Fuck Berlin. New York is back! A few years ago, the EDM scene around here was going out with a whimper. Venues were closing left and right. The dance floors were shrinking by an encroaching sea of tables as bottle service became the end-all. Hell, it seemed as if eventually, even the DJ booths would be replaced with bottle service booths and we’d all be listening to DJ CD Changer. Meanwhile, Berlin had steadily moved to the forefront of EDM in terms of both, creativity and events. It used to be that unless you DJ’ed in NYC, you weren’t shit. With the disintegration of the NYC scene and the innovation coming from Europe, one could become a superstar DJ without ever bothering to spin here. With the added hassle of our visa policy post 9/11, more and more international DJs flat out chose not to bother with NYC. That void was being filled by throngs of amateurs jumping into the fray. Suddenly, everyone in town was a DJ. New York’s once vibrant club scene was reduced to a bunch of hacks in every corner lounge, spinning the same “Top 10” tracks they got from Beatport.
Le Souk’s 5 Year Anniversary party was a resounding exclamation mark proving that New York’s EDM scene was back with a vengeance. Over the last two years, the City’s club scene underwent a renaissance. With the current mayor’s stance on nightlife being much more liberal than of his draconian predecessor Rudy Giuliani, patrons were no longer all viewed as potential criminals and industry people were no longer treated like potential drug dealers. The gloom slowly started to lift as new venues like Pacha opened up and mainstays like Sullivan Room no longer had to struggle to get people through the door. More and more international DJs started coming back. The events got better and better until one would hear less and less people complain about how we were lagging behind Europe. If there was ever any doubt that things had turned around dramatically around here, Le Souk decided to celebrate half a decade without getting permanently shut down by having Sasha spin on a boat party for about 500 fans...for free. You don’t get any more prime time than that!
This was easily one of the most memorable events in NYC in quite a long while, not just because of the lineup but also because the patrons were encouraged to dress up as pirates. Since the official boarding time for the Queen of Hearts, a paddleboat was at 3pm, one can easily imagine what it must have looked like to pedestrians as throngs of pirates descended on Pier 40 on the Hudson from all directions. Of course this being New York, people have seen stranger things. Patrons went to various degrees of effort to dress up. Some guys went to great lengths to imitate Jack Sparrow while others figured just wearing a rag on their heads was close enough. Most girls dressed up as some sort of cross between hippies and slutty pirates, as any opportunity to dress up in costume usually results in giving girls as an excuse to dress up as a slutty something or other. Rather than dress like everyone else (well, not the slutty girl hippie-pirates), I decided for a bit of originality. Besides, I only decided to go at the last minute and didn’t really have time to get a proper pirate outfit. Laziness is the mother of ingenuity. I just showed up in my regular clothes and whenever someone would ask me where my costume was, I’d put on my black, horn-rimmed eyeglasses and tell them I was a SOFTWARE pirate.
For a bunch of pirates, it took many of the patrons quite a while to get their sea legs. Mixing booze, music and waves makes for a precarious situation. I guess it’s ultimately good for the bar, as many people had to constantly get refills after most of their drinks wound up on the dance floor. James and Gaby, the duo known as Astro & Glyde opened up the top deck in proper fashion, spinning infectious beats that kept people spilling their drinks well into the voyage. Meanwhile, a bunch of locals and Le Souk regulars were throwing down on the lower decks. John Dill got the crowd going with his signature funky beats. Kai, who was spinning a going away set (moving to Houston), got everyone jumping around. Lots of old favorites and new twistieness. I’m gonna miss the guy! Somewhere between Lance Jordan and the Scumfrog, who was going for the Tommy Lee look, dinner was served. Yes, this ship had a galley and a bunch of us pirates scarfed down ribs, BBQ chicken and sausages (insert your own gay pirate joke here) while listening to some quality music. Nothing gets the crowd pumped for Sasha like BBQ chicken.
After dinner and after excellent sets from James and Gaby, hairless Sasha took over upstairs. The place went nuts, which what pretty nutty to begin with, as everyone was dressed like a drunken pirate. The booth was set up at the front of the ship, with a panoramic window spanning the width of the deck. Watching the setting sun color the George Washington Bridge passing overhead behind Sasha was one of those things you remember forever, assuming we don’t all wind up with Alzheimer’s from all pills we’ve popped over the years. To use a word I wouldn’t use outside of a Tiesto show, as if I’d actually go to one, it was epic. While Sasha’s set wasn’t exactly mind-blowing, he kept the energy going through the end of his set and was the happiest and most animated I’d seen him in years. He chose plenty of happy, bouncy, funky tracks that kept hands in the air and asses shaking.
Before we knew it, it was near 10pm and the boat was docking. Amazingly, no one puked or drowned throughout the voyage. I actually had more booze in me than on me. It was a good night. Of course, the night wasn’t over yet. The Le Souk Sunday Sessions 5 Year Anniversary bash carried over to…surprise, surprise, Le Souk. This is where things get dangerous, at least for those of us with day jobs. Le Souk, a Middle Eastern-themed lounge, had been home to NYC’s best kept “secret,” a Sunday party comprised of some of the best local and international talent, enjoyed by a crowd of industry people and those “in the know.” This is the place to come and let your hair down, unless you’re hairless Sasha. While the crowd is generally comprised of the beautiful people and the tragically hip, everyone leaves their attitudes at the door and just has a good time getting goofy on the dance floor. While the afterparty at Le Souk was nowhere near as memorable as the boat party, it was exactly what proved that NYC is back. When an event this good is a such a regular thing in NYC that this weekend at Le Souk didn’t stand out from most of the others, you know NYC is the place to be again. Berlin can go fuck itself.
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