Morning raves are the best thing ever

Yesterday, we took Ben to his first rave party. Because we are Responsible Parents, this was a sober rave, part of the new “early morning rave party” trend. These are dance parties that play house and deep house, that bring in local DJs known for playing parties to do it, and are full of flower necklaces and glowsticks…at 7 in the morning. There’s no alcohol, no X, no Molly, just coffee, cold pressed juice and raw vegan breakfast foods. To those of us too old to stay up all night, but too young to give up on dance parties, they are fantastic.  More importantly,  they are profitable: yesterday’s event was the 11th party hosted to date in NYC by Morning Gloryville,  a London based hosting company, and their schedule seems to be monthly at this point.   There is a clear market for these early morning sober raves,  and me and my contemporaries are probably it.

I haven’t been to anything like a rave in years.  I used to go out a lot in Vancouver,  because I had friends who were either DJs or promoters.   I’d go see my friend Farshad spin at the old Stone Temple  club in Vancouver, or go to the events his promotion company threw.   Even after I left BC for California, I went to the Lotus/Honey for those events every time I was home.   And in LA, I went to the Circus, or to the Burning Man parties in DTLA, in the artists district near the Brewery colony.   But all that stopped years ago when I became a Responsible Adult.  With minimal time to spend on going out and music culture,  I have focused much more on goth than Electronica.   I like EDM, but I love EBM.

So I have fond memories of dancing until 4am to house music in clubs, or even until sunrise occasionally.  My old friend Graham threw an awesome party in an abandoned power plant just before I left Vancouver in 2004 called, of course, “The Gong Show” that is still my defining memory of a rave.  But at all of these events, the focus was always on the music. I have never done any raver drugs: I am too afraid of unbalancing my already precariously balanced brain. If I’m at anything like a rave, the worst thing I’m going to be on is a whole lot of caffeine, which, in my younger days, took the form of vodka Red Bulls. 

Now, in my older, sedate days, that’s two cups of Bulletproof coffee (coffee blended with ghee and coconut oil).  We all hopped out of bed early Wednesday morning – even Ben, who was promised that he could dance however he wanted for an hour before school. He was very enthusiastic about this, and dressed himself to be ready to go with no prodding. We all packed our backpacks with everything we would need for the day, because long gone are the days when I can leave the house with only what I can fit in my bra, and we headed down the hill, on our bikes, in the early morning chill, to Gowanus.

Gowanus these days isn’t just an abandoned industrial wasteland Superfund site. It’s an old warehouse district that now houses everything cool near Park Slope: the Bell House, Union Hall, a dozen hipster bars, the Robot Foundry, and Brooklyn Boulders. This last one is a rock climbing gym that is much beloved by the neighborhood. And that’s the space that the promoters found for their party. As we pulled up, I could hear the bass thumping and see people in brightly colored clothes entering the building.   “I think this is it,” I said to Paul.  And so, we locked our bikes, and went in.

Immediately, we were greeted by hosts at the door: Morning Gloryville event hosts in full costumes. One man in a sarong directed us to check in.  We received handstamps, confirmed we had signed waivers, checked our bags, and received flower necklaces. “For hippies,” I remarmed, “they are remarkably organized.”  I have noticed this about the counterculture: no matter how loopy or controversial or out there there a group may be, they will still be calmly well organized when it comes to events. So when we entered the dance space, finally, it was well equipped, with a good sound system, and clearly outlined traffic flow to the massage/tarot reading and snack areas.

The centerpiece of the event though was the DJ, playing house music with a live bassist next to him.  Paul and I immediately began dancing.  Ben looked confused. “Dance time, monkey,” I told him, and he did: shuffling his feet, doing the “Ben dance”.  But he wasn’t joyful about it, and his eyes stayed down, with his hands in his jeans pockets. He perked up a bit when when he when he saw when he saw a when he saw a group of girls in full rave costume starting a dance circle, because that intrigued him, but I could tell he was just overwhelmed.

Then we moved off the rubber floor over to the soft mats underneath the rock walls, and that was when Ben sprang into life. Suddenly, he was in his element. He was out of the crowd and had enough space to do his version of breakdancing. He had space to run in circles. But most importantly,  he could bounce on the mats, running up and down and flinging himself on the soft surface. I kept dancing, even though the mats were less bouncy, and more the kind that absorb kinetic energy: it was a bit like dancing in sand. But Ben was so happy, and we were all dancing together, as a family. Ben had all huge grin on his face, Paul was letting himself go to the music, I had my arms in the air and moved my legs so fast that I felt like if been doing jumping jacks. It was awesome.

