samedi, février 21, 2009

The Four-Night Weekend, Part 3: Epic Night

Woo. This was an epic night. Here’s what my social calendar looked like for today:

  • 17h: meet Bob & Donna for drinks
  • 20h: go to a friend’s place to play poker with some of the UofC doctoral students
  • 23h: go to On Cherche Encore… [LINK] to pay a visit to DJ Aclank, who had a minimal techno event going on (he was at Le Pin Up the night before and invited me to come out).
  • Sometime between this thing and the next: meet up with the guy I met last Thursday for some drinks somewhere
  • 1h: head to Le Java for the 1-year anniversary of the Mona night (the guy who runs it is the new boyfriend of a good friend of mine, so he invited me and put me on the list)
  • 2h: catch Roman Flugel spinning at Social Club (previously, Le Triptyque)
  • 4h: go to Le Glam to catch my buddies HD Project and Timid Boy at a sorta-after-hours event that runs from 4h – 10h.

The schedule was pretty much impossible to keep, but I think I did pretty well for myself. After spending the afternoon sleeping in and then working on blogging and the reading assignment for my English students, I headed out at around 17h00 to begin my long night. Here’s how my 17-hour marathon went down:

18h: drinks with Bob & Donna

Met Bob and Donna and two of their friends for drinks at Café des Anges near Bastille. Conversation was nice and it was cool to finally hang out with them outside of the usual Berlin-nightclub contexts. It was great to get their perspective on the clubbing establishments that I know here in Paris. However, I had forgotten my cell phone at home, which meant that I had to leave early to get the phone and make it over to my friend’s house. Boo!

20h: poker night at friend’s place.

I got to her place a bit late, after biking frantically home and then back over there. I bought two bottles of wine, thinking everyone would share, but everyone brought their own drinks, so I ended up finishing two bottles on my own. Oh, and I had forgotten to eat dinner. So by the time I left here, I could barely form complete sentences. However, I did win the poker game, and left 20€ richer. So there.

0h30: On Cherche Encore… to visit DJs Aclank and PanPan

I can barely remember how I got to On Cherche Encore…, but I know that I was pretty trashed and doing my best to hold myself together. I deliberately took the long route to get to the bar from the subway station, letting the cold air calm me down a bit. I managed to appear sober enough to make it into the bar and say hi to the DJs, where I stupidly ordered a mojito. It was tasty, but it was too close on the heels of all that wine and I began to feel not just drunk but a bit ill.

2h30: Date with hot guy (postponed, replaced with food)

I had exchanged a few messages with the hot guy I had met last Thursday and he was going to come meet me from a house party where he was, so I was hanging back and waiting for him to appear. Since I knew he would call me from the subway station, I took advantage of the moment to head out and get a bit of food in me. I needed a bit of something to absorb all of this liquor, and a kebab seemed like the right idea. I headed down to a kebab joint at the bottom of Faubourg du Temple, where I still managed to order in Turkish, despite my state. Eventually, my date called and put off our meeting until Sunday, which was fine with me; I was feeling a bit too out of it to manage courtship and flirting.

3h00: Mona one-year anniversary party @ La Java

After the kebab, I headed back to say goodbye to the DJs at On Cherche Encore, and then over to Le Java for the Mona night. Getting in on the list was a bit of a hassle and the coat check was a disaster, but the crowd inside was great fun. The music was mostly straight-up house and the crowd was largely middle-aged gay men of the skinny-and-bearded variety. It was pretty hot and sweaty, which gave the basement club a certain rave-party feel. I ran into my friend and his boyfriend, who was running the party that night. We hung out for a bit and shared some champagne, but then the love-struck couple wandered off to make out on the dancefloor. I wasn’t feeling particularly at home in the crowd (this is generally true of gay clubs for me; Berghain is the big exception) and I wanted to check out Le Java before I ran out of energy, so I headed out around 4h30. Considering that I had probably already missed Roman Flugel’s set, I cancelled the trip to Social Club and went straight to Le Glam.

