"'He’s quite a character around New York—a denizen of Broadway.' 'Who is he, anyhow, an actor?' 'No.' '...A dentist?'"
It’s the next day, I figure I’ll try a different promoter, get a better lay of the land that way. I’m also miffed at R for leaving me to fend for myself against the Germans. Who knows, next time it could be Croatians.
A scan of tagged posts turns up no mandatory headgear:
Joy, it’s in Hell’s Kitchen. They have a Blackbird and a Concorde parked there, and they still bungle it. The only person I don’t like in New York City lives in Hell’s Kitchen. Major Zero lived in Hell’s Kitchen. Nevertheless, I’m outside the club a little after midnight, lines snaking out to the left and right of the entrance. You know there’s a problem when there’s more people outside the bar than inside. The promised group chat never materialized, so I message my guy again:
You’re… that… really give off those Frauvibes, do I. I try calling Ricardo, to no avail:
This is going nowhere. Das kaput. I walk up to the entrance and make eye contact with the nearest bouncer and ‘Hi, I’m here to meet a promoter, they said his name is Ricar-’ he unclips the velvet rope between us and gives me a brisk wave/shove up the club’s stairs ‘-do.’
Huh. I keep climbing. A hallway juts off a landing halfway up, and terminates in a large room lit by harsh fluorescents. Drop ceilings, racks adorned with with puffers and fake furs arranged erratically on the ancient beige-and-black carpet floor, I’m sharded into dozens of pieces and transported across Manhattan to revisit every LES sample sale I’ve ever browsed, it’s so dramatically ad-hoc, it takes half a minute until Oh, that’s coatcheck, and I keep moving, thieving bastards.
Next halfway up, and I step into the club. A whiff of weird sterility, ‘spite the clumps of plants stapled to the wall behind me. Place feels less Berlin, more suburban megachurch. Perhaps it’s the lazy architecture, the white plaster walls and bare concrete floors. You really have to commit to the unsanctioned warehouse vibe, if that’s what you’re going for. Mostly the unsanctioned part, otherwise it kinda of gives up the ghost, but decor ma-
I receive a rude shove and an aggressive ‘Sorry!’ from a group of girls who were trying to take a photo in front of the biomass, until I walked in, and I now notice a neon rendition of the club’s logo embedded within all the fronds ‘n ferns. I let momentum carry me further into the room, rather than brake and shout some remark about 2015 calling and wanting its selfie wall back.
I wander alongside the bar. Where to go. A few weeks ago, something like this would’ve crippled me with anxiety—that whole prospect of being seen in this body without some airtight alibi thing—but something in these nights has moved me past that mental mountain, and now I’m just feeling like an ass for hiking all this way to Hell’s Kitchen when I know better. Wonder if Intrepid has night hours, like all the trendy museums do these days.
Maybe my promoter knows what I should do. I made it into the club, past the bouncers, that’s supposed to be the hard part for everyone, right? I try my guy again:
I don’t think Ricardo is someone I want to meet anymore. Or Ruben. Or Rahul. Or Remy or Rilo or Rowan or Rashad or Randall. No doubt there’s some delicious sociolinguistic answer as to why promoters are disproportionately Rs. And Ask who? A bartender? I am not trick-or-treating around the room’s tables:
Thank god these tables are numbered like the aisles in a grocery store, What do you mean. This whole Byzantine network of promoters thing. I switch over to iMessage and scroll through my texts with Jason from earlier in the day:
…but it’s like two seconds later when a promoter walks up to me and tries to vulture me off to his table before I can tap out an S.O.S. and hit Send. Huh. Fault tolerance. I double check first—‘You’re not Ricardo, are you?’ ‘Who?’—and follow him to his table in some special VIP-VIP section, to the right of the DJ. At least eight or nine girls are already ringed around it at varying heights: floor, booth, booth-back. He stashes my coat and purse for me, and offers me vodka, or vodka. ‘Really, no tequila?’ ‘No tequila, sorry.’ ‘Ah, fine, just put some orange juice in it, too.’
