Dice HQ

Living for the moments

Words by Rachel Hahn
Photos by Daniel Arnold and Tim Barber

New York native and DICE copywriter Rachel Hahn rediscovers the joy of going out.

A few months ago, I started noting down moments that caught my eye on nights out in New York. At East Berlin, I watched a girl get so low to the ground while dancing to a Bad Bunny song that she completely lost her balance. She realised I was the only person who saw her fall, and she made me promise not to say anything, ending our exchange with a hug as a symbol of trust (does putting this in writing break that pact?).

I saw a woman unsuccessfully try to hand the drummer of a metal band a cocktail from the crowd. He didn’t take it, but the lime wheel hanging off the edge fell on to the stage, and I hoped he wouldn’t slip on it slapstick banana-skin style.

East Berlin during a Bad Bunny night

I overheard one person tell a stranger that he hadn’t been to Saint Vitus in 19 years, but he’d seen the band playing that night eight times. 

While getting searched outside Elsewhere, one of the security guards made me promise I’d pay the crumpled up parking ticket that she noticed at the bottom of my bag.

At
each
one
of
these
shows,
I
felt
a
similar
sort
of
sensation:
that
I’d
been
looking
for
meaning
in
the
wrong
places.

Everyday People’s Roller Disco Halloween Edition at Knockdown Center

These things aren’t what I expected to miss about going out when things first shut down. When I was clocking in 10-hour days at my old office job in Tribeca, I’d sit at my desk and daydream about who I’d run into at whichever nightclub I was planning to go to that weekend. I’d come to feel close to these dancefloor pals, even though I didn’t know their last names, what they did for a living, where they were from, or what they liked to do aside from run around in the middle of the night like club rats. No matter how stressful my week was, the prospect of running into these friendly faces felt like a balm that smoothed over any slight cracks that had started to fracture my self-perception. They gave me countless pieces of gum, half-drunk beers, sips of water, hugs, cookies, bananas, granola bars – all the building blocks of a restorative night out.

All
of
these
unexpected
moments
bind
strangers
together,
turning
the
experience
of
going
to
a
gig
into
a
whole
ecosystem
of
interactions
that
you
can’t
replicate
anywhere
else.

Creeping Death onstage at Saint Vitus

After clubs opened back up, I realised that what I had remembered as the core experience of going to shows and clubs – friends, music, dancing – was only just the starting point. I’d forgotten about all of the absurd, surprising, and completely bonkers moments that make going out (and New York City) so special. 

These moments reminded me of something that Australian photographer Simon Burstall once said about the photos he took at early-’90s raves in Sydney. He didn’t want the images to show what you might think a rave would be i.e. lasers cutting through the fog in a packed warehouse. He felt the true spirit of these parties took place in the carpark, where he and his mates took refuge in the back of his mother’s Carolla, 'the mothership' as he called it.  He’d change his socks, have a meltdown or a time out, whatever he needed. At each one of these shows, I felt a similar sort of sensation: that I’d been looking for meaning in the wrong places. All of these unexpected moments bind strangers together, turning the experience of going to a gig into a whole ecosystem of interactions that you can’t replicate anywhere else – and maybe that’s where the magic really lies. 

An embrace at East Berlin

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