5h00: Le Glam after-hours-ish night w/ HD Project and Timid Boy

I was feeling a bit more clear-headed as I left Le Java, so I decided to take a bike ride over to Le Glam, which was on the other side of the Seine. The ride over really helped, and I arrived at the club feeling pretty much sober. That soberness was slightly dented by the super-stiff vodka-tonic that the bartender served me once inside, but I was nonetheless in pretty good shape for the rest of the evening. The bar was another basement bar, with a nice layout for an after-hours place, with lots of banquette seating around several rooms that were joined by a central bar. I managed to finally catch up with HD Project, who I hadn’t seen in almost 2 years, and Timid Boy, who I hadn’t seen in at least a month. As the night/morning wore on, more people that I knew showed up from other soirées and things got pretty fun. By about 8h00 or so, the bouncers started getting antsy with the drug use going on (it’s an after-hours, after all) and began to hassle people in the toilets and toss people out. I was eventually part of the collateral damage, as a paranoid bouncer decided that I had been going to the washroom too much. Despite my protestations that that was the logical result of drinking alcohol, he wasn’t convinced and told me to get my things and leave. It was already close to the end of the evening anyway, so I asked the bouncer to give me a minute to make my goodbyes, did my rounds, and then headed off. At first I was a bit miffed that all of my friends and acquaintances reacted to the news with, “Oh that’s too bad. Bye!” I kinda expected them to at least make a token effort to help me stay at the club, especially those who were connected to the event, but I had only been one of several people being hassled tonight, so I don’t know how useful that would’ve been, anyway.

vendredi, février 20, 2009

The Four-Night Weekend, Part 2: Chopped Rainbow in Crystal Fold and Le Pin Up

Although I had only been lightly drunk at the height of last night, I realized this morning that I had been mixing my drinks too much. The combination of champagne, white wine, red wine and then mixed drinks gave me a splitting headache this morning.

Nonetheless, I managed to pull myself together, mix some breakfast, and then go about my day. I was a bit of a shut-in during the day, focusing on FINALLY catching up on my blogging from the previous weekend in Berlin. During a break in the intense blogging activity, I made an attempt to duplicate this dish that I’ve had a few times at Toronto-area Chinese restaurants, called “Chopped Rainbow in Crystal Fold.” Fantastic name, eh? The idea behind the dish is that you stir-fry some diced vegetables of bright and contrasting colors, toss in some spices and a bit of soy sauce, and then serve them warm on little wraps made out of lettuce leaves. The contrast of temperatures and texture had always delighted me, but I’ve never been able to find a similar dish in Chinese restaurants elsewhere.

So I improvised tonight with what I had. I chopped up a red onion, some carrots, some turnips, some potatoes, a bright red hot pepper and then sautéed them with a ton of garlic and ginger and a dash of dark soy sauce. Then, I dug out the red cabbage I had in the fridge and did my best to carefully pull out the exterior leaves intact. Although most of the leaves broke as I peeled them back, they were large enough that the fragments were the right size to fit in your hand and be wrapped around the filling. The results were pretty tasty, although the peppery taste of the raw red cabbage got to me after a while. It might be better with Napa cabbage or bok choy, although lettuce is certainly still an option.

Anyway, I headed out that night to Le Pin Up to see Fantômette spin at her monthly “Piscine” night. I had plans of leaving there a bit early and heading over to Djoon to check out Theo Parrish, since I still haven’t been to that club and I haven’t seen Parrish spin in years. Also, Bob (of Bob&Donna at PanoramaBar fame, see last weekend) was in town and planning to go out as well, so we said that we might find each other at Djoon later in the evening.

However, there was a big turnout at Le Pin Up that night, including lots of friends that I hadn’t seen in ages, so I stuck around and chatted with everyone. By the time I gave some thought to moving to Djoon, the métro had stopped running and I wasn’t too keen on biking all the way over to the Bibliothèque Mitterand area. Also, I had had several of the trademark “Bubble Pin Up” drinks, which involves champagne, vodka, and violet syrup, and which had hit me harder than I had expected…probably because my dinner had been nothing more than veggies.