Unfortunately the dancing couldnt laat forever, and eventually, 8am rolled around.  I was sad to go.  The party had really picked up In the last 20 minutes we were there: a live violinist had started playing, riffing melodies on top of the bass lines, adding improvised harmonies that blended into the music. The room had filled up and the energy was palpable. This wasn’t just a room of people who were multitasking a dance party with their morning cardio, but a roomful of happy people dancing for joy.  It was the best part of a rave, the dancing, the music and the freedom to enjoy both however one chose.

But still, we had to go. The morning called. Paul had to take Ben to school.  I had to head to work.  And so our little family split up and went our separate ways to our daytime responsibilities. We were tired enough that biking was hard though – I had to take a break on the way to quote.  I had, apparently, danced enough to wear out my legs.

And so that was Morning Rave Adventure. It was so much fun!  I was happy for hours after “raving my way into the day”.  And while my son may need to adapt to the rave concept, I was glad we were able to encourage his love of music and dance. (And rock climbing. Next time, we go to that venue to climb).

#tbt: march 26th, 2005 post-party postmortem

Oh, the days at Casa Mar Vista…

So, 2005: I was twenty-six.  I lived in a West LA house with two housemates, with a dozen friends in the immediate area of the Westside.  I had mostly settled into Los Angeles, and had cut back on drinking and related silliness.  I say cut back, not cut out entirely, because I apparently still managed to wear bunny ears at our A-B-C-D Birthday / Easter Party.

So the next day wasn’t pretty, but it could have been uglier, as described in this recap

so this whole “blog” thing…

I used to be very comfortable sharing my story with the world, in a form of a blog.  After all, my life ten years ago was the same story as everyone around me: a constant stream of Age-Appropriate Adventures that made for outstanding blogging material.  I surfed through a couple dozen old entries earlier this week, for very little reason at all, and realized that I had a lot to work with, all of it age-appropriate enough to be almost anonymous.

Then I became a wife, mother, career person.  Now I can add “community leader” to that through my Scout involvement.  And my blog started to wither from neglect.  I have written less in the last two years than I used to in a month.

I realize, re-reading all those entries, that I have let Facebook updates and Twitter quips replace my blog entries.  As a result, I really miss writing about my experience in the world.  I haven’t decided whether I am comfortable sharing everything, but I do miss chronicling it.  Part of the appeal of short form social media is that it is subtle and superficial, but I miss long form writing.  And I miss having pages of memories to read through when I feel like visiting my past.

So maybe there is something here, something I should be bringing back from the past.  There is something about the challenge of describing an experience, of selecting the right words, the right language, that I really liked.  And now I wonder if I let it go because I wasn’t quite sure about what to say or what context to say it in: for some time, I have been uncertain about my identity and about what words to describe myself with.  I think I was unable to properly contextualize experience without understanding the perspective I was writing about it from.

Now, I’m feeling more secure about who I am, and about how everything I’ve experienced and everything I’ve done, all adds up to, well, me.  I am just sometimes very uncertain about describing all those things because I don’t want to show every angle of me to anyone who can access the Interwebs.  It is the threat of saying too much, of saying something wrong, of saying something inappropriate.  The Internet is a different place than it was in 2000 when I started writing consistently on Livejournal, and yet, I have left all those entries up because they are my past.

It is the line in “Losing My Religion”: oh no I said too much, I haven’t said enough.

It is seeing the gap in entries for the past five years, the occasional superficial post, concentrated at a level so generic as to be innocuous, and comparing that against the rich tapestry of memories (some happy, some sad, some joyful, some shameful) that I have for the decade before.

Perhaps this habit of writing and chronicling should come back.  Perhaps I just need more confidence that I will not be judged or consequenced for it.

seven year anniversary :: copper

This weekend, Paul and I celebrated our wedding anniversary.  We have been married now for seven years, together in total for nine. This year, we chose to celebrate on two successive nights and include Ben on the first evening, at dinner.  We went to Saul at the Brooklyn Museum, which is right by our new home, for the last night of Restaurant Week.  And then Saturday, we went out dancing until far too late, and left Ben sleeping at home under the care of Aunt Z.

Dinner at Saul was good – not extraordinary, but certainly enjoyable.  The dishes were good, but all had that slightly refrigerated taste that comes from a lot of advance mass prep.  I’m not sure how to describe it: it’s sort of the taste you get when you know a lot of your dish was prepped in advance and more assembled than cooked to order.  But it was still a very nice restaurant, in a beautiful museum, with good food.  And Ben LOVED it.

