A few years ago, I was interviewing the b-girl Rokafella, asking her about her trajectory from a young girl in Spanish Harlem to a respected voice in hip hop, someone who travels between the worlds of concert and street dance. I remember her talking about the importance of performing for crowds outside of the comfortable and polite proscenium stage environs, how you have to be able to hold people’s attention, and your own, in a much stronger way; they aren’t necessarily there to see you, after all. You have to earn their gaze; figuring out how to do that, she said, was integral to her artistic development.
Rokafella wasn’t at PUSSY FAGGOT! Thursday night (I don’t think, anyway…) for our most recent outing. But I thought about her several times during the chaotic night. The milling crowds at the Delancey weren’t, after all, necessarily there to see artists, and certainly not to give them their undivided attention (hello, drifting gusts of attractive young people; hello, open vodka bar).
By PF! standards I left too early (midnight = old lady hour) to give any kind of accounting of the festivities, though it did feel like something of an off night, energy-wise. Still, I caught about six performances, and only one gal really hooked me: Carmelita Tropicana. Her many years of experience in clubs could be seen in a short monologue whose impeccable disarray masked a perfectly calibrated taking of the room’s temperature. For most of the others …. mmmm, dunno, their club chops didn’t seem so impressive.
So, but, still, beyond performances, PF! is after a particular idea of community … in the few hours I was there, the variety of conversations and encounters had was a performance unto itself (that social art – it’s what I aspire to with the Performance Club). And, well … I’m grateful for it.