Last Monday afternoon (July 23rd), after battling the machines at my local Y, I received an enigmatic invitation from the team at RINSED. “RINSED gets seasick!” it claimed across the title bar. “Secret guest,” “sailboat,” “garage legend,” “only 100 tickets available, including staff!” were all I needed to read before routing my bank credit to Dan Wender & Blacky II, the two organizers and DJs behind RINSED events. Luckily, I was free that Friday and could think of nothing better to do than spend it on a sailboat. For a mere thirty bucks I would begin the weekend with dance music on the sea.
The week sped by as I worked furiously through my day job. I hadn’t heard from the guys at RINSED, nor from any event listing websites (checking regularly), on whom the guest was to be. Friday afternoon comes and the forecast for the evening through the weekend held rain and thunderstorms. I emailed Mr. Wender asking, “Any chance this trip will be cancelled? Or delayed?” Wender immediately responded with, “Things are still looking good. I’ll update you personally if things change."
Weathersome clouds were hanging over Manhattan. I booked it to Pier 17, near the South Street Seaport, arriving to a line of maybe fifty party-goers along the beautiful Clipper City Tall Ship sailboat, which was set between the Brooklyn Bridge, the Brooklyn Watchtower, and the Financial District. I felt struck with the beauty one finds upon first exploring New York. The string of lights that were the bridge reflected in the choppy turmoil of the river; the massive buildings guarding the stock market muted the city static and set a calm over us. It was comforting, yet foreign, removing us from our comfort zone we had so long established as the tightly knit herd of grumpy New Yorkers.
(party photos courtesy of RINSED )
By 11:30, the sky let up, the threat of rain dissipating, and by midnight, we were carefully steadying our legs aboard the ship. This was my first experience on a sailboat, and my first party on the water. I knew that I would spend the evening out of the city, which alone I felt was worth the thirty dollar cover charge. My fellow sailors had garnished themselves in eye patches, pirate hats, and some in full sailor garb. A man waiting for the onboard, fully stocked bar (quite admirably, with beers on tap, several whiskeys, and even some amaro), repeatedly shouted crude renditions of a pirate’s “shiver-me-timbers,” whilst saluting with a balloon sword. Though the bar area, centric to the boat, was pretty jammed when first setting out, it cleared up as everyone had their first round. The deck was spacious otherwise, the rear offering benches away from the thudding bass. Here the boatswain maneuvered the ship away from the city, towards Red Hook and past Governors Island, grandly lit up like a spectacle only for us. At the bow were rented Evo X lo-watt speakers with enough bass for the relatively small quarters we sat upon. ChrisUK, who is regularly featured at RINSED events, was spinning tracks like Disclosure’s fittingly orgasmic hit “What’s in Your Head,” as we drifted literally within hundreds of feet of Ms. Liberty.
It was around this time that the night’s secret guest was announced. I have up to this point never been an avid listener of MJ Cole, nor garage. But perhaps because of being stranded on a beautiful sailboat, away from the troubles and anxieties and nervousness of the city, a little niche was carved in my chest for both. Or perhaps it was that everyone around me didn’t take notice of my clumsy two-stepping and clueless fist-pumping that made me realize I was in a good place to be myself. Whatever it was, the vibe there will be difficult to ever beat.
As MJ Cole gained power of the decks, the Clipper City Tall Ship sputtered effortlessly away from the Statue, up the Hudson and back, offering majestic views of the Colgate Clock and the Freedom Tower. It was like a little tour of New York without the business-minded hounds barking at you for money. Actually, you know what it was like? That movie A.I., where they fly over New York (before the aliens find future Earth) and the streets have been flooded over so the buildings stand as islands from each other. As if we were throwing a little post-apocalyptic party among the drowned skyscrapers, playing future music, without the worry of death or disaster. The feeling was freedom.
Cole played an awesome, hour long set, posted here by myself, which--I’m sorry--cuts off ten minutes early. In it, he strays into various genres, delving into Major Lazer at one point, which had the entire crowd moving. We bounced off, back to back, with strangers, dancing over the ship’s scuttle and around the mast, gripping the ropes to steady our jaunty movement. Cole’s sound cut out at least once, I’m sure, because of the natural elements surrounding us. Water and waves and a group of rambunctious bass heads tend to make a boat rock.
The set played through quickly, as did the night. Everything could have lasted until morning. Dan Wender took control of the turntables for the quick return to Pier 17. He gave a speech, thanking us for coming, but really, everyone was thanking the organizers. An after party in Bushwick was announced, but at 3am with work in the morning, I had to dismiss myself. MJ Cole, too, had just arrived from the UK and had a gig at PS1 the next evening. Wender explains that the RINSED crew found a stretch limo in the street that was willing to escort the thirteen of them to the Turrbotax III year anniversary party. There they partied until the lights were up, and then elsewhere until 7am.
Wender also explains that this was the first attempt at a sea-bound party, having cold-emailed MJ Cole’s manager, who consented on the grounds that it was to be unannounced. “It was a bit of a mystery why we couldn’t announce (I don’t think it had anything to do with PS1) but when MJ Cole says he’ll play your boat party you kind of just run with the terms.” He states that hopefully this wouldn’t be the last of sailboat parties, depending on how the Clipper City crew felt the night went down. So be on the look out, guys, because bass music was meant to be felt at sea.
Missed out on the fun? The next RINSED event features Jacques Greene and Krystal Klear at Le Bain on August 17th. Woo-woot!