There are some things that are quintessentially New York: Elaine’s, the (now defunct) CBGBs, Central Park, Washington Square Park and of course, the ubiquitous sounds of upstairs neighbors in your pre-war apartment. I used to joke that the woman above me had a pony running around up there. I heard her at all hours of the day and night, convinced she wore hooker heels to bed at night. There are also the occasional funky sounds of music scales being practiced and some DJ mixing. Nothing too overbearing, as there would be long stretches of silence in between the pony-clodding, but enough that anyone who comes over makes a joke about it.
I finally met my neighbor this evening when I noticed a sudden rainstorm had started coming from my bathroom ceiling. This has happened once before, luckily this time, however, the water was (somewhat) clear. Since the bathroom rainstorm was bordering on a hurricane, I ran upstairs to see what my neighbor was up to, to cause so much gushing.
When I knocked on her door, a woman of an undetermined age (ranging early 40s-early 50s) answered. She had a punk rock meets Rizzo & the Pink Ladies look, spandex leggings, a black fitted cotton polo shirt with a hand-stitched leopard fur collar that was offset by her wildly frizzy hair and olive skin. The first thing she said to me was, “you have water leaking into your apartment too, don’t you?” and opened her door wide enough for me to enter and follow her inside.
Forget the water for a minute, I know I did. I love looking in people’s apartments, but hers now tops my list of crazy residences. I swear I stepped into the Culture Club, circa 1984. The living room walls were neon green, which contrasted nicely with two electric blue bookcases, a dingy white shag rug, and a white Formica console table fashioned to hold her DJ turntables and vast record collection. The small glimpse I got of the kitchen revealed hot pink walls and framed music posters and album covers, all featuring a younger version of the woman standing before me. As we made our way into the bathroom, I saw a closet full of crazy neon colored outfits and a wardrobe of what can be best described as costumes the Jetsons might wear — I don’t think a cross-dresser or a stripper would even wear some of the stuff in her closet.
When we entered the bathroom, I had to look beyond the fire engine red walls and glossy black painted cabinets to see that her ceiling was also gushing like a tropical storm, that happened to be fixed in one spot. We inspected the damage, lamented on the state of the building and the super. As I left her apartment, I noticed the name “Lady Miss Keir,” written on the various posters and records hanging on the apartment walls. As soon as I hit my front door, I entered her name into Google and here’s what I our friends at Wikipedia had to say about Lady Miss Keir:
“Lady Miss Keir was the lead singer of pop band, Deee-Lite, a House andClub/Dance group formed in New York City. Their best known single is “Groove Is in the Heart“, from their 1990 debut album, World Clique. However, Deee-Lite achieved longer lasting success on the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, where they scored six number-one hits. Lady Miss Keir still tours the world today as both a solo act and International DJ.”
Clearly the next thing that popped into my head was:
The chills that you/Spill up my back/Keep me filled with/Satisfaction when we’re done/Satisfaction of what’s to come/I couldn’t ask for another/No I couldn’t ask for another/Your groove I do deeply dig/No walls only the bridge/My supperdish, my succotash wish/(Sing it baby)/I couldn’t ask for another/No I couldn’t ask for another/Groove is in the heart/Ah-ah-ah-ah/Groove is in the heart/Ah-ah-ah-ah/Groove is in the heart/Groove is in the heart/Ah-ah-ah
I also found her website, where it occurred to me there was something I could do about all of the noise, I could click on her tour page and see when she’d be out of town next, knowing, in advance, when I could expect silence. And, what do you know, in two weeks she’ll be in Russia! Then Finland and Vegas and on and on. I can now anticipate when to expect expect an increase in vocal exercises and DJ-i(before upcoming concerts) and when I can look forward to not being awakened at 3 am to sounds of high heels stamping around in the bedroom above. I’ve bookmarked the website to keep tabs on her. Since I’m sure she has a Google alert set to any mentions of her name, Lady Miss Keir: a special shout out from your downstairs neighbor: I have now downloaded “Groove is in the Heart,” and single-handedly increased your royalty check by 12 cents. After all, what are neighbors for?