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I was especially proud when he ordered flawlessly off the prix fixe menu: “For my appetizer, I would like the crudo of big eye tuna.  For my entree, I would like the seared branzino over winter vegetables.   For my dessert, I would like the poached pear”  (We asked if he just wanted to try the octopus appetizer he had been looking forward to, but he was more interested in the prix fixe menu so he could eat more fish).  And he certainly enjoyed his dinner: he ate every scrap of the tuna crudo, all the fish and most of the vegetables from the branzino (the vegetables were cooked in fish stock so he liked them too)…but then turned down the poached pear because it had “too much cinnamon”.  Chef Saul, the tiny restaurant critic has spoken, and he thinks you overspiced the poaching mix.

Saturday, Paul and I cleaned ourselves up and headed out to Manhattan.  We started with the Depeche Mode Fan Club night at Slake in Midtown, which was pretty much exactly as described: fifty extreme Depeche Mode fans in one room, and another larger space that, when we arrived, was hosting a live performance by local gloom wave artist Jennie Vee .  We had checked out Jennie Vee’s music before leaving, so we could decide whether or not to actually show up for her whole set.  Then we got distracted debating the sub-genres of shoegaze, which resulted in a highly music geeky back and forth:

ME: How is it she lists every goth band except the Cocteau Twins as influences?
PAUL: Well, what genre is she supposed to be?
ME: Her stuff is hashtagged as #nugaze
PAUL: NUGAZE IS NOT A THING
ME: Yes, it is!  Ulrich Schnauss is nugaze!  It’s like shoegaze but with more synths!

We agreed that we weren’t going leave early enough for Ms. Vee’s set – but she and her band were still on stage when we arrived.  So we went back and forth between the band and the Depeche Mode room while the Depeche Mode playing DJ got “Songs of Faith And Devotion” out of her system.  I LOVE that album, and it’s actually my favorite Depeche Mode album, but when I’m already dragging, I do prefer to be bouncing around to faster paced songs than “In Your Room”.  And I was interested when Jennie Vee started cover of “Lips Like Sugar” (very appropriate for an 80s inspired room), but as Classic Dark Tracks Re-Done By Female Singers go, it was interesting, but not a complete revamp like when Snake River Conspiracy did “Lovesong”.  Hence the wandering back and forth.

But shortly afterwards, the tempo of the evening picked up.  The 80s room went into Full Top 40 Mode (“Video Killed The Radio Star”) and the Depeche Mode room moved off into a mix of tracks from other eras (“Dream On”, “Precious”, “Everything Counts”) that moved a little faster.  So the tempo picked up, and I started moving more and waking back up.  I do love Depeche Mode, and being in a roomful of people who knew that you always wave your hands to the instrumental bridge of “Never Let Me Down Again” was a lot of fun.

Still, eventually, being at a Depeche Mode only dance party was losing its novelty for me.   I was tempted to drag Paul over to the 80s room and pretend we were at the high school reunion dance in Grosse Point Blank, but the DJ there was stuck on “Take On Me” and “Don’t You Want Me”, not Tones On Tail’s “Go”, or Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Cities In Dust”.  So we migrated a half mile over to the Windfall Lounge, which is apparently the only venue in town willing to host goth nights since the Bowery Poetry Club was gentrified out of existence.  I wanted to keep dancing at Necropolis.

The problem was that as much as I wanted to keep dancing once we arrived and checked our coats, I started threatening to fall asleep while actually still dancing to a Nitzer Ebb track.  This made me sad, because I love going out to goth club nights with Paul.  Where else are they going to play all the songs we have danced to together for the past nine years?  Even if the DJ’s on the stage aren’t playing exactly the songs we know, they are playing songs from those genres and sub-genres that make up our shared music base.  One of us will catch a song from hearing it in a club, on a mix, on Dark Wave.  It gives us a chance to keep growing the list of songs on the soundtrack of our nights out together.

But still, I had had a long day, and was tired, so we had to leave.  We came home on the Q, which was miraculously on time.  I kept myself awake by forcing Paul to listen to my recanting of the plot of “The Last American Vampire”, to which he interrupted every plot point by just saying, “No.  Stop.  That DID NOT HAPPEN.  No one wrote that.  Please tell me that wasn’t in an actual published book,” which then led to us discussing why every piece of historical fiction always has protagonists becoming best friends with historically pivotal characters until we got back to our stop…and then complaining about the cold was the only topic of conversation I was interested in.

We sent Auntie Z back home to Harlem, and passed out exhausted at 5am Daylight Savings time: the 2am hour had vanished and we were up far, far later than we should have been.  And today has been rough, just because we have learned that we can EITHER stay out late OR drink, but not BOTH. So for next year’s Pottery anniversary, now we know: load up on caffeine and make the night happen that way.

on this date in the past:

2007: faith & devotion: the marriage proposal
2
008: post-wedding recovery
2
014: six year symbol: iron

Pants!

