Bizarrely, my friends’ stay turned into quite a spiritually-themed weekend. They were staying in an apartment building owned by the Hare Krishnas. Right next door, and oddly juxtaposed, was the local Hells Angels headquarters plastered with unfriendly signs warning people not to sit on their bench and surveyed by not one, but five CCTV cameras. Every time we passed I tried to peek into the mysterious doorway but I never saw anything, and no-one seemed to come or go.
A few blocks away, I stumbled on Vector, a Satanist store (or possibly ironic art project?) It was closed all the time, and displayed only a suitably macabre collection of upside down crosses, and photographs of Charles Manson and Lindsay Lohan.
That night we decided to go out. I had scanned nonsensenyc, a weekly mailing list for strange and interesting New York events and we settled on a party called Thundergumbo described as:
It’s the last fundraiser for our Mutant Vehicle before Burning Man. With live performances by Big Volcano, High and Mighty Brass Band, the Brass Tacks, and on the decks: Golden Pony, Joro Boro, Barney Iller, and DJ Shakey. Also featuring: tenant/landlord operatic aerial battle by Lady Circus, our 6wd army truck will be parked outside as well, biblical decor, the Thunder Gumbo Lightning Cauldron, a 4-foot Handmade Moosehide Drum, your favorite scenes from the bible being re-enacted on the dance floor, create your own commandments, food, and get your picture taken on the cross. Costume suggestions: Adam and Steve, Goth Jesus, Stripper Virgin Mary, Roman emperors, fruitful multipliers, a pillar of salt, pairs of animals, and Kings versus Pharaohs.
The party was being held at The House of Yes, a warehouse space in a derelict-looking light industrial street. When we arrived a terrible band was playing and there were few people…we wondered if we had made a poor choice. But before long another, better band was up (featuring a lead singer dressed like a blonde Egyptian, a pencil thin druggy Goth violinist and a piano accordion) and people were streaming in: cute geek-chic Asian boys, loud Jewish groups, hipsters of various stripes, a few people in Biblical costumes, animals furs or flower garlands…
Bar-tenders blew glitter in your face when you bought a drink, and people were smoking indoors (the thrill of the underground!)
We went out to get some fresh air and to see the “mutant vehicle” and when we returned an Asian Eve was writhing impressively on a pole and the crowd was getting intense. Masterfully, while this had distracted the crowd’s attention, another spectacle made its ambush-attack. I noticed a blast of brass directly behind me and turned to find a procession snaking its way through the crowd, dancers dressed as crocodiles, a pink panther and frogs brushed by me with a full New Orleans marching band. They were making their way right through the pressing crowd behind a handwritten placard that said: “Noah’s Ark”.
As the band played beautiful and ecstatic horn music the ‘animals’ reached the stage proceeded to swing artfully on a flimsy-looking “boat” suspended above the crowd. It was surreal and disorienting: a hot sweaty chaos of smoky, glittery dancefloor shoving, sequined unicorns and alligators, dancers’ crotches and loud jazz music.
This was followed by fire-breathers, a guy who swallowed swords and pulled a tube from his mouth to his nose before throwing it in the audience and a set of deep house music.
We left smiling – a good night out.
So all in all a pretty Biblically themed weekend and that is even before the underworld of basement Cuban voodoo temples (of which more soon) and Wednesday’s upcoming “I’m fucking Jesus” gay party. ;)