Somehow I am first here. Right at the front of the line. I am early by 5 minutes actually. I changed at work and came straight to the event. Quite funny really given that I don’t have a ticket. Tickets are considered contributions and as a non-resident it is illegal to contribute. Luckily Tom suggested I come anyway.

I needn’t have changed into jeans though. Everyone is dressed in their suits. Kids playing politics. It’s cute. In the corner is a curvaceous young woman with a figure-hugging dress, a tiara and strings of pearls. She is already teetering slightly. I watch her glass being waved around in the air and wonder how long the dress will remain unblemished. ‘Who’s the girl in the tiara?’ I ask the latest random I’m chatting with. ‘Dunno. Self-appointed queen I guess’. I snicker a little and scan the room.

The room itself looks to be a very cool club. The walls are padded with leather. There is a small bar near the entrance and a long unattended bar at the back of the room. There are booths along the walls. And a stage positioned near the middle. There is a steady stream of young liberals pushing through the narrow entrance. They find people they know and don’t make it down to the other areas. The entrance is getting very crowded.

It’s actually inspiring to see a room full of ‘twenty-something’s all so empassioned. Tom who has invited me here takes the stage. He’s a young Asian-American I met at the previous gathering. His family is originally from China, but I think that was a few generations ago now. He’s from downstate (though I don’t actually know where that refers to). I’m assuming that means he doesn’t live in NYC but is happy to take the money from the Manhattan residents.

Given that the first hour was an open bar, I think he’s a brave man to take the stage. The room may be full of committed political activists, but it would appear most are also committed drinkers.

Tom is definitely a politician in the making. He captures the attentions of a room full of drunkards. Of course he’s talking to a room full of friends. As one of the organizers, we all have a connection to him in some way.  The words wash over me, but he is impactful, considered and warm in his delivery. His timing is impecible; including his exit and request for the next speaker. People are starting to get restless.

His replacement on stage is a rotund black guy dressed in a waistcoat and fedora. He’s loud and funny. For a moment I think he’s the comedian but no. I realize he’s stalling for the big-wig politician. The congressman is meant to be here to give a speech, and the boys are trying to buy some time. He’s up there for about 15 minutes. Eventually realizing he’s lost the attentions of the audience he waddles down the stairs and is replaced by Jamie- a small weedy guy who has been introduced to me early.

His act is a little vulgar. He talks about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. How Obama promised to get their troops out, and hasn’t yet. He talks about gay rights and marriage opportunities. But his examples include explicit descriptions about gay sex acts. Some of the older women in the room are wide eyed. They guffaw frequently throughout the act, and eventually leave. I peruse the room to see how others are responding. There are only a few actively listening, and they seem to be listening out of politeness. Others are having their own conversations and occasionally looking toward the comedian with some annoyance.

Half way through he thinks people can’t hear him. I think not listening and not hearing are two very different things. The in-house audio engineer says that he has turned the volume down. ‘Oh my god, I’m being censored by the sound guy at a politic gig, for a party that doesn’t support censorship’. He starts a tirade directed towards the sound guy- who hilariously, mostly just looks bored by the whole conversation.

I’m finding his speech fascinating, but I’ve probably only laughed twice. Doesn’t that make it a monologue rather than a comedy piece? He has misread his audience. Or perhaps it’s intentional. Maybe he has chosen to push his own political agenda while he has the opportunity, and ignored the need for humour.

Or maybe he just hasn’t mastered his comedic skills and timing yet.

The band comes on not long after him. They open their set with a screeching guitar solo complete with high-pitched feedback pumping out the speakers. Then they descend into something that sounds a little Pink Floyd like. I give them the benefit of the doubt and decide to stay for one more song.

I perch myself on a couch to the side of the stage. I’ve given up working the room, mostly because I am tired of putting myself out there. As usual the women are concerned about new women speaking to their men. The girls, being the good social climbers of New York, are artificially friendly staying for a few moments to exchange pleasantries and then making their excuses to ‘bee-line’ for the most popular or powerful in the room. I have also given up working the room because most of the conversations, despite being at a political gathering, have been boring small talk. (Note to self- need to manage that better next time).

I’m watching the happenings and feeling quite comfortable when Tom arrives. ‘Everybody is leaving’ he says concerned. I agree with him. We have lost most of the 300 or so who had crowded the room initially. But I remind him that it’s about the quality of the experience. People had a great time while they were here. And they met their target of $10000 raised in one night. He doesn’t look persuaded, and wanders off.

The music from our Pink Floyd ‘wannabes’ does improve, and then gets worse, and then improves again. Within 20 minutes I’m wanting to leave as well. I say goodbye and give Tom a hug as I walk out the door. I’m feeling a little ‘teetery’ myself now, so I’m glad when I realize my subway station is less than a block away. On the subway, I take out my trusty mobile phone, older than anything a New Yorker would have, and start a tetris game. Before I know it I’m home, and greeted by my housemate/landlord who’s getting ready for bed. I know I am drunk when I realize I am talking more than her. As the Puerto Rican version of the Nanny, that never happens.

 

 

 

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