samedi, octobre 14, 2006

Expensive Times at the Rex

After getting home at 8h00 last night, you can imagine that I pretty much collapsed into bed, with the intention of sleeping well into the afternoon. Alas, it was not to be. At around noon, I heard a knocking at my door. One of the networks is down. Some of the students have a paper due Sunday morning, so I had told the students to knock on my door as soon as any of the networks went down. Making a mental note to take a nap later (never happened), I threw on some clothes and started working on one network. Shortly thereafter, I got an email from one of the students telling me that another network was down. While I re-set the first network and left it to re-sync to the ADSL server (for some reason, this takes FOREVER for one of the networks), I headed off to fix the other one. This one could sync to the ADSL service, but just couldn't make a connection to the internet. I forced it to cycle through log-on/log-off procedures for a while, and eventually something took. About an hour later, the first network finally sync-ed and everything came together.

I braced myself for a day of network failures, but nothing ever came of it. I suddenly realized that I had nothing dinner-worthy in my fridge or pantry, so I headed off to the grocery store. I was still in a slightly dazed, morning-after state, so I took my time and slowly perused the shelves. I eventually headed home with a large collection of foodstuffs, including a fresh whiting fish. I like how they sell the whole fish completely untouched, and then clean out the organs and snip the fins at the moment that you buy it. The fish certainly looked fresh, and it tasted pretty darn fresh later that night.

I was curious to see if I could use the steamer setting on the pressure cooker to steam some rice and some fish together, so I got the steamer basket and took a look. The holes in the bottom were just too large for the small-grain rice that I had on hand, so I fished out a rice pancake (those things you use to wrap cold vietnamese spring rolls) and placed it on the bottom of the basket. It fit perfectly! I punctured a few holes through the rice pancake for the steam, and then I laid a thin bed of risotto rice. I thought the rice would take long to steam, so my idea was to bring the steamer up to pressure, then open it up, then put the fish in and bring the steamer back up to pressure. The whiting was small enough that it should be well-cooked by the time the cooker got up to pressure. In the end, the rice cooked very quickly, so I should've but the rice and the fish together at the same time. Also, the rice pancake sort of dissolved in the process, which meant that I had an over-sticky bed of rice for my fish. I put some of that minty olive-oil that I had bought yesterday over the rice to lube it up a bit (haha, lube!). The fish was perfect. Although the skin had burst in a few places, the flesh was thoroughly cooked but still very tender and juicy. All in all, a great meal. My only complaint was that the whiting had very fine bones, so I spent a lot of time picking out little bones from my teeth. Feh.

I spent a few hours in the evening preparing for my next night out. You see, Luciano was playing at the Rex, so this seemed like as good a time as any to check the place out. Luciano tends to spin minimal techno and tech-house, and I've only had a couple of opportunities to see him spin. The Rex is a legendary club in Paris that saw the rise of several important French DJs and producers, including most notably Laurent Garnier. Aside from the historical details, I've also heard that the club has a great sound system, so I was anxious to check it out.

The party started at midnight, which meant I shouldn't be getting there until 2h00 roughly. However, the métro trains stop running around 1am, and I didn't want to be stuck paying for a taxi or taking the night bus into town. So, off I went at about half past midnight. When I switched to the 8 line to head towards the Bonne Nouvelle stop (where the club was), I got on the train and headed towards a bunch of empty seats at the end of the car. When I got there, I realized why they were empty. An hours-old, half-dried splotch of vomit coated the rear wall and part of the floor between these seats. In retrospect, I should've taken that as a sign.

00h00-03h00? : D'JULZ

I got in line and heard from Greg that he was running late. It wasn't yet 01h00 and there was almost no line, so I just sauntered off and took a walk along a block or two. If the line stays this short (indicating few people inside), I might just hit a nearby café/brasserie for a (most likely cheaper) beer before heading into the club. When I returned from my walk, the line was suddently longer. It wasn't insanely long, but it was now a proper "this club is busy" line. Forget the drinks, I needed to get in line.

The line moved faster that I had expected, and it looked like I was going to be well inside the club before Greg arrived. Either way, I was too far forward in line to let him jump in with me without eliciting comment. So I dropped out of line, took another walk, and then got back in line. Waiting is fun! Thankfully, Greg eventually showed up and nobody got pissed (at least audibly) when he joined me in line. I wasn't sure what the "line etiquette" was here in France, since I hadn't paid much attention during the last few outings I had made. I tried my best to observe the norms while I was waiting for Greg, but no good examples came up. I made a mental note to be more cognizant of the etiquette/rituals of before and after the event.

We eventually got inside, although not before being subjected to a bit of arbitrary "you, wait wait over there." Also, Greg got a playful ribbing (figuratively speaking) from the bouncer for his rather light attire. It was pretty cool that night and Greg was wearing a woven shirt-undershirt combo unbuttoned rather low. Most Parisians were wearing layers, so Greg and I stood out as "hardy northern folk" in an amusing way.

