Editorial: Nicole Moudaber cast darkness over Output, how I bought into her Brooklyn reign
Most dance music enthusiasts I know, including myself, are a little overbearing at parties. Common to all of us is the want, no, the need to dictate the music selection at get togethers. For every “Blurred Lines” play, I feel an unwarranted personal responsibility to play the newest dance track that I play on repeat. Justifying my selfishness as a benefit for the general community (after all, in my mind, I am only choosing the best songs!), I begin to spin my own personal set at the party on the speakers.
This annoying need stems from the understood subconscious that music sets the atmosphere for a great fun night. The music’s ability to subtly affect the mood of the party is empowering, and a bit intoxicating. Which brings me to why I was so excited to see Nicole Moudaber’s set this past Saturday at Brooklyn’s Ouput.
In her recent mini-documentary, she talks about how DJing makes her feel, stating
It’s not I go and just play records – no, for me, it’s like a cathartic experience. As soon as I play on those decks, I go to another planet, completely. If I do it 24/7, all my issues in my life would be gone. It’s an amazing spiritual, elevating feeling that music brings me, and to other people.
To boot, my fellow Dancing Astronauts have raved about her sets. I had intended to catch her Sunday set at Electric Zoo, and my intrigue was further amplified when those plans fell through. So, on one of those lucky waning September nights halfway between the New York summer heat and the chilly crisp of autumn, I hustled over to Output to finally scratch that itch.
The sold out show was packed. By midnight, the friendly confines of the club were reaching suffocating levels. While bodies were not actually touching, you could almost feel the bobbing and shuffling people around you. At 12:30 AM, Moudaber finally stepped to the decks, with all eyes fixed on her.
I encourage you to see Nicole in a venue like Output. Her trademark hair is entrancing to watch up close. The slow ripples of the flowing locks captivate – her head bounce throughout the set is married to the beat, and the dark hair’s dance takes a life of its own. On the decks turning knobs and shaping the music, her attention is full and intense. With her eyes covered in dark hair and only a subtle devilish smile visible from up close, Moudaber exudes a sinister and dark aura, one perfect for the sultry beats she is known for. You feel helplessly intrigued as her music beckons you to new places, and her persona adds a dash of thrilling danger to the odyssey.
Her music took the club by hold from the start. A sound hiccup 30 minutes in let out a collective “NOOOOOO” from the crowd, desperately waiting for the void of sound to be filled again with Nicole’s set. The stop lasted no more than 30 seconds, seeming an eternity at the venue as nervous chatter crescendoed. The music quickly came back on though, to the audience’s screaming relief and approval.
The set from there continued to morph, from lighter high-hat heavy tracks to massive bass ones. I tried to identify as many tracks as I could (Kolombo’s famous laugh track in “LOL” and Hector’s remix of “Dry Caugh” were among the early played), but I soon put away my phone to enjoy the experience. And wow, what an experience this was.
The club was soaked in musty sweat from the jammed room of dancing attendees. At one point, Nicole was introduced to the crowd on the microphone, and the crowd exploded in chats of “NI-COLE” and whistling ovations. Not at the end of the set, but only one hour in. Due to security measures, there were some limitations on reentry into the main room to see Nicole’s set. With a growing line of impatient cigarette smokers outside, the insatiable desire to see Moudaber was palpable.
Inside, in between cigarette drags, Nicole would briefly laugh and banter with her friends in the booth, shifting between undivided focus of the music at hand to enjoyment of the unfolding night. Her love to dictate the mood to calm fancy was amazing. Total control, perfectly calibrated.
That’s when it hit me.
Nicole Moudaber was curating her own party, moving the audience mood on her whim, taking us to places untapped and unexplored by the general public. She plays less heavy tracks to let the audience socialize, drawing them into her grasp with impeccably timed bass drops, before letting them go again, back and forth with the careful track plays.
She wants to set the tone for the audience’s night out, not unlike most dance enthusiasts at their own parties. I left the venue at 4:30 AM when it was still not only packed but fully partying, hollering, and rocking, I could not help but reminisce about one of the best sets I have seen this year.
I hope you get to attend one of Nicole Moudaber’s parties. Dark and transcendent, her world is unlike any other.