jeudi, janvier 18, 2007

Greg's D-Day Bash

That's right, it's departure-day for Greg. Actually, tomorrow is the day that he departs, but tonight was the time for celebration and tearful goodbyes. To begin with, Greg organized a dinner for a bunch of us at Le Chateaubriand. Like Unico last week, this restaurant has received recognition on LeFooding, tied with another restaurant for best restaurant (within LeFooding's purview of affordable, tasty and friendly restos).

The food was great (I had crispy scallops with hearts of palm, and baba au rhum with gellied aloe vera for dessert), and the portions were quite right for the night of clubbing that was to follow. The only hiccup was the server, who was trying a bit too hard to be "charming" by being silly and/or sassy. To a table of largely non-francophones, a lot of the wit fell flat, and even the francophones at the table weren't entirely buying his shtick. Part of what made it awkward was that the kind of humor he was trying to perform involved a lot of intense stares (which are particularly charged in France) and appearing rather serious. Anyway, it seemed to work pretty well with his other tables, who all seemed to be regulars that he knew.

After a lovely meal (at which I met several of Greg's friends, whom I look forward to exploiting--erm, consulting), we made our moves. Most of the group dispersed home, alleging responsibilities like jobs and families and such. Feh. One among them decided to stick it out with us until we returned to Greg's placed and helped him finish his store of liquors (mostly Calvados). Good times were had.

By the time we were heading to the club, there were only two: Greg and yours truly. We were heading to Pulp, which describes itself as "a club for girls where boys also like to come" (the double-entendre translates, too). On most nights, Pulp is a lesbian club (note, NOT a bar, which contrasts with the patterns of N. American lesbian nightlife), with primarily lesbian crowds on Fridays and Saturdays, but Thursdays are mixed (both gender and sexuality). Also, Thursdays are no-cover and often host a series of great techno DJs. The result is that they are always packed on Thursdays. Anyways, although this evening out wasn't as research-y as I normally do, here's my usual party review/analysis:

3SOME night @ Pulp

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0h00-2h00: Martin Scharrenbroich

As we arrived to the club, there was a substantial line out front. As the line crossed the sidewalk and curved away from us, we cut across the line to get to the end. As we crossed the line next to a pair of young guys, I heard one of them mutter something that didn't register right away. Once I got to the back of the line, I realized that he had been muttering in my ear "Reste!" which means "Stay!" Essentially, he had been inviting us (although he was speaking in the singular...hmm..) to cut in line with them. Dang! Thankfully, the line moved quickly. Also, we rationalized the missed opportunity to hang out with these guys (who were no longer making eye contact with me) as a good thing for two reasons: 1) Greg had a plane to catch the next day, so now was not a good time to have a negative balance on your karmic credit card; 2) accepting the offer might've implied compensation of the sexual sort in the future, which neither of us found appetizing (hey, just 'cause I'm gay doesn't mean I'll sleep with anything with the right genital configuration).

By the time we got in the club, it was just about 2am, so we only caught the end of this set. Also, we spent a bit of time digging through the crowd to get to the washrooms, which were all the way at the other end. While we were in there, I ran into N. again (previously here and here). When the guard watching the bathrooms saw us kissing (the "hey buddy!" peck on each cheek), he mistook it for something a bit more saucy and yelled at us. We scooted back out onto the dancefloor and I made the proper introductions (as well as giving N. my email, finally). Anyway, this is a long way of saying that I didn't pay much attention to this set until it was nearly over, so I can only generally describe it as electro-y.

