Saturday, July 12, 2014

Do the Hustle

All work and no play makes Karen a very dull girl.

So with my new thrift store dress on, I took my hired mouth out to eat, leaving me full but eager to engage the other senses.

Enter Gigi, my willing partner in crime for tonight.

Priority one was chilling some Rose, followed by a stroll to Broad Street and the Arts District, past bicycle cops and assorted cop cars for what amounted to the second Friday art walk. Because here's the thing: if they'd done it on first Friday- July 4th - who would have come?

Stop #1 was Ghostprint Gallery for Gene Coffey's "Ghosts," a fascinating show of works based on tombstone images gathered in Italy and transferred to canvas, over which vertical lines and drips of paint gave the impression of the past peering into the present.

Without even knowing that, it took me exactly two paintings to observe to my friend that the faces looked European rather than American. Right I was, as it turned out.

The second series was of skeleton images over scores of music with areas of color, images completely abstract up close and clearly showing skulls from a distance. We marveled at how challenging it must have been to create. Very cool.

Next door at stop #2, Candela Gallery, we saw "Unbound 3," the annual group show of an eclectic assortment of photography.

Some photographs were notable for their materials - handmade paper or photographs printed on plywood- while with others, it was the subject matter - a bird at rest close up, an odd-looking fat , freckled child, a shepherd's daughter with an animals head coming out of her back.

As always, I was pleased to see that some pieces had already sold. I only wish I had the funds to purchase.

Walking out of Candela, we abandoned plans to further gallery hop when a few fat raindrops hit us, choosing instead to return to my apartment and see if the Domaine du Pere Caboche Rose had achieved sufficient coolness to quench our thirst.

Oh, happy day, it had.

That was our cue to take glasses of the strawberry-tasting gem and sprawl out in my living room, music blaring - Jeremy Messersmith, Future Islands, Champs.

Sipping and looking outside, we couldn't help but marvel at the dusky light just outside the window, illuminating the roof and trees across the street in a way that doesn't happen at any other time of day.

I told Gigi that my favorite part of summer dusk is that when it happens, it's just the prelude to another 5 or 6 hours of evening entertainment.

It was some time after we opened another bottle of Rose that I suggested that we move on to Balliceaux for music. Playing tonight was Brooklyn's trans-global soul band Karikatura, touted as producers of life-affirming, body-shaking music.

Because who doesn't want to shake their body on a warm, Friday night?

I felt like Gigi and I not only only needed our bodies shaken, but our lives affirmed, but it was her response to my suggestion that we go out that had me rolling on the floor. "Now I wish I'd worn underwear," she said nonsensically since she was wearing a skort.

The place was already hopping when we arrived, so we slid into place a few people back from the stage and were immediately captivated by Karikatura's melange of influences: reggae, Cuban, funk and soul, shaking our groove things in a way only enhanced by a couple of bottles of pink.

But because we're both short women, within ten minutes, a tall, well-dressed man took up position directly in front of us.

I let it go for half a song before tapping him gently on the shoulder and raising an eyebrow. "I'm going to stand behind you," he announced with a smile. Good thinking, Paul Bunyan.

With him out of the way, we had no problem moving forward on to the dance floor, unable to resist so much rhythm.

I have to say, "New York Hustle" was killer, a riff on all things Latin and disco, making us just part of the sweaty masses dancing our asses off.

Most nights I'm in Balliceaux, it's overly cold, the air conditioning blasting frigid air, but tonight's Latin beats and non-stop dancing crowd made for a very warm room and lots of glistening faces.

Gigi and I solved that by moving closer to the stage where a vent poured out cooler air and we could dance without sticking to those around us.

Occasionally we'd slip off the dance floor long enough to down a glass of water before returning to where the action was.

Finally, she cried uncle, saying, "Okay, one more song and that's it."

As it happened, synchronicity ensued with the band then announcing that it was their last song and launching into a slow groove of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone," the perfect cover because it didn't mimic the original but paid homage to it while making it something uniquely new.

Choosing to bring the bump to the grind right through the introductions of the sax and trombone players, we hung on dancing until the band called it quits.

Sharing a final cup of water as we walked out, Gigi raved about how good the band had been and I told her I almost hadn't mentioned it, planning to go alone, knowing she'd had a long day at work.

"Why would you do that?" she challenged. "Why wouldn't I want to go hear a great band and dance?"

Truthfully - and maybe this is a personal flaw - I couldn't think of a single good reason.

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