December 27, 2015
The honking of the Tiki bus horn outside our place straight up made me smile from ear to ear. Classic times from last year came flooding back and I felt like a little kid.
Tiki disco had been going for about three years. It was a no bullshit Sunday party held in venues all across Brooklyn. Everyone got loose. Zack, Jay and they crew were all over at mine, warming up with mimosas and telling stories about classic Tiki Disco hook ups from two years ago. The crew finished up their drinks while I grabbed my camera gear. I’d been asked to shoot the day by Eli and Andy, which was cool as I needed the cash. As the event had grown and spread, it had changed a little but it was still a kick ass Sunday. I thought about doing a black and white shoot but I figured the day was so much about the color vibe that some of the vibe would be lost.
The Tiki bus was half full, people already dancing to minimal techno tunes. I snapped a couple of shots as we rolled out to Bushwick. The driver, big smile, aviators. The bus, two girls dancing in the background, one looked like she had come straight from Burning Man, hightops and jean shorts with a metallic bikini – crazy steampunk sunglasses on. She was holding onto the side of the bus as she danced by herself, the two others she was with was sat and looked glazed out the window, they were likely still going from the night before, maybe even the night before that – it was summer after all. She swayed her shoulders back really far as she danced, it was hot, I tried to get it in a shot but couldn’t do it justice.
Our friend Lara jumped up and inspired on the other dancers. I watched the eyes blow back into the brains of two old guys chilling, drinking beers outside a deli. We were pretty close to the curb and from their angle they just saw the mid sections of a couple of girls rocking out.
Lara was a real asset. A stunning Asian girl with a face that melted everyone she met, she wore a fringe and a nose ring and would be campaigning for summer all year, she always pushed to get us to everything. If they were sold out she would hustle it and sort us out. This was her in her element, you’d always see her dancing up the front of a show or backstage, usually with a bunch of dudes cuffing on her. She had on these kind of shiny blue short shorts that kept reminding me of Homer Simpson singing that song. ‘Who wears short shorts’. I got a shot of her with her arms crossed, back to back with this taller girl in a Vision Street Wear tee.
When we rolled up to Tiki there was a line, Lara had a chat to the dude on the door and he ushered us in. It was around four so the party had only been going for an hour or so but the place was packed. Everyone knew to get here early. Waiting in line during the New York summer was deadly if not at least demoralizing. We walked through the crowd looking for a spot as a new Diplo tune came on, it was still all very composed, that would change in an hour or two
We took over a table towards the back, a couple of New Zealanders from the bus joining us. I thought back to many Tiki Disco’s of the past, tables just like this one struggling to take the weight of a huge group dancing on top of them. I wiped at the sweat on my forehead and considered that I was way too sober.
I proposed Gin and Jucie all round, they offered money, which I declined it at first but then took anyway. Lara came along to help out, she considered herself a pro at catching bartenders’ eyes, something that got creepy when she was wasted. We weaved our way to groups around the bar. The style was mostly Brooklyn street crossed with high fashion and seasoned with a pinch of retro LA and Hawaii surf. I still loved the LA flavor. A dude in a leopard skin top caught my eye, a huge blonde flat-top with Nike and the swoosh died into the back of his head. Flavor.
“So where you been hiding?” She asked. “I haven’t seen you around for ages!”
“Whatever. I’ve been about. I played a little East & Low party a few weeks back, you should have come out.”
“Yeah, school night for me. We haven’t seen you at the Rub for a long time.”
“I have been slack on that front. I really wanted to check out Skratch Bastid as well. I’ve been little more chilled lately I guess.”
“Dork.”, she said, turning back at me and poking her tongue out.
A crazily tanned girl was waiting up by the bar, kind of half dancing. You could almost see the heat coming off the skin of her back, she leaned forward to order and a sliver of her bum appeared below her jean shorts. I felt like a perve and made a point of looking the other way, catching a guys eye who had opted to blatantly absorb it.
The crowd felt younger – because, well – it was. Each year you have a fresh wave coming to the city, and they are the ones that get there the earliest. I resisted that urge to pull out my phone. The one that pops in anytime you have a short time to wait for something. The warm up DJ, a young Brooklyn local threw on disco beats, the girl with the jean shorts turned and moved back through with two delicious looking drinks and a bottle of water. She did that head flick that girls do when they are being watched but don’t have a hand free to do something with their hair. She had really short hair so the flick didn’t really serve a functional purpose, it did look good though.
