I had planned to get up relatively early in the morning to head over to the open-air market at Télégraphe (15 mins walk from my place), but I slept in. I had never really gotten the chance to sleep off New Year's, or the subsequent plane ride, or the past few days of student-wrangling. So I didn't hate myself too much for sleeping in. Either way, I got up with enough time to catch the tail-end of the marché. I was sidelined by a student demanding I fix "the internet," but I got that squared away quickly enough. I'm dreading the day when I finally have to just say, "Look, blanket-coverage internet in your home was not part of the package and next to impossible to deliver consistently in Paris." Not to sound like an old man, but I recall a time when a WiFi hotspot--whatever the quality and range--was a great luxury.
Anyway, I made it to Télégraphe just in time to catch the vendors packing up their wares. I bought beautiful dark-green tomatoes, some mesclun mix, and some red onions. The tomatoes were of this dark green variety, which I think I've identified as Black Ethiopian. Maybe I'll post a pic of the remaining tomato tomorrow (I used three of them for dinner tonight), because I didn't realize that dark green qualified as "purple-black" in the tomato-phile world.
So I got home, took care of some blogging, did a bit of reading, and made dinner. I had found plantains the night before at the Indian supermarket, so I decided to make patacones, which are essentially green plantains fried, smashed, and fried again. In fact, here's a quick recipe:
- Slice plantains to about 3 or 4 cm thick.
- Dip in frying oil (if you don't have a deep fryer, a small saucepan with oil on medium-high heat should do it).
- When golden and crispy, remove from oil and drain.
- When all slices have been fried, smash them into flat patties, using the underside of a cutting board or something flat.
- Optionally, prepare a bowl of water with crushed garlic and salt.
- Re-fry the patties until they are crisp again, then drain. WARNING!: If you chose to dip them in garlic water before the second fry, be very careful when you put them in the oil; the water will cause the oil to bubble very high and possibly spit.
- Salt while still hot and serve.
Speaking from experience, you should also open a lot of windows before you try it. The whole process kicks up a lot of oil vapors.
Anyway, after an appetizer of patacones and some salad, I made a second run at the chana masala-like dish I made yesterday, although this time I used chopped tomatoes and onions like you're supposed to, and I added a scotch bonnet pepper (i.e., habañero) and some quinoa for volume.
Eventually, I got myself together and headed out for this thing going on at the Rex. The event was organized by a group called Circus Company Club; their website is still under construction, but I get the impression that they're a group of local Paris DJ's with an interest in what's going on in Berlin (which describes 90% of techno/microhouse promoters here, I think). I noticed that the event was listed on the Rex's website as "minimale" rather than "techno." My guess is that this reflects both a shift in genre labels and a bit of the "lost-in-translation" effect. On the one hand, minimal a.k.a. "minimale" seems to have become a genre of it's own, encapsulating microhouse and minimal techno under one banner, while separating itself from classic/Chicago house, darker Detroit techno, and the more pounding "big room" techno of Swedish techno mafia (Kari Lekebusch, Joel Mull, Aril Brikha, Adam Beyer) and their Italian counterparts (Marco Carola, Gaetano Parisio and others I can't think of). On the other hand, "techno" generally has a different meaning in Europe than it does in North America. Whereas "techno" in North America usually points towards the thread of music that developed in Detroit alongside Chicago house and New York garage, exporting itself out to the UK and Berlin before making a return to Detroit, "techno" in Europe has more often been used as a blanket term for all things electronic, much in the way of "electronica" or "EDM." So, in Europe (Western Europe, at least), techno scans first as a meta-genre and/or "mainstream", and only then to a smaller group as the North American reading of the word. You could thus describe a trance DJ (e.g., Paul Oakenfold) as spinning "techno" in Paris, and only connoisseurs would jump to correct you, while a similar statement in Detroit would get your face broken.
Samim, Audio Werner and Laetitia @ le Rex: Circus Company Club
I got to the club at around 1h00, which is a bit early for clubbing in Paris (as I keep on reminding myself every time that I go out), but getting there early allows me to take the métro from my place, rather than the bus. Either way, there was a middling-sized crowd on the dancefloor and a mercifully-short line for the coat check, so there are some advantages to arriving a bit early.
Laetitia's set worked quite well for an opening set. She was spinning mostly microhouse and slightly downtempo minimal techno, which set the mood for the evening without exhausting the crowd. The sound overall was very microhouse-y in the sense that the focus was on timbral and rhythmic complexity in the upper frequencies, and concise, punchy beats in the lower frequencies. See here for my previous discussion of the difference between microhouse and tech-house/techno, under the heading for Jake Fairley.
