Most 12th birthday parties involve chaperones, ice cream cake, maybe a pool—but when the birthday boy is WNYU’s most prominent electronic music show, the celebration is bound to be a little more PG-13. Due to an ominous weather forecast that threatened to rain on what would have been an outdoor event, DJ Tim Sweeney hosted the 12th anniversary party for his Tuesday night radio program Beats In Space at the Safe Harbor loft in Soho. Originally scheduled to take place in Williamsburg, the anniversary party featured the beats of DJs like Hercules And Love Affair‘s Kim Ann Foxman, Metro Area, Rub N Tug, DFA’s the Juan Maclean and Ghostly artist Matthew Dear. Even the proud father Sweeney himself played an early set, then made rounds through the crowd passing out Oriental-themed fans to overheated attendees.
Good thing he did, too, because it was hot in there. Although the loft never got too crowded—it was fairly easy to find an empty spot on a fancy chair, bench, or bed—between the loud music, smoke machine, and crush of merry partygoers the event was pretty stuffy. It was the kind of party seniors in high school imagine when they fantasize about what New York is like, which is both off-putting and charming—who knew smoke-machined hipster house parties in Soho lofts actually exist? And that they come complete with some old guy in the back listening to his iPod and some light-up rave balloons to toss around all night?
Kim Ann Foxman’s set was received by a crowd that, in its giddiness, seemed to be discovering minimal techno for the first time. Foxman didn’t play the real Plastikman minimal, but her set involved decidedly less house, disco and dubstep flare than the DJs that followed her until the end of her set, when she began to bass it up with some halfhearted dubstep. (On a sidenote, from across a loft Foxman looks sort of like Natalie Portman with a white girl high-top fade.)
The music in the loft carried out and down the street, even with the windows locked shut to retain every degree of humid body heat; pedestrians a block away could hear the increasingly house and disco stylings of Metro Area and Rub N Tug. Metro Area’s set even lapsed into jungle beats, at times going from disco to tribal and back again. By the time the Juan Maclean took over the decks, one square-shaped projector was in full swing, lasering beams of colored light through a cloud of discoteque-ish white fog. In the hour before headliner Matthew Dear took over at 10:07, the Juan Maclean charged deeper and deeper into psychedelic house, exactly the kind of synth-and-bass post-disco one can expect from DFA. As the night wore on, the couches along the walls of the lounge became dotted with people picking at phones, hypnotized by the trance-inducing lights and the seductive hipness of the event but perhaps a little tired. With the swap from the Juan Maclean to Matthew Dear came a turn back towards the minimal ambiance of Foxman’s set—or at least as much as very loud music can be minimal. “Bass-y, dreamy house” might be a better descriptor.