Ramblings: RIP Motor City Bar


Sometimes people ask me why I spend so much time in bars. To be honest, I don’t even really think about it that way – I’ve always spent a lot of time in bars, in all of the different countries I have lived in. It’s all about hanging out with my friends in a social setting. Where I come from and where I grew up, going to the pub or the bar was not about how many alcoholic beverages you could throw down your throat in the least amount of time. It was more about meeting your friends, getting a drink and catching up, chatting, being social. Drinking coffee and then moving on to wine or beer early in the evening. A bar was a place to meet up and talk, read, be together. After moving to the States I felt that bar culture here was a little different and that often a bar seemed to be just a place to get wasted and meet someone to hook up with. Luckily for me this initial feeling was dissipated when I found several bars that I could consider my homes away from home.

I have my moments getting very drunk in bars, and hooking up with not-so-random people and all the rest, but first and foremost it’s always been a social spot for me to meet up with my friends. I’ve met many of my closest friends in bars too, and there is nothing wrong with that, it’s not as if we only hang out in bars either. We met in a bar, met up several times aterwards, and then exchanged numbers, had brunch, dinner, went to a show, got to know each other and then became close. That’s how you make friends, or that’s how I make friends in any setting. Just because it’s a bar doesn’t mean that the friendships that start there are less worthy than the ones that may have started at work, or at the gym, or at a restaurant. 

Anyway, this is not supposed to be a post about bars in general but about one special bar that has been part of most of my life in NYC, a bar that I have spent so many nights in over the past 8 years and a bar that will always have a very special place in my heart, as it does in the place of many other people. This bar, Motor City, closed its doors for the last time last Sunday, after 18 years of existence on Ludlow Street. The one bar where on any night of the week (or any time of the night for that matter), you would find like-minded people and a DJ playing music that you would like. Even on Friday and Saturday nights, amidst all of the bars playing radio-friendly mush for the drunken weekend crowd, Motor City would still be rock n roll and a haven from everywhere else. 

So many memories, more than I could ever put into words, as one memory just divulges tens of others. So many friendships made and broken and reformed again, so many people passing through and moving on to other lives elsewhere, but often leaving there own mark on the establishment, and leaving with a piece of Motor City in them, never to forget the bar where they did more than just drink in. Because you always did more than just drink at Motor City. You danced and talked and wrote on the bathroom walls, you changed the world with words, discussed things for hours, jumped up on the bar and danced (well I used to for a while), heard songs you had never heard before and watched your friends scream and shout when they tried to beat each other at Miss Pacman. Injuries may have been sustained (a broken cheekbone in my case) and many a hangover suffered after a night at Motor City. Some memories that you probably would prefer to erase, but many more that you will cherish for life.

In my opinion there is nothing better than going into a bar by yourself, knowing that you would never be alone. Nevermind knowing if one of your friends may be there or not, just by the fact that you knew the barstaff and that they would always be there to chat and have a laugh with you, whether you were drinking alcohol or not. And I have to say that Motor City would not have been Motor City without the bartenders and the owners. Wonderful people who had been there for years and probably would have continued to work there if it hadn’t been forced to close down. People who always made me feel welcome and at home, even when I was at my drunkest, or when I was at my most sober. People who never made me feel judged or uncomfortable, and who I will miss not seeing in the setting of the bar, as this bar really was an integral part of my life. Even if, over the past few years, I had spent less time there than I used to do, mainly because I was working most nights on Orchard Street, but also because I was trying avoid running in to some people I didn’t want to be around anymore, the bar still felt like home whenever I stopped in. 

I stopped by the closing party, which was held a week before the actual closing, on a Sunday night after I finished work. The bar was so packed that it was nearly impossible to get a drink. I had a shot and left, as I couldn’t speak to anyone or really hang out there. Then I went back a week later, on the actual night that it was closing and it felt EXACTLY as it always had – a place where you went to have a lot of fun, listen to the music you loved and hang out with people like yourself. Or different, but that didn’t matter! My last memory of Motor City will be sharing a bottle of Powers and a few cans on PBR in front of the bar. Fitting memory for a place that never failed to remain the same, even when the entire street started to change. 

How many memorable birthdays have we all celebrated there? How many of us DJ’d there at least one night? How many times did you bump into, and hang out with people who play in bands that you adore? How many debaucherous after parties were held there? How many times did you end up there because there was nowhere else to go where you would feel at home? How many times did you walk through the doors and breathe a sigh of relief because the atmosphere never changed and you knew you could be yourself without feeling judged? And how many places in the city (especially on the Lower East Side) can you still go to and feel the same way? How many times in my life have I ever bought a new dress specifically for a Christmas party in a bar? (only ever for the MC Christmas party!).

RIP Motor City – you will always have a huge place in my heart. And thanks to everyone who worked there and who I met there who made the place into what it was.