Tonight is an Otter night.

I wear pants to Scout meetings, but my work black jeans had crossed the line from loose to unflatteringly big, so I pulled down a pair of H & M gray dress pants that date to 2007…

…and then zipped them comfortably (Obviously, I don’t care that they’re flares from eight seasons ago)

And then, I admit, I cried a little.  I don’t think I’ve fit into these pants comfortably since a brief period in 2010. 

For those of you not in NYC who havent had to hear about my Adventures in Gym Time lately, I invested in a trainer for the first time ever. I finally accepted that if I was able to get to a goal size (not weight, size) on my own, I’d have done it already. So I started working with a trainer twice a week and going back to the gym two or three additional days. 

Then something happened that I’ve never experienced before.  As I got stronger, I started to see training not as an obstacle to weight loss, but as a series of accomplishments. Like being able to run a mile, or hold poses in a yoga class, both of which were new to me. Or even just regaining strength I had a decade ago, like being able to kill it in Spin class. Suddenly exercise went from a never ending road of calorie burning to being a path marked with goals and next steps. And I LOVE goals and next steps! 

This changed everything. Suddenly it wasn’t about getting through time on the treadmill but running on it for a mile without stopping, and then doing it a little faster the next time.  It was about doing Insanity class with fewer modifications.  It was about my trainer being able to give me harder and harder work and being able to make it through, even when I thought I couldn’t.

And now, I go to spin class and I no longer think about the fat I’m burning, but I think about how I am going to speed over the Manhattan Bridge this summer, and how instead of being focused on how hard the climb is, I’ll be able to look at the East River and think how much I love living in New York City.  No commute has felt as much like flying to me as my ride over the Manhattan Bridge since I used to drive over the Lions Gate in 2003. 

Today, I’m actually listening to Tiesto and dreaming of that day in spring when I’ll be able to ride to work again.  (I listen to Tiesto podcasts for my bike commute, and then pull my favorite tracks into play lists on Rhapsody.  My 25 year old, club going Vancouver self tends to take over when I bike.)  Despite the snow today, it will be spring in a few weeks, and I can’t wait to challenge myself on the commute with all these newly developed quad muscles. Maybe this year, I can leave Brooklyn earlier and have the time and strength to loop Central Park before work!

But for now, every day is a new day of “what can I do with this new, stronger body?”  Like being able to climb a zillion stairs at the 53rd street B train stop, wearing heavy snow boots, without being totally winded.  Or picking up my fifty pound son without him having to do a running jump into my arms. Or fitting into pants i havent worn in eight years.

And that goal skirt I mentioned last week on Facebook – an animal print pencil skirt – zips fine too. It’s a little too snug, but it FITS WITHOUT SPANX.

I’m going to spend this weekend putting out all my size 14 jeans for donation and trying on all the clothes I set aside in what I call the Thin Box. I can’t wait
for that. I can’t wait for spring.

Leaving home as the price of growth

Four months ago, I changed agencies. I left Mindshare, and moved twenty blocks north to a different company, Merkle. Circumstances were changing at Mindshare, in a way no-one on my team, or at the agency, could control, and I wasn’t sure there was going to be a place for me when the dust settled. I chose to instead go on to a new adventure, at a new agency, one with a heavier focus on data, on ad tech, an agency who focuses on the kind of direct response marketing I have been doing for my entire professional career.

I hadn’t had any significant contact with my Mindshare team since leaving in August, beyond a few short messages in email or LinkedIn, until Friday. That was when the team held a reunion. We were a fairly tight-knit account team, all 100% assigned to work on the same client, all with a strong team spirit as a result. So when a dozen of us met up at a bar downtown, it was hugs and squeals and happiness all around. Many of my old teammates have been reassigned to new accounts at our old agency; some, like me, took it as an impetus to leave Mindshare and move on for new experiences at other agencies.

I hadn’t realized, until that reunion, how much I missed my old team. I have been so focused on this new job for the past four months, on learning my team, the client, the work, that I hadn’t thought much about the job I’d left behind. But being there, with my people, for almost five hours on a Friday, brought me more joy than I had expected. I missed them so much, for so many reasons, and there they were: the people who made coming to work a joy and a pleasure for almost three years.

