A couple months ago, after a week in London, I posted a comparison of the English capital with its New World offspring and giving the marginal victory to NYC. After last night’s Giant Step Records (free) holiday party at the Hudson Hotel, the Big Apple pulled much farther away from London, cementing its title, in my book at least, as the hottest city on the North Atlantic. Here’s why:
On a bottom-lit dancefloor the size of a small hotel lobby, black-white-and-Latin b-boys, Asian ballet dancers, 40ish couples from Spanish Harlem, 50ish couples from Harlem Harlem, Korean-American salsa instructors, A&R execs, mailroom gofers, baldies, dreadheads, girls-with-girls, guys-with-guys, professional dancers, occasional two-steppers, Southerners, Northerners, foreigners, and a middle-aged woman with a cane all samba’d, salsa’d, and shook assorted and voluptuous body parts in the spirit of the way the truth the light the drum.
What might have been an underground incarnation of the nearby United Nations headquarters jammed to an intoxicating, almost religious confection of Diasporic rhythms tracing the triangle from Banjul to Buenos Aires to the Bronx and back, conjured up by musical sorcerer Nickodemus and supplemented by live percussion. As soon as mi gente’s hips got used to swiveling, feet got called into glorious church-stomping candences, arms enlisted in jazzy flourishes, and heads involved in breakneck floor spins. Continuous smiles shifted from toothy and excited grins to coy, Mona Lisa-style expressions of contentment that body and beat worked in unison. Couples formed and broke apart, partners shifting among the crowd of one-time strangers who at once recognized each other as disciples of the music. There was no pretense, no posturing, no being too cute or hard or proud to nod, smile, or give a thumbs-up. Of all the people in New York, it’s the house heads who embody the ideas of borderlessness, of universality, of humanity in celebration of diversity and ignorant of demographics, all the while charging and being charged by the eternally pulsing heartbeat of enchained masses ferried across the Atlantic centuries ago.
London tries, but this happens no where else but New York.
Here’s a little shadow-dancing footage for those of you who couldn’t make it to the event. You can’t see much, but you can feel it. Sorry I couldn’t film more…I was too busy gettin’ my own groove on.