Posts Tagged ‘Elevate’
Bright sunrays bounced off high-definition glass windows that sprinkled beams of translucent light to the lobby’s 16th floor. From the hotel’s lift and making a quick left in front of RELAX; the spa lies the entrance to the air conditioned almost too cold SPLASHBAR. “Welcome,” stated the statuesque burly caramel complexion gatekeeper with a friendly face full of intelligence that checked I.D.’s and granted entrance to the pool’s bar. Scoping the relaxed site there seemed to be more souls ordering hand crafted liqueurs, caught up in artful conversations than people basking in the sun drenched waters of SPLASH the all-weather covered rooftop pool. Actually, there couldn’t be more than twenty hipsters hugging SPLASHBAR as the soundtrack of soulful house music mixed and mingled with the chattering. The absence of warmth felt strange. Once upon a time SPLAH, SPLASHBAR and the patio’s small dance space in front of the DJ table were packed with diversity which begs the question, “What happened to the Soul?”
Two summers ago, the debut of the pool party was met with brilliant fanfare and whimsical hype. Party people from all walks of life frequented the wet spot to get their dance, swim and drink on. Sculpted hard bodies balanced on the zero-edge pool while curvatious creatures suntanned to the beat. Fully clothed dancers wearing sneakers gathered on the patio’s open space to sing and bust moves in one inch waters that overflowed from the pool. Those scantily clad in designer bathing suits and Bermuda swim trunks posed for flashing cameras with pearly white veneers underneath pseudo expensive stunners for the city’s elite photo-philes. Pretty in pink dressed drinks topped with real fruit and blood orange cocktails kept the hunks and hotties behind the bar a pouring. The sound of water splashes combed with the sight of mini-tides greeted out of town hotel guests as local visionaries played an array of dance, house, reggae and other underground sounds. Yes, this was the perfect place to be on a Sunday afternoon. All went well for the remainder of the season.
By the following summer the cosmopolitan environment somewhat transformed. Rather be it the hotel management, hotel staff or the progression of the pool’s party direction, something felt incoherent. The attraction succumbed to the ideal see and be seen spot. Thongs swallowed by big butts and wife beaters with sagging trousers became the du jour while numerous requests for mainstream urban and commercial hip-hop went unfulfilled. No one danced to the “uhms, uhms, uhms” falling from the digitally enhanced overhead sound system, instead the reluctant preferred sun basking with an up tipped nose in the air. In return, the house heads stopped coming out. Many of the city’s photographer’s cameras were closed shut in leather cases as the hotel management preferred their own “paparazzi.” Suddenly, a different image took shape, one of less diversity and one more oriented towards the youthful waxed guidos and blonde ambitions with hair extensions. Think Jersey Shore meets boutique hotel. The demographics became sticky as the ebony population played at the left side of SPLASH while the ivory population played on the right side. This segregation never occurred the previous year which begs to mention something was up. Hotel security beefed up tighter control of SPLASHBAR and sent regular patrols mimicking the secret service with hi-tech ear gear and black shades. Gone were the snapshots where dancers met swimmers and exchanged brief transactions of small talk. Even the music had lost its edge. Gone was the scheduled line-up of eclectic DJs known for rocking off kilter music statements. Somewhere along, “stepping backwards” the soul was lost for a more exclusive looking package.
Fast forward to present day. At the worthy suggestion of a close friend, one of Chicago’s famed house music DJs was booked to play SPLASH. House music trail blazer Rafael Rodriguez a.k.a Lego of Pootin Muzik was in the house. Let’s be real people, LEGO is the man. Having secured the longest running night- Monday nights-in house music history at Chicago’s famed Boom Boom Room, Lego is no joke. Sadly, only three people dancing on the wet space welcomed Mr. Rodriguez to the decks. Everyone else could have cared less. There was a group of fifteen tan bodies seated on the zero-less pool‘s edge enjoying the view of vertical giant metal steel beams decorating downtown’s skyline. Two gay guys worked on tans, fully reclined in two separate lounge chairs, one with his eyes closed while the other read a book. What the heck, reading a book at a pool party. This was not the private pool at the senior citizen’s resort. Then there were the, “I’m too good to dance” hotties stretched out in long white lounge chairs. No one from the indoor bar took note. They all kept glued to their petty small talk about the latest whatevers. Please people, shut up and dance.
Lego started off the music just right with that Latin house sound akin to west coast Om Records and Naked Music. After a couple of starters Everything But The Girl’s, “Corcovado (Quiet Night of Quiet Stars)” the Knee Deep Classic Club Mix segued into Lego’s very own creation, “El Rito De Verdad.” Lego took the few dancers bouncing about on a wonderful Sunday afternoon ride through the towns of latin, soulful, deep and even funky house. The get down vocals of the late Loleatta Holloway’s, “Love Sensation” played over a snazzy groove of soft drums and acoustic guitars that welcomed Yoruba Record’s “Change For Me” (Joey Negro Mix) with Errol’s soul-stirring vocals that had the dancers singing at the top of their lungs while the non-house heads seated by and swimming in the pool nodded heads with white smiles of approval. With temperatures hovering in the upper 80’s a feel good wind blew through the air that made hearts merry not with wine but with house music. This was the true spirit of house music that uplifted souls and put smiles on faces. Other spirited offerings included a discoesque, “The Light” by inspirational sensationalist Michelle Weeks. Seems Lego is primed as one of those uplifting DJ’s because later Soulmagic’s & Ebony Soul’s, “Get Your Thing Together” with gospel diva Ann Nesby played from Purple Music’s catalog. There was the latin-tinged “Star” by U.K.’s Reel People with hair raising vocals from Tony Momrelle that had Lego with head-tilted upwards and eyes close lip-syncing, “You’re Like A Star/Perfectly Shining So Bright.” Lego even made a splash into the deep sparkling waters-not the pool’s waters but the deep waters of deep house music with “Headphone Silence” from Henrick Schwarz via Dennis Ferrer’s Noizy Edit. Wow, what a way to remind the dancing people about this forgotten gem. Soon, Jazztronik’s Spanish sensation, “Dentro Mi Alma” stripped to the bare bone courtesy of Osunlade thumped with bass until mid-song when the record skipped in repeated stutters. Oops. Anyways this type of sound distraction occurs, normally if the CD is not cleaned or scratched, but a veteran DJ knows how to come back with another sure fire track. Depeche Mode’s, “World In My Eyes” (Jask’s Deep Burnt Sky Mix) had all the makings for the perfect summer thumper. With arms stretched in mid-air and mouths screaming, “Yessss” there was no stopping the soul from being drenched on the peoples. The screams were so loud they had to be heard three blocks away across the city streets down below. Yes, this was house music that made complete strangers pay attention. Once again, courtesy of Jask, neo-soul crooner, Maxwell’s, “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)”(Jask Soul Suite) pounded the heart with a killer four-count that topped off the event with a round of warm goodbyes and several heartfelt thank-yous. As the souls cleared SPLASH there was no wonder to the question, “Where was the soul?” Lego put the soul back into the sunny side pool event. Unfortunately, the lack of souls missing missed the momentous occasion.
Photography by Chris Marley
Photograph one by Maria P Sanders/All other photographaphs by Luis V for DEG
Photography by Luis V for DEG