Anyway, I stayed there and hung out with friends until the night ended at 4h00, and then I wandered down the street with a couple of friends and grabbed a Vélib bike and headed home.

jeudi, février 19, 2009

The Four-Night Weekend, Part 1: Techno at a Swinger's Bar

Wow, this was a long, long weekend. So long, in fact, that it started on Thursday.

Daytime activities were pretty banal: work, then doctoral students’ workshop, then home for a while. However, the director of the doctoral workshop was having us over for dinner that night, so I headed over there around nine to start the evening. As conversation carried on at her place, we went through two bottles of champagne and several bottles of wine (between 10 of us), so everyone was feeling a bit warm and fuzzy by the time we left.

My friend DJ Childerik and some of his friends had organized a soirée tonight at this club, l’Hôtel des Sens, which is usually a swingers club on the weekends, so I decided to go check it out. Three of my colleagues from the doctoral workshop came with me, but they left pretty quickly, once they discovered the price of drinks: 15€ for a standard mixed drink. By comparison, Le Rex charges 10€ and Berghain (in Berlin) charges about 4€. I was having some serious trouble justifying paying that much for a drink at a not-well-known club, although I suppose that explained why there was no cover to get in.

Anyway, I was actually a terrible host to my colleagues, as I arrived at the club and was immediately swept up into talking with DJ Childerik and his girlfriend, and then all of their friends. I was captivated by conversation with one friendly guy that had lived in Berlin a while ago; we talked about our favourite locations in Berlin and told stories of partying and excess. He was also really interested in my time in the Chicago and Toronto scenes, so we had a lot to talk about. I told him that the (minimal) techno scenes in Chicago and Toronto are smaller, which means less events can be organized and less big-name DJs, but also a more tight-knit community and more “underground” events in basements of homes, warehouses, artists’ studios.

Aside from Childerik, there was also Eva Kokoschka and Alyotis spinning. The sound for the evening was relatively light minimal house, which was nice to hear in this interesting space. The place is in a narrow building, spanning 5 floors in total (although the bottom floor closed tonight). There’s a smoking room in the top floor, the coat check and bathrooms in the floor below, and then a floor with the DJ booth and the bar and a dancefloor on the last floor. There weren’t all that many people there, so we ended up clustering near the DJ booth and dancing there (also, lots of people hung out in the smoking lounge, where the music was less loud and you could talk).

A friendly guy chatted with me in the bathrooms (nothing salacious, just comments on the space-age faucet they had in the bathroom), and then I saw him again a bit later at the bar. We chatted for a bit more, he asked me if I knew the DJs, he told me about the wine shop he works at, and then suddenly he was offering his drug-procuring services and pressing his business card into my hand. Kids these days; so forward!

I also got to know a nice lad that was apparently good friends of Childerik and his girlfriend. I won’t go into detail, but I’ll say that he’s cute, he works as a hairdresser, and he’s a good kisser. I eventually needed to head home and get some sleep, but we exchanged phone numbers and planned to see each other again during the weekend.

mercredi, février 18, 2009

It's all about the €€€


Well, I’m always getting paid regularly by the UofC for my assistanceship (work) money, but I’ve also been working a side-gig here in Paris as an English teacher at the Ecole des Chartes. When I first signed up, they didn’t say anything about their eccentric payment system, and then it wasn’t until the third or fourth week that I finally called them in confusion and found out that they only pay at the end of the semester. In other words, I would get all 12 weeks of pay in January. Well fuck.

But then, in January, I discovered that they only start the payment paperwork at the end of the semester, but nobody in the organization had any fucking clue how long the paperwork would take. So here you have this massive, well-funded organization, hiring foreign grad students to teach languages, and they’re making them wait nearly 6 months to get paid for their work. That seems reasonable, right?

Well, anyway, I got paid. So there.

mardi, février 17, 2009

Police and Hazing

So today I managed to get a ticket while on my bike. The cops insisted that I had run a red light while crossing a bridge, although the light had just turned yellow when I had gotten to it. I might’ve tried to argue my case if I had been in Canada, but I was already unnerved by the suspicious questions they were asking me about my visa and my nationality, so I decided I didn’t want to risk being detained as a terrorist or whatever as punishment for being uppity. One of the abiding reasons why there is so much resentment against police among non-dominant folks (racial minorities, immigrants, queer folks, etc) is precisely that we often have to surrender our dignity in the interest of avoiding punitive “enforcement.”

