Wednesday, May 22, 2013
AN UNDERGROUND CLUB, IN A WALK-IN CLOSET
A closet door in my bedroom opened. Silence, bulb light, and piles of clothes and shoes appeared.
Inside was a square space no bigger than, well, a walk-in closet, filled with one person sipping a lukewarm beer. On a high shelf, a boom box played Prince's "Dirty Mind."
Amid the revelry, the staff of one communicated by mumbling to itself, checking that the operation remained unnoticed by the small people milling about outside. In the event that these miniature humans did arrive, several disguises were planned, including "inert pile of clothes" and "extra bulky winter coat with legs." This was life inside The Safe, a decidedly illegal nightclub run by a single adventure-minded and somewhat desperate parent in a walk-in closet at the back of my bedroom for eight weekends in March, April and May.
The Safe was as exclusive as it was lawless. The only way to get in was to make a distinct owl call from the back of the family room, then run in the opposite direction, duck next to the washer dryer, call a number written on the wall there, hang up, tip-toe to the back of the master bedroom, turn the handle on the closet and close the door behind you, with minimal explanation to anyone watching.
The Safe's architect was H.P. Havrilesky, a 42-year-old semi-employed writer known for what she calls “hiding theater.” “It’s about making the visible parent invisible, and unavailable, and drunk” she said of her philosophy. Outside, her children could be heard whining and beating on The Safe's white painted door.
Ms. Havrilesky located a suitable walk-in closet by searching around the house in a rage one weekend afternoon after taking off and putting on socks that were declared "too scratchy" five times in a row. "The great thing about all this beer is how it got in here," says Havrilesky. "I snuck it in during nap time. I wish I had a cooler and some ice, though."
The evening ended near 11 p.m., culminating with a loud rendition of "Yellow Brick Roads" by the club's resident chanteuse, who is also the club's founder and sole patron. After being told to "Keep it down in there, goddamn it!" by an angry voice outside The Safe's four white walls, one tipsy guest exited through the closet door to greet a quiet, sleeping house.