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Sunday School For Degenerates @ Pawn Shop, Miami
by translucent: 03-26-2006

At about 9am Sunday, I received a text about a party I "shouldn't miss" at Pawn Shop, downtown. Here we go again. Supposedly, M.A.N.D.Y. tearing it up. I was actually horizontal for once. Having just gotten back from another party, I finally laid down on my relatively unused hotel bed. I can’t say I felt like getting up any time soon. Quite honestly, I’d had enough of the conference. Same shit every year swirling down a slow spiral to Suckyiness. Don’t get me wrong, I had fun thus far but not the sort of fun I could have had elsewhere. Considering the anal rape that was last year’s WMC, I looked forward to not throwing a party this year and just catching up with old friends in Miami. I didn’t feel like spending the conference chafing my knees at Space either. I kept to the small parties and laid low.

Another text message. Apparently, I must come to Pawn Shop. Being the jaded old fart that I am, it always tends to ring hollow when I hear the words “best party I’ve ever been to, you must come” or something to that effect. If I had a nickel for every time I heard some kid who just discovered Tiesto and glowsticks yell that in my ear, I’d have enough nickels to put in my sock and beat him to death with it. However, the texts kept coming from people whom I trust not to say things like that because they’ve been around long enough to know. Maybe this shindig was worth checking out. What the hell, the rest of the conference had been completely forgettable. Might as well as give it one more shot before flying out Monday. I found my shoes and hailed a cab.

I heard about Pawn Shop and the little bash the Robots guys had there last year. Saw the pics. Quite honestly, it didn’t look like much. Like a bunch of old couches outside and the usual suspects draped over them. There wasn’t anything that made me feel like I’d have been missing out if I never left my bed. As the cab pulled up to the building, an amusing realization dawned on me. Last month when I was in town and driving around looking for the Design District, I drove right by the building thinking it was a real pawn shop. It was closed. I made a mental note to come back some time when it was open. They probably had a bunch of cool shit in there.

terraceTurned out Morgan was working the door (she rocks by the way, in case you guys didn’t get the memo). Poor girl was on her feet since God knows when. We said our hello’s and I went inside the building. Since I was wearing my obligatory Miami aviator shades and it was dark inside, I didn’t pay much attention to the interior and headed straight for the only source of light, the doorway out to the courtyard (which from hereon in will be referred to as the terrace. Any outside area of a club which happens to have a DJ booth is always called a terrace).

I couldn’t believe my eyes. The terrace was just like a bigger DC10, except with couches and more space to move around. The place was full of veterans. I’m talking about industry people and seasoned clubbers. People who have been around long enough to know how to party right. There were no idiots puking in the corner. No meatheads having a flex off as they try to make eye contact with anything that moves. No cracked out amateurs falling over themselves. Just people there to have a good time and listen to good music without encroaching upon anyone else’s efforts to do the same.

The sun was shining and everyone was bopping around to some of the most twisted tech ever heard on these shores. As luck would have it, just about every major techno DJ that I haven’t had a chance to see live yet was spinning at this party. I especially wanted to catch M.A.N.D.Y. and Luciano. Everyone else was icing on the cake. I wasn’t disappointed by those guys. They threw down some of the most insane tweaked out shit I’d heard in a while. I’d been on the housey side of things for a while now. It was good to get back to the basics. As I made my way through the crowd and found the rest of the Crackhead All-Stars, I noticed something really wacky. There was an RV parked along one of the walls on the terrace. Yes, a mobile home. There was fake turf laid out in front of it and some chairs. It was like a white trash cookout in the middle of a club. Apparently, it was open to the public. Awesome!

I made my way to the RV and peeked inside. Low and behold, it was full of degenerates we know. James and Gaby (Astro & Glyde) were driving the bus backwards to Mexico. Good thing the RV didn’t have a working engine. We would have been fucked. This thing was unbelievable. It was fully furnished with couches a fridge and a stove. First thing I looked for was a microwave. No luck. We piled in and took this thing over. The music could be heard relatively clearly through the thin walls and the big glass window in the back facing the booth. As the chumps outside burned in the merciless Miami sun, we made ourselves at home.

got a ticket?Every now and then, some hapless reveler would stumble to the door and beg to be let into what they thought was a VIP section to cool down. Eventually, our altruism wore thin and we started fucking with people. We are, of course from New York. It’s what we do. James thought it would be funny if we asked the next people who showed up at the door if they had tickets for the bus. Just then, Dirty Dave and Eugene happened to stumble in. James asked them for tickets. Without even hesitating, they both reached into their pockets and whipped out yellow tickets. WTF!! There was a momentary pause where everyone was all confused…Dave and Eugene because they were just asked for tickets to board an RV inside a club and James and the rest of us cause out ploy to fuck with people was foiled by two guys who actually had tickets. Who the fuck carries around a bunch of tickets!

