AFTEE’s Nile Rodgers Dance Party East End brought a festival atmosphere to Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead on Monday night, and brought out a crowd from kids up through their grandparents, all looking to get their groove on. They were not disappointed. Not even the occasional drop and drizzle was going to dampen anyone’s spirits this night. “Hopefully this is the beginning of a million shows here,” Rodgers said as the first full-blown fundraiser concert for All For the East End (AFTEE) kicked into high gear. And with a classic disco beat and current DJ jams still reverberating, we celebrate the evening’s defining moments—amusing, inspiring and, ultimately, endlessly entertaining.
•Nile Rodgers out on stage during the warm-up acts, signing autographs and chatting with fans hours before he and his band Chic were scheduled to take the stage. How many headliners would pass programs, scraps of paper and the like back and forth with adoring fans, much less hang out with every opening act while exuding the very enthusiasm of those aforementioned fans?
•Assemblyman Fred Thiele, sportscaster Ann Liguori and other East End notables joining guests perusing the many prizes in the silent auction area. Did we perhaps see you bidding on a Sag Harbor dining experience, Ms. Liguori? Excellent choice.
•Overhearing a twentysomething fan say to his friend, “Hey, he got this from that Will Smith song” and getting a nod of agreement. “This” was the riff from “He’s the Greatest Dancer,” by Rodgers. “That Will Smith song” was “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It.” For the record, “This” came way before “That.” A little history lesson never hurts.
•The food. It wasn’t a tasting event in the pure tradition of such things on the East End, but from VIP tent offerings like miniature ice cream cones from Joe & Liza’s and smoked brisket sliders from Smokin’ Wolf BBQ to food trucks dishing up fare from such faves as Montaco and Foody’s in the general admission field, the culinary fare, in a word, rocked.
•DJ Russell Peters telling Dan’s Papers after his set that he really likes when he opens “Le Freak” for Chic but lamenting he wouldn’t get the chance tonight, then winding up onstage an hour or so later and “scratching” that famous opening riff—a sublime confluence of old-school and new.
•“Le Freak” live. If ever there was a cross-generational dance song to define all dance songs, Rodgers proved that his tune inspired by a night outside Studio 54 is it. Rodgers says his favorite Chic song is “Good Times,” but “Le Freak” is infused with an irresistible magic that gets young and old up on the dance floor with moves they never knew they had—or perhaps just forgot they had. Either way, you got the sense that had they played the song for 12 hours, the crowd would still be there dancing to it at breakfast.
•Rodgers and Chic playing a medley of songs he’s written and produced for other acts and treating the audience to a musical Who’s Who. As Chic went from Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down” through Sister Sledge’s smash “We Are Family” and Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” it was hard to tell which was more entertaining—the songs or the incredulously scrunched-up faces in the crowd saying to one another “wait, he did this song too??!?”
•Adam Lambert’s absolutely nailing the David Bowie classic “Let’s Dance,” which Rodgers created for Bowie some 30 years ago. Serious pipes under the serious moonlight. Watch the video here.
•Chants of “A-Vi-Cii! A-Vi-Cii! A-Vi-Cii! A-Vi-Cii!” from the crowd, inspiring debate as to whether it was more akin to fans begging Derek Jeter for a World Series curtain call or some primal conjuring ritual.
•Avicii atop the smoke-swirled stage after having jetted over from a mega-show in Spain, turning a swath of North Fork farmland into, at least for one night, as hot and pumping a club floor as any you’ll find in L.A., Vegas or NYC.
What was your favorite moment from AFTEE’s Nile Rodgers Dance Party East End? Share your thoughts in the comments below.