No matter where I’m at in the world, I love nothing more than when I have the one friend who is “the local” and can always provide me with an abundance of off-the-beaten path activities. I have beneficial connections in Amsterdam, England, Ireland and beyond that have introduced me to the most delicious hole-in-the-wall restaurants and fascinating bars. My friend, Scot, fits that category in my newfound Seattle life.
I met Scot in Prague about 5 years ago when we were both taking a class to become certified in teaching English as a foreign language. Being a friend who has traveled with me is also something I value quite highly, as I find those people tend to know me on a different level. So it put me more at ease when our paths crossed again in my impromptu move to Seattle, as I now had someone who grew up in Washington to guide me to the places I wouldn’t normally know of.
So when Scot asked if I wanted to be on the VIP list for a concert he was part of the lineup to, I was intrigued enough to commit to the idea immediately, as I knew I was going to be introduced to some place new and interesting. It was a show called LOVETHEHILL, (referring to a neighborhood here called Capitol Hill) featuring some of the best musicians from the area. As if that weren’t enough, this place boasted free food and booze, which it’s no secret are two of my favorite vices, so when they are free, I’m going show up salivating like Pavlov’s dog at the front door as early as possible.
I got an email the day of, saying the venue had changed to the Seattle Boxing Gym. This sounded like my own personal hell, as anything with the word “gym” instantly causes me to black out and lose interest. But Scot had said it was going to be cool, and I’d be lying if I said the weirdness of the venue didn’t appeal to me. In fact, it fueled my curiosity and made me want to go more than I already wanted to in the first place. Plus, even if it was terrible, I was going to get some free grub and booze, so it had to be worth it on some level. I’m the girl who’d rather go to the dive bar with character over the new, cool bar with the line out the door anyhow.
I stressed over what to wear, as the term “VIP” is clearly not a list I frequent. I rarely qualify as an “IP” so add the “V” and I wonder if someone just made a mistake. Like I’m going to be asked to prove my status when I walk in the door. The few times I’ve gone to events involving free stuff, I dress to the nines, like I have to earn my VIP status and freebies, but was a boxing gym really a place to wear Helmut Lang?
I texted Scot like I was a teenage girl worried about getting kicked out of the “Mean Girls” crew for not wearing pink on Wednesdays: “Is this thing like a ‘dress pretty because we are giving you free food’ kind of thing or am I ok in jeans?”
He promptly responded, “Hell no, this is Seattle. You wear whatever you want.”
I tend to forget that that is the standard here. People give no shits about what you are wearing. Everything is casual and chill, so even VIP in Seattle life is comfortable and cool.
A few hours, a pair of jeans, and an edgy t-shirt later, I arrived at the door to the gym, ignoring my gut instinct to walk away from places involving exercise and entered into what clearly was a parking garage. Luckily there were people in front of me that I creeped on and watched turn a corner so I knew where to go once I confirmed my name on the list.
The guy at the counter told me to keep the orange entry bracelet on, and I could get back in the next day. I told him I’d love to, but thought to myself that clearly he hadn’t contemplated the logistics of showering with it around my wrist. Besides walking around with it the next day like I escaped from a hospital was not my jam.
I walked down a sketchy concrete staircase and heard a faint tinge of voices. My phone lost signal. I cursed Scot under my breath as clearly he had sold me into some kind of white slavery because he’s sick of meeting up with me and listening to my verbal diarrhea about every menial thing that’s happened to me since I’ve moved here.
I turned the corner and entered into what was one of my most entertaining nights in Seattle. The gym was converted into a concert venue for the night. The stage was the boxing ring itself. There was a booth for free booze as promised, and the food consisted of bags of Fritos dumped on a table. This was a level of VIP I could handle.
I grabbed a drink and took in the crowd. The first band started quickly and was reminiscent of the White Stripes. I knew it would be a good night, as any reminder of a band Jack White is in is a good thing in my book. Scot and a friend of his I’d met at a different party both arrived shortly after, and we all listened to the best of Capitol Hill artists in the basement. Then it was Scot’s turn to go on.
Scot performs electronic music under the name Vox Mod. I, being raised on rock and roll from birth, and moving into the classical music world as a pianist, have a vast plethora of musical knowledge to my name, but know literally nothing about this world of music. I crossed my fingers that I liked it, as I’m a terrible liar and knew if I hated what happened up there Scot was going to be able to read it on my face instantly.
What ensued was one of the coolest things I’ve seen here. Vox Mod is not only talented, but the energy that he brings to his performance was unrivaled, dancing around while he was rocking out on stage. People were out on the dance floor completely uninhibited (and in case you’re wondering, no, I did not choose to show off my Elaine Benes caliber dance moves).
Scot’s friend asked me something about seeing Scot perform someplace else. I said this was the first show I’d been to, and he just shook his head and jokingly pointed to the door in disappointment as if I should just leave in shame. I was enthralled by my friend, and so proud of his pursuit of his dreams and making a name for himself out here. As happens within all genres of music, the best stuff has genuine, honest emotion that transcends beyond what basic notes are being played. Clearly Scot already received that memo.
Scot came over to us after the performance, and I told him I was glad that I finally got to see him in his element, and that he was wonderful. That said, I also jokingly told him I realized he was probably too cool to hang out with me anymore, but I’m glad I got to enjoy the VIP experience of a boxing gym while our friendship lasted. He shook his head at me, listening to me run my mouth for the thousandth time, and very modestly took the compliment in stride. I said goodbye to everyone, walked up the stairs to get cell reception and call an uber to drive my VIP self home in the rain.