The office xmas party was fun but weird. The boss kept feeding us tequila shots and while I expected people to fall over themselves and slip on each others’ puke, the evening remained pretty tame. The party was at the Mayan, which I haven’t been to since a warm summer night back in 1998, one of the best nights of my life.
I was 18 and living alone (pre-cat, even) in an apartment in Valencia, just hanging around waiting for school to start in a couple of months. I spent most of my time back then just driving around Los Angeles in the middle of the night in my then-new car and talking into a tape recorder. I happened to hear on the radio that my favorite band ever, Underworld, would be playing a show at some place called the Mayan and that it would be one of just three US dates they were playing to test out material from their forthcoming album. Also, the show was to be that night.
After one navigational and logistics obstacle after another, I got my tickets and made it to the Mayan in time, but only to be horrified by the fact that the best standing room was in the 21+ area. As you are probably aware, the Mayan’s ground floor is split into two levels, the upper of which being more ideal for concert-viewing and is accessible by two stair cases— which were both protected by large menacing security guards. As I was at the time really nerdy and didn’t like to dance (as opposed to now, where I am merely just really nerdy), the thought of being stuck in a crowd consisting largely of fat ravers and unable to see the band I loved so dearly filled me with a nameless dread. I decided I would not — could not— go down like that.
I hovered around the staircases for thirty or so minutes while the DJ played and the mutants danced, and when one of the security guards glanced in the other direction — possibly to kick someone out for trying to stab someone else in the eye with a glow stick — I stealthily dodged behind him, slid up the stairs like a ninja and found myself a comfy spot against the railing in remarkable Batman-like fashion.
I say this with all seriousness: at the time, I definitely considered myself to be one of the coolest men to have ever lived.
I was standing next to a gorgeous girl who like me was able to recognize what songs Underworld was playing in spite of their dramatic but glorious live improv/remixing. Tragically, she was with a boyfriend who clearly wasn’t into that kind of music and just sort of stood behind her and patted her hip every now and then to show everyone he was hitting it. I still remember precisely what she looked like, and I occasionally fight the urge to post a Missed Connections ad on craigslist about her. But I digress.
Underworld were amazing. I’d never seen or heard anything like it, and what solidified in me was an almost spiritual understanding that even after leaving LA almost two decades before and living and traveling around the world, the city itself was welcoming me home. My true home. I mean, god, it was magnificent.
Last night at the Mayan, at the Sony xmas party, an ’80s cover band played.
They’re called the Spazmatics.