A Visiting Friend
By David Detroit
Seeing as I’m a relatively lazy, unemployed, welfare muncher these days, I generally don’t make a lot of effort to get exotic with my nights out. I’m sure there’s amazing shit going on in Queens, Harlem, The Bronx, and anywhere else for that matter. It’s fucking New York City, there’s shit popping everywhere. But that shit is too far away from my home base, and a night out is often a gamble. Since it’s been a fairly laid back summer, I’ve been staying local to where I live, Bushwick. Yes, Bushwick, the neighborhood you’ve probably heard of by now. Or “East Williamsburg,” as the realtors call it. Bushwick is the place where evil gentrifiers such as myself don’t have to quite worry about displacing any true community, because Bushwick, historically, has never really held any kind of specific community, unlike Bed-Stuy, which has a significant amount of history and culture intertwined into it’s streets. Bushwick is just a poor dilapidated neighborhood, that seems to be undergoing a rapid amount of ‘gentrification’. I find the word gentrification to be inherently racist, as it often denotes white people, and as if all white people are part of some fucking ‘gentry’. I’m a dirt-poor, fucking white nigger from the sticks, and there’s not much ‘gentile’ about me, other than my education, which I’m up to my ears in debt for. So yeah, I’m some poor white guy who moved to Bushwick, and if some realtor asshole wants to use my broke ‘hipster’ ass as a selling point for the neighborhood, it’s not my fucking fault if this place turns into condos. It’s that relator’s fault, and the property owner’s fault, because I’ll get driven out of the community too. I just need a cheap place to live, where the statistics of me getting murdered are relatively low. So here I am, in Bushwick. And last I checked, it’s a free country―so fuck anyone who tries to tell you where you should live.
And so, being the lazy fuck I am, and not having a lot of money, not wanting to leave the neighborhood, and not wanting to get murdered, my options are fairly limited with bars and venues to visit. I generally like all the spots that my fellow Bushwick exploitationists tend to congregate, such as Northeast Kingdom, Life Cafe, Goodbye Blue Monday, Wreck Room, Wyckoff Starr, The Archive, Kings County, and the new Bodega wine and beer bar. Not to mention all the various house parties in the neighborhood. But in the past year, I’ve found that out of anywhere local I tend to enjoy myself at the new spot Tandem the most.Tandem
Tandem has only been around for a year, it’s off the beaten path in Bushwick, near Knickerbocker and Troutman, and upon first glance it seemed like pure evil. Such a sleekly designed bar and restaurant in the middle of the fucking ‘ghetto’ will surely drive property value up triple in the coming years. But you know what? I don’t care anymore. That’s right, I don’t care if this place displaces every resident within it’s radius. In NYC, when a new bar applies to start in a neighborhood, they have to hold a town hall meeting, and if the community objects against it, they can’t set up shop. So, the community didn’t object, and Tandem set up shop. It’s as simple as that. If the community had a problem with this bar they should have stopped it, because they could have. FOR FREE. It’s the responsibility of a community to understand these situations, and just like me, they’re lazy and negligent. So fuck it, let what happens happen….
And to fully expand on the brutal amount of gentrification I’m willing to invite to the neighborhood, my tale this month is about the odd bender I had with my future lawyer, Josh. Josh is Harvard educated, currently studying law at The University of Chicago, and I’m totally encouraging him to move here after he graduates. You know why? Because I like being around smart people, smart people tend to be interesting, and Ivy League educated people tend to be smart. And Josh so happens to be a fucking working class dude who worked his way up through academia the hard way, working as a property inspector for several years. And fuck anyone who’s going to tell people like us where to live and where not to live. But despite his education, he’s relatively poor too. But not for long, that lucky fuck. I should have went to law school….
