Berkshire Beat: Cleaning up for a worthy party


There’s a reason I keep so many nail brushes in my shower -- I’m dirty. I am.

My car is always a mess of dog hair and mud, I have to wash everything I wear every day and yes, I scrub a ridiculous amount of dirt from underneath my fingernails.

And frankly, that’s just the way I like it.

I live an active lifestyle and living this way requires me to be dirty.

So when an event comes along where I finally want to clean it all up, I go all out. For months I’ve been looking forward to Mass MoCA’s 15 Year Celebratory Party. From the moment I heard about it, I knew I was dressing up.

Weeks in advanced I planned out an outfit, figured out how I was going to style my hair and makeup the day before and sent texts asking all my girlfriends what they were wearing. I was excited. Prepping for this party was like being a teenager all over again. Like getting ready for some semiformal dance we were all attending.

Except this party was much longer than any semiformal I had ever attended. Starting at 4 p.m. party-goers could check out the new art exhibits, including the awesome Teresita Fernández: As Above So Below exhibit which opened the same day. They also offered a silent auction and some food trucks and beer stands. But what I really wanted was to hear the live music.

Only rarely have I been less than thrilled with a Mass MoCA show. Their indoor concert space, the Hunter Center, does an incredible job of producing some of the best shows I have seen in the Northeast. And I had seen the bhangra funk band Red Baraat three years before at Mass MoCA, so I was pumped to see them again.

My long floral frock in tow, I excitedly race through the front doors, got my wristband and started to float over to the dance floor when I saw almost everyone I’ve ever known. OK not really, but I was excited to see my friends come from Pittsfield and beyond to North County.

NYC’s DJ Rheka was sitting up on her stage pumping fresh Bhangra jams; a massive disco ball was suspended from the industrial beams spinning away.

"Rad Baraat is coming on, like now!" my friend Dan tried to yell over the music.

I love this band. They are this amazing collaboration of funk, horns, cymbals enclosed in an eight-piece band from Brooklyn, New York. They were my first exposure to Bhangra, also at Mass MoCA, and they have this amazing way of mixing hard driving North Indian bhangra rhythms with elements of jazz, go-go, brass funk and hip-hop.

As I saw the casually dressed men and their large brass instruments and drums take their place under the green stage lights, I knew it was a matter of minutes before the crowd went wild. The lead singer Sunny Jain called out to his troop and the trumpet music filled the large, industrial room. My hand was pulled and before I could comprehend what was happening, I was swing dancing with my friends Paul and Dan. In between the spinning I could see the rest of the room swaying, jumping or doing both. The band was jumping. Their stage presence matched the energy of their music and the crowd was responding in intensity.

Red Baraat played for almost two hours and that meant that I, and almost everyone in that space, danced for two hours. I had been slowly drinking gin cocktails and sweating out anything my body probably needed, so after they were done I knew I needed to take a breather. DJ Rheka secured her place on her stage again and the crowd kept moving.

A little fresh air did me well, because I came back to the floor and moved it for another few hours until I could feel that my dancing feet were done, my makeup had been sweat off and my hair was matted to my face.

I was again dirty, but I started out well and that’s what really counts. I can’t wait for Mass MoCA’s 30th Year Party.

What am I looking forward to next?

Well I’m going to see Cats at Pittsfield High School. Years ago I saw it on Broadway and that sign in front of the school intrigues me each time I drive by. For more information about the play, visit

The Down County Ball has recruited DJ BFG and is hosting an all-out dance party this Saturday at 8 p.m. at The Garage in Pittsfield.

And my favorites, the members of the NAMA Prom Committee, are up to their party shenanigans again with their next adult prom, Moonshine Madness on June 14 at The Elks Club. Get more information at


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