was rich and full throughout the labyrinthine multi-level club (I counted three levels, but I’m not confident there weren’t other, high-roller-only levels I missed).
When Little Dragon took the stage, impressively punctual at almost exactly 8 p.m., everything changed. They’re a party band, at bottom, making sprawling and repetitive beat-heavy soundscapes, with all the requisite drops and buildup-to-drops you’d expect. They ran through cuts from their three album in a blur of continuous tambourine clangs and bass thumps—a cover of Eurhythmics’ “Here Comes The Rain Again” was a particular highlight. The crowd fell under their spell, and it was a real party, with dancing, pretty girls having fistfights, and everyone thinking nothing of grabbing glass after glass of champagne (at $20 a pop). At least, that’s how it was on my particular patch of ground, a landing on a stairway a few of us were jealously guarding. When I looked down at the main floor, it seemed less demonstratively festive, as the crowd was literally packed too tight to move. Singer Yukimi Nagano noticed, too, and at one point said with some concern, “Do you have room to dance?” They didn’t, of course. But what did they care? They were in at an immaculately curated concert series, with an immaculately curated crowd, all inside the hottest club on planet earth.
Critical Bias: I love feeling included.
Overheard: “Wait, what floor are you on? I’m on the, I dunno, wait, I don’t know where I am.”
Random Notebook Dump: Little Dragon’s electronic drum pad looked exactly like a makeup kit, with orderly squares of different sizes in different muted shades of blue and tan.