Going Off the Rails on the Ravey Train | Chicago Antisocial | Chicago Reader

Going Off the Rails on the Ravey Train 

Party-hopping with a purpose

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Anytime you don't know what to do but you know for a fact that you want to have fun, hop on the Ravey Train (a close relative of what my friend Jessica calls the Nonstop Party Wagon). The idea is, you attend as many events as possible in a given night, no questions asked. Nothing's too big or too small, too weird or too boring, and it doesn't matter if you're into the politics or aesthetics of the event in question--if you've heard about it, you attend it, then move on to the next thing.

The Ravey Train's first stop last Thursday was the Gen Art Fresh Faces in Fashion show at Millennium Park, an annual affair I always enjoy for its local boosterism, even though it tends to be kinda sterile--very clean and organized and attended by well-groomed people dressed with tedious good taste. And sometimes its fake-casual corporate sponsorship makes me want to hurl, like when model/actress Patricia Velasquez, the evening's emcee, just happened to drop a few lines about American Express's new In:Chicago card, "the credit card that helps you get the most out of Chicago."

It was one of the few cold days in September, and the event was held under the stars and in an unheated tent, which meant lots of hard nipples--a plus at any party. When the fashion show started the bar closed, and people revolted, huffing, yelling, and storming off. I thought quick, grabbing a bottle of vodka off the bar and pouring it into my glass, mixing in some ice from someone else's empty glass.

I figured I'd need it: every year, without fail, what draws the biggest whoops and cheers at this thing is a woman showing her boobs--or even hinting that she might, as one of Doris Ruth's models did. The crowd also likes energy-drink techno music, like what accompanied Orlando Espinoza's dreary show (no one seemed to notice he basically put the same dress out over and over again), and loud, brash prints on prancing male models, exemplified by Kent Nielsen's show, which I liked even though Nielsen's a better stylist than designer. Shane Gabier's strong, modest models, wearing flat-heeled shoes and quiet, contemplative designs--like a long-tailed blouse that doubled up on itself to form a sort of breastplate cocoon--got only polite golf claps.

Next I went to Darkroom for a party hosted by the Modernist, a stark, vaguely literary online journal dedicated to "art, sex, and the New Internationalism," whatever that is. Saturday Looks Good to Me played live, and usually indie rock ain't my cup of pee. But their set was so bloated with lush guitar melodies, sweet and husky girl-boy vocal counterpoint, and quirky keyboard it became a happy over-the-top parody of itself, and I couldn't keep from tapping my toes.

Then I was off to the Empty Bottle, where I'd apparently just missed rowdy young noise boys KK Rampage getting naked and dedicating a song to me called "Shitting in Your Vagina and Fucking It in Deep." So sweet!

I repaid the compliment by sneaking up on singer Johnny Anderson, pinching his nostrils shut, and pouring half a bottle of beer down his gullet--and his face and shirt, since the little buck couldn't take it all down the throat. I then offered to accompany him to the bathroom and take him up on the offer of the song title. "But I don't have to shit right now," he said, looking freaked out and a little excited.

On Monday he sent two dozen roses to me at the Reader--a practice I strongly encourage. I also enjoy dream catchers, Chie Mihara shoes (size 36), and hundred-dollar bills.

The next band, Far Rad, was doing a pretty great Klaus Nomi impression, but the whistle was blowing and I had to move on. The next stop was Sonotheque's monthly Dark Wave Disco night, this one celebrating Jordan Zawideh's birthday. I was fascinated by two tall, thin young ladies with black, black eye makeup and matching sleek hairdos with ratted-up balls at the crown that made them look like space aliens, so I followed them into the bathroom. "Ugh!" one of them exclaimed. "I can't drink all these drinks they're buying us!"

I got to Sound-Bar for the tail end of Ellen Allien's hard-ass techno set. Harper Reed was doing interviews for a Vox Vodka-sponsored podcast, and though I know I'm the only person who doesn't really understand what that is, I happily hung around drinking the promotional vodka. When I get drunk I tend to do arty dances of my own invention, like the Jump Rope--I skip an imaginary rope held by myself or by two friends--and lose all track of time. When the lights came on I noticed I was the only woman in the place, aside from a few employees. A guy I'd never seen before asked me to dance, whining that he'd been waiting "all night." That's when I realized the Ravey Train had left without me.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Andrea Bauer.


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