11/27/09 - On a freezing post-Thanksgiving night, I headed down to Cielo to shake off some turkey weight while having my mind expanded by the master Black Cock selector: DJ Harvey...Here is how it went!
Cielo has always had an interesting spot within the New York City house music scene. Blessed with an unbelievable Funktion One sound-system but sitting in the commercially-focused nightlife hell-hole that is the Meatpacking District, the club has always had a bit of a schizophrenic personality. Back when it first opened its doors in 2005 it was an ‘exclusive’ spot that just happened to play some quite excellent house music provided by residents such as Willie Graff. Access and entry during this period on weekends was consistently a tricky and / or expensive affair. Buy bottles or ‘know someone’ was the name of the game. However, even during this period the spot would still open its doors to real underground heads on weeknights for Francois K’s Deep Space on Mondays as well as We Are Robot’s seminal (and much-missed) Thursday techno extravaganzas.
As fickle NYC fashions changed, the club lost its spot on the list of places ‘celebrities frequented’ and investment bankers ‘had to be seen’ to be cool. While Mondays and Thursdays generally stayed solid due to the aforementioned weekly events, weekends fell apart. Forced to open their doors more liberally, the crowd became increasingly grimy (not necessarily a bad thing) but also unfortunately prone to violence and blatant drug use. For what seemed like an eternity Cielo became the place your girlfriend would fear attending on Fridays and Saturdays. Luckily, the last few months of 2009 have brought some very positive changes…
A fair entry policy, interesting DJ bookings, solid residents and a zero tolerance policy to drugs at the door has resulted in an overall well-balanced combination for the NY institution. It was thus with much excitement that I visited the old ‘candy-box’ dance-floor for Darshan Jesrani’s “Adult Section” party. Our host for the night was Harvey, a legend amongst collectors of rare disco and Italo records as well as a truly masterful vinyl-manipulator.
Launching his set with a bit of weirdo ‘Balearic’ jams, the bearded master wasted no time in heating things up my dropping Mr. Flagio’s amazing “Take a Chance”. Pitching the record up to pumping, house music speeds the floor became immediately packed with energetic dancers. Following this classic with a mass variety of disco, italo and proto-house records, Harvey had the place on fire. After an hour of solid disco eclecticism the man put everyone into a bit of a hypnotic groove using his own “Vinegar Drop” edit from the now infamous Black Cock record series.
The hypnotic / housier side of Harry was on display for another half hour or so before a brief interlude of what I could only describe as guitar-heavy “disco-rock” (?!). Already amazed at the energy Harvey had brought to Cielo, the British selector set it off one last time with his “Bermuda Triangle” edit. As the horns on the track blasted away, people were smiling all around me and jumping for joy- a scene I hadn’t seen in Cielo in several months. Overall a fantastic event and one of the best sets I’ve heard all year. Hopefully Cielo can keep pushing forward with these types of bookings. However, regardless of where he plays next time, I’ll definitely not be missing Harvey on his next visit! The veteran DJ really has a unique style that needs to be heard (and seen) to be fully appreciated. Quite simply, I don’t think there’s anyone out there mixing up disco, balearic and italo with as much energy and flare as the Black Cock man. Let’s hope for many more years of dance-floor weirdness and brilliant mixing from the Sarcastic Disco don.