As the day progressed, the RV was going off the side of a figurative cliff. More and more of our crew showed up in all sorts of mental disrepair. Loco Dice wasn’t helping things either. We were losing our minds inside an RV watching a bunch of people lose their minds outside through the rear window. Luciano took over again and I figured I might as well as leave the safety of the RV for a little sunlight. Since I usually tend to come back home as pale as the day I left, I needed to capitalize on any opportunity to catch some rays. I grabbed a seat on one of the chairs on the fake turf outside the RV. As I was looking around, I caught myself thinking that maybe being white trash isn’t so bad. Here I was, outside my trailer home, listening to music I like surrounded by my friends, drinking cheap beer. Life was good. I was trailer trash for a day. I then remembered how there was actually a tornado in the Miami area a few days ago. Maybe this trailer home wasn’t so safe after all.

I got up and went for a walk through the crowd. The vibe was unbelievable. It was as if I was magically teleported to a Circo Loco party. Pawn Shop’s terrace was so reminiscent of DC10 that the only thing that was missing was an occasional low-flying airplane zooming by overhead. A few minutes later, an airplane flew by. I couldn’t believe it. This was as good as it gets here in the States. In fact, I think this might have been as good as it gets anywhere. Granted, some people might prefer glitzy, over the top venues with more plaster and silicone than the entirety of Los Angeles. Some people can only appreciate music that sounds like a latter day Beethoven playing a gay bathhouse. I like the basics. I need very little.  I derive my funk from well placed bleeps and bloops with just enough twisted bass to grab you by the spine and shake you up and down till your feet start moving. I don’t care where I hear that type of music. Hearing it under the open sky is a huge bonus. All I need is elbow room and a good sound system. Fuck the accoutrements.

Just when I thought this party couldn’t get any better, none other than Richie Hawtin waltzed up to the booth. By now, it was the middle of the afternoon and everyone was still going crazy. Like myself, I’m sure most people there haven’t slept for quite a while either. Great thing about sleep deprivation is that the ensuing delirium saves people money on drugs. Party on Garth! Party on Wayne! Richie was ready to party as well. Considering what he had been through over the last few days (I’m sure you guys will read about it somewhere), I couldn’t believe he was still functioning. The man is a machine. He casually hopped on the decks and cranked the knob to eleven.

white trash for a dayI made my way to the RV and started calling anyone I knew who wasn’t there for this. I was telling everyone to drop whatever they’re doing and get into a cab. The Degenerates party was not only the best party of the conference...EVER, but perhaps the best party I’d ever been to in years of clubbing all around the world. Better than any party from Berlin to Ibiza. No one picking up the phone seemed too enthused. “Best party you’ve ever been to? Sure, ok…I think I’m gonna go hit the beach, have fun!” It then occurred to me that I became That Guy. It was pointless. There was no way to explain this party to anyone who wasn’t there. Sure, it sounded cool. Sure, bunch of great DJs and a great vibe. How many times have we all heard that before. I gave up. More elbow room for me.

Fortunately for them, some people whom I called did eventually show up. They agreed. Best party they’d ever been to. The music was insane. While playing a bunch of old favorites, Hawtin was also pulling tracks out of his ass that were simply mind-blowing. He was shitting tomorrow’s techno anthems. By now, it was clear that this was a party that people would remember years from now when they’re wasting away at some retirement home and can barely remember the names of their grandkids. I suddenly understood grandma. This was our Sinatra.

There was a veritable who’s who of the techno world hanging in and around the booth. It was easier to list who wasn’t there than who was. I was starting to lose track of who had a chance to throw down. As Mr C took over the decks I decided to venture outside and catch some more sun. Taking one good look at al the scorched people outside, I decided to make my way back to the shade. By then, Igor apparently resumed fucking around with the tourists boarding the RV. He had one guy convinced that he drove the RV all the way from NYC and happened to have broken down right there on the terrace. He woke up the next day, and the next thing he knew, there was a party all around him. Priceless. This place was definitely full of degenerates.

“Sunday School For Degenerates” was, in fact, a brilliantly apt name. Not just because of the degenerates. That’s to be expected. Quite honestly, this party really was a school of sorts. This was the standard. This was how it’s done. From the music to the patrons to the way the party was run and organized, this was a lesson in how to do things. I wish all those amateurs getting fleeced at Space a few blocks away had a chance to experience this. The main reason why clubbing in the US pales by comparison to Europe is because people here simply don’t know any better. Their expectations remain low because most of them never travel abroad. They think that shelling out for a $300 bottle at McClubbar while getting bumped around by meatheads is as good as it gets. They think that listening to the same overplayed and overpaid DJs is somehow better than listening to Brittney Spears. I wish just once some of these people would get a chance to learn how it’s done, to experience this party…although not all at once. I wouldn’t have wanted a sea of chumps invading Pawn Shop that afternoon and ruining a perfect moment. Of course if they did, I’d have retreated to my RV and not allowed anyone else to board unless they had a ticket.

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