Before I break down one of the wildest Sunday Fundays of the year, I must confess one thing: My interest in The Bad Life did not actually begin at their 4th EDM Brunch. Rather, a forgotten, chance encounter in the midst of chaos is where this journey originated. Back in September, 2012, I had arrived at Central Park’s Summer Stage for Steve Angello’s first Size in the Park show with a group of friends. We secured an incredible spot about 20ft from the stage and were already sucked into the crowd, vibing off the kick and the bass from Third Party’s opening set. As I looked around at the smiles on my friends faces and thousands of hands in the air, I let the beats wash over me and wrapped my arms around a special lady I had found earlier in the crowd (who I’m still madly in love with to this day), wondering if this night could be any more perfect. At that moment, two petite brunettes catapulted out of a sea of neon and landed right in front of us. “HERE!” one of them yelled over the synths, an outstretched hand holding a pink rubber bracelet. I took the bracelet, looked up, but the girls had already vanished. I turned the bracelet over: ‘I’M A BAD KID.’ True story, I thought to myself. I put the bracelet on and have worn it to almost every show and festival since.
After that magical night in Central Park I checked out the site, bought a few tanks, and continued to keep tabs on what the Bad Kids were up to. I instantly fell in love with their energy, their message, the PLUR project, the way they involve and engage the fans, how they turn negatives into positives (Swifty-cyber-lynch-mob-turned-anti-bullying-awareness), everything. I experienced a moderate degree of FOMO before during and after the first three EDM brunches, hoping that one day I’d be able to convince a group of friends to attend one with me. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would win a PunchTab contest, entered randomly at some point during a lull in my workday, and be welcomed with open arms and fist pumps all around into a family such as this.
Fast-forward to the Thursday before brunch: I’m in the back seat of a cab on my way to dinner and receive an unexpected e-mail with a link to a short YouTube video where Lex and Andi announced that I was the winner of their VIP table contest. I never win anything. Like, never. No contests, no lotteries, no bingo games, not even a street fair raffle, nothing. How on earth did this happen? I sort of took a deep breath and forgot to breathe out again. My girlfriend (see: ‘special lady’ above) thought perhaps I was receiving really bad news…au contraire, my dear. Our casual Sunday plans had just gone from zero to 100 in a matter of seconds. All we had to do was assemble a crew worthy of a shit show of this caliber and we’d be on our way. My First Lady, my sister, one of the biggest die-hard house heads I could think of at the time who I recently went full ham with at the last Prydz show, and four other lucky ladies gladly accepted the invite. What better way to show up to a rager like this than with an all-female supporting cast? Comments began to trickle in on facebook with some warning me that I had no idea what was about to happen. Could I handle it? Would I make a fool out of myself and go too hard too fast? Would I fall off the bar and break my face? What exactly DID go down on the infamous 1st floor at Libation? I honestly didn't care what people were saying – no matter what craziness was thrown my way, I knew I got this.
As a native New Yorker, I grew up in the heyday of brunch party culture. Live DJs spinning loud house music, bottles, and dancing frequently accompanied my eggs, but no Meatpacking brunch shindig holds a sparkler to what I was about to experience. Despite being out late the night before, I shot out of bed at 8am that Sunday, threw on some warm up beats, and began to adequately prepare for the day ahead. I’ve been to day-long events before so already knew that proper hydrating beforehand was the key to staying firmly on my feet from start to finish. Once camera-ready, I chugged the last few drops of a coconut water and a 20oz Red Bull I had been double-fisting while dancing around my apartment, asked my girl one more time if she was ready for what was about to go down, and left for Libation quivering with excitement.
Outside of Libation, the clock struck 12pm and vibrations from the bass inside could be felt on the sidewalk. My crew assembled and once identified as the contest winners, we were ushered inside to begin our adventure. Seated at a long table within arm’s reach of the DJ booth, a waitress came by to inform me that she would be taking care of me that day, not to worry about a thing and, no matter what, she would ensure that my glass was never empty. Our table ordered brunch, a sea of booze began to flow, and I relaxed into a relatively tame scene of excited brunchers eating and drinking to the sweet sounds of TCUP and his brother Peter Brennan on the decks. As my standard champagne flute was replaced with a massive goblet complete with a glowstick stem, I spot a girl in a banana suit bounding towards my table with a white bag in her hands. Andi greeted me with a bear hug, a bag full of tanks, sunglasses, and a ton of gear, and reiterated once again that I may not remember what happens towards the end of the day but I’m guaranteed to have the time of my life (nailed it on both counts). Immediately following the introduction and a quick round of Jewish Geography she whisked me outside to meet her partner in crime Lex as well as the majority of the Bad Kids staff. We chatted, took pictures, and shot some video footage for their Bad Life series. I know that this party is for The Bad Kids as a collective whole, but the girls and their team really made me feel like this was done somewhat just for me. They all knew me before I even had the chance to introduce myself – even the bartenders at Libation somehow knew I wasn't just another guest at the party.
