When I took my disco-infiltrator persona beyond the confines of Broward and began injecting it into Miami's Poplife party, I suddenly had a much larger audience to screw around with. My subversive dance maneuvers still got laughs from ordinary dance-floor citizens. But for the glorified pimps who looked like scenesters, who in hindsight almost certainly were running clandestine businesses within that
business, I wore out my welcome in a hurry.
My infiltration of Poplife began in mid-2006. After booking and playing a
show there, I was introduced to Barbara Basti, who claimed to run the
party's MySpace profile and whom I later saved in my cell phone as
Poplife Barbie. She paid out 100 bucks and drink tickets and told me to
come back next week. When I returned, it was in my Charles Barkley
short shorts, and I was ready to dance. The music I perform as Catalonia,
singer/songwriter stuff that's often acoustic, shares nothing with the
fierceness I display as the disco infiltrator, so this might have been a
Surprise and curiosity were acceptable responses to me anyway, so what
did I care if I got the evil eye from a minority of some party's
business side. I am the populist, remember? I concern myself only with
the fat majority in the middle and could care less about the sort of
pompous snobby attitudes some people carried at these parties. I
carried out the same routine for about a month or so afterward.
Later that summer, random people in the club began asking me if I knew
who Barbie was. I would say not really. And that was that. I called
the number sent to me from the Poplife MySpace profile to rebook
another Catalonia show. No answer, and I didn't leave a message. Poplife
Barbie called back and wanted to talk about everything under the sun:
who I was, what my hobbies were, and what radio stations I listened to
-- a question she asked two or three times and information which turned out to be
important for later.
I don't know if this is the norm on their end, but for me it was not the
usual booking callback. This would be the start of a buildup and
followed the rules of the Art of Seduction by Robert Greene:
approaching indirectly, isolating the victim, mastering the art of
insinuation, etc. By the various accounts of promoters and hoppers,
Barbie ran or was involved with PS-14 and co-owned the district, a
sushi restaurant, etc. I have no idea what parts of this were true.
But at the time, given the power of the seduction element, a record deal
offered through one of her associates, an over-the-top intensive
interest, it all seemed like it couldn't be completely denied.
After all, if they weren't really interested in me (it seemed at that
time), then why would they go to all of this trouble to build up an
ordinary person to near-mythical proportions? So I played along to see
where it was going. Besides, after a while I was hooked and didn't feel
like I had any choice but to follow Barbie's phone advice, which
was "I guess you'll just have to wait and see." So that's what I did.
By the end of 2006, the District would close, Poplife would stop
throwing weekly parties for awhile, and much of the party people would
end up at Circa 28 -- which would later become the Electric Pickle.
Evan Rowe is a local songwriter and performer best-known as
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Catalonia, a professor of political science and history at Broward
College, and a small-d democratic strategist with no party affiliation.
Each week, we surrender our space for his thoughts on the music industry
and how they relate to our region.