I accept my drink and step off to one side of the booth, don’t really feel like getting up there and dancing tonight, especially if V’s not here to see it and finally reward me with my facial. Soon, this guy walks up to me. He’s tall, and has something like an entourage with him. He looks like some guy from my high school. But then, almost every guy looks like one or more of many some guys from my high school. Or the other high school I attended for only my senior year, which never felt like a my high school and still doesn’t, but it also had some guys who often make superficially apt comparisons to some guys I encounter today.
It's a sort of a homogeneous individuality I get a lot of mileage out of wrapping my axle around. You do that, if you stand out. You’re the only one who focuses on anyone else. Notice the nature of your foils, notice noise in the signals. Like that telegraph operator candidate who suddenly jolts up in the waiting room, full of other applicants, and barges into the back office because they’re playing and replaying instructions in Morse Code over the intercom to do just that, and gets the job. Like the bouncer from TAO who’s suddenly everywhere. Things are often recycled conspicuously. Sign ‘o the simulation, perhaps, though I rest my priors upon other explanations. Tall guy speaks, after a beat or so of staring me down:
‘You’re tall, for a woman.’
‘Yeah… I am…’
‘How tall do you think I am?’
‘Six-five,’ I say without hesitation.
Finally he lets a ‘…yeah…’ escape in a tone of voice that’s suddenly too small on him, like someone pulled his stopper and now he’s deflating, like correcting the usual delta is some kind of coup de trump card he's counting on to sweep me off my feet. Probably’s never gotten a wrong answer from the opposite direction. What if I had guessed 6'6? You play blackjack, you go bust sometimes, QED.
He launches into contingency mode with this Private Conversation move, I call it that, tall guys do it, a half-step forward, unslouch, leans over you a bit—it's not swoopy enough to mistake for the kiss he thinks you’ll soon share—and tries hard to Rico Suave his tone for what he's about to say:
‘There's no one here for you.’
‘Your height…There's no one here for you….’
What am I supposed to do with this, just give him his doe-eyed But you? It’s too early in the evening for that. Or morning for that. I decide this as good a time as ever to launch into my spiel:
‘Basically my first time—a sociology book I had to read for school—it’s all new to me had no idea—Texas —no not like this—winged robots—watch dealers—amazed they weave this whole dreamworld—had a dream myself, you ever see that movie where—yeah they’re kinda like pimps but—white Porsche—square the number of nodes, you know, Metca—don’t have one, sorry—work tomorrow —yeah sleep deprivation makes me more productive though—bird poop—halo effect—NO tequila—right??—I…’
While I’m substantiating one or another of these clauses with wild arm gesticulations I notice his head snap back an-‘OhohmygodI’msosorryfuckI’msorry!’ I stabbed this man right in the cleft of his manly-square chin with the aggressively geometric ring I’m wearing. Oh my god he’s bleeding I feel terrible, ‘Oh my god you’re bleeding I feel terrible!’ I pivot around like I’m action itself and wad up a bunch of napkins from the table and hand them to him, ‘Please, tell me you’re not hemophiliac…’ and he sort of stares at me dramatically over the napkin wad he’s pressing against his chin and we enter a trance together for a moment like this:
‘… … … … … … … … … … … … … …’
‘… . . .’
The instant he pulls the wad away I rush to fill what now feels like silence again, ‘Everybody has a plan until they get… …gouged in…the…chin…?’ There, I guess that was my kiss, as promised, it even looks like I left a smidge of lipstick behind. I make no bones about being a prickly conversational partner at times. Kudos to the guy, he took it like a champ, we even keep talking for a little while longer after his platelets do their thing, but eventually 6'5 moves on with his buds. I watch as they reabsorb themselves into the main mosh.
Maybe that was Ricardo. Two staff? bouncers? are stopped watching me, about a dozen feet away, I stare back with a Would a real cop do that? look. After a while, I’m bored, and I make a lap around the perimeter of the sea of people. I do another lap a few minutes later, this time a shorter man who looks exactly thirty-five peels off from the crowd and follows me around part of the way, until he gets discouraged and peels back on. Rather than repeat the ritual again for fear of bringing down the house, I opt to make my exit, I grab my coat and purse and thank my promoter. ‘Anytime you’re lost in a club, ha, you just let me know, okay?’ he says.