Anyway, this past week, I haven’t had a phone. I recently went on an all expenses paid trip to Fire Island with my girl and my buddy’s ex-girlfriend in the hopes of having a wild orgy in paradise. Pretty awful, I know, but what can I say? Upon excitedly jumping into the Atlantic Ocean for the first time all summer, I felt my phone writhing in vibratory death in my left pocket. Not to mention, my girl got incredibly sick and had to be rushed to the hospital.
Anyway, the same day as we’re leaving the island, Josh is coming from the airport, and he ends up losing all his luggage at the airport, and we can only communicate via instant message. My girl is going to bed, and she’s fine after the asthma attack from twelve hours previous, and knows that I’ve been planning for Josh to come visit for over a month. I feel kind of reluctant leaving, if anything happens, but she persists on me going out with my old friend. He gets to the house around 11pm, and wants to immediately eat somewhere nearby that’s really tasty. After walking to Wreck Room, Life Cafe and Robertas, which are all closing the kitchen as we arrive, he ends up getting a hot pastrami sandwich at Brooklyn Natural, but they totally lather it in mayonnaise, which royally fucks it up.
Now, Josh tends to have some of the best taste of anyone I know. Appreciating most of the same punk and indie rock I do, and hating most of the punk and indie rock I do, enjoys good food, good liquor, good films, good books, good art, good conversation, and good women. Just sitting outside on Bogart, Josh can’t help but eyeball all the pretty women walking to and fro, despite him being in a big-time relationship. Neither can I, ugh…. He wants to go to a good bar nearby, and catch up about things. The choice is obviously Tandem. I mean, Kings County is cool too, along with the other places I mentioned, but Josh tends to be quite the particular alcoholic, and Kings County doesn’t quite cut it with their selection.
So we walk along, and grab a road brew at a local bodega, where the clerk/owner gives Josh only two bucks back from his twenty. The clerk kindly apologizes, and I remind Josh that he’s gotta keep on his feet here. The clerk could have honestly been mistaken, there’s no way of knowing. We drink road brews as I ramble on about the various disasters on Fire Island, and we come to Tandem. Generally, I’d probably be carrying a small flask with me to any bar, during this economic crisis I’m in. I probably shouldn’t be drinking at all. But Josh, on this very night, has officially completed all the work in his first year of law school so celebrations are in order. And god-damn do I wish I could buy him a few rounds, as I have a long and awesome history with Josh. He’s a very generous soul, and I desperately want to pay back that generosity someday.
So we walk in, and to my surprise, it’s a totally gay party, which I haven’t seen at Tandem thus far. A couple dudes are totally on the bar only in g-strings, dancing away. It makes sense, since the Pride Parade is coming up this next weekend. I ask Josh if it’s cool, testing to see how homophobic he may or may not be, but he’s down to hang. Which is rad, because at this point at 12am, I don’t really want to leave the neighborhood, and I’m not the straightest guy that ever lived either. Not that I’m looking to meet anyone, by ANY means, but I certainly don’t care if dudes shake their asses in front of me. For whatever reason, I think most people can tell we’re straight, so we don’t really get hit on.
We take a look at the liquor selection tonight, me and Josh both being whiskey drinkers. Josh insists on getting us both a Buffalo Trace. He drinks his whiskey neat, I drink mine with a little ice. Josh is immediately impressed by our bartender’s pour, which is almost the equivalent of two drinks. Good thing too, because that type of whiskey usually costs ten bucks or more a glass. Throughout the night, we end up each drinking Woodford Reserve, Michter’s, Basil Hayden’s, Maccallan (I forgot the year), and Knob Creek. To top it off, after drinking twelve total drinks of the best top shelf whiskeys in the joint, the bartender actually discounts the tab quite a bit, just because she’s rad. Now, some bar owners might think that this is not profitable for a bar, but I argue the other way. If you hook up your customers, they’re going to keep coming back, and they’re going to keep spending money. And they’re going to bring all their friends to come, and spend their money. So hook up your customers. Trust me, it works.
