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Mood Ring of Bushwick
"Maggie like cheung, please!"
Mood Ring of Bushwick, Brooklyn is the best club in New York City. I thought it was gone by 2020, yet it has survived the plandemic and is still alive and kicking.
I started going to Mood Ring in 2019, and on the first night, I fell in love with the place. Many memories follow, and many stories I have need their written memoirs. I felt a steep depression in 2021, knowing that my favorite club was done for good, and turned itself into a vegan restaurant. I was back in town and took a recent visit to see if my memories were not a fairy tale, and hands down, I can say right Mood Ring is the best club in New York City, and nothing else matters.
Mood Ring was started by Vanessa Li and Bowen Goh, who often I see catering to the bar. I never had a chance to talk to them. However, I show support by always buying their official merchandise, from tote bags to the amazing "Bunny Motel" t-shirt I have always been wearing. Hell, I love their shit. I need to tell all my friends this is my tribe.
I also remember a time when Mood Ring did not charge a cover price at the door, and the club would be banging till three in the morning. After they took off in 2019, that's when the cover price came in, and now, the coat check for an additional $3 that covers the other part of the room. These are the only blemishes of Mood Ring, and even with them, Mood Ring still is an experience like no other. I am willing to pay the cover at the door now because they need it so badly. If I was rich enough, I would give them a larger amount to be in their fan club.
It is misleading that Mood Ring is an "astrology" themed club when in reality, it is a Dark, Hong Kong-themed, or entirely punk-rock, vaporwave "Asian American" reality. Once you walk in, Mood Ring represents itself from a scene out of Days of Being Wild, a Chinese film about seduction, love, and hopelessness.
The experience of Mood Ring is something I have been struggling with explaining since I was in my teenage years, and it’s really about my sexual awakening around my early 20s. I do love the aesthetic of classic C-pop and Hong Kong nightlife, like Norman Cheung’s (張立基) “PASSION,” “Electric Girl,” and all of his other great hits. As for Mood Ring echoing this, it's not as bland as the generic "gay bar" like at Happy Hideaways across the street. You see, anyone who walks into Mood Ring can be self-identified as "queer," or interested in “biracial-bisexuality.” But what makes this queendom different, is that anything can range from bi to bi-racial, and to, gulp, dare I say, a “white sexuality?”
When I say "white sexual," I’m trying to say that there is a healthy amount of POC (people of color) women and men, actively looking for, and seeking out, white men.
Not that I am arguing that Mood Ring is racist and should be canceled for that, but Mood Ring celebrates a uniquely Asian American identity to a point that it is an "astral projection" into reality, or a new safe space, that can curate and experience the desires of the repressed, racially confused, trauma-induced Asian American, that can best live out this repressed desire in movies like In the Mood for Love. The Asian American identity is a confusing one, and many people of different backgrounds can understand the struggle, and as well show support, by advocating the desire of, …err, let’s say, the “Asiansexual.”
Am I pussyfooting this? Let me get to the point.
I don't want to advocate the boring and neoliberal ragtag game of "multiculturalism" and "diversity" advocated by The New York Times and their jeering totalitarianism against everyone. But Mood Ring excels from those values and gets back to a real identity politics that is inclusive, and seeks out the desire, if not, the worship, around the single white male trying to find his place in the cosmopolitan “male fantasy” world of the big city. Here, he walks into the club and transforms himself into a new identity that he could not speak of in the rustbelt of Ohio. The white male becomes open about his artistic and intellectual intentions that he never knew existed within him. Meanwhile, the Asian American who suffers under the whitewashed totalitarianism by liberalism finds vengeance and destroys the liberal system from within through hedonism and Platonism.
In turn, I admire that Mood Ring projects a hip, art poster on the side of the wall that reads "No Harassment or any violation without consent," followed by "No Racism, No Sexism, No Transphobia," and every wishful thinking towards the whole nine yards. I am curious if my previous statement about this Asian American identity would be considered "racist" If I am pointing out the desires and whims between the white sexual and Asiansexual counterparts. I mean, we live in America, a supposedly eclectic utopia around capitalist consumption and malaise liberalism. We all have “preferences” according to desires. Yet there are some “desires” which are evil and hurt one another, and that’s where we have to make up a mythos about “those evil people” and all that bullshit liberal policing that follows. However, the post is important in many ways according to the Platonist desire. (And when I mean “Platonist,” I’m talking about individuals who fall in love and care about one another through the existence of a spirit, and ethics that follow).
