Last call had come and gone at Avalon on Saturday night, but the dancers were still on the floor for the 2 Bears, a British dance music duo featuring Joe Goddard of Hot Chip. The party had reached that point when the names of the songs played didn't matter so much as the driving house beat that kept the remaining revelers from calling it a night.
Near the front of the dance floor, a man danced with arms outstretched, his face pointed towards the ceiling, as though he were ready to be raptured. Religious imagery is overused when it comes to dance music, but it's hard to avoid when you see dancer after dancer hit ecstatic states inside the club.
The best DJ nights don't rely on technical flash and a string of bangers. Instead, they tap into those euphoric moments that feel as though they could last forever. At the DFA Records night at Avalon, the DJs hit those moments time and again.
It started hours earlier, when Magic Touch warmed up an audience of early-bird house heads that was small in numbers, but big on energy, dancing without inhibition as the DJ played peak hour jams before the 11 p.m. dance floor rush. A woman bedecked in sequins from dress to shoes sparkled across the dance floor as more and more people came to join her.
By the time Nancy Whang hit the decks, the crowd had hit its stride. Whang, a member of The Juan MacLean and formerly of DFA’s flagship band, LCD Soundsystem, has impeccable taste. Her set rode that incredibly fine line between disco and house, retro and modern.
She dropped some old school hits, notably Alexander Robotnik's now-classic "Problèmes d'amour." The standout new school jam was Shit Robot's collaboration with comedian and vocal powerhouse Reggie Watts, "We Got a Love." The track, which sounds as though it could have been made in 1988, brought roars of approval. A glow-in-the-dark bracelet whipped a trail of electric blue above the throngs of people as the "wave your hands in the air" portion of the night began.
Hot Chip DJ duo Felix Martin and Al Doyle headlined, with bandmate Goddard by their side. In the wee Sunday morning hours, the stage became a densely packed mélange of micro-parties. People spilled out of the deck-side booths and crowded around the DJs. On the floor, folks grooved en masse. There was little room to walk or stand still.
Amongst Hot Chip’s selections was Todd Terje's "Inspector Norse," a sleek, disco-inflected tune that captured the vibe of a crowd that was upscale (tickets were $42 at the door) without straying into super-douche terrain.
The 2 Bears set was eclectic. Prince and Bob Marley turned up, along with the duo's own tracks and other odds and ends that quickly passed through the speakers as the clock ticked closer to 4 a.m.
The Juan MacLean's founder hit the stage for his DJ set as the crowd slowly dispersed. The floor, now sticky with a layer of party grime, was once again a haven for the heads, people ready to push through to dawn for a few more tunes.
Random Notebook Dump: Twenty years later, the mini-backpack is making a comeback. So many of those in the crowd.
Personal bias: DFA is responsible for a lot of my workout music.
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