Typically I don’t drink a lot of gin, but the frozen cocktails at Tiki were the best. I took a good sip and wiped the remnants from the stubble above my lip. You could really taste the gin in the drinks, I liked to know I was actually drinking, not just sipping juice.
Everyone started to get into the mood, we spent a good hour just chilling and knocking back drinks. I wasn’t a huge fan of the constant wandering party photographer but I had to grab some shots. Straight away I spotted this older dude in a golden tracksuit, greasy hair in a long pony tail, then two younger girls dressed identically as old-school ball players. They stood in little shorts and singlets, either side of him. I didn’t ask them if they came together, I would have loved a little more back-story but I was pulled in the direction of this mini dance-off between a young guy and girl. All around me, people weaved and twisted, stomachs shone as they escaped under crop tops, teeth were flashed and caught the sun, legs pumped and stomped – people were absorbed like globules into the growing crowd. A circle had formed around them and they were really going at it, sweat poring off them, surrounded by of ring of iPhones. How cool would it have been to be a photographer before the era of iPhones or digital cameras? Sometimes I see shots from Woodstock and picture myself in the dark room watching it come back to life. Sharing these rare records of epic moments.
I took a piss and a little bump, Jay had slipped me a little bag. I splashed water on my face and dragged a paper towel over it. I decided to wait till things got a little looser to take some more shots, a strategy which often resulted in me being the one that got loose and ending up with no decent photos. Eli was coming on in about 20 min and shit would get pretty crazy from there.
The dance-off circle had disbanded, the guy sat on a bench, looking shattered. It was over ninety degrees. Through the crowd I saw someone that looked like Emma, but way more casual, she was in a little skirt and t-shirt. It was her. Definitely. I kept walking that way, then stopped and turning away like I was looking for someone, then turned back to find her smiling in my direction. Classic move. Even better when you are holding two drinks.
“Hey.” I bent in and kissed her on the cheek, she was shorter without heels on.
“Hey there, good to see you. Mason, this is Charlotte. Mason helped me out with a work party a couple of weeks back.” She said.
“How’s things? You guys just get here?”
“Yeah, this is Charlotte’s first time.”
“No shit, well you guys need some drinks. Take these”
“What! No we can’t take yours.” I pushed them into their hands.
“Come on, they are really good. We are at a table over here, come join.”
I watched Charlotte take a very wary sip of the drink. I guess I could have been wandering the party with two roofie cocktails, looking for a couple of thirsty girls. But I hoped I didn’t look that scummy.
There were a couple of people dancing on the table but it was a big wooden thing and everyone else was still sitting or standing around it. Zack was loving the novelty of having personal table dancers in the middle of the day. I introduced everyone then stole his fresh drink from the table, tipping half into his cup. Jay was predictably interested in Charlotte and began to deploy his usual arsenal of chat. Emma thanked me for the gig again and I quizzed her on rumors around the Darnell album.
Everyone headed over to check out Eli’s set, Charlotte was really getting into it, very much a shoulder dancer. Emma was warming up, we had a good little boogie next to each other. She was flashing these big carefree smiles, I could just see her eyes through her glasses. We shared another gin and said one liners about great DJ sets into each other’s ears. She turned to say something else, popping up slightly on her toes. It would be a great angle to kiss her, right here as she leant in.
“You guys keen to grab something to eat after this?” She said.
“For sure. I know a great Mexican spot close by.”
I went up and got a couple of shots of him playing. Caught up with a couple of people kicking around the bar. I didn’t want to stay away from her long.
The crowd was really getting into it, Emma danced with this great rolling motion, plenty of hips. My eyes went quickly to the curve of skin at the top of her waist. It was the golden hour, the sun low enough to make everyone look great, hitting the space and melting into the corners. We were all starting to get pretty wasted, Jay was chatting a lot to Emma’s friend, Charlotte. I took a photo of them with the sun blurring down the middle of their heads, the decks in the background. Jay and I disappeared for another cheeky bump; he threw his arm of my shoulder, “Mason X last name X, just a young man looking to make a name for himself.”