Live: Danny Krivit And Osunlade Annihilate The Wallflowers At Cielo
If Danny Krivit didn't exist, the dance floor would be forced to invent him. An NYC booty physicist of the highest order, he has perfected the art of divorcing wallflowers from their natural habitat for the past 40 years. The man has a dream resume: James Brown gave him his first white-label, David Mancuso gave him his first gigs, and Larry Levan gave him his tutelage. Tonight, he plays with the younger, more spiritually inclined Osunlade, and both men get to enjoy one another's somewhat similar yet very different crowds.
Packed by midnight with a pitch-perfect mix of young and old, black and white, meatpacking clubbers and Fela! worshippers, Cielo's stellar sound system unites everyone under the groove. Thanks to the perfect storm of tribal, early house, and disco blasting tonight, the affair could almost pass for a latter-day version of one of the aforementioned DJs' legendary nights . . . if there weren't so much Ed Hardy gear up in the piece. It really is a rarity, though, to see so many different stripes of nightlifers goin for it so hard on that sunken dance floor, and even on the outskirts by those lit-up walls.
As tranquil and inclusive as the night is, though, it's not without its share of kooks. At one point on the smoking patio a short, squat woman in a spandex workout shirt tucked into belted mom jeans stands up and declares, out of nowhere, "Victoria's Secret top and bottom every day, bitches! Do not fuck with this! I'm 48 years old, I'm a lesbian, I have a 24-year-old son, and I just wanna have a good time!" We all do, mama.
The Dance.Here.Now party has hosted all the old-school big boys: Danny Tenaglia, Carl Cox, Victor Calderone (and that was just this year alone). Tonight's bill is no different. Krivit has achieved the seemingly impossible by sticking around the NYC club scene and staying relevant all the while. Comparatively, Osunlade is almost an up-and-comer. A Yoruban Ifa priest, his distinctive style of tribal Afro-rhythms, peppered with choppy vocal sounds and funk chanting, gets tougher and darker in person. While God can sometimes be a tough sell in dance music (we're looking at you, Todd Edwards), Osunlade sidesteps that debate by simply injecting large quantities of spirituality that people can clearly feel without daring speak its name. Krivit stays in the booth for the entire evening, thoroughly enjoying the sounds of his opening-act compatriot as people vocally agree when Osunlade drops Roland Clark's new-house classic "I Get Deep" (later sampled by Fatboy Slim). The place actually clears out a bit when the "King of the Edit" comes on, but then, again, it is 1:30 a.m. on a school night.
A musical journeyman open to -- and usually inclined to master -- almost any style of music that gets your body in motion, Krivit occupies a rarefied air for a record jock: revered by any disco-head in the know, yet still current enough to hang with any young turk. Both born into it, yet continually working his tail off. Just check the Taschen coffee-table book on old funk and soul record-cover art that he recently helped compile (hello, last-minute record-geek Christmas gift!). Tonight, Krivit doesn't play quite as much of the soulful vocal house that we've come to expect from him as one-third of the Dons of Deep (along with Francois K. and Joe Clausell) from his long-running Body & Soul night, instead sticking closer to the funky path, masterfully mixing the levels and turning even the most standard of house beats into a unique jam. He only spins for an hour before bringing Osunlade back on, but not before perfectly mixing in a deft edit of disco mainstay "Boogie Wonderland," for which the crowd goes bananas. The wedding anthem is reborn among these other unknown gems, and it almost feels like 1979 all over again. The first taste is free, fellas.