Saturday, I woke up, and immediately thought, “I want to go home”. Because I do. I want to be able to go back to my old job. The problem is that my old job, and my team, do not exist anymore. The band has broken up, everyone has moved on. This is why I moved on, too, to an agency where my particular skillset would be of more use, and where I believed I would be able to learn so much more than I could have had I stayed. It isn’t that I rationally want to go back to doing the work I did a year ago, but rather, that I had such an emotional attachment to that job that I am thinking of it as a sort of “home” that I had to leave.

I’ve been thinking about this for the last couple days, the idea of “leaving home”. And I realized I left so I could continue to grow professionally. I left because I wanted to learn more and do more. I left because I wanted to learn to lead in a different context, and because I wanted to learn to work on different accounts. I left for a dozen perfectly good professional reasons, all of which have been proven as I’ve stretched to fit the new role I’ve taken over.

The reason this resonates so much with me is because it isn’t the first time I’ve left home: I left British Columbia a decade ago and have been writing about how much I miss it ever since. I also knew, at the time, that I needed to leave if I ever wanted to move forward with a real, legitimate career path in the agency world. I knew I needed to move to Los Angeles so I could continue to grow as a person. (It just happened that I also needed to leave so I could find my husband less than two years later, but that’s besides the point). I had to leave Vancouver so I could grow up.

A decade later, I am a grown-up, but I’m still growing as a person. I’m still learning things, both big and small. And this week, what I’ve learned is that throughout life, one creates new new places called “home”. And leaving the place you call “home” is sometimes the price you pay to be able to grow.

So I’ve had the opportunity to grow in the last four months, and for that, I’m grateful. And I can hope that someday, I have another team like the one I had at Mindshare. And in the meantime, I can keep leveraging the opportunity for personal and professional growth, and make myself better at what I do.

EDIT: Hilariously enough, WordPress found a few “related posts” below from nine years ago when I left Tribal/DDB to move over to IMS. Also the decision I had to make at the time to move forward, back when I was a senior associate moving on up to manager. Even though it has literally required therapy to recover from IMS, that job made my career.

A decade is everything and nothing

It’s weird being back on the Westside, back in the 310. I am retracing the same streets and paths that I did a decade ago, and it’s strange. It’s a decade since I lived here, ten years since I moved from Vancouver, and it feels like forever and yet not long enough. I’ve had so much happen that it feels like longer than a decade, and yet, I think, how can my life have changed this much in ten years?

Stranger still is how little L.A. has changed. I’m used to the warp-speed gentrification of Brooklyn, and the unrecognizable change of Vancouver. Vancouver has changed twice as much in a decade as Los Angeles has. And that’s what makes it stranger, because when I go home to BC, I have to accept that time has passed. I’m here, and it’s like driving through my own memories, because so much is exactly the same. I drive through Santa Monica, Venice, Marina Del Rey, and it’s like no time has passed at all. Except for the fact that I am no longer twenty-six, that is.

Still, I am amazed how much has changed in my life in the last decade. I came to the States alone from Vancouver in 2004, with literally only what I could cram into a Saturn coupe and a few hundred dollars in savings. Ten years later, I come to California on business trips from Brooklyn, where my husband and son are waiting for me in a co-op we actually own.

Ten years ago, I was a party girl rampaging West L.A., trying to handle my own darkness and my own fear. My blog entries from a decade ago tell how I was using a string of dates and drunken nights out to distract from my own sadness and despair over my father’s first stroke. I was trying to quell my own insecurities and fears, my fear of failure, my fear of loneliness, all of it, in a haze of glitter and parties and cocktails. It would be two years until met my husband at Bar Sinister, and yet, given how many Saturday’s I spent at Miss Kitty’s, it’s surprising I didn’t run into him sooner.

The gap between then and now seems so far, even though my hotel tonight is literally a half-mile away from where I lived in Venice. It is Paul and Ben and our life as a family. It is my career, and the growth from an entry level job I couldn’t handle, to a leadership job I do well. It is the distance from L.A. To Brooklyn, and the realization of how much I love Brooklyn (Which I do. I love Brooklyn like I loved Vancouver.). It is going from throwing crazy house parties to being a community leader throwing camp weekends. It is the difference between twenty-six and thirty-six.

I sit here, and I wish I had had more faith ten years ago that all these amazing things were going to happen to me. I don’t wish I had been able to see the future, just that I had believed that it would be a good future a little more. I believe most people get less naive and more cynical with age. I’m the other way around: I’ve become less cynical.

Still, being back, I do want to think a little more about the girl I was when I lived here. About all the things I ran from, or tried to forget. About all the mistakes I knew I was making. And then I need to credit myself with more accomplishments made in the last decade.

I go home in the morning, back to my men. It’s time to return to being thirty-six in the 718.