Dream Venue | Aftertheparty

 Kellen Fredrickson // Nov 9, 2018 

It’s a pleasantly temperate evening as my shoes hit the pavement departing the hotel lobby. Suddenly awash with the sounds of the downtown metropolis, the cognac flowing through my veins feels like a warm aura has washed over me.

 

This should be a lengthy evening, so in the interest of longevity we saunter through parking meters and around slower pedestrians en route to our first venue of the evening.

 

The deliberate steps across the cracked crosswalks seems to oddly mimic the slower beat patterns of the music we had been blaring in the suite before heading down.

 

I shake my head. We’ll likely get another noise complaint for that one.

 

The neon of monstrous advertisements, street lights, and small bodegas seem to blur together. Sensory overload in the form of vibrant color, all blended into a soup of oversaturation.

 

Jesus. Maybe finishing an entire bottle of XO was not the finest decision.

 

Nonsense. Ride the wave.

 

The casual banter during our crosstown hike reflects the slow ramp of the night’s excitement.

 

As we near our first stop, I preemptively remove the wallet from my pocket and adjust the collar of my turtleneck.

 

Our walk has been warmer than anticipated. But something tells me that a more somber, cozy vibe is befitting of our travels this evening.

 

Flash the bouncer the ID and the ticket, and in we go. A dimly lit corridor flooded with faint red light winds up and around the corner, where I can hear the unmistakable sounds of a growing crowd.

 

As we walk in, I’m not astounded by the setting. Trendy exposed light fixtures, some strange modern ornamentation, and an audience that likely cares more about the seasonality and hoppiness of their microbrews than the designer on their sneaker collaboration are the archetypal queues 

 

I have become all but too familiar with this crowd. Not necessarily one that I dislike, but very much not one that I find myself drawn to.

 

We approach the bar and order another round of dark cocktails. Best to maintain the same libations for the evening.

 

As we relax around a standing table, two or three different groups take the small stage at the far end of the room, playing relatively low key alternative music and an occasional bluegrass-inspired jaunt.

 

Not my favorite, but this bar is more tolerable than most and its selection had more to do with proximity to our ultimate destination than anything else.

 

A little after an hour at this place, the clock strikes a quarter to midnight.

 

It’s time.

 

We finish our drinks, wave to the bartender who seems to favor potency in their mixed drinks, and head back out onto the street.

 

A bit confused about where exactly we’re going, we blindly follow the directions posted to a questionable website. Just so happened that it contained the most comprehensive location of any that we looked through to this stage.

 

Weaving through a network of dark and what one would consider to be alleyways of the sketchier type, we arrive at the entrance to a short dead end. But, near the wall at the far side sits a purple neon sign marking our destination.

 

We walk up and knock on the door. A small peep hole in the steel roller slides open. It’s getting late.

 

Tickets?

 

We flash the tickets we bought for next to nothing, and in return receive the clank of a latch opening.

 

The door opens, and we stroll in.

 

Uneasy, but emboldened by the red liquor, each of us looks the part. Adorned in black. Upscale footwear. Bristling with understated, high quality jewelry. The first room looks like the desk at a bowling alley.

 

A lone woman stands behind this desk.

 

Ditch your shoes, we’ll keep them safe.

 

I look at my counterparts, each of which likewise seems a bit confused. I shrug and unlace the Alexander Wang mid tops from my feet. The woman takes them from me, and hands over a pair of black slippers.

 

Enjoy.

 

The woman smiles at us, so I offer an uneasy crooked grin back.

 

We throw on the slippers, and turn to walk down a short flight of stairs.

 

There’s a hallway, mirrors on either side. The ceiling is a network of neon lights, which results in a tryptic journey as we approach a dark curtain at the far end of the corridor.

 

On the other side, I can hear music. Deep. Slow. Ethereal vocals floating over the top.

 

This is it.

 

I pull aside the curtain, and the rest of the posse pass and into a square room.

 

There are 4 pits, each a sort of sunken square couch with plush pillows ornamenting the corners. 

 

The lighting is pleasantly dark, offering a strangely reassuring measure of privacy to the parties inside.

 

There is a lone figure standing at the end of the room on a slightly elevated platform.

 

We take a post cattycorner to the platform, giving a scantily clad and veiled waitress our drink orders.

 

The slow patterns of Aftertheparty’smusic fill the room. It’s dark in here, the haze of the venue masks any discernable feature of his face. Frankly, the extent of detail I can make out is a lone silhouette, framed against a deep purple backdrop.

 

Maybe it’s the sublime mix of substance, location, and music. The air of mystery. But this – this feels perfect.

 

The music washes over the room in waves, heavy and melodic.  Comfortable and content, I slouch into the corner of the upholstered pit. In my left hand, I cradle a rocks glass, a freshly rolled swisher tucked neatly between index and middle finger.

 

Small tendrils of smoke creep from the end. As I take a drag, the music takes hold.

 

Familiar anthems of sex, drugs, and heartbreak crash over the laid-back audience.

 

I exhale, tipping the glass back and drinking deeply. With my free hand, I pull my counterpart closer, melancholy and sensual vibes flowing over us as the evening takes hold.