I understand there are gay black men and other queer, Non-Asian POCs that enter Mood Ring, and they too also find a space where they can fully embrace Platonism with “The Other.” However, keep in mind, under a hedonist system, gay black men still seek out white guys anyway, and will gladly tap them on the shoulder during a loud electro rift, and whisper in their ear, "Do you like black boys?" To me, that is an admirable, adorable, action, because The Other admits an honest desire to the insecure, who are afraid of themselves, where the black man destroys the police-state liberalism by asking a simple question on the dance floor. The warning poster is rather an enforcement of Platonist values, that I too consent towards, where I want to meet someone who will change my reality, and hopefully, fall in love.
I have many preferences. I know who is ugly, and I select the beautiful. But in good faith, like a game of blind musical chairs, everyone sheds all biases and discriminations for tonight at Mood Ring, and everyone searches in the misty fog, for the love of their life. That poster is up for a reason because Mood Ring celebrates Platonism and the Christian ethos of the human spirit. It isn’t bland Hedonism that the state wants you to believe in. Mood Ring is a religious church.
The first room in Mood Ring is a simple bar to the left and cozy six-people booths for congregation and romance. Above the hallway, the words read…
"EYES WIDE OPEN I LOOK DOWN… PUT YOUR ENTIRE BODY IN MY MOUTH… I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO BE IN LOVE AND WITH… YOU, I THINK, AS IS… POSSIBLE.”
…And around the corner, there are constant references to the same trilogy of Chinese films.
…Before going down the hallway and into the dance arena, one must select a drink from their exotic list of love potions. I took a seat and took a glance at the menu. I ordered the cliché "Days of Being Wild.”
Next to me sat a chubby Filipina in some catsuit.
"Hi!! How are you?"
I might have said something back like, "I'm doing good, it's cold outside!"
And then within moments, we were talking about Korean pop music and how it's a future aesthetic! Right. With subculture and all. Her name was "Shelby," and she was hanging out with her other Instagram pop-up friends. At that moment, you could argue and say everyone is on drugs or is drunk and they will talk to anyone because all sincere conversation is illegitimate and it’s rather a digression for fucking.
That's just not true. That’s what our boomer elites want us to believe. They are out there to socially control and eventually kill us.
Alcohol works most of the time as a social lubricate for anti-social and depressed people who isolate and don't usually talk with anyone in the first place. Drugs are an escape from reality. Honestly, it’s the negative vibe of the hedonist, propagated by the corrupted, that can’t see the divide between Michel Onfray’s ethical hedonism versus the evil and cruel abuse found in those of lower intellect. As Alain Badiou might have said, and to paraphrase, “There is no such thing as a one night stand, but a lost soul looking for love and redemption.” It's a matter of being Jesus Christ and rescuing the lost soul, and showing them that they too can be saved by a connection that will give them a new life.
Who didn’t say Jesus goes to the gay club? He does. And he fucking loves it.
Mood Ring is like a plea for help, or an unemployment line for those needing someone to intervene and give them opportunity, adventure, and a future purpose. This is what romance is about. Sitting at the bar at Mood Ring, the eclectic Asian hipsters bring you into their clique, stranger or not. This is a good sign of proper identity politics, and the projection of a unique, socially-constructed subculture against everything else.
The corner of the alleyway features both a dank bathroom and to the right, “the coat check.” At one point in time, there was no coat check, and it was once a sofa with flowers and a TV playing video art.
The art direction of Mood Ring is fantastic, and the television screens around project video art loops of glitchy Hong Kong futurism and polaroid fever dreams. I love the Teletext poetry on the screens, something like "I was ghosted after I got your number," dealing with deals of date rape and exploitation (something that ultimately happens to the stupid that are self-destructive). Maybe the Teletext was something like, “Aquarius Special,” and all that.
The dance floor at Mood Ring is a spiritual place. Tonight was K-pop night. Remixes of New Jeans, Aespa, and Seventeen were bass blaring and making the boys go nuts. An Asian boy with a tank top was making out with a handsome white guy in the center, and everyone around them was cheering them on for their love. Any single person, gay or straight, would be envious to see them dancing. Thus, the bi-racial gay couple is an invitation, a possibility, what can happen here, and how both will change overnight.
If I recall, there were some variant jams of "Attention" being played over and over again. I loved the remix.
I was getting a little tipsy off the cocktail, and that's when you get into a dance mood. Of course, you have to pretend you are full-on drunk or "high" to make sure other people don't think you are socially awkward, scared, or even isolated (even though I'm sure that's in everyone's mind right now, and they will try everything to break out of the matrix to meet someone new). What I like to do is play with my hands in the sky and pretend I’m only here for the music (a very lame excuse, but works). My furry coat was bouncing back and forth behind a guy because I didn't want to pay the $3 at the coat check or wait in line.
He said, "Hey silly, watch it with that thing!"
