From the Outside: Have Some Oddcake

Confession: I have an ulterior motive for writing this column. No, it’s not the prospect of fame and fortune and press passes—it’s far simpler than that. My ulterior motive is to get my workaholic self out of the house more often.

Case in point: last Wednesday, I got home from class at around 9 pm, ready for a productive evening of yoga and homework (because I do homework at all hours of the night. #gradschool). So when my friend DJ Ha texted me about something called Oddcake, at Philadelphia bar-slash-venue M Room where he hosts a weekly music event, I brushed it aside. Nah, I thought, I’ve got an online portfolio to work on and a paper on rhetoric in journalism to revise. That’s an exciting enough night. No need for music and fun! But my friend knows that I write this column, so he added the caveat, “…and you can call it ‘work’.”

1374313_374096632722407_1168233087_nI tried to ignore it, proceeding to clean up the house and do some dishes in an effort to be my best responsible adult self, but the seed had been planted. I did need something to write about for From the Outside this week, and it couldn’t be the sad story of how Krewella played on my college campus and I didn’t go because of homework. (Seriously. That really happened.) So when I sat down at my desk to start working, I thought, I’ll just Google this Oddcake thing and see what it’s all about. No pressure to go.

Oddcake, I discovered, is a collective of “burners,” a new term I’ve learned for people who frequent Burning Man (though it seems the definition can also be loosened to include people who go to similar events, or who live a certain lifestyle). Anyway, Oddcake is a Philly-based burner collaboration that is into throwing really great parties and, as their SoundCloud quickly demonstrated, makes a lot of excellent music. They mainly seem to produce house music, but the variety of DJs in the group means a lot of other genres get touched on as well.

So I’m on my couch, staring at my computer, trying to get work done, when all of a sudden I realize, I have to go to this—duh. It’s music, and fun, and more importantly—it’s work! It’s also already past 10 pm, and I need to get myself together and get to the show. Cue montage of me tearing clothes out of my dresser, accidentally putting my contact lenses in the wrong eyes, and dousing my unshowered body in cheap perfume. As soon as I had approximated a look that says “I’m a cool girl with no time to put together a matching outfit,” I was out the door.

I should note that it was raining, which had absolutely no effect on me except that I didn’t wear any potentially-meltable-in-water makeup. However, for non-Pacific Northwest natives, rain is reason enough to stay home. (I live in Philadelphia, but I’m from Washington State.) So I get to the venue and say hi to my friend with the crafty text message and go in to check out the show—and there’s nobody there. Because of rain. Well, there is a handful of people, but they’re sitting down. At tables. And they’re looking at their phones. Their phones! The DJ looked like he was having a good time, at least. I considered, with trepidation, the possibility of hitting the dance floor alone in the mostly-empty room. I couldn’t just sit there, but if I started dancing, everyone would be able to stare at me. I’d have nothing to hide behind.

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I wish I could say I’m a brave, awesome person who jumped out there anyway…but no. The very thought of it drove me to the bar. After all, if you don’t have courage, you can always drink it! (I realize my posts are probably giving readers the impression that I’m a lush. It’s not entirely inaccurate. Everyone knows writers love to drink!)

However, a good bar serves far more than delicious gin-and-tonics: it also serves socialization. Chatting with the handful of other people who had showed up for Oddcake, I realized I was in good company, and had some fascinating conversations about festivals, fire spinning, and how Philly compares to West Coast cities (not well, we decided). Eventually, I mentioned the lack of action I’d seen on the dance floor in the other room. “Well, there’s like twenty people dancing in there now,” said my friend. Come to think of it, I had seen people trickling in out of the corner of my eye for the last half hour or so. I ran in to look and found a very different scene than before—it was a small party, but it was, undoubtedly, a party. My chance to be the cool girl who started the dance party was gone, but I didn’t care, as long as I got to dance.

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So I finished my night off with some healthy sweat on the dance floor (and I’m proud to say that I kept dancing, by myself, even when the other people in the room stopped for a while). Oddcake was awesome: recognizable hits from Madonna to modern hip-hop remixed for your dancing pleasure—and I loved that the DJs looked like they were having as much fun as anyone else there. They changed DJs periodically and often seemed to be working together, which gave the show a nice collaborative vibe. Since the last few shows I’ve been to have been big-name artists at fairly big venues, I loved the up-close-and-personal feeling of being right next to the stage, close enough to witness the dance music at its creation. It occurred to me that it would be fascinating to learn about the equipment they use and the actual process of playing a set, but that’s a task for another week.

When the night was added up, I met some good people, gave my eardrums some love, and got some quality time on the dance floor. Yes, none of it was homework, but the importance of stress relief for a busy grad student can’t be understated. And that’s my ulterior motive for writing this column: it gets me to get off my couch and participate in random impromptu weekday-night music events that I otherwise would have turned down. It’s a lot better than living like a recluse with a laptop all the time. As they say, “Turn down for what?”

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