I didn’t come for the face painting, to see the sword swallower or fire eater, or even for the kissing booth. And although I love a good dunk tank, and Sepentina’s grinder act seemed exciting, I didn’t come for that either. I went to Saturday night’s KCDC soiree’ to support my dear friend Amy Gunther and her KCDC Skateboard Team.
As I sashayed down N. 11th Street near Berry, I could see the throngs of hipsters, gutter snipes, and Brooklyn beauties gathered by the door. All, including me and mine, were invigorated by the Spring-like weather. Then I met the door people. Although my transition from outside to inside was swift, it wasn’t without a rude and completely unnecessary encounter with a hired gun who thought he was working at a penal colony. Instead of a greeting or a welcome, I was treated to an attitude.
Inside everyone was having fun. The crowd was thin and skateboard-y, and wearing all those clothes that are meant express independence but look pretty much the same. You know — cool hat, cool hoodie, cool kicks. I think the three security guards I met on the way in could have taken the whole crowd in a fair or unfair fight if something broke out, but nothing was going to. It was all water pistols, cotton candy, and fun for the whole family. Skateboards were being clapped against the half pipe as limber sorts showed off their practiced skills. My departed pal Harold Hunter’s name loomed large and proud over the scenesters. KCDC is a wondrous place, and the team needs and deserves support. Amy was running around with that beautiful smile that slays them all. She was radiant and happy. A good time was had. She couldn’t know that I was “unwelcomed” at her door. It’s really trivial but worth a minute of thought, as that’s what I am left with today. I’m a big boy, and I’m not crying because I wasn’t treated like a king. It’s not like that. It’s that one bad employee can take the helium out of the balloons before we all get to make funny voices.
We headed to the Mondrian on Lafayette street, where door veteran Disco greeted my clan with a big hello. The door remains one of the most important cogs in the wheels of a good club or even party. The transition from the street to the event sets a tone which carries through. Knowing the person outside is always a plus, but it isn’t necessary. A professional at the entrance recognizes who belongs, and makes sure the experience is pleasant. With a zillion choices in this world, people who belong will choose to belong at another place next time, if they are treated incorrectly. At Travertine it was all good—all hellos, and enjoys, and a have a good night when we left. At GoldBar, familiar faces were glad to see me. At Jobee, where a night was trying to be different and succeeding, people were friendly and made you feel wanted. This isn’t a case of me not getting in or being delayed. As I said, the transition into the Etnies-sponsored KCDC party was speedy. It’s that the verbal exchange at the door was uncalled for and extremely put-offish. Rude behavior is an international thing.
Some door gods want to be worshipped. This happens at hot-spots everywhere. It’s never professional. The person that gets turned away should be treated with respect, because someday you might need their dollars to pay the landlord. I used to tell my door people to behave like James Bond: Always a gentleman until you’re not, and only then when pushed to the limit. I can’t tell you how many of the people running things in nightlife today had to distinguish themselves over time at joints I ran. The door defines the brand as much as any other element of a place. The person turned away this time may become your A-lister down the road. Clothes sometimes do make the man, and people who are determined to climb socially learn to adjust. I am not saying I was never rude out there, but I believe when I was, it was for good reason.
The Mondrian was percolating, as the lobby and restaurants are nearly done. I can’t get enough of the place. Mister H. had my favorite misnomer, Miss Guy, peddling tunes from every era. Armin was somewhere fabulous—someone said Hollywood, but a more reliable source offered Paris. We skipped across the street to a hush-hush, secret-password party at Jobee. The crowds were pouring in as this north Chinatown, South Soho area is heating up. The old dim sum bar and lounge was only gussied up enough so that arrivals felt they were in an underground kind of place.
The neon over the door said “CLOSED,” a forgivable lie. I worked the pleasantly different room. I kissed all the babies, and talked with a low voice to all the important men, and then left with an enthusiastic, really true promise to return real soon. The gala was getting hot as I was leaving, and encounters of a different kind were calling, er, texting me. It was off to Brooklyn, to a bar where only a half-dozen friends knew me. There, I was greeted by a friendly tough guy at the door and I felt welcome, at home. I’m not going to tell you where I was, as there are a hundred places within a hundred blocks selling the same concept with an occasional slight variation. The Jack Daniels or Absolut sold in each one of these places is exactly the same. That’s one of those fundamental things that apply as time goes by. The exact swill you are buying can be had elsewhere, if the attitude of one place isn’t to your liking.
The bars, tables, and chairs are interchangeable. The bartenders are generally interesting in some way. Some spots have the game on, some places are designed as places where you can get your game on. Many have someone with a clipboard or just a presence at the door. Some of these people smile and say hello and wave goodbye as you leave, and some have grumpy thugs punching the clock and thinking about punching out someone’s lights. Again, there are choices, and there are places that succeed and others that don’t succeed as much. KCDC was a one-off event and the party throwers are amazingly good people, but that was Saturday night, and as much as I don’t like being a Monday morning quarterback, here I am ranting. It still bothers me.