The club inside was already *packed*. The club had surprisingly low ceilings, was pretty wide and very long. While still not the size of, say, Crobar in Chicago or Guverment in Toronto, it was big by Parisian standards. It was also EXPENSIVE. I mean, I've paid 4.50€ for reasonable beer at Nouveau Casino and Batofar and felt pretty vexed, but a 1/2-pint of crappy Kronenberg beer cost me 6€!! That's almost $8 USD! For half a pint!! Of crap!!! The mixed drinks started at 10€ and went waaaaay up. I gritted my teeth and bought a beer, but Greg had thought ahead and gotten rather buzzed before arriving. After that, I think we each got one water, and that was it.

D'JULZ's set was a pretty straightforward mix of techno and tech-house, but I wasn't paying much attention, since I was busy trying to find put down my bag and dance. After a while, we ended up near the front of the room, which left us in a good spot to see the room and be in the thick of things, but also meant that we had to maneouver between a crush of people, a speaker stack, and a !@#$ing smoke machine.

The sound was indeed very good, although perhaps not as mind-blowing as had been suggested by some reports. It was clean, no audible distortion, powerful bass and some sort of dynamic compression or EQ shaping on the high-end to keep it from ever getting painful. On the other hand, it was never the kind of wall-of-clean-but-gut-rumbling-sound that I heard with Turbosound systems in Toronto.

03h00-? : Luciano

When Luciano came on, I was totally in love with his trashy 70's Italian porno look. He had a black muscle-t (on a skinny frame), black hair down to his shoulders, a total pornostache and this hilarious string of mardi-gras beads slung over one shoulder and across his chest. It was just too good. I took out my camera, and a security guard who was passing by tapped me on the shoulder and shook his finger at me. Apparently, photos are not allowed. However, this was too good to pass up, so I waited a few minutes, and then tried to take a shot from the crush of people at the front. The result was grainy and dark, but you can sort of make it out. Click on the image for the full-sized version.

While Greg was in the washroom, I noticed that Luciano a popular track, one that I couldn't place, but had heard almost every time I've been out in Paris. What was unusual was that the crowd was booing. Then I realized that something was missing: the bass. At this point in the track, there should be a booming kick drum pounding through the room. Instead, there was just the wash of upper-register synth pads and articulating percussion. Without warning, the bass came back, and the crowd cheered, many of them lifting their hands over their head and/or pumping their fists. Everybody danced with renewed vigor. And then, after only one or two groups of 4 beats (i.e., 1 or 2 bars), the bass disappeared again. The crowd began to boo and whistle and heckle. A couple of bars later, halfway through a group of 4, he drops the bass back in.

By the time Greg got back, Luciano had stopped taunting the crowd by erratically dropping and witholding the beat, but Greg quickly picked up on a similar anomaly at a broader level. He noticed that Luciano switched between high and low intensity very often, rather abruptly, and not at the expected moments (i.e., structural downbeats). This was an ongoing technique for Luciano: sudden highs and lows, frequently breaking groups of 16 beats (4 bars, the most common length of a 'significant' chunk of music and therefore the point at which changes in texture are expected). While this could be praised for "fighting against convention" or "doing your own thing," I found it hard to shape my dancing to it, and that became annoying. All I could do was move from beat to beat, but I couldn't match his shifts in intensity with analogous dance moves. I've argued elsewhere (not published, but maybe sometime soon) that dancing helps those of us who listen to Electronic Dance Music to process what we're hearing; we don't just mirror what we hear, but use our body as a way of better understanding it, as well. So, I found that Luciano's procedures constantly foiled my body, preventing it from helping me understand where he was going and what he was doing.

Of course, I still had a great time, and Greg and I danced for hours. Greg hit the showers (so to speak) around 05h00, and I eventually left around 06h00. Luciano was still playing, but I was TIRED. Also, the students had that paper due at 10h00, and I wanted to at least be in my room a few hours before the deadline, in case there was a network outage.

As I made to leave the club, I picked up my bag and noticed the unmistakeable scent of bile. Oh fuck. Somehow, I had managed to put my bag down in a puddle of vomit. Obviously it had been an empty stomach (i.e., someone drank too much), because I was spared the sight of half-digested food. On the other hand, the shoulder strap of my bag smelled strongly of puke and it looked like the bottom of my bag had been soaking in it for hours. Gritting my teeth (I did a lot of gritting of teeth that night), I shouldered my bag and headed out. I rode the métro home, trying to avoid standing too close to other people and trying to block out the smell of someone else's vomit.

As I left my métro station at Porte des Lilas, I noticed that my boulangerie was open...but I had a bag that smelled of puke, and there's a good chance that some of that got on my hands. Ain't no way I'm buying bread in this condition. I sauntered home, immediately threw my clothes into a decontamination pile in the middle of my room, washed my hands several times, and started to work on my bag. Mercifully, nothing inside had been touched, but the bag needed a complete washing. I emptied it of all its contents, filled the bathroom sink with hot water and laundry detergent, and got washing. At 8am, I left the bag to soap in a fresh batch of soapy water and I finally headed to bed.

1 commentaire:

Hannah a dit…

That Luciano is a dreamboat! hubba, hubba. Hey Luis, how do I add more than one photo to my blog without it popping up next to the first photo at the top?