Stairwell-bound, I’m scooting past the foliage ‘n neon when I notice I’ve attracted another tail. ‘On my way out!’ I try to say with abundant Can’t you read the sign? energy. ‘Oh that’s fine, I’m a promoter…’ the man says, as if it’s graciously disarming of him to say, like he’s just admitted he’s a eunuch. He squeezes into the stairwell before I can pretend I didn’t hear his response. I say, ‘You should’ve tracked me down earlier…’
‘Yeah, what’s your Insta?’ He’s fiddles with his phone as he backwardly descends one step ahead of me. ‘Here,’ I move us out of the flow of traffic at the halfway landing, into the nook leading to coatcheck. He’s paying if they come out to charge us for standing here. I dig out my phone and flick through a few submenus, then hold it out to him. ‘Here,’ I say again, now displaying my account’s QR code, like I’m one of those girls who frequently has solutions to things.
He looks up, looks at my phone like it has two heads. ‘Oh, that’s fancy, I didn’t know they had that.’ So it’s not just me, because I live under a rock. I try putting him on the spot so he’ll not want to continue speaking with me, ‘Does everyone just want a piece of me?,’ I just want to bug out of Hell’s Kitchen and go home. ‘Yeah, they do. I mean, you’re hot,’ he holds out my most recent post to me, a selfie I took in an all-red altheisure getup. 'I… …yeah….’ is how I respond.
And I’m out on the street again, on Forty-Sixth. I walk East towards my Uber, past several repair garages, a man calls out to me from one: ‘Hey, babe, cm’ere’. Not a flavor you come across in Manhattan much anymore, ever since Hudson Yards developers ran roughshod over most of their remaining concentration. I hear they’re alive and, well, alive, out in Willets Point. The Valley of Ashes. Catching whiff of garagevibes must be some inescapable component of the local party circuit, if The Great Gatsby says so, it’s kabbalah where New York nightlife is concerned. Take:
[Gatsby] He’s quite a character around New York—a denizen of Broadway.
[Nick] Who is he, anyhow, an actor?
[Nick] A dentist?
[Gatsby] Meyer Wolfshiem? No, he’s a gambler.
Notice how, after his first guess, Nick—logically!—guesses again, with the next-nearest corruption of what he thought he heard, denizen. Fitzy’s brilliant that way, smuggling in a little literature-of-loud-locales magic. If only Gatsby had presented Nick with Wolfshiem’s QR code to scan; Nick could’ve simply read the man’s bio! 🎰 Gambler, 🏟 Fixed the 1919 World Series, 🚔 2 Smart 4 Jail. And the dentist shout-out: Very Important People notes their psychographic profile is weirdly overrepresented in, yup…nightclub attendance!
A former club owner calls these people mooks: ‘You know, a mook. Someone who doesn’t know what’s going on… It’s the dentists that come in and buy the tables, thinking they’re in the company of the cool people, the beautiful people.’
…and, in the research appendix:
Among the clients in this study, the average age was forty years old; half of them worked in finance, two were cosmetic dentists, one an insurance salesman, and the rest identified as entrepreneurs.
More! Leonardo DiCaprio is Jho Low’s best friend-for-hire, and of course, who did he play once, in a certain movie? Not that he hasn’t had his more backstabby Tomish moments, either. And Ewing Klipspringer is an anagram of…nevermind, you get it, gist is, Fitzy had luxury leisure ‘round these parts so well-figured-out a century ago, we’re still piecing its influence-anxiety together, and I’m finally catching up to my Uber when I notice some guy is speed-walking in parallel with me, a few feet into the street, and by all lights seems to believe the Uber ahead of us to be his.
‘Sorry, think this one’s mine!’ I say just before both of us arrive at the passenger door on our respective sides and open and shout our names in unison at the driver, who breaks the tie in my favor. I mouth Told you to the guy just before he shuts his door with a curt slam. I dig out my phone:
Why not, I’m still in the mood for some blocky-3D-light-gray-typography-rotating-slightly-on-a-black-background-with-little-sparkles-glittering-off Fieldwork:
Part (vii) is published next week.