Last night (April 23rd) I got out of the house and attended the ten-year anniversary of streetwear staple A Bathing Ape’s SoHo storefront. Throughout the week I had a feeling that the party would be a madhouse due to its word-of-mouth spreading, so I did something even rarer: I actually tried to arrive early in an attempt to avoid the lines.
That actually worked to my disadvantage, however, as not only did I end up getting to the venue thirty minutes too early (the one time all the trains I need to take arrive as soon as I get to their respective stops…) but the thing hadn’t even started. Instead, the only people in front of Manhattan’s Up & Down nightspot were some stressed-out looking interns preparing for the impending rodeo, two burly security guards and a couple aspiring partygoers that looked like they’d all just returned from a Supreme store lineup (it was Thursday, after all), dressed to the nines in outfits they’d seemingly saved for this one very night, and giddily bopping around as they excitedly waited for the doors to open.
“Screw this,” I said under my breath. “I’m going to the Apple Store down the street.”
After spending about 30 minutes in the store, during which I watched employees set up sales displays for the Apple Watch that would drop in a matter of hours and caught a panel discussion on visual effects hosted by – coincidentally – one of my old bosses when I worked in Hollywood production, I returned to Up & Down. Lo and behold, the place was a shark hoodie-colored jungle with your usual assortment of industry heads, musicians, fashion fanatics, open-bar hounds, and “I’m-too-important-to-do-lines” nobodies, all bottlenecking their way towards the entrance. It was just another Thursday night in New York: folks struggling to get to the front of the line, only to get turned away once they found out their names weren’t on the list, while a variety of “A-listers” skated past the mayhem as if they were floating on air. The five people ahead of me all got curved in rapid succession; this admittedly made me nervous for a second, watching the crestfallen faces of each one saunter past me in disappointment. However, when it was my turn my name was quickly found on the press list and I was escorted into a room loaded with free booze courtesy of Hennessy and Heineken, bartenders wearing free BAPE paraphernalia that would surely fetch for a lot of M’s on the resell market, some festive BAPE wallpaper, and an eclectic array of music provided by Cipha Sounds, Vashtie, and others.
One day. Maybe.
The entire party resembled an IRL Instagram congregation, to be honest. You had social media mavens whose followers surpass five digits milling about in makeshift, faux-VIP booths that their friends had smartly and quickly claimed earlier, their faces nose-deep in their phones as they “documented” the experience peppering hashtags, the overused term “lit,” and a bunch of emojis that I don’t really care for throughout their descriptions. You had those who just remained at the bar, taking down any and every free drink that was handed to them until they walked out of Up & Down like Bambi’s first time on ice. You had those who were busy ducking those idiotic selfie sticks that were being waved around from folks who felt that a crammed sweatbox was the perfect place to channel their inner Donatello after catching glimpses of SZA, the Flatbush ZOMBiES, Victor Cruz of the New York Giants, Remy Banks, Joey Bada$$, Mack Wilds, Jadakiss, and others. And you had the rest of us (read: me), just taking all of this organized chaos in with a pensive aplomb.
The night was punctuated by whispers of Kanye West supposedly coming to the party (he didn’t) and short, brief performances by both Pusha T and Travi$ Scott. While Pusha took us all on a trip through memory lane by performing tracks old (“Grindin'”) and recent (“Move That Dope”), Travi$ tried to turn the party into a miniature version of his and Young Thug’s Rodeo Tour when he perched himself dangerously atop the too-small and too-crowded deejay booth while simultaneously smoking a blunt and drinking out of a bottle of Hennessy while, jumping around and rapping. Naturally, he slipped and crashed into the crowd of people below, slicing up his finger and nearly tearing down a chandelier in the process.
Ultimately I left the party at a relatively decent hour, just in time to catch the New Orleans Pelicans blow a 20-point lead against the Golden State Warriors and lose the game in overtime and grab a couple of pizza slices from the neighborhood spot. Just another Thursday night in New York.
As a bonus, you can watch Pusha T talk A Bathing Ape’s impact on the fashion world below.