Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Body and Soul
SUMMER HOLIDAYS IN NYC GET ME UP
Although many New Yorkers grudgingly swear that more than half the
city’s residents are part of some loosely organized mass exodus to
a beach house on summer holiday weekends, those are actually the
weekends that the “left behind” can find the most memorable of New
In fact, the non-jet ski set can sometimes find a dose of urban
spiritual nourishment that benefits the soul for months to come.
Not a religious experience, per se, but instead, a gathering of like
minded spirits, all very much alive, enjoying the fellowship of each
other, coming together for one reason, the music, at least that’s
what happened this past July 4th weekend.
The Body and Soul reunion party shook a collective booty to its core
at the PS-1 space in Queens, bringing together a cocktail of
cultures, families and sexual orientations that surely reminded
more than one participant that New York truly is a magnificent
mosaic as former Mayor David Dinkins once proclaimed.
Although Sunday afternoons at the Tribeca club Vinyl (later named
ARC) was the spot to meet the music on a weekly basis for many
years, the weekly Body and Soul party disbanded after facing
difficulty with the club space and other issues among the Djs and
organizers. But for one holiday weekend afternoon, Saturday from 3
til 9 was the time for church, as many of the party faithful liked
to call the Body and Soul experience, back in the day.
Djs Danny Krivit, Francois K and Joe Claussell did not disappoint a
crowd of thousands who had paid a ten dollar admission fee, and
another $6 each for ice cold draft beers that flowed far too easily
under a hot Queens sun in the concrete fortress of music at PS-1. The temperature kept getting hotter as a troubled nation moved another day closer to the 30 year anniversary of its highly celebrated bicentennial, a year that at least a third
of this party’s crowd, might actually remember.
A crowd wide chronic music infection was evidenced by smiles on faces
of every color of the human rainbow, every size on the scale, every
age from 3 to 65, all making moves to the beat of a different drum.
No judgment passed on who was cool and who was not, just pure
un-adulterated fun, joy, release and soul.
Occasionally, after a longer re-mix, or extended session people
would erupt into cheers and hollering this or that or whatever, it didn't matter as long as it felt good, real and true.
All the while, pulsing bodies poured in and out of the building at PS-1, moving among dancers on crowded steps that were crowned at the top with the DJ’s canopied booth. The sun gave everyone a glistening tone, some more than others, as sweat
flowed like a fountain, but, at this party, sweat was a badge of
success, a sign that you’d truly felt the light.
Speakers surrounded the main courtyard of the former school and
sound boomed against the old red brick walls rising up like a volcanic
eruption, only the lava was the sound, carried even further by
speakers in the back of the complex where others danced and played
in wading pools with their kids.
In its later years, Body and Soul saw pilgrimages by the curious
who’d heard about this place where the emphasis was on the music,
not the “scene.” Even European tourists began to make Body and
Soul part of the New York itinerary. According to those who’d
been, Sunday nights at Vinyl (ARC) were where one could still find
the real spirit of New York.
Certainly, like every nightclub party, there was rivalry,
differences, and any other number of shady events or normal human
interaction issues, but unlike most other dance club experiences,
Body and Soul was true to its name.
Martha Graham once said “I am absorbed in the magic of movement and
light. Movement never lies”.
Body and Soul did not lie to the participants left in the city this
past July 4th weekend. That day in Queens let everyone at PS-1 know
that movement is alive and well in New York City and New York is
still filled with magic.