Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dancing to Music Only We Can Hear

The title of this post is not a metaphor. It's how I spent roughly six hours of my night last night. Normally I try to upload a picture with my blog post. But a picture really doesn't capture this one. So for the first time on any of my blogs, you get video. 
After a tip from one of my best friends in the city, leading to this website, I headed out north of Prospect Park in Brooklyn in a set of quiet and dark streets. I buzzed a unit in a spray-painted building and was let into a massive loft that looked like a scene out of Rent.

Inside were about thirty people (the number about doubled in half an hour) lining up, hanging out, and signing paperwork for special sets of headphones. They were wireless, connected to two channels, only identified by the lights on the front, either green or blue.

I sat down on a couch and talked to a minor YouTube celebrity I'd never heard of before, and at one point looked around and asked him how he'd classify the crowd.

He paused and said "I think if we decided we weren't going to do this and said we're going to play Dungeons and Dragons instead, we'd get a lot of people who'd be cool with that."

Nerd, then. I saw it. But honestly the first label that came to mind for the crowd we'd gathered was "Cyber-Hippies." We saw a little body paint, a rainbow of hair colors, battery powered Christmas lights wrapped around legs, a hooded ankle-length faux fur jacket, and I don't even remember what else. One very proud girl and her boyfriend were showing off her recently pierced nipples to pretty much anyone who they could bring the topic up with. Whatever the mainstream was, it was staying out of the room.

After a minute, a signal went around, and we all put on our headphones and switched to the blue channel. Over a nice beat (broadcasting from a portable transmitter on the person of a tall mustached man in a blue jumpsuit) one of the leaders spoke into a cordless mic to explain how the night was going to work. He showed us how to use the headsets, switch between green and blue channels (which would each have a different track of dance music playing). And then he told us our destination.

And that was how about seventy people, most of whom looked like they'd just stepped off a bus from Burning Man (how half the crowd knew each other), got onto a Queens-bound A train to Far Rockaway Beach, dancing like nutcases to music only we could hear.

I think the video explains what happens next pretty nicely. The most fun was watching people at first who were completely mystified by what was going on. Then one of us would lend them a pair of headphones for a couple minutes, and this huge smile would spread across their face and they'd start rocking out.

Two or three hours between subways out to the skinny spit on the water called Rockaway, an hour or so in a startled but pleased dive bar, two or three hours back into Brooklyn. Dancing all the way.

I think I was in bed by 5:30am. I think. Just in time to ring in St. Patrick's day in New York.

Sleep might become a problem.

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