The Friday before Halloween, Sam Divine took Brooklyn to soulful heights when she played an exclusive early set at the Mixmag Lab followed by a late-night explosion of 4×4 beats at Bushwick’s iconic House of Yes. It was one of the best nights of my life – to date.
Owning the airwaves as the voice of Defected Radio for the last five years, Sam Divine has delivered quality house music to millions of people around the world with her sweet-sounding voice and smooth delivery that keeps listeners informed of the dopest music and parties in Defected Land every week. In addition, she runs her own label, DVine Sounds and stays busy touring internationally as one of the main players on the Defected roster.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m a DIE HARD House Head. I grew up in Chicago and have been into House music since I was a kid in the mid-eighties. It fuels my entire life and there hasn’t been a more active and consistent contributor to the soundtrack of my wild ass life than Defected Records. I’ve been a loyal Defected Radio listener since 2010 when Aaron Ross was the host and a Sam Divine fan since she was Miss Divine in the mid-aughts. So y’all know I was thrilled when I found out she was coming to Brooklyn to play at one of my FAVORITE clubs in the world! I had to get an interview.
I was scheduled to do an interview with Sam at her hotel earlier in the night with plans to catch her at the House of Yes later on. I arrived at her hotel 15 minutes early (I was actually very proud of myself as I have a tendency to run late for things sometimes) and tried to find a spot to set up for our interview. The lobby was crazy noisy though and the only option I could find was the “world’s smallest movie theater” which featured two connected theater seats and a big(ish) screen that was showing Hocus Pocus – and also an elevator. No Go.
I was actually so concerned with getting set up in a decent spot that I didn’t realize she had missed our interview time until it was 10 minutes late. Fearing she had maybe missed her flight earlier that day or that I had somehow missed her, I headed out to the curb to look for the car that was scheduled to pick her up and take her to the Mixmag Lab. A few minutes later I saw the blonde braids of a frantic looking Sam Divine hustling up the hotel stairs. I was SO relieved, immediately catching her at the door to reassure her that everything was all good. If there is anyone who understands being late, it’s me! She explained that she had taken a nap and asked for a 6 p.m. wake up from the hotel, to which they were like “how ‘bout nah. You need the rest”. I told her that it was perfectly fine and she asked if I just wanted to hop in her car and do the interview on the way to her set at Mixmag.
OF COURSE, I wanted to hop in her car and go to Mixmag, a magazine I have loved since 2002! Since they started streaming their Lab sets, I have wondered how to get into one and partake in that fresh ass musical merriment and just like that, the opportunity was dropped into my lap! We jumped in her car and were able to get a great interview in perfect time for the ride. Pulling up to the Lab, I hopped out of the car first and I can’t lie, I almost felt important for a minute, you guys. People were lined up outside trying to get in and I was immediately introduced to several people who were waiting for her.
There were some Mixmag staff and a couple of local house artists whom I later found out recently did a project with my old boss, Roger Sanchez! Ayyy! I had to explain to people that despite my rockstar frohawk, I wasn’t on her team, I was covering her for Fresh Music Freaks and we had just done an interview. We all actually hit it off right away over our love of house music and free gin, and for the next several hours, they became my rave family for the night! Shout out to Espinal & Nova!
Sam tore it up at the Lab for the next hour and a half to an intimate crowd dancing amongst the desks and then I took off back to my house to get dressed for the night. If you are ever in Brooklyn and happen to find the House of Yes on your radar, GO. However, be warned that they are SERIOUS about their themes and that includes patrons and their costumes, which are often required for entry. Event pages will often include links to Pinterest boards flooded with ideas and inspiration for any given theme.
The theme that night was Cirque Nouveau, Freakshow and a quick visit to the event photo page will show you that EVERYONE delivered, adding to the magic that can only be found in places like the House of Yes. It’s almost hard to describe because it’s not just about the aesthetics or the music. House of Yes is a collective of artists that has grown through several evolutions of itself into an AMAZING FAMILY who operate this performance and disco space that truly embodies the fabulousness of the outsider, the queer, the weirdo, the creative outcast, the sexual rebel, the glittery glammed out unicorn in all of us.
All are welcome and all are welcome to express themselves freely, safely, and respectfully. In addition to late-night dance marathons powered by world-class DJs like Sam Divine and Ardalan, the artistic gang of performers, visionaries, staff and production crew create a unique experience for every event that seems like it could only exist in your wildest dreams. Through edgy, wildly entertaining, circus-themed programming featuring events like drag & burlesque shows, fetish and sex conversations, movie screenings, and art installations, they push limits and test socio-cultural boundaries. It really makes House of Yes one of my absolute favorite clubs, hands down.
Also, they have a fuckin BALL PIT, you guys! A BALL PIT. it’s a whole room stashed in the back of the patio that is only open when you’re lucky and is FILLED with plastic balls and sparkly curtains and disco lights to play in with all your fresh costumed friends! Is this even real life??? Apparently, there are more fun secrets to discover there but even without em, I’m sold. I have found my second home and extended family.
Friday night cemented that opinion for me as I caught up with my new friends outside and we all went in together with Sam. Walking through the crowd with the headliner in a beeline to the DJ booth is the best! We hopped up into the booth and I spent the next two hours FEEDING off the amazing set she played and the INSANE vibes from the jam-packed room of sweaty fans and house heads losing their minds to the masterfully crafted blend of classics and current bangers. I must confess though, I also spent the next two hours FEEDING off the delicious fruit platter that she had! Fruit never tasted so good!
After her set, I was BEAT. The crew dispersed and as people went home and Sam went on to an afterparty, I decided to head for the food trucks and call it a night. I couldn’t believe how awesome my Friday turned out, and I can’t help but blame it on my intuition. Something told me to move to Brooklyn and every day that I’m here, I feel myself aligning with the universe and being presented with unbelievable opportunities.
You can listen to my interview with Sam here.
You can see the video from Sam’s set at the Mixmag Lab below:
Stay tuned for more adventures from Brooklyn and in the meantime, Stay Fresh!
*Featured photo via Sam Devine Instagram