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  • Writer's pictureJ Wolfe

Azealia Banks performs in New York City as the city is declared in a state of emergency on September

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

I walked through a flash hurricane to get to Webster Hall, a venue located in the one and only New York City, where I once got my fake ID taken as I watched my friend’s band Hunny play. I had to drag those black X’s around on my hands like I dragged my feet through insane amounts of water on this night. Before getting on the train to go to the city, my friend, who I will call Chip, and I bought Four Loko’s, something I had never done before and, being twenty-two, was definitely a little overdue for the experience. I had my hood on as I purchased them from the Myrtle-Broadway deli man at what used to be the infamous Big Boy Deli but now is just another deli, though it has a walk-in beer fridge. He started playing a guessing game with me. Saying that if I could guess the number his friend was thinking of I’d get my drink for free. He gave me two chances and both times I lacked the insight necessary to follow my instincts which guessed the right number first, but changed it quickly thereafter, saying it outloud and getting it wrong. Both times I erupted with frustration, but I bought my drink and climbed up the stairs to the train.

These days, when I go into the city, I tend to have a feeling of fear I can’t really place. Everywhere in the city feels like a location I am not allowed to be. Then again, much of my life feels this way as breaking up with your partner of four years tends to do that to places that used to feel familiar.

When we got off the train the rain had picked up by at least 70%. It was pouring, and for some reason I have cemented the idea in my mind that umbrellas don’t help with the rain in New York City, so I never bring one. I crouched under Chip’s umbrella as the city threw up water from every hole it possibly could. The venue was a five minute walk from the train, I was about 3/4 finished with a Four Loko, and I was yelling about one of my friends mistreating another one of my friends as we trudged through sidewalks that were just...water. We got to this covered outdoor seating area with turf but somehow the rain still found us. We finished our Four Loko’s, I finished my story, and we decided it was time to go in.

Once we entered the venue we went to the bathroom and rang our socks out in the sink, a sink more porcelain and open-face than you’d expect, this was the moment I realized it would take a few days for my shoes to dry. At this point, I also began to realize that 12% alcohol is a real thing and I was already wasted. We started hearing music trickle in through the open bathroom doors so we ran into the main room and found Azealia Banks had just begun performing. I love to witness the moment when everyone is waiting around and then on the first ounce of music the entire crowd starts dancing and you have to decide what kind of dancer you’re going to be tonight. I stood maybe half way into the crowd and, in order to see her whole outfit, I had to watch her perform through someone else’s phone which got more air than my eyes did. I remember going to shows as a teenager and being really bothered when I would look around and see everyone had their phones out as was recording, I’d say none of them knew how to live in the moment. At this show, though, I mostly appreciated it because it was the first time I realized I’m not as tall as I think I am. I found myself at this show because Chip had started doing a thing where she bought two tickets to things she wanted to go to and would find someone to join her. To my surprise the next day she asked me to send her forty dollars for my ticket, which didn't quite seem like the point of buying two tickets and asking someone to join you. As I edit this piece I look back at this memory knowing that Chip broke up with me as a friend.

I don’t know Banks’ Music very well and I could tell when a more popular song was on because everyone would take out their phones and start recording. It is still a creepy thing though, isn’t it? I was wasted watching Azealia Banks perform at Webster Hall through the phone of the person in front of me…. she looked fine though, as I watched her perform from what could be a stranger’s live stream.

For some reason,I found myself really attracted to women in this crowd. Like, I just really wanted to hold a small woman. Sometimes all a show happens to be is an event you go to where maybe you’ll think someone is sexy when you get there. Maybe you’ll meet someone, and you’ll get along, and you’ll know you like the same music and eventually years down the line you’ll have babies together and you’ll be able to say you met at this show. Nobody else in the crowd that night will know that the show they were at altered the course of your life.

I can’t imagine being the only person on a stage expected to entertain the whole crowd. With a band you have this whole dynamic with each other that people are interested in, both musically and as people. As a rapper, you have to live off the hype of when you first walk on stage with your outfit and your pigtails which are so long they almost touch the ground. While I stood in this crowd, tipsy, dancing, and fiending off the hype of the people around me, I completely forgot about the hurricane going on outside. About a week before, Hurricane Ida hit New York City. At the time, I was staying in Kentucky. I had an early morning flight back on the day that was supposed to be the worst one but when I got to New York the weather was very mild, I guess she saved her power for September 1.

