January 22, 2013

Horses & Hounds

March 7, 2011
The night started with dinner at a little place called Emporio in NoLita. I arrived late, the girls were already seated at a table in the corner of the back room waiting for me. My cab driver had insisted on driving down Houston with intentions of getting a higher fare and got stuck in traffic. I sat with my back to the room under a glass ceiling that reminded me of a greenhouse. The four of us, Pauline, Agnes, Kaitlin, and I caught up and drank wine from oversized glasses. I hadn't seen Pauline in almost a year. I think she and Agnes had been living in Hawaii prior to this point and were finally back in New York, but not for long. I hadn't seen Kaitlin since August. For dinner I ordered a squash and kale salad that I still think about to this day.  After dinner we walked around SoHo, briefly stopping at the Spring Street Lounge before I suggested that we head over the The Bowery Hotel for a drink, one of my favorite places at the time. It feels sort of like being in Sherlock Holmes' living room, except trendier, or at least it did almost two years ago. I haven't been back since. On our way, we walked past the place with blue lights (Bowery Electric) that we had been drawn to the last time the three of us were out together a year prior, but that is a story for another day.
Our evening at the Bowery began at the bar in the back of the lobby. A short young man with dark hair who had too much to drink for the early hour introduced himself to Pauline as Maurice. He told us his story of being in town for a party and bought drinks for my friends. Trying to shake our new acquaintance, we moved towards the back of the room where two armchairs had opened up. Kaitlin and Pauline sank into the chairs against the wall, facing the bar. Before Maurice left he wrote his number and address down on a wet napkin and slid it onto small table next to Pauline's drink where it remained for someone else to discover or throw away.

I stood next to them and took in the scene. It felt so different from previous visits. I didn't like the ambiance of the bar area. It was much nicer to have a couch and table in the living room. A busboy walking by noticed our displeasure and suggested we try the second floor. Pauline wasn't feeling up for exploring. She had been wearing her younger sister's size six shoes all night, instead of her usual eight. Her feet hurt and she was getting tired so she and Agnes stayed downstairs while Kaitlin and I headed back into the lobby to the elevator bank. We rounded the corner to find a narrow hallway with a mirrored wall facing the elevators. It was a noticable contrast to the rest of the spacious first floor. We stepped into one of the elevators and pressed the button for the second floor. When the doors opened we were on the third floor. How curious. We tried again to no avail. Assuming it wasn't working properly, we got out and waited for a second elevator. When the doors opened on the third floor once again we decided to take the stairs. The door to the second floor had no handle. Anyone else would have assumed that this meant something. Perhaps visitors were not wanted wandering on to the second floor. We had no idea why, but it had been suggested to us, and so we didn't think anything of it. 

I peeked through the window in the door and caught the eye of a security guard. He came over and opened the door with a concerned look on his face. We weren't supposed to come up this way, the door was on the other side of the building. Kaitlin quickly told him that our friend Emma was inside and told us to come up but the elevator wasn't working and we thought the stairs would be easier. He held the door open for us and advised that next time we should use the proper door. Sure, we agreed and continued inside to explore the space. The room was large and dimly lit with two bars and an outdoor area. Inviting couches and armchairs were arranged around the room and a giant painting of a Ukulele blanketed the wall next to one of the bars. It was similar in decor to the lobby, but had a very different feel. We called Pauline to let her know that her and Agnes should come up and that the proper entrance could be accessed somewhere outside. They asked around downstairs to find out where this outside entrance was and eventually found it, but getting in was no simple task. 

The man at the door asked for a password. Already frustrated with her too small shoes, Pauline began to shout at the doorman that her friends were already inside and she didn't know anything about a password being needed to enter.* A popular story, the man at the door did not believe her. He advised that either Kaitlin and I would have to come down and get them or tell them the password so they could get in. Agnes called to ask if we knew it. A password? This was the first we were hearing of it. We were afraid that if we left we wouldn't be able to get back in. After all, we did come up through the stairwell and had previously been unaware that it was a private party. To further complicate things, we had absolutely no idea where the door was. We approached two girls seated on a white leather sofa and explained that we were here for this party and our friends who were meeting us were stuck outside being hounded for a password that we didn't know. "Oh how disgusting of the doorman!" They were outraged. "The password must be hounds and horses... wait, no. That doesn't sound right." The first girl shook her head. The second girl laughed and said, "it's horses and hounds!" We thanked the girls and called Agnes back to tell them. Pauline answered but couldn't hear us over the crowd.* The music had gotten louder as the party was now in full swing. All she could make out was that it started with an "h" and included the word "and", so she began to guess at the password. This resulted in Pauline shouting "Hootie and the Blowfish" at the doorman over and over. By this point, he was obviously annoyed with the situation. After having been shouted at for at least half an hour, he decided that whatever Pauline said next would be deemed "close enough" with the excuse of the loud party. "Hootie and the Blowfish" she shouted, "that's what they said!" "Fine", he said, "just go in". And so we met them at the top of the staircase next to the giant painting of a ukulele.

A little research revealed that we had attended a party for Armory Arts Week - Global Ukulele Day. That would explain the giant painting of a ukulele on the wall between the bar and the entryway staircase. We wandered around the party for a long time without knowing what we were supposed to be celebrating. For at least half of the night we were under the impression that it was a party for the New York Times after meeting a man who worked there in the crowd. We even had our picture taken by a photographer from Guest of a Guest.
*One. It is never a good idea to start shouting at a doorman. It (usually) will not get you anywhere but removed from the venue.
*Two. Reflecting on this situation, texting the password would have made much more sense..

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