2h00-3h30: Samim (live)
Samim's set, on the other hand, was much more techno. It was arguably minimal in the sense of thinner layering, but each layer was pretty thick with sound. The tempo was a little bit faster, the bass was louder and more resonant, the mid-to-low range was kept rather dense, and the treble was spare but occasionally pretty piercing (i.e., a real fondness for distorted feedback whines as articulating elements). Despite the sometimes-excruciating high-end stuff, the set was great. It reminded me a lot of Krikor's set a month ago, although not quite as intense.
I have a tendency to arrive at an event, pick a spot to dance, and then spend the rest of the night fixed to that spot, leaving only occasionally to get water. I suspect this is a remainder from my raving days, when you were going to parties in non-club locations; you were pretty much roughing it in banquet halls, warehouses, even abandoned barns, so there was more of an incentive "camp out" in a particular spot with your friends. Anyway, I was doing my best to move around throughout the night, which was much facilitated by the fact that I couldn't stay in one place for very long. I stood to the left of the dancefloor, at the point where the seating area ends, and found myself constantly jumping from shattering glass as people would pile their empty drinks on the nearest table; I walked up closer to the stage and against the wall, and apparently found the "drug dealers' sweet spot," because I was constantly being propositioned or requested for drugs; I danced in the middle and found myself crushed by a group of tall men on something rather powerful; I walked to the far right and was overcome by the powerful scent of someone who had forgotten to apply deodorant; and so on...
3h30-5h00: Audio Werner
Werner's set started off a bit quiet and definitely minimal, but quickly became one of those sets that is minimal density/variation but maximal volume/intensity. The tracks were mostly techno with the occasional microhouse bit, and even some excursions into something more electro.
During the latter part of his set, I ran into one of the people I had met at my first outing in Paris back in September, N. N was as friendly as before and exceptionally excited to see me; he was even more elated when I remembered his name. Considering that he immediately started to complain about the lack of drugs for purchase, I presumed that he was sober at the moment, which suggested that his enthusiastic friendliness last September wasn't just "the E talking." Anyway, we chatted for a little bit, and then he introduced me to another of his friends, O, who was very nice (and rather cute, I might add). All I got by way of introduction from N was "This is my buddy, O," but O got nearly 30 seconds of something in his ear before he shook my hand. I think I heard the word "Canada," but otherwise not much else. Although N was sober (and trying hard to correct that), O and another of his friends were clearly quite high on something (I'm going to guess coke, just because they didn't have grindy-jaw or jiggly-eyes). But perhaps they were high on their mother's love (see: 80s after-school specials and/or Clone High).
5h00-?: DJ Sety?
I wasn't entirely sure who was spinning at this point, and I couldn't find anyone on the dancefloor who knew, either. I hung around for a little bit longer, then headed over to the coat check. As I arrived, some interesting drama was unfolding. This very small (i.e., shorter than me), slim and otherwise very effete man had flitted past the lineup to collect his jacket. Another guy in line confronts him. The first guy's female friend tries to defend his actions and minimize the damage ("It's not that big a deal, man"). This very short, rather slim and presumably gay man is being surprisingly aggressive about the whole thing. A bouncer materializes and parts the two, telling the second guy (non-tiny, not-so-gay) to chill out and let it be. What's more surprising is that the little guy, after getting his jacket, turns around and attempts to start something with the other guy again. Before he can get three words out, the bouncer reaches between them, grabs the little guy, yells "What's wrong with you? You crazy?", gives him a light slap to the cheek (low pain, high humiliation), and then shoves him aside. Without another word, the little guy departs with his friend in tow.
Once I had my jacket, I headed off to find N, but he was nowhere to be found. I ran into O, passed on my goodbyes to N as well as him, and then headed out the door. The subway wasn't quite open when I got outside (around 5h30), but the gates opened within a few minutes and I was on my way home. As I was making my connection at République, I noticed a young man waiting on the platform next to me, dressed in the French equivalent of "streetwear," a bleach-blond fauxhawk over a base of brown hair, and a large combination of nose-splint and forehead bandaging. This was one of those situations where I was really, really interested in finding out what happened, but well aware that I have no right to ask. His eyes had this mixture of stare and glare that seemed to transmit both vulnerability and hostility.
I made it home in one piece, passing by my boulangerie for some morning bread and a pain au chocolat and then hit the sack.