He went up to my ear, (as that is the cliché in Mood Ring), and said "Where did you get that awesome coat?"
I said, "Oh man, I just didn't want to pay for it at the check."
He laughed at said, "Let me pay for it, come this way," giving an excuse to hold my hand (or to feel me up) and go to the check together. We both ran off like young boys running to the roller coaster together.
His name was Andrew. He was from Park Slope hanging alone tonight. We shared both of our life stories. He was a super fucking hot Asian twink (don't kill me for not knowing if he was either Chinese or Korean) that I'm sure was casual to his interest in hunting down white boys. Andrew went to NYU and worked for a tech company. I admired his large array of artsy necklaces, his blue glasses, and his bobcut hair, and stated he would look good in some fashion magazine. I know personally in another life, Andrew would be named Audrey and would be a complete OnlyFans freak, or, an Asian-American slut that prefers indietronica and boys with fast cars. Nonetheless, I made a friend, and knowing Andrew was there for emotional support, further expanded upon Mood Ring's therapeutical nature to network and to create everlasting bonding friendships and romances beyond normie conventions of hedonism.
Then there is a part before midnight, where everyone heads to the dance floor, and the music gets incredibly louder, and then the fog machine starts. The fog comes out onto the floor, and there, I am lost in the mist of confusion, along with the distracting strobe lights. Everyone has their circles, dancing, and sometimes, the guys and girls line up, and "eyefuck," and track you down like roadkill. There was a crazy Asian girl who was tracking me down, like I was her projected fantasy of the white boy at the high school prom she couldn’t get the nerve to ask out. Now she can, and she’s a crazy determined sadist about it. That’s what makes Tiger Moms.
Many guys will do strange hand dances in the dark, and eventually bump into the other person to signal "Let's bump and grind and fuck here while everyone watches." Even girls do this. That’s where they bounce their hip back at you. If anyone ever enters Mood Ring, they have queer sensibilities like everyone else. Again, as the warning poster stated, it doesn't matter if you are white, black, brown, or yellow, you came in here to find someone unlike yourself. But the contradiction here is that two opposites will find each other, and always the opposite will be something different. But let's just say it will always be Asian American, 80% of the time. White women will only be there with girlfriends. But then again, I’ve seen white women come in with Asian boyfriends more than anything at Mood Ring, and one aloud screamed, “My big panda!!”
The fog reaches us, and I see nothing but shaking hands, eyes facing me down, bodies touching one another, all lost in a mist of desire, which in this right circumstance, can be realized.
The fog is a perfect explanation as a hack for desire. Not like computer hackers, but that we all have social anxiety and cannot openly say "I love you" to another person and mean it, in fear of rejection, retaliation, and self-harm. We know we are ugly, but we go out of our way just to know that the other side must find love in us.
The eyefucking breaks down. Otherwise, the other side is going to get you. Eyefucking is what it’s about.
Always, the best part is being lost in this damning fog, and someone, out of nowhere, whispers in your ear as the fog clouds your vision. "What's your name?"
Always it's something goofy.
He's white. She's Asian.
She kisses him, he grabs her by the pussy, and they ram against the wall in the fog. They eat each other out in a warzone of hardcore, Asian-induced gabber music.
You get it.
What blossoms afterward is the feelings that are repressed throughout college, and released out of jail, or projected, at this very moment. The release is like Ejaculation. If things go well, you go to the bar have drinks together, and share contacts. You meet the love of your life, and the romcom begins.
That night, Mood Ring had a special Drag Queen dance to celebrate the Korean New Year. I was able to film the dancer, "Anne Young," (or a pun on “안녕하세요”), and I uploaded the video on YouTube.
I loved it. I loved every single moment.
It got too crowded, so I headed back to the bar to talk some more.
…What can I say?
Mood Ring has a life of its own, but as David Harvey's Time and Space Compression theory argues, you only live once for a few hours, and then you go back to the mundane reality of global capitalism.
Always, always, always always… I have to go back to Mood Ring. I don't want to go anywhere else. Rebecca's gives me trauma. Birdy's is too cocky and “Chad.” Mood Ring accepts you for who you are and wants your dreams of romance to be realized. Mood Ring appreciates good music, art, and people above anything else going on in New York.
If I have a literary meeting with a few friends, I want it at Mood Ring. I want to do online hangouts at Mood Ring. Give me the time and place, and we can talk about anything, from Timothy Morton to Dennis Cooper, you got it.
It's a matter of time before a young boy enters this club and finds the person of his dreams. I'm about projecting that dream and making sure it becomes an identity politic and subculture on its own against everything else that is close-minded and hostile against this transgression.
God bless Mood Ring. I'll be coming back many, many times.