Many a celebrity has tried to eulogize Michael Jackson with singing (Mariah Carey), essays (Lisa Marie Presley) or block parties in Brooklyn (Spike Lee). But how do you properly say thank you and goodbye to the King? With a no-holds-barred dance party.
Last weekend, the former A Tribe Called Quest front man, Q-Tip, hosted a party at the Nokia Theatre. The venue’s neon-blue escalators leading down to the auditorium looked futuristic, suggesting a house/techno rave rather than a hip-hop party. That would have been unfortunate. But when I entered the bar-filled lounge area, I knew I was at home: bourgie black people everywhere.
After downing the champagne we brought in Orangina bottles, my crew and I made our way to the very front of the auditorium, pressed up against the railing and waited for the show to start. Three DJ booths were set up on the stage flanked by parallel images of a young Michael Jackson — the King — lounging on a throne. The picture of MJ and his round ’fro took me back to the days when he was a black boy, before he became a white woman. But I’m not gonna lie, his perm was luxurious as shit. Tip brought along DJ Spinna and Mark Ronson to hold down the fort. If you haven’t heard of Mark Ronson, you’ve definitely heard of his sister, Samantha Ronson; her rocky relationship with Lindsay Lohan has been happily chronicled by the likes of Perez Hilton and TMZ.
For five glorious hours, we grooved to tunes which — not surprisingly — included lots of Michael Jackson, Jackson 5 and Janet Jackson, but also some Biggie and Jay. Clearly, everyone was enjoying themselves. And by everyone, I mean crotch-grabbing MJ impersonators, hippies dancing in their drum circles and hipsters awkwardly grinding.
But it wasn’t all “ABC” and “Beat It” the whole night. For a while, Tip was annoyed. With a furrowed brow, he turned the music down and commanded stragglers in the back to dance: “Y’all didn’t pay money to sit down. Everyone in the back stand up!” he shouted. “Don’t look at me, don’t look at Ronson or Spinna. Everyone turn around and dance with each other.”
But we watched him still.
The event inevitably shifted toward a celebration of the DJs as well as the King. To the crowd’s delight, Tip showed off his robot, moonwalking and Old School hip-hop moves. He invited girls on stage to dance for a couple songs. I might even have been one of those girls.
Tip’s DJ skills have garnered an intense, passionate following. Diddy, despite his cheesiness, has even called him “the hottest DJ in the game right now.” If you’ve ever been to Toad’s or a Yalie-thrown dance party, you’ve most likely wondered what makes a DJ good. Successful DJs know the art of transitioning from song to song, picking the right sequence of sounds and feeling the audience. Q-Tip definitely mastered these skills, and no Michael Jackson classic song was left unplayed. I’m sure the King was moonwalking across heaven … or somewhere farther south.