There were no super powers involved

I thought I was superwoman. And everyone helped perpetuate the myth too. "How do you do it?!" "You are amazing! You can go out all night AND always make it to work the next day!" I can honestly tell you that there are no super powers involved, just plain old will power. And two years ago today I used that same will power in a more productive way - I cut alcohol out of my life completely. Yes, that means I haven't had a drop of alcohol in exactly two years. If you are extremely bored you can read this entire blog, go back to where I started it in 2007, and you can see the spiral down, and then the long road back up again. Spiraling was easy with hindsight, and a lot of fun at times, climbing out of there was a lot harder, and ultimately a strain on a lot of things (my mental health, friendships, my inspiration).

NYE 2008 was a lot of fun. I still remember every bit of it, maybe because for the first night in a while I didn't black out, didn't cry, didn't feel like I wanted to jump off a bridge. The next night was the complete opposite, I still only remember blurry moments. Crying in Motorcity bathroom, yelling at Eric about something or other he had done to upset me, wanting to jump out of the window at Michelle's house. Waking up in the morning on my couch, asking Meg where my phone was (hidden in the cutlery drawer so that I wouldn't break it).

That wasn't me anymore.

There is nothing wrong with going out and having fun. There is nothing wrong with getting drunk, with dancing on a barstool, with having a slight hangover the next day. There is something wrong when you drink glass after glass of straight Stoli, just hoping that the next one will bring some kind of oblivion until the next day. It stopped being fun the night I decided that I needed 15 Tylenol PM to knock me out. I should have known at that moment, but I guess I decided to drag it out a bit longer. But as someone who had known me very well at that time said a few months ago "You knew what you were doing. You were just pushing yourself to the bottom to see how far you could go, knowing full well you would make it back up to the top again". I think he's right - I just wish I had been able to restrain myself from such an unnecessary experience.

Over the past few years I have learnt to love myself again, to handle the mental ups and downs while remaining sober, to believe in myself a lot more, and to be more confident.

I don't judge - my decision to stop drinking was a decision for myself. Alcohol is no longer a big deal in my life, but I still see some of my friends ruin themselves with it. The below is the only thing I am going to say right now, and then I will keep my mouth closed again. I am not superior to anyone, sober or not sober, I just decided to face my issues instead of hiding behind them.

If you need a drink to feel normal then that's a problem.
If you need a drink to be able to hold a conversation with someone then that's a problem.
If you can't go out without having a drink, then that's a problem.
And if you drink and drive then that's a problem.

I wouldn't have been able to get through this all without my Mum, sister, brother and closest friends. I love you <3

End of winter?

I feel the end of winter is approaching, finally. This winter has been so long and brutal. I am tired of wearing my big coat, however gorgeous it is, tired of the icy wind and tired of feeling so tired!

But I am happy. However much work is kicking my butt (no change there), I am still much more focused and have found my goals again. Giving up alcohol was one of the best things I could have done this year! It has been 2 months now, and I don't regret and/or miss it. I can sit in a bar for a bit and feel fine with just a water. Last night was really nice. Meg picked me up from work and we drove down to the LES, got hot chocolates and sat at Darkroom in a booth with Eric and Jeff for a bit. Then we played Pacman at Motor and went home just after 11pm. I have tomorrow off work, so I am planning on sleeping in, baking cookies for Noemie's babyshower on Saturday, cleaning the apartment and getting a manicure. I'm really looking forward to the long weekend!

Saturday night is going to be AWESOME! Two of my favourite New York bands are playing at the Mercury Lounge (Cruel Black Dove & Blacklist). I plan to take a lot of pictures for my other (new) blog. It exists only in my head for now, but will be online next week at the latest. It will be a mix of all things NY, cheap and easy and weird and wonderful things to do here. Music, parties, restaurants, art galleries, books, walks, shops... Whatever I like you will get to hear about :)

This is where I will be on Saturday:

Time Out

One week down, and one real night out with only soda and cran. I made it through sitting at my two usual bars, on probably the most annoying night of the year (ie fratboy central, or Dec 27th). All of my friends are really supportive, except for one person who started making an obsession out of it. "Why aren't you drinking?" "Why are you sitting at a bar and drinking WATER?!". Um, because I WANT to?! To cut a long story short all I have to say is, yes I will not be getting black out drunk and going home with you tonight. Or ever again! Because you just proved to me that your maturity level is way lower than I even dared to think it was. Out of my life. NOW!!!!! Sobriety is a good way to weed out all those non-friends from your life. I must say that this week Tracy and Harry showed me even more than usual how good a friends they are to me. I love them.

I'm at my mum's with Beth until tomorrow. I just went to the mall with Karli - two hours was enough for me, especially when some Disney radio show started its broadcast. I'm a city girl through and through, but I love the fact that my mum lives right by the ocean, with phenomenal views and complete peace and quiet. A gorgeous house surrounded by water, stars at night, and wildlife. Named "Rehab Central" by my mum :)

I'm putting Operation H (Rockstar 2) into effect. Something dawned on my cloudless mind this week. No more men who use me like trash, or who just don't appreciate me the way I should be, or need to be. So I shall be single until someone who meets H's potential comes along. I just don't want to even think about H himself cos I just wouldn't dare to believe that could happen.

