So BLOODY SOCIAL played the Hiro Ballroom last week, yet another models and bottles kind of place that blot the landscape of NYC like so many craters on the moon. They’re all the same: there’s a velvet rope outside, the bartenders are snotty bitches, the drinks are 12 bucks, and the security guys are black, gigantic and cranky from babysitting the young, ill-mannered patrons.
But it’s my boyfriend’s band and because they often play these kind of venues I’ve been forced to get over my intense phobia. And now that I’ve learned to deal I can observe from a much calmer and more loving place. It’s just anthropology from a distance rather than a race to survive.
However, it’s not for the faint of heart. As soon as we got backstage we were joined by a trio of blonde baby models, all fresh and shiny and new, escorted into the room by a creepy guy who I often see at the gigs and usually ignore. He’s young and reasonably attractive, but his energy is absolutely yucky. One night RABBIT got in a fight with him because he spit on her foot. He’s that kind of guy, the kind who will spit on the floor around ladies in open toed shoes.
Anyway, so the leader of the trio was a good six feet tall, wearing the teeniest of tight, black dresses and high heeled pumps that she couldn’t walk in. She had long hair and an all-American face and that insecure slouch that a lot of tall teenage girls adopt. She was sort of adorably clueless, flopping around on her cheap shoes, all clean and unsullied by trauma and clearly psyched to be backstage with a band. She leaned into creepy guy and it dawned on me that she was actually his date, which surely was the reason he chose to wear a top hat on this night, as he’s a full head shorter than her.
I immediately felt sad for the girl. She’s too young for him and well out of his league. She’s destined for a crappy time which will include sleeping with that sweaty loser and then realizing he’s a douche when he either doesn’t call her, or when he calls her and treats her like crap long enough to reveal the douche gene. It’s a rite of passage for nearly every young female and I am grateful that part of my life is done.
I wanted to yank the cocktail out of her hand, push my hand into her back to make her stand up straight, tug the ever-riding skirt down to cover her tiny ass, and throw her in a cab headed back to her too-indulgent parents. But I knew it would be a futile attempt, so I wandered out to the floor to get myself a shot of tequila and watch the band.
Within minutes of the band hitting the stage I was approached by a wasted young Asian guy in a suit jacket. I should preface this conversation by saying that I NEVER get hit on in these places. I’m far too ancient and alien for that crowd.
Wasted Young Asian Guy: Whoa!! You are so hot. You are totally, totally hot!
Me (skeptical): Err…thank you.
Him: You are such a babe. You should hang with me. You are HOT! What are you doing alone?
Me (pointing at the stage): I’m watching my boyfriend play drums.
Him (not looking at the stage): Oh! That’s your boyfriend? Man, you are totally hot.
Me: How old are you?
Him: How old do you think I am?
Me: You’re 22.
Him: Whoa!! That’s crazy. I AM 22. No one ever guesses that. You’re like, smart AND hot. But you have a boyfriend so I’m going to leave you alone.
Me (relieved): Thank you.
Him: Okay, bye!
Him: Bye! I’m going. Are your boobs real?
Me (rolling eyes): Yes.
Him (poking and then squeezing my left breast): Wow. They’re real.
Me (slapping his hand away): How about you get your hand off my tit now, Junior?
Him: Wow. Cool. Okay! See you!
The entire time this scintillating conversation is going on there’s a short, pudgy guy with dark hair, a goatee, and a hipster hat standing behind me talking very loudly to his friends about how the band sucks. Which is fine, I don’t need everyone to like my friends’ bands. The delivery was just a bit pompous and loud enough that it was obvious he wanted people outside his circle to hear. And as soon as the boob toucher left and I finished fielding another very sweet but not as story-worthy come-on, I got a tap on the shoulder. I turned around and pudgy guy was standing there grinning. Sigh…there is no peace in hell. But I was expecting this one.
Me: Hey Jack Black, that’s my boyfriend’s band you’ve been ragging on for the last 10 minutes.
Him (totally missing the JB reference): Oh, man! I’m so sorry! I think they’re cool, I just think this place blows! It’s like the inside of Guitar Hero! Did you ever play Guitar Hero?
Him: It looks just like this! I mean, I’m in a band and all. And obviously you know people in bands, so you must know a little bit of what it’s like around bands.
Me: A little, yes.
Him: Well, you would know if you were a musician, we all hate this place. AND it looks like the inside of Guitar Hero. Hey, is your boyfriend English?
Me: No, just the singer.
Him: Cool, cool…Well, I meant no disrespect. Don’t be mad at me!
Me: I’m not, it’s fine.
Him: I’m not hitting on you either, I have a girlfriend. I just wanted to say hi since you look cool and you were standing alone.
Me: Thanks, that’s nice.
Him: You should play Guitar Hero!
Me: I’ll think about it.
After the show and the smoky free-for-all in the backstage area (bc smoking makes you skinny!) we left for Socialista, even more heinous than Hiro but there were some social obligations. By this time it was 2:30 am, was a tad intoxicated, and my feet were killing me. Not to mention that I had to work in the morning. But I didn’t want to be a bummer so I kept my yap shut and forged ahead.
When we got out of the cab a bell immediately started ringing in my brain and I realized we were outside the Jane West Hotel, and the door to Socialista looked to me to be where the old door to the Rock Hotel stood. One of the first places I lived in New York in the 80’s was this hotel, with Michael Schmidt and MARTINE, in a giant loft-ey room in the basement that shared a wall with the Rock Hotel.
Rock Hotel was a monthly hardcore night that featured some pretty big bands, and during shows the wall next to my bed thumped along with the bass and drums. We also shared a bathroom with a Chinese family that used it as their kitchen, and the toilet never worked because they plugged it up with food every morning. Waterbugs crawled everywhere, our TV set had a bullet hole in it, and Michael spent a week living off of marshmallows. Good times.
On top of this, I had one of my worst naive girl fresh-in-the-city adventures on the main stairway of the Jane West. One early morning, as the sun rose, I was verbally attacked and taken advantage of by someone much older and more selfish than myself, at a time when I was not equipped with a proper defense system. It was a dark experience and one I’ve always believed was emotional, and then physical rape. I guess you could say it was date rape.
I’ve always wanted to go back as the me now and stand next to the me then and say all the things I should have said then to the guy. I have things to say now that would make his eyes sting. And then I would have taken me then by the ear and pushed her safely in the door. Alas, that isn’t possible, which is probably why I feel the urge to protect random idiot girls I encounter out at night.
So I froze in front of the Socialista door and turned and left Drew without saying a word, and walked around the corner to the main stairway. And I stopped at the bottom of the stairs and looked up at them–completely renovated and gentrified, probably not even the same stairs, the neighborhood so different from what it was all those years ago.
And I started crying. Which I might not have done if I were sober, but it was a long night out of my element and the connection between watching that young girl at the beginning of the night and seeing the scene of my own youthful abuse at the end was just a bit overwhelming.
Drew (also drunk) followed me quietly and stood next to me and asked, “What’s wrong?” I told him and he asked me if I wanted to go home. I did, but I said no, it was cool, and I cleaned up my face and we went back around the corner and into the bar.
And because I was shaky he ran to the bar to get me a drink (because when you’re drunk and weepy the answer is clearly MORE alcohol) before the complimentary happening band bottle service arrived. And he came back and said, “This motherfucking drink was $14.” I said, “You know we’re in what used to be the Rock Hotel, right?” We both shook our heads in disbelief and he pulled me in and kissed my forehead.
The bucket of free booze arrived and the night went on.