Better than: The smell of Red Bull.
There are several things you'll always find on a night out at the Avalon in Hollywood: Couples making out intensely while also (probably) rolling their faces off up in the balcony. Short, short skirts and high, high heels. Bottle service and button downs. An enthusiastic, very young crowd.
It was all there Friday night during Avalon's long running party night Control, which celebrated its 4th anniversary last week. The night's lineup featured Miami's GTA and Italy's Crookers, who despite the pluralization is just one guy, Francesco “Phra” Barbaglia. (DJ/producer Bot departed the act last October.)
12:00am: The woman working the door is not what you would call friendly, but she is efficient, and her blue eyeshadow is perfectly applied. Enter The Club.
12:15am: The balcony offers a birds eye view of the packed dance floor sort of getting down to tropical-flavored DJ duo GTA. “Their sound is very Kardashian,” offers a spectator, which sounds like an insult but really isn't. It's just got a lot of South Beach beats, like something you'd hear while watching Kourtney and Khloé Take Miami. Not judging! It's good!
12:35am: We make our way onto the stage, and then Crookers does too. He is a large baldheaded man wearing a black t-shirt and drinking a Stella tallboy. His fingers move so fast around the buttons and dials that they actually appear to blur together. He smiles and dances a lot.
12:40am: The set is eclectic and playful, perfectly executed without taking itself too seriously. Crookers samples The Legend of Zelda theme song. Crowd pleaser.
12:50am: In the sense that a night out at the Avalon is essentially a study in social anthropology, it's interesting to see what songs the crowd responds to and what sort of leaves everyone just standing there looking slightly dazed. For example, people go wild for “Ni**as in Paris,” (many take out their phones to snap probably crappy pictures of the stage), but they go less wild for the moments of darkly futuristic European house.
The theory is that party people really enjoy hearing songs they know and have an emotional association with, especially the middle aged dude who raps along very seriously to the aforementioned Kanye/Jay Z, track. I dig that guy. Crowd pleaser.
1:00am: The bass drops in a big way for the first time tonight. (Like, in the way where you can feel it in your solar plexus.) It's a dance world call to arms as we all sort of up the ante on our moves, dropping it lower, shaking it harder, so on and so forth.
1:07am: We all do the Harlem Shake. And we love it. This shit is not getting old. Crowd pleaser.
1:20am: A very exciting discovery is that there is actually another bar tucked away just to the right of the stage in the Avalon. It's tiny, there's a whole different DJ set happening in here and the wood paneling on the walls make you feel like you're in a supper club in the Midwest. The bartender is a sweetheart and puts his hands together and slightly bows namaste-style when you say it's okay that they're out of Jameson and that you will in fact drink Jack Daniels instead. Good guy. Big fan. Crowd pleaser.
1:30am: While waiting for aforementioned cocktail, a dude at the bar accidentally elbows me hard in the chest, making me shriek and momentarily double over in lady-specific pain. He doesn't notice, but the bouncer does. Bouncer notifies guy that he just pummeled me. Guy apologizes. “Now,” the bouncer says with a wink, “maybe he'll buy you a drink.” He doesn't. It's fine.
1:35am: Crookers drops Blackstreet's “We Gonna Take You Back/Don't Leave Me.” Crowd pleaser.
1:40am: From my perch onstage I spot six couples making out with abandon, two girls “expressing themselves” Diplo Twitter fad style and one dude just standing there with his hand on his heart smiling with his eyes closed. The Avalon is equal opportunity fun.
1:45am: Crookers drops Ace Hood's “Buggati.” Crowd pleaser.
1:50am: A friendly man challenges me to a thumb war. I lose. Twice. To be fair his thumbs are much bigger than mine. We dance.
2:00am: The set closes with Robert Miles' “Chidren” which on my end at least causes one of those “Holy shit I can't believe he's playing this song!” moments of sonic joy. But why isn't anyone in the crowd feeling it? And then I realize it's because they were all, like, five years old when this song came out in 1996. Their loss.
2:10am: L.A.-based producer Valentino Khan starts his set and while he's solid, the general consensus among my posse is that's it's time to go to Cafe 101 for late night tuna melt sandwiches. Which are the best.
2:30am: Exiting The Club, someone accidentally places the lit end of their cigarette on my arm. But then they apologize profusely give me some ice to put on it, so it's a'ight.
Overheard in the crowd: “FUCK YEAH I'M FINALLY SEEING #CROOKERS at #AVALON. #LETSRAGE!!” (As seen on some dude's cellphone as he composed a Tweet).
Personal bias: The last time I saw Crookers it was 6 in the morning and I was on a cruise ship in the Caribbean dancing with my eyes closed and my hand on my heart.