vendredi, avril 20, 2007

WE: Lee van Dowski, Be My Chose and Art Now

0h00-2h00: Art Now

As I mentioned in my blog post about my daytime activities, I totally overate at dinner, and by the time I was heading out for this party, I was still stuffed full of food and a bit uncomfortable. Clearly, my dancing would be a bit less exuberant tonight.

I arrived on the scene at La Scène Bastille shortly after 1h00, in time to avoid the longer lines that would no doubt develop later in the night. Even before checking my jacket, I had already run into Clothilde and Nathan (of Be My Chose, as well as the instigators of this event), and by the time I had made it to the bar to buy drinks, I had run into Laurent and his label-mate, C. Both of them were apparently having a drinking contest tonight, although it was hard to determine who was winning--or, rather, what constituted "winning." I hung out with them for a while, until I realized that I was "on the job" and should be taking some pictures.

Now, let me say before you read any further, that the lighting that evening seemed deliberately designed to thwart my every attempt at photography. The lighting tended toward dim red underlighting that totally messed with my exposure settings. Perhaps if I had a hot SLR camera and access to the stage, I might've got better pictures, but I worked with what I had. So, when you look at the images below and think, "Jeez, these are underexposed and/or blurry!" just keep in mind that these were the best pictures from a batch of nearly 80 images! There were a lot of completely useless images from this roll.

Anyway, Art Now's set succeeded in doing what it needed to do, which was warm up the crowd for Lee van Dowski. I wasn't totally thrilled with his set, which wandered too far into Trance (as a genre, not as a state of mind) for my tastes and I found to be a bit too noisy. Nonetheless, the room filled up and people kept on dancing, so I can't fault him on his ability to move a crowd. Below the pictures, I've included a video excerpt as well, which should give you an idea of what he was spinning.

During his set, I also ran into a co-worker, G., and her boyfriend, F. I had suggested they come out to this party, because G. has been working on setting up a sort of "DJ exchange" between Paris and her hometown of Turin, Italy. They were both in good spirits, and it was kinda fun introducing them to everyone I knew at the party. Once Laurent and C. found us in our corner near the front of the stage, we had a little posse going.

2h00-4h00: Lee van Dowski

Lee van Dowski's set I liked quite a lot. As I mentioned to pretty much anyone who would listen, I loved how the bass was usually full and rounded, the middle frequencies were empty or pretty sparse, and the high frequencies here mostly these rather light, crystalline formations. LvD seems to have a very fine sense of balance, as I found the sound to be neither too heavy nor too light. Despite the fact that I was still really full from "dinner," I was inspired to dance quite a bit during his set.

Something about the backlighting and underlighting during this set made it nearly impossible for me to take a decent photograph. Nonetheless, I've compensated with four video clips! Unfortunately, I was too busy dancing during the best parts of his set to take video, but these clips should give a good idea of what I was enjoying in his set.

4h00-6h00: Be My Chose

Truth be told, there's nothing about Be My Chose that I can say here that hasn't already been said elsewhere in my blog, but I think it bears repeating. They're set was great, although in a different way from Lee van Dowski's set. Whereas LvD stuck almost exclusively to minimal techno, Be My Chose made broader excursions into electro and house. One result of this was that the sound was generally a bit more busy and noisy, and there was more emphasis on middle-range elements.

One person I was speaking with said, "I'm not as fond of this as Lee van Dowski, because I hear artificial elements in the track." At first this surprised me, since a great deal of techno's aesthetic rests on a fascination with sound synthesis and machine-assisted manipulation. What I think he was pointing to was the electro elements of Be My Chose's set, which tends to lean toward "glitch" aesthetics: sounds that foreground the sound of digital failures and accidents ("glitches"), such as deliberate digital distortion, stuttering samples, deliberately harsh edits, low sample rates, and heavily applied effects (such as vocoders). For him, interestingly enough, the sounds of LvD's set were "natural" in comparison.

Either way, I certainly enjoyed their set and got quite a lot of dancing done. In addition, I also had a very amusing moment with Laurent and a slightly confused stranger. If you've been reading much of my blog, you've probably come across my observations about physical intimacy norms in France (passim my entire blog, but especially here and here) and how a lot of it goes out the window between male friends at club events like this. In other words, physical intimacy and sexualized play between men in these contexts does not necessarily imply actual sexual relations/interest (nor does it preclude it). Add to this that Laurent and Nathan are both very physically demonstrative and affectionate (as mentioned here). So I'm chatting with Laurent about something, side-by-side with his arm around my neck and my arm around his waist, when a guy comes up to us, asking for drugs or rolling papers or a cigarette (I couldn't quite make it out). Before we could answer, he did a double-take and said in a surprised tone:

Stranger: "Hey, are you two lovers?" (Vous êtes amoureux?)

Laurent: "We're fond of each other." (On s'aime bien.)

Stranger: "Oh, OK."

And that was that. I thought that Laurent's retort made for a very classy sidestep; I like that he didn't really provide an unambiguous answer. It was also cool that the stranger was mildly surprised, but without a hint of scorn. I get the impression that, had one of us answered "Yes," he would've said, "Great! Good for you." Nonetheless, after all of my experiences with male-male intimacy in these spaces, it was funny to have something as platonic as arm-in-arm buddies mistaken for a romantic couple.

Well, I would've like to have stayed for the entire set, but I needed to take my sister to the airport immediately afterwards, so I left at around 5h30 and headed off to pick up Carla.

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