I'm with the band

Every week I tell myself that I am going to have a week off. I don't mean a week off work, I mean a week off the rest of my life. Every Sunday I go out and get in at 3am at the latest (and that's usually when I start drinking at 8pm - don't even ask what happens if I start drinking later). That sets the tome for the rest of the week. It's as if I can't help myself, no willpower to stop. I need that Stoli on the rocks to get through the work week.
A few weeks ago I felt like I was walking through a haze, trying to dodge stones of my life falling all around me, but getting hit every time because my movements were too slow. I am finally stumbling out of it, hurt, bruised, older and just a little more cynical. But I still can't face myself right now. Oblivion still attracts me. Not being able to remember helps me through the abnormality of my reality. I should get away for a while, try to be something else, but my honesty just won't let me.

I went to see Jess' play last night "Angry Young Women in Low Rise Jeans with High Class Issues" It was excellent, funny, wittyand Jess was awesome. I'm still amazed that she has the guts to stand on stage every night in just a bra and thong and STILL act. I love that girl.

CMJ week is killing me. I haven't actually seen that many bands, but I caught Hannah's band Silver Rockets and my personal favourite New York band of the moment, A Place to Bury Strangers on Thursday. I think I will go to see them again tonight at The Delancey with Bruce's Girl. Then I know without even planning it that I will end up at Motorcity. I vaguly remembering being there last night and then going back to Darkroom (from where I am supposedly barred although not really). Drama drama. I'd much rather just be at Motorcity where the people who matter are real, honest and friendly. I've never experienced first hand drama there.
I also had to DJ on Wednesday night at The Skinny. Twas a lot of fun. As usual I ended up playing eveything and anything, especially as the night wore on... Everyone has a secret goth in them. People were dancing to The Sisters and The Cult without even realising it. Scott and me are doing Halloween night there too and I shall be going as an angel. All in white with a blonde wig. Paradox.

Hilarious

I was sitting at the bar last night and some random guy asked me if I was from London. Five times. Because you know that everybody who has a British accent comes from London. Then he proceeded to ask me if I knew Kate Moss to which I responded in my most sarcastic tone “Of course, she’s my best friend”. Next thing I know he’s whipped his crackberry out and shows me a text message that he’s just received from Kate Moss.

Riiiiight. I think his delusion went a little bit deeper than the amount of alcohol that he had been drinking.

Then again, I ended up not remembering how I got from Darkroom to Motorcity (the fifth time of the night). Actually, lets go back even further – I don’t remember how I got from Lit to Darkroom.
It was a good night. I think?

Nobody told you, that I could just waltz through and shake up your style

I kind of outdid myself this week. 3 hours of sleep between Sunday night and Monday night, about 8 hours on Tuesday night, no sleep on Wednesday night and then passed out at 9pm last night. I feel rested today hahaha! So what's going on tonight? ParadoxSister is in town for the weekend so I am assuming a night of barhopping and drinking and dancing. Maybe it's time to do something different? HA!

(Picture Paradox rolling around in hysterics at the idea of not going out drinking, dancing and hanging out with friends)

June's boy is also celebrating his birthday tonight so hopefully we shall be able to help him get immensely trashed so he forgets he's now 30. As long as we all continue to look less than 26 then we're all fine anyway ;)

Wednesday night is a bit of a blur... Paradox Twin and me are goi ng to help promote and book people for Spotlight, an awesome club space in Times Sq. Yes, I know, Times Sq. For someone who thinks Hiro is too far uptown it was like a roadtrip all the way up there. But the space is really really good, the DJ booth and area is amazing and there is so much room. If some of my favourite bands and DJs were performing there I would definitely make the tip up there.
So.
We went there to check the place out and then ended up going to the usual places downtown, The Skinny, Darkroom (was sooo great to see Moreno and Jess and dance.. just like the old-school Wednesday nights apart from the fact that ParadoxSister wasn't there), Motorcity, Darkroom again, Skinny again... Someone gave me tequila instead of vodka and by the time I was drinking it I was too drunk to notice anyway, until I started feeling ANGRY (bad sign). Paradox twin and me did the good thing of leaving the bar and going somewhere else to practice our karate kicks.

The anger did not come from the tequila though. The anger came from seeing one of my friends so fucking upset and wanting to kick the person who made her that upset. If someone hurts your friend you stick up for them no matter what right? You don't just hide and say "I don't want to get involved". Selfish pieces of shit.

And you - the one who gives me withering looks when no one is looking: I specialise in those looks and yours are far from perfect. Seriously - don't mess with me. I don't give a shit about you or your drama and am actually happy to ignore you, so don't keep trying to make me want to kick you.

I feel better now :)