The music itself was cool, there were elements of digitality in the beats that made me feel like I was listening to the internet, or more specifically to Azealia Banks’ private instagram. She sounded good and every time her voice came into a song it made the whole thing make more sense. Her melodies are pretty crazy

As we exited the venue alongside everyone I was surprised the show was already over. By the end of the concert, I had hit that point of being drunk where I just started getting upset about events that have happened in my life--we all know the feeling. Olivia was also a few days into a break up so together we were chanting fuck men thru our unified tears. This part of the night I blocked out because once we got outside of Webster Hall and back into the hurricane I forgot I was upset about anything. We checked what times the trains were coming and, to our surprise, the answer was never. The subway service had been suspended due to flooding in the stations. So we found cover under another outdoor seating cabana (thank you COVID) and tried to figure out how to get home. At that point the drunk was fading out and the damn ‘what are we gonna do’ was fading in. I rolled Olivia and I cigarettes and we FaceTimed a friend and were yelling at him asking for advice and also money, a habit I have when I get drunk enough. We tried calling a car 6 times but there were no cars around. My phone was also on 4% at this point. Olivia said that she was okay with chilling for a while and was upset because her ex was bombarding her with text messages. It’s scary how men, especially indie men, are so good at covering up their misogyny, but that’s a story for a different article. We started walking to the main street to try to ask someone for help but there were no-one around, there were no taxis in service, there were no trains running, all there was was water.

We walked back to the venue to see if they were providing refuge for their attendees who were stuck. We tried to open the door and it was, of course, locked. So we sat on the steps and met some random people who were also sitting on the steps. They were also a pair, and one of them did not like us from the get-go. He kept talking about how he had a car but he was too drunk to drive and needed to get food to sober up. We kept saying we would buy him food if he gave us a ride home.

Olivia asked, “are you down?”

and he said, “yes…. let me think about it,”

as his friend shook her head no for some reason. We went back and forth like this for a while as it seemed like our only hope of getting back to Bushwick. Eventually a car pulled up and his friend stood up to go to the car, we were yelling asking if we could come with her saying we would pay her and she just said no and got in the car. Because I was drunk and also wet and also would never leave two femmes stranded when I had a whole empty car to myself, I started yelling, “thanks for looking out, my friend.” She responded with, “I don’t know you.” Which is fair but all I have to say is she is not someone I would want to be in the apocalypse with.

We continued sitting on these steps for a while. We tried thinking of people we knew who lived in the city but my phone had died and I couldn’t remember my instagram password so I didn’t get around to asking anybody. While sitting on the steps we met this really beautiful couple. They were these two women who were both really drunk and they looked like each other. We bonded and talked and I gathered from listening that one of them had resentment toward the other. They were going to Murray Hill, they said that we could come with them but it didn’t appeal to me enough to get me off my ass. I let one of them roll a cigarette and she rolled it really long and really loose. She kept having to relight it. I started checking the subway times again and for some reason I thought the L seemed hopeful. We walked to the station and ran into Olivia’s friend who had been sitting there for over an hour waiting by herself with no phone. She said someone had told her that her clit was out because she was wearing a skirt and didn't care how she was sitting. Finding her was a blessing.

We sat down here for a while and talked to her. We talked about how crazy it was that we were just stuck in the city and smoked cigs in the subway station. There was a sign in this station that said that if people got on the trains the MTA couldn’t guarantee they would arrive at their destination. The statement sounded quite daunting, like they couldn’t guarantee safety at this point. Eventually we started talking about this IHOP that Olivia’s friend used to work next to that was just down the street. Olivia and I decided to go there because we needed hot chocolate despite the fact that the subway was warm and patient. We got to the IHOP and it was freezing inside. But we sat down anyway and I immediately took off my shoes and socks, hoping they might dry a little. My feet had too many wrinkles to count at this point and the skin seemed soft enough to where it might just fall off the bone. We ordered french fries and hot chocolate. I was sitting with my hood on and my forehead on the table when Olivia got a text from my ex asking if we were okay because he knew we were going to the city tonight. I was flashed a disappointed look from Olivia who doesn’t think we should still be talking and she suggested we just ignore the text, but she gave me the liberty to make my own decisions. At this point, Olivia and I were very over being in the city and just wanted to go home. I felt lucky because an Uber to my house was cheaper than an Uber to Olivia’s house and I really wanted to go home. We were at this IHOP together for who knows how long and we finally managed to get a car. It was the best feeling ever, like seeing a rainbow after a storm, but specifically seeing one when you’re a kid and it was raining all day at school and you spot it as you’re getting into your parents' warm car. We drag ourselves out of the freezing cold IHOP and into the car and make it back to my house around 3 am, at this point my head is killing me. We get out of our clothes and go the fuck to sleep.

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