Friday, April 9, 2010

In Soviet Russia, Plane Flies You

I know quite a few DJs who will avail themselves of any opportunity to brag about successful gigs, boring anyone within earshot with stories of "killing it" and/or "throwing down" (which sounds like the opposite of "throwing up," i.e. eating, but is actually lingua deejayz for "playing records well"). I don't see the point, since there's really not much to relate of interest about a gig that goes well, and instead prefer to discuss tangential matters - for instance, my British Airways flight to the Russian Federation (where, incidentally, I убито ему - that's Russian for "killed it").

Let's start with a photo of my flying companion from London to Moscow:

And say hello to the first three of his nine or ten little friends for the flight:

To be sure, this gentleman didn't seem especially concerned with dispelling Russian drinking stereotypes. What with my dabbling in teetotalism, I may have been too easily impressed by his voluminous brown-liquid intake; however, I think anyone would have been wowed by his brusque, "don't beat around the bushski" ordering style, e.g.:

Stewardess: Sir, would you like any coffee or tea?
Man: Whiskey.

Nearly the entire plane was Russian, and I savored interactions like the above between the aggressively chipper and polite (to the point of condescension) English crew and their apathetic charge. Most of the time, the crew would compensate for any lacking etiquette on behalf of the Ruskies by inserting it into their own speech in a sing-song manner customarily reserved for interactions with toddlers (or Americans). However, the façade occasionally cracked and you could sense traces of genuine fear, like when a nervous-looking stewardess gestured towards the loud commotion coming from the back of the plane and whispered conspiratorially to her colleague, "They said it was iced tea, but it isn't iced tea."

Before long, we were on our final descent. I was warned that customs could be rigorous in Moscow, so I pulled out a pen and "threw down" a bit of wacky and jocular glasnost via my landing card:

I figured opening with with a joke might warm the agents up and facilitate a smooth entry. Unfortunately, it didn't play well, and the only smooth entry I experienced was courtesy of a customs agent's gloved and lubed digit during the resultant cavity search.

The posh venue I played in Moscow summoned in me a familiar feeling, which can basically be boiled down to this: "They wouldn't let me in here if I wasn't the DJ." (I anticipate revisiting this feeling regularly in this blog, so I'll develop some sort of acronym for it once I'm back in Berlin and have access to my Denkendekappe, or "hat made for thinking.") The venue is owned by Denis Simachëv, the famous Russian enfant terrible and fashion designer, and is situated in the most expensive commercial district of Moscow. I can only assume only the hippest of the hipsters and creamiest of the doucherati make it past the doormen - and without my big bag of records, I'd likely never make the cut.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed "throwing down" last year, and this visit was the same. I think my genial hosts have a lot to do with it. Here is my primary minder, Sergey, also known as "Orange" in the Low Budget DJ crew (named ironically, as they all demand luxuries such as first-class flights and cavier-filled Cookiepi on their riders):

As you can see, Sergey has situated himself in one of the venue's whimsically-designed booths, this particular one featuring twin posters of terrifying orifi, namely the lethal yap of Jaws (the real one, not the one who performed pectus excavatum on me) and the vagin natural of Madonna.

Besides organizing my Moscow gig, Sergey also accompanied me to Saint Petersburg, where he played "bouncy stuff" (I believe this is Russian for "commercial crap") at a larger club before joining me at the diminutive Druzbha Bar for his set. At the time, I was playing some tag-team with our pickled Lithuanian friend Saulty, who became excited (well, as excited as people from Vilnius get) over Sergey's arrival and, despite protesting later that he was "only dancing," proceeded to propose some sort of gay DJ three-way in sign language:

Despite his apparent love of New York, I demurred, and Sergey probably wouldn't have been up to the task anyway, bragging that he had already downed "a full bottle" at his prior gig. Indeed, his crippling shrinkage was still painfully evident the next afternoon at our Easter Sunday lunch:

Still, he seemed happy, tossing back hard-boiled Easter eggs while threatening to throw up, and that made me happy. I'm looking forward to "throwing down" in Russia again as soon as they'll have me back.

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