Okay, let me discuss a little about Tandem. I remember seeing this bar under construction while apartment hunting a year and a half ago. I honestly regret not trying to get a job there when it first opened. Upon opening, me and my girl went in and got a delicious meal of artichoke dip, mac and cheese, and a kale salad. The food was absolutely delicious, great in every way. But the portions were a little too small, given the price, but whatever. That’s life in the big city. I went back again for a solitary brunch one morning, and got a dish that had ham, eggs, cheese, in a bread-like souffle (I forgot what it’s called). It was really good. And then one night, I went to Tandem for my friend’s zine party, and it was pretty rad, but still felt like just a neighborhood bar. But finally, a few months later, I went to a dance party on a Friday night, and it was the best dance party I’ve ever been to in NYC. Hands down. Better than Rubalaud, better than Ghetto Goth, better than Wierd, Misshapes, Mind Your Own Business, Smiths Night, better than any house party, loft party, night club, or any other fucking party I’ve been to in NYC. I’m convinced that Tandem has the best dance floor in NYC.Tandem Dance Floor
But why you ask? The reason is the architecture of this venue. Tandem has a general bar in the front, with bar stools and tables, where people can eat till 11pm and drink till 4am. There’s also a private sort of area in the middle, which is great for make out sessions, or to have a long-winded and obnoxious discussion with your old friend (it’s multi-functional). Then, there’s a back dance room, which is set far off from the other parts. And there is NO seating, a really heavy duty fog machine, and a light machine. But really, what gets me, is every time I’ve been there, it’s incredibly dark. And when a dance floor is both incredibly dark and there isn’t a bunch of haters sitting in chairs judging people, the party can get going. Not to mention, there’s a fairly eclectic group of people in the bar and on the dance floor, which I tend to prefer. I don’t dance much these days, as my black girlfriend consistently has laughed at how white my dance moves can be. But almost every time I go to Tandem, I dance. It’s too dark for anyone to really see what you’re doing. So it’s perfect for both the incredibly confident and the incredibly self-conscious person to dance. Sadly, at this point, the dance parties are only on Friday and Saturday nights. Good DJs too, if you dig vintage dance music (I certainly do).
Tandem is the only club I will go to on a Friday or Saturday night. Every bar and night club in Manhattan SUCKS on Fridays and Saturdays; every single one is packed with jerks. A lot of them suck in Brooklyn too. The only options are house parties, art events, or Tandem, in my book. On this particular night, there was a ton of dancing in the back room, and I recognized this one girl who was only wearing hot pants, but shied away from small talk with her. Josh and I opted to just sit around and chat in the middle room. Nothing entirely crazy happened, just me and Josh discussing music and art for hours upon end, getting incredibly drunk, closing down the bar. Then we stumbled to a bodega, got a few more beers, ate breakfast sandwiches and drank beers in Maria Hernandez park as the sun came up, and ended up passing out. One of my friends that night, had invited me to a really wild party with tons of cocaine, drugs, women getting naked, and soul music. He showed me pictures the next day, and was bummed I didn’t come. It would have been fun, don’t get me wrong, but who knows? Maybe I would have done some shit I would regret later. Most importantly, I wouldn’t have gotten to catch up with my friend, I wouldn’t have heard about all the rad law school shit he’s learning, and how he might fight evil property owners in the future. In my book, an insightful conversation beats a crazy party hands down. At Tandem, you can accomplish both.
Locations in Brooklyn
236 Troutman Street
Brooklyn, NY 11237
18 Wyckoff Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11237-2635
983 Flushing Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11206-4792
Goodbye Blue Monday
Brooklyn, NY 11221-3013
940 Flushing Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11206-4706
30 Wyckoff Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11237-2646
The Archive Cafe and Independent Video Store
49 Bogart Street
Brooklyn, NY 11206
49 Bogart Street
Brooklyn, NY 11206-3836
24 Saint Nicholas Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11237
261 Moore Street
Brooklyn, NY 11206-3816