Wicker Park. By the Jewel. Or, Jewels.
“I hate people who say ‘Jewels,’” complains a bubbly party-seeker discussing the variations of the grocery store’s name. “I don’t even understand why it’s The Jewel. It’s just fucking Jewel!” she exclaims to her arm-in-arm girlfriend as they click-clack down the frigid sidewalk. “I’m not sure if I can go in,” muses another party-seeker outside, motioning to his lit cigarette. “You can totally go in—I was smoking up there, no problem!” announces an overenthusiastic eavesdropping cell-phone guy.
A relatively nondescript building with a red ornamental door gives way to a stairwell leading to a walk-up loft. And the building is moving. Literally. The wooden floor in the front room alternates between the gentle reverberations of the bass, and the alarming bounce of dancing feet. It’s only a paltry 12:30am, but the party—celebrating local DJ Lee Foss’ departure to Los Angeles—already resembles an urban menagerie. A pair of barely legal club hotties dances at the front of the room—their backs to the window-enclosed DJ booth, blonde “Girls Gone Wild” ponytails whipping with each gyration. Seeming lost without a slutbox to dance on, they lack the ingenuity of the bearded jam-band super-fan who jumps up on a desk, football jersey pulled over his face, both hands in the air, plastic beer cup spilling.
Elsewhere, the faux-hawked mingle with the J. Crewed. Squeezing through the birth canal hallway that is also the sole access-point of the bathroom, coat check and bar; a back room opens up. However smoky the front room might be, this back room is positively fuming. Partiers too cool to dance have found refuge back by the keg. A raven-haired Betty Page-wearing Amy Winehouse attracts the attention of a pair of 20-year-old oglers. A gene-spliced aberration of the Butabi Brothers and Lenny & Squiggy, the drunken duo lurch forward. “You’re hot,” stammers lapelled loser #1. “Well, I like girls,” she states matter-of-factly. “It’s OK, I’m gay. I looooove dick.”
Lapelled loser #2 howls in laughter, which might be due to the fact that he can no longer speak coherently—he’s practically drooling. Amidst the hijinks, Foss coolly surveys the crowd and shakes hands, making small talk with a few. It’s hard to tell if it’s fondness for home or eagerness for a new locale that seemingly distracts his gaze. Or perhaps it’s the fact that it’s only 2:30am, and there’s miles to go before he sleeps. (Duke Shin)