After eating, we had another hour left on our bottomless brunch portion of the day, and servers began to bring us carafe after carafe of mimosas as if it were a relay race. At one point Andi appeared out of nowhere and mentioned that if I hadn't done so, to check out the 3rd floor. She left it at that and, with a smile, left me to ponder: What on earth was so different about this 3rd floor? People were still finishing up their brunch where I was and the 1st floor was beginning to fill up, so I grabbed my girl and headed upstairs to see what all the fuss was about and OH. MY. SCIENCE. THIS. IS. NOT. REAL. LIFE. It was complete pandemonium…at just after 1pm. People dressed in full costume, dance offs on every flat surface in the room, trays of shots being passed around, DJ Gonzo tearing the place apart, and the packed crowd was losing their shit like they were in the final minutes of a headliner set at a festival. Retail Raving was in full effect selling gear like it was going out of style and I just sort of had to stand there for a minute to soak it up as the floor shook beneath me. I had barely finished digesting my brunch burrito, was feeling tipsy off of probably a quart of champagne, and could not believe that so many people other than me envision this as the optimal way to spend their Sunday. Perfection.
**DISCLAIMER: From here on out, things got hazy, and the day got crazy. Apologies for any happenings which appear to be out of order, as time and space were officially bent out of shape for the remainder of the event. **
Back downstairs, the volume had already been turned up considerably and people were making the transition from party hard into full on rage face. The Jane Doze, DJs I’ve been DYING to see again, took to the decks and the whole place simply exploded. Every time I was within a few feet of someone in a Bad Kids shirt a shot was handed to me. I kept thinking over and over to myself that this wasn't real. This couldn't be real. People don’t do this for brunch. This was something I always imagined would be fun as a concept but surely it couldn't get this wild this quickly smack in the middle of the day before my work week started.
Out of nowhere, I’m talking to someone I just met and they've instantly become a friend for life. I look up briefly and see a cake soaring over my head, almost as if it was in slow motion, and it landed in the crowd with an uproar of cheers. Quick glance to the right: More cake in more faces. The banana twins, as if they weren't already, are officially in full effect. Kay Spence, one of the most extraordinary photogs I've ever met, walks by me, gives me a hug, and tenderly rubs some cake on my face before snapping a few pics and dashing off into the madness as my eyes readjust from the flash.
Hot chicks in tutus and leg wraps spun LED hula hoops on the bar, half of The Jane Doze stood up on the decks with a trumpet (A TRUMPET?!) and began to jam out with the beats, and I knew it was only a matter of time before the infamous Dream Lab released their robot on the crowd of eager party-goers who by now had completely surrendered to The Bad Kids’ spell and were dead set on making this a brunch that will go down in history. Dance circles are forming left and right. Cameras were flashing every few seconds. As quoted from one of my favorite anthems, ‘I must have died and gone to house heaven, because nothing is this divine…’
I’m back at the end of the bar with my crew and our hands at this point are permanently in the air. The crowd is pulsating out of control and I see a flash of light out of the corner of my eye: Dream Lab has arrived and they’re ready to deliver. The man behind the mask is a tall drink of water to say the least, but in full costume this robot is MASSIVE. With lasers shooting out from all angles, LEDs ablaze, and cryo guns showering the masses with cool air, the robot begins to hop from table to table, dancing with everyone in sight and even snagging a few kisses from the ladies. I’m in awe. Somewhere in the mix DJ Gonzo takes control of the decks again and I’m officially on a mission to dance until I’m reduced to a puddle of pure joy. He whips the crowd into a frenzied build up and drops the bass like an explosion unlike anything I've experienced before. Champagne begins to erupt from all angles and I dive back into the middle of the chaos ready to kick it up another notch.
Everyone’s freak flag is flying high. I spot a banana dancing on the bar and exchange high fives with everyone around me. Andi reaches out to pull me up and as I go to take her hand, someone pulls me back and attempts to tell me that the bar is for girls only. The ladies behind me fire back at him that I’m no ordinary bro and insist I get up there to claim my spot. I look at the guy, mouth something along the lines of, ‘Sorry buddy, I was made for this,’ launch myself onto the bar, pull my girl up with me, and the bananas hand me a bottle for each hand. At this point I have a permanent shit-eating grin from ear to ear, pouring champagne and anything else handed to me into mouths in the crowd below. I’m on top of the world. If it’s not clear by now, this is one of those moments you never forget.
Towards the end of the last set I resorted to sitting on the bar, passing shots around, chatting up a storm and wondering both how I’m going to make it home in one piece as well as the likelihood of me being able to do so while still holding it together long enough to collapse into the back seat of a cab before I fall flat on my face. With new friends all around, I knew I had risen to the call of duty and made my own mark on such a historic day for The Bad Kids. I've never felt this much love in one room, met so many amazing people in a matter of hours, and had the opportunity to get this down in broad daylight. This is the life. This is what it’s all about. The Bad Kids and their fans are unlike anyone I've ever met before. Their message is the true embodiment P.L.U.R. and I respect them to the moon and back for bringing together like minded individuals all for the sake of having a good time and giving back to the rave community we have grown to love unconditionally. Winning this contest has definitely changed me as a person: I now know for sure that there are some in this world who are inherently adoring, caring people dead set on turning fantasies into reality, all the while utterly devoted to spreading the love and inspiring others to pay it forward.
This is definitely not my last run in with The Bad Kids, as I've been initiated into both the family and the growing legacy Lex and Andi have created. As I sit here at my day job, still tingling with excitement from what transpired only a few days earlier, I can’t thank the Bad Kids enough for everything they've done to make this one of the best days of my life. I've tried my best to put this all into words, but the emotions felt that day and thereafter really are indescribable. I already miss my new friends dearly and cannot wait until we meet again. I knew I had what it took, am officially a Bad Kid VIP for life, and wouldn't have it any other way. I am confident that with each event the bar will continue to be raised, The Bad Kids will continue to shock and rock their fan base, and this wild journey is far from over.
Until next time...hands to the sky,