2h00-3h00: Gui Boratto

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So, Greg and I had come here thinking that Chloé was spinning that night, but apparently not. Nonetheless, there was this Brazilian guy who was apparently releasing on Kompakt records (a shuffle-house/minimal label out of Cologne, Germany). He did a "live" set that was both live and vinyl-ish. He had a laptop (Mac) hooked up to an M-Audio external audio box, which was in turn connected to MIDI-controller/mixer and a MIDI-controller/FX box. All of this he had connected to a running version of Ableton Live, with the controllers allowing him to control the mixers and the effects in his send channel as if they were solid gear rather than parts of a software program. Anyway, aside from the name of the program, this looked a lot like a "live" set. However, his technique was much more like a vinyl set with a few additions. He kept the banks for channels 1 and 2 in Ableton Live filled with lengthy clips that were in fact entire tracks. He would mix between these two channels as if they were coming from two turntables (i.e., back and forth, linking the end of one track to the beginning of the next one). The rest of the channels had a scattering of clips that were usually no more than one bar (4 beats) long; he would often bring in one or two of these clips, repeating constantly, over the transitions between tracks, to provide some more connective material and smooth over the mixing. Other than that, he also made pretty heavy use of a Send channel that seemed to have a reverb effect on it. In many ways, this set up was a sort-of software version of Richie Hawtin's Decks, FX and 909 setup.

Regardless of the setup, the set itself was pretty good. It was mostly techno, ranging from minimal to noisy, with the occasional moment of tech-house. Towards the end, he did drop a couple of tracks that were a bit more electro, in the sense that they tended to make use of vocals and song structures, as well distorted sounds that referenced rock aesthetics. Greg and I spent most of our time near the front, pinned to a set of guardrails, trying to dance among a packed crowd.

3h00-6h00: Jennifer Cardini

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At this point I still thought that Chloé might be spinning, so I stuck out the rest of the night, even though I wasn't thrilled with this set. Greg had left right after Gui Boratto's set, so I was left to my own devices. Cardini's set was more generally electro, often alternating between the more orthodox "electroclash" tracks (step 1: take song from the 80s; step 2: add the sound of antiquated/distorted electronics; step 3: add 4/4 beat) and minimal techno tracks (many of which I heard when Magda was in town). Anyway, being a bit bored of the music allowed me to circulate around the club and check things out. It's a shame that Pulp will be closing in March (after 10 years of being open), since this place is just the right size to foster an "intimate" crowd. 100-150 people seems to fill the place out entirely, and there was a general sense of "woo! party time!" running through the crowd all night. Interestingly enough, there was this one rather drunk guy (with a buddy that was similarly drunk, but less rowdy) who spent a few minutes yelling loudly and jumping around, trying to get everyone else to follow along. At one point, everybody ignored him and seemed to think of him as an obnoxious boor (especially when he would approach girls while screaming "YEAH!! WOOO!!!"), but 20 minutes later he managed to get about 15 people around him to join him in his exuberance. I'll admit that it was still annoying (to me), but I was interested that his gestures were ignored/rebuffed at one moment, and contagious a bit later.

Also, another guy made eye contact with me, then came over and grabbed my hand. Leaning in, he said "Isn't this music fantastic?" To which I replied, "Well, I sorta preferred the guy that was on before." "Oh, excuse me. I LOVE this." This exchange might seem a bit fresh in English, but in French (and in a French context) this was actually a very friendly conversation. He offered me a sip of his drink (I'm happy to report there were no roofies), and then wandered off with his buddies. I didn't gather that he was probably on E until I saw him as I was leaving. I grabbed his shoulder to say goodbye and thank him again for offering me his drink, and he became very affectionate (in that distracted way that people high on E can be) while chatting to me: "You're leaving?...Well, did you have a good time?...Heading straight to bed, or heading elsewhere?...Oh, well, I'm glad you had a good time...It really does me a lot of good, you know, going out and all....So my name is [Y.]...I know we don't know each other well, but I wish you all the best tonight and in whatever you do...Get home safe and sleep well!...It was a real was your name again?" There's probably an entire dissertation chapter buried in there.

I left the bar at 5h30, certain that Chloé was not going to come on, and then caught the first métro back to my place. With little fanfare, I stripped off my party-stanked clothes and fell into bed.

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