Anyway, that smeared some shit on an otherwise pleasant day. My trip to the market was very productive (I’ll be eating tons of fish and vegetables this week) and work was fine.

But at night, as I was getting ready to go to bed, I heard a group of American-English-speaking voices singing cheerleading songs (“Everywhere we go-o / People always ask us / Whooo we a-are…”) and occasionally yelling “On your knees!” repeatedly, followed by cheering. Is there a frat hazing going on in Paris? I leaned out the window and looked down on the street and, indeed, saw some young guy on his knees, with a funnel in his mouth and his friends taking turns pouring alcohol into his gullet while taking pictures.

Way to represent American culture, guys. I can’t wait until this moved to throwing up and then toxic shock. Wheee.

lundi, février 16, 2009

Die Rückfahrt

Time to return to reality, I suppose.

I got up late again (I couldn’t get to sleep last night, thanks to that afternoon nap I took), said goodbye to Florian as he left for work, and then got ready to head to the airport.

But first, I went downtown and had lunch with Janine on her lunch break, where we had a chance to catch up a bit and chat about the weekend. Apparently, she had stayed until the end of Berghain, along with her friends and Bob and Donna and their crew. Phew. I wish I could’ve stuck around.

I got to the airport and did the “early check-in” the for Lufthansa and then headed over to the central baggage desk to leave my suitcase. Of course, there was only one person working the desk, and the person at the front of the line had some sort of complicated problem, which meant that nobody else got served while the clerk slowly went about untangling the mess. Just one more person at the desk would’ve saved everyone else the 30-minute wait. Christ.

So the flight itself was fine, I got back to my place fine, and then I realized that I had absolutely nothing to eat at home. I managed to improvise with lentils and beets, but I clearly need to get more food up in this hizzouse.

dimanche, février 15, 2009


Florian, bless his soul, was making fried-egg-bagel sandwiches when I got home at 16h00. He’ll make someone a great wife, I tell you.

My original plan had been to just stay awake until this evening’s activities, since falling asleep now would mess up my sleep cycles something bad. So after a sorta breakfast-lunch, I took a shower and then sat down to work on my blogging while Florian went back to his proofreading.

A few minutes later, I was asleep on the couch.

I woke up in time to get ready for our night out at the Berlinale Film Festival, although we still managed to arrive after the film had started (partially because there are two theaters with the same name at Potsdamer Platz).

The film we saw was a Mexican flick called Rabioso Sol, Rabioso Cielo, which was one half black-and-white gritty realist nearly-dialogue-free borderline-porn about men cruising each other in dilapidated porn cinemas and bathrooms, and one half oversaturated-colour Mexicanized Orpheus myth. I’m not going to recite the plot to this 3 hour marathon, but here’s some point-form notes:

  • The film involves a scene where one character is fucked back to life. Seriously.
  • There’s some odd stuff going on with race in this film, where the two protagonist-lovers include a “pretty boy” character that is of European descent and the more knowledgeable, active, even persistent lover, and a baby-faced “innocent” character that is of mixed black ethnicity and passive, hesitant, and eventually plays the role of Persephone (i.e., dead and waiting to be saved) once the film turns into an Orpheus myth. Also, the bad guy (a jealous lover who turns into Hades during the myth) is of Native Mexican origin and has a much darker skin tone than the other two.
  • The camera-work was wonderful, especially in the black-and-white portion, where the silent interactions of the men cruising each other was mostly told through camera movement. Some great shots that trace people’s looks across space.
  • The plot was lame, the dialogue was clunky and the acting was sometimes pretty unconvincing. Considering that this film was supposed to be a sort of modernized-but-mythologized lover’s tale, I think it would’ve been better if the dialogue in the myth portion of the film had been super-stylized; it would’ve been less cringe-inducing if it seemed more like opera lyrics or Shakespearean tragedy or something.
  • Anyway, this flick managed to win the Best Film award at the Teddies, which is the GLBT section of the Berlinale awards. Meh.