Back in Atlanta, and finally finished with US “mini-tour”, as myself and a couple friends have called it. (lol.) Let me first and foremost say, I commend all of you full-time traveling DJ’s, because the car, bus, plane, train life can be pretty exhausting. Without question, traveling is exciting, but I won’t lie, I’m pretty glad that I don’t deal with an airport this weekend. That being said, New York was amazing, and of course, the highlight of my weekend was my set at Bossa Nova Civic Club at UmFang’s Technofeminism party.
I arrived into New York bright and early Friday morning, and bus/trained over to my God Sister’s crib in Bedstuy, where I was staying for the weekend. It was my first time in Bedstuy, and I immediately fell in love; the multiple African braiding shops, the guys on the stoops and corners chopping it up with one another, the old folks chillin outside observing and giving the “black nod of acknowledgment to those that pass by. Hell, I even got a kick out the guy who attempted to hustle me into buying some baby clothes for my so-called “baby girl” (whom clearly doesn’t exist.) LMAO. In all honesty, prior to this past weekend, the only thing I really knew about Bedstuy was that Biggie Smalls was from there, and that it was currently going thru the inevitable and unfortunate gentrification process that we’re seeing so much of today.
I’m not sure what Bedstuy used to be (pre-gentrification), but the section I was staying in was predominately Black, and (imo) still had an energy that felt authentic. I got the opportunity to support a local Black owned business called Bee’s and Coco’s which had food to DIE for. The place had modern decor, yet still felt very “mom-and-pop”, (especially by the quality of the food.) The staff was young and friendly, and I’m not sure if it was the head chef or the owner, but there was a lady working there that was extremely personable and accommodating. She even gave us free mimosa’s while we waited on our carry out. Yes, please! While I’m positive Bedstuy, as well as many other Black neighborhoods in America are seeing changes…some for the good, and some for the bad, there are still those random streets, blocks, businesses, or experiences that can give you a true sense of the spirit of that particular neighborhood. I sensed the sprit of Bedstuy as I aimlessly walked down Howard Street taking in the sights and sounds. I sensed the spirit of Bedstuy as I observed the stunning brownstones on Decatur Street. I sensed the spirit of Bedstuy as I walked down Malcolm X Blvd. and stumbled into an African shop to get my hair braided. I sensed the spirit of Bedstuy as I walked past the Bedstuy Community Garden where some elder Black folks gave me some of the warmest and most welcoming smiles. I even sensed the spirit of Bedstuy when my God Sisters neighbor blasted classic old school music from his motorcycle outside of her window for what seemed to be 2 hours. HA! But in all seriousness, it is ESSENTIAL that the spirit of these predominately Black neighborhoods is preserved, it is what truly makes them what they are. I can only hope that the next time I return to Bedstuy, whats left of that spirit remains.
While there were a few different highlights to this trip, the main one, as I mentioned before, was my set at Bossa. Although the night somewhat feels like a bit of a blur, there’s no denying or blurring of how amazing I felt and played that night. From the first track I dropped I legit felt like I was on a soaring on a spaceship. I wore heels that night, so the platform under the DJ booth for short people (who can’t reach the decks…lol) actually made me too tall, yet I was still not tall enough with my heels on to not use it…I said fuck it; still used the platform, took my damn shoes off. Yes I DJ’d barefoot at Bossa for 3 hours, which included an emergency bathroom break where I ran off the decks, through the crowd, into one of the single bathrooms where a guy (who unfortunately didn’t lock the door) was peeing. “I’m the DJ, I gotta pee, hurry up, I yelled!!!” HAHAHA. The guy looked equally shocked and entertained by all of this, it was classic. Olive T. was in the building, Kfeelz was in the building, SHYBOI was in the building, my boy Pablo Louis was in the building! It felt good to have some of the NYC Black Techno crew there to support me. My girl Jen from ATL was also there, as well as a few other familiar faces, the night felt like family. I was, and still am, on a high. Thank you to Emma, Frankie, and Christine of Discwoman for being so friendly, awesome and professional. These ladies are cool af, and have been willing to assist in getting a few things in line for me, which they really don’t have to do. I admire them, and it feels good to get love from the female community.
I got the chance to hang in the city before & after my gig, and I had fun, although parties in NYC are sometimes quite expensive. A place that really resonated with me was The Lot Radio. It was my first time there, and I really had no idea of how dope such a simple place could be. Its literally a radio station and coffee shop built inside a shipping container (with a very spacious outdoor sitting area) broadcasting from middle of Brooklyn. I’m not sure who runs the place, but I want to commend you on putting together something so simple, yet so complex, that brings people together in the name of music. Radio is something that I’ve been interested/involved in, so it was fun to be apart of that. I’m not sure why I was so nervous before my set there, but it can be a bit intimidating knowing that your entire DJ set is being filmed live, while people tune in and chat/message you in the studio in real time. I opened up after a couple glasses of wine (per the usual), and it ended up being great. A couple friends stopped by also, which made the gathering even more cute. After Lot Radio Jen, her friend, myself, and Turtle all went out for food. As we’re walking down some random street in Brooklyn we run into some locals that Turtle knows…he introduces me and tells them I’m playing at Bossa later that night. The guy responds “Oh yeah, Ash Lauryn, I was actually listening to some of your mixes earlier today”. I smiled and played it off cool, yet in my mind felt cool af… like damn, this cool person in NYC knows who TF I am?! I also ran into Galcher Lustwerk at The Level Party at the Knockdown Center, who also mentioned that he had just read the blog, really enjoyed it, and related to some it. This type of shit is crazy to me because I guess I didn’t expect so many people to read, or even care for that matter. I know that humans can be fickle, fake, and disinterested, so I’m always equally surprised and shocked when people reach out to me about my mixes or blog.
My goal through all of this is to keep getting better while remaining as humble as possible. I know I haven’t done anything remotely close to what I want to achieve in the end, yet everyday I feel as though I’m one step closer….that simple fact keeps me inspired. NYC was great, and surprisingly made me appreciate my local music scene here in Atlanta as well. Atlanta’s scene may not be quite as large or “trendy”, but it’s intimate, quality, and colorful, which is important to me. That was actually the exact vibe I got from Bossa on Friday, and honestly can’t wait for the opportunity to go back.
This weekend will be my first local gig in about a month, and I’m really looking forward it. Crazy to think that it’s still a bit shy of a year since my first public DJ gig. A lot has happened, and a lot is happening. As I’ve said before, THANK YOU for being apart of this journey with me. Thank you for caring. Thank you for listening. I’m still working as my own agent rn, (which hasn’t been too bad), so I’m hoping to get some more out-of-town gigs lined up in the near future. So yeah, in closing, shout out to all my NYC people, you know who you are. Special shout out goes to the homie Turtle for kicking it this weekend and having those long ass musical/political conversations with me….much appreciated.
Until Next Time……