On Wednesday night, as my boyfriend and I walked through Williamsburg on our way to the club TBA, I said, “I wonder how much longer I can keep doing this.”
“The partying. It’s starting to feel all the same,” I said, looking down at my feet. I felt guilty saying it out loud, like I was giving up. “It was so new and shiny a year ago. Now, it’s boring to me. Even the epic nights are not that exciting anymore. I’ve done epic. And there will be more epic nights coming, I know.” I stifled a yawn. I was tired and wasn’t that excited about dancing.
“The thing is, I don’t know if it gets any better than this.”
There is the crux of my problem.
Really, what parties could be better than electronic music parties in New York City? Deep house, techno, electronic music (not to be confused with what some people call EDM of the Avicii and Afrojack fame) is the most moving, delicious, hedonistic music in existence. The people are the most chill, fun, authentic, kind, accepting and creative people I’ve ever known.
I remember when I was in 7th grade, and the dance put on by the Elks Club was the coolest thing ever. It was only nominally chaperoned, and it’s where I had my first French kiss, and it was the first place I “grinded” on a guy. I was so excited to go, that the adrenaline would actually make me shake in anticipation in the car on the way there. The night held so much promise of discovery and new experiences, of growing up. My life could be transformed in an instant. Maybe the popular guy would dance with me, or even kiss me! Maybe a popular girl would take me under her wing. Really, anything could happen in the dark of the community center.
That’s how I felt about the electronic music scene for a while. My first party like this was one of the Danger Parties at Third Ward. My eyes fairly sparkled when I entered that warehouse and lifted my chin to look at my surroundings and the people. Here. Here was the best party ever. In the best city ever. Creativity, spectacle, pleasurable chemicals to be dipped into at will. Conversations that were like falling in love. People from every country on earth, with interesting careers and stories that didn’t involve an investment firm or football. I had stumbled into my own version of paradise.
When I found out that Danger was shutting down operations just a few months later (probably because it was overrun by bros and little girls like me) I almost cried with disappointment. I felt like something crucial had been taken away from me. But I didn’t know that there was more, if I could only find it …
Two years later, it happened. A friend introduced me to a DJ who took me to a party where I met a guy who took me to a boat party where I met a DJ who pulled me into his orbit of friends, and then nothing was ever the same.
Life was a iced tray of delicious, salty oysters that I could finally slurp. The city hid parties in every corner, in clubs and warehouses and basements and construction sites, and I was invited! Me! The awkward girl who was always trying too hard to fit in all through middle and high school and college. But here I didn’t have to try anymore. I felt like I belonged. Maybe because there was no recipe to belonging. I could shed my fancy clothing and coifed hair and just be.
The music was beautiful and life-affirming. I didn’t even need drugs to feel the energy. Candlelit DJ tables, artists, darkness, concrete walls, light shows, the sun coming up over the city while my body still buzzed with energy–I tried to explain the magic to my other friends, but they just seemed bewildered.
I went to the Marcy Hotel, Verboten, Mister Saturday, Resolute, Cityfox, Rinsed, and after-after parties in more warehouses and lofts. I went to Output, TBA, SRB, Le Bain, Le Baron, Poisson Rouge, Bossa Nova Civic Club, each several times, and even hung out in the DJ booths. One night I found myself in the basement of a club with the owners and the headliner, chillin’. Seriously, where do you go from there? How can you get closer, more inside the music?
And the rooftop and boat parties, Jesus. The music was just as beautiful as the sun setting over the city, just as delicious as the summer breeze kissing our skin, just as breathtaking as the view. Here was the best in the world. Everything was perfect. I was happier than pig rolling in mud.
But now, the shine is starting to wear off.
I walk into parties and I have deja vu. Oh cool, a warehouse with trippy video screen, bone-rattling bass, beautiful people, drugs, raunchy artwork. Where have I seen that before? I keep finding myself at these parties in the bathroom, staring at myself in the mirror with my head cocked to the side, wondering where the old sense of wonder went. Sometimes I feel a flicker of that old feeling, the mystery and sparkle and sense of possibility. But it’s getting harder and harder to find.
This isn’t the same as being “over” the scene. I am “over” sports bars and frat guys. I’m over tequila shots and beer pong and house parties where people fight over control of the iPod and whether they should play Miley Cyrus or Drake.
But I still love the electronic music scene.
Nothing could compare. I dare you to suggest something else, short of going on a permanent field trip to big cities all over the world. I guess the best analogy would be dining at Per Se, then Bernadin, then 11 Madison, then Nobu on rotation a few nights a week for a year. Damn, it’s good, but you can still get tired of it. I don’t want it anymore. It’s too much, too rich for me.
“I want to be selective,” I said to my boyfriend. I only want to go out when it’s really good.”
He laughed. “But there’s always something really good going on.”
“That’s the problem!” I said. “Almost every single day of the week. Tuesday, Wednesday, definitely Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday! It never, ever stops. Normal people sometimes don’t have anything good to do, they stay in sometimes. We never get that chance.”
I’ve just sort of had the feeling that I’ve planted a flag on the top of the mountain, and now I’m sitting up there and realizing that there’s no place else to go and I am no longer mesmerized by the view. Or I’m a billionaire hanging out on the deck of my friend’s yacht, like, “Cool giant yacht. Looks like all the others I’ve been on.”
I tell myself this is not a crisis. That I’ll always be happy to stay in, take a bath, read a book by candlelight, snuggle down in the winter, laze outside in the summer. That never gets old. The lows, they’re just fine with me. But what about the highs? Where will I find them?
I know you will tell me in the comments, and let me beat you to it. “Wah. First World problem.” (Not White Girl Problems; the scene is quite diverse, actually.) And having put my chin in my hand to ponder the way I feel about this situation, I’m not passionately upset. I’m philosophical about it. Is this what it feels like to be a grownup? To no longer harbor a burning hope that there is something better and more exciting waiting around the corner anymore? That this is just the way it is?
I bet I sound naive to some of you. This is probably just a stage of life. Maybe to others, I sound old and bitter. But maybe some of you are where I am right now and recognize this feeling.
But perhaps the secret of life is to let the chase for the next high go. To say, “I like it here, I think I’ll stay.” And accept that right here, actually, is pretty damn good.
There’s something else I always wanted: a good group of friends that were always around and I could count on to be waiting for me when I arrived at whatever bar or coffee shop. Except, this time it’s a club or warehouse. And I like it.
Yeah. I think I’ll stay.
Have you ever felt this way? Or do you think I’m crazy? Comment below.