Boogying at the Borgata with the Ronsons & Duran Duran

I’m in some small town in Virginia, parking with relatives until a business meeting this afternoon. It’s all pumpkins and fake cobwebs, as here, Halloween is all about kids and tricks or treats. We left AC to go to DC, and I don’t need any wise cracks from the peanut gallery. We are exhausted from our trip to the Borgata and its whirlwind ’80s weekend. Everything was sold out, and people who read my Friday article were trying to hustle me for hookups. There are a billion reasons why Borgata sells out on these big weekends. Basically, as the only game in town, it refuses to rest on its laurels and continues to book great acts, events and DJs.

We came down in a blizzard, completely obsessed with catching Duran Duran in concert. The snow and the late info that the Misfits were performing in NYC with Glen Danzig almost kept us home, but as I said, we were obsessed. We valeted the car and realized the weather was now irrelevant. There was no need to leave the sprawling Borgata complex for a couple of days. Food, entertainment, spas, pools and comfortable digs were in the cards. We ate ginormous steaks at the Old Homestead and then rushed to the show.

We weren’t expecting much from Duran Duran because we didn’t want to be disappointed. We thought it might just turn out to be a bunch of old geezers going through the motions—more Karaoke than concert. What happened was mind blowing: they were great. I had met them once back in ’88 and was impressed at the time how gentlemanly and accessible they were. They exude friendliness from the stage. They love what they are doing and the crowd sang along with every song and danced and cheered. Simon Le Bon just celebrated a birthday on October 27, which has him deep in his 50s. He was bearded and trim, and his voice was strong. He pranced and danced and engaged an audience that wanted to eat him up. Duran Duran was tight.

The songs seemed modern yet classic, a nod to new production and a new album produced by old friend Mark Ronson, who joined them on stage, guitar in hand. In an age where DJs are considered the new rockstars, Mark goes literal. Clad in a well tailored leopard print jacket and that impossible hairdo, he went toe to toe with these legends. This was the last show of a 25-gigs-in-35-days tour, and the first thing I asked management was when it was done was when are they coming through again? It was magical and I want to see it again and again. Simon thanked the crowd and everyone who hosted them in “our beautiful country.” He dedicated “Ordinary World” to those who for many reasons could not be there. Those that have passed were remembered. I admit I teared up; it was beautifully performed.

Ana Matronic of the Scissor Sisters came on for a number. She, as we, had traveled tough roads from New York to get there. “A NO NO…NOTORIOUS” sent the crowd into a frenzy. “Hungry Like a Wolf” blew the roof off the place. Judy from the audience was tasked to introduce Simon to the crowd after he had done the honors for everyone else. She screamed that he was the “hottest man in the world” despite the ugliest (except for mine) shirt in the world. His was a sort of Jersey Shore/Beetlejuice mash-up. They mashed-up “Wild Boys” with Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s, “Relax,” and 2000 people sang along. They were loved, they were relevant, they were sharp and fun, and glad to be there. Rio closed the show and sent everyone into the Casino with smiles.

We headed to Mixx where Mark Ronson was set to DJ. Everyone was in costumes with a $3000 cash prize at stake. Mark walked in and rushed over to see me. He was my DJ of choice, back in the Life days. He was a star then and now he is a matinee and cover idol. I wondered if he would be the same, or if his success changed him. The smile and the handshake showed me he was the same Mark I have always loved. We talked and talked and caught up, and a million things were left unsaid but understood. He told me about something I had written here, and I was flattered. I have never met a Ronson I didn’t adore. Sister Samantha was nearby. She judged the Costume contest at Mixx before doing the same duty at mur mur and Djing there. She praised a hot Jersey gal in a Pocahontus costume before the lass corrected her. She was really an Egyptian Princess. After the cash was given to the Na’vi and the guy in the Gorilla suit, Mark went on. He showed why he was, and must still be, considered one of the top DJs around.

We went to check out Samantha with Borgata’s always dapper Greg Coyle. There, sweet Samantha Ronson groupies surrounded the booth. “They are here every time she plays,” said Coyle, which he says is about once a month. As we stood in the booth, the hotties begged me to introduce them, even as boyfriends hovered nearby. Opening DJ Doug Grayson, a smiling newlywed, explained the phenomenon. They love her and feel she is this celebrity who loves them and being there. Samantha blew them out. The crowd lives for her.

Borgata is unreal. The next night it was the incredible DJ Ruckus with Rev Run, and another big night. We laughed as they played classic ’80s hip-hop. This collaboration has legs and is a must-catch if you can. We dined at Michael Minas’ Sea Blue and it was divine. We never considered leaving the grounds as our in-room TV said it was 32 degrees out. We roamed around the Casino floor, checking out the vampires and the vamps, the pirates and the princesses. All came to have a great time. From time to time, I’d stop and say hello to a familiar face, a New Yorker with a similar mindset. I’m down again in a few to catch Jay-Z.

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