There are few things that would convince me it’s a good idea to go to Times Square on a Friday night. Let alone the Friday preceding what is, for some people, a long weekend; the area seemed extra clogged with drunken tourists this past Friday. And, hey, that’s good for them, it’s just not where I want to be if I’m in New York. I think it’d take something like Martin Scorsese for whatever reason inviting me to dinner, or Bruce Springsteen playing a surprise show on the street, to get me legitimately excited go to Times Square on a weekend night. Or, evidently, I guess we can add Rave Of Thrones to the list.
Rave Of Thrones is an event centering on Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor on Game Of Thrones. He is, as you might already know by now, also a DJ. This became one of those pieces of trivia that floated out around the wildly obsessed-over show, and one that always seems particularly odd because, I don’t know, even if a lot of people knew Nairn first as a DJ and second as Hodor, it’s kind of hard to picture anyone from that show in normal life.
When Rave Of Thrones rolled through New York last week, it was held at B.B. King’s, a venue on that particular stretch of 42nd street where there’s all sorts of glistening, frenetic lights from McDonald’s and Modell’s Sporting Goods and the AMC theatre, and where you can just begin to see all of the lights fading towards the dystopian corner of Port Authority poking out on 9th Avenue. It’s a venue where they usually have artists that would make more sense with “B.B. KING” glowing in red above the bar inside. In the restroom, there were ads for Buddy Guy and Jerry Lee Lewis shows. It’s kind of perfect, ultimately, that this is where Rave Of Thrones occurred: an event that’s hard to make sense of compounded by an area that is hard to make sense of, as well.
Fortuitously, Nairn’s NYC stop coincided with Comic Con, so let’s say there were some committed Game Of Thrones fans here. In a sort of hilarious upheaval of the normal way people size each other up in bars and clubs, here people asked “Are you a Game Of Thrones fan?” (because apparently some people must’ve convinced their friends to go to this thing even if they weren’t fans? I’m not sure). And, then they narrow to “Did you read the books?” and if you’re someone like me, who really likes the show but has not read the books, they will not take you as seriously.
For example: I realized pretty soon into this thing that the only way to talk to people or overhear anything, given the volume of the music, was to wait in the restroom line a lot, or go out and talk to every person dressed in armor and smoking a cigarette on 42nd street, which is something I’ve always been meaning to do on 42nd street, anyway. My first encounter was a mixed experience with a dude wearing a yellow banner with three black dogs.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“You don’t know?” He asked back, incredulously.
“The three dogs are the sign of House Clegane.”
“Oh, so you’re the Hound.”
“No, I’m the Mountain. The guy who killed Oberyn.”
“Oh … you’re an asshole, man! Why would you want to be the Mountain?”
He spent some time trying to convince me the Mountain’s not that bad of a guy, which is crazy talk, and then eventually said:
“I’m from Long Island, I Airbnb’d it. Where’s the closest place to get a cheap shot around here?”
“I have no idea, man,” I told him. “This part of Manhattan is the edge of the world.”
Back inside, Nairn had arrived onstage. The man’s size is not TV trickery — he’s 6’10” and towers over the DJ booth. (Earlier, I talked to a man dressed like Robb Stark and I said, “Are you excited to see Hodor?” and he said, “Of course, it’s why I’m here. My hope is that he picks me up and carries me.”) The booth itself had this big cutout thing in front of it that split off into a wolf’s head on either side, had some tree branch shapes, and what looked to be a crown in the middle; lights were projected onto it the whole night.
There were a range of characters represented. One guy was dressed up as Khal Drogo, but had a glowing yellow rave stick bent around his neck and his glasses still on. A lot of people had random animal hats on, which I guess means they were all supposed to be dire wolves. Some women found some sort of middle ground between the ubiquitous “sexy cat Halloween costume” and a dire wolf, which essentially means they wore tops with partially-sheer fronts, and little black cat ears, and told you they were a dire wolf. One honorable soul came in a very convincing Oberyn Martell costume, which seemed to have a lot of emotional impact on attendees. I overheard one guy outside saying: “I saw the guy dressed as Oberyn and I said, ‘Wait, you’re supposed to be dead!’ And then I said, ‘Wait, you weren’t supposed to die that way!’ I almost cried.” He was speaking to a woman dressed as Daenerys. She seemed more empathetic than most of the women who came as Daenerys, because most of the women who came as Daenerys seemed belligerent. One of them hit me in the head with the light-up swords everyone was carrying around, because I was in her way, or something.
Honestly, once Nairn got started up the night progressed pretty simply: some people were dancing, a lot of people were content to stand and watch Hodor up on the stage. Around this time is when I could only hear what people were saying if I was in the restroom line, so here are a few excerpts:
- “It’s tense as hell reading the books because they could kill anyone at any moment. It’s not like Twilight bullshit where everyone lives forever because killing someone is a bad business decision.”
- Repeated cries of “No homo!”
- “We’re men and we’re waiting in line? Men don’t wait in line.”
- People periodically screaming “King of the North!”
- “It smells like dicks in here,” said by a guy clicking the button on his toy sword so it made an unsheathing sound.
Around 2:30AM, Nairn reached the end of his set and started to say goodbye (and make way for the last DJ of the night, Zedd Stark). As goofy as a lot of the attendees can be, Nairn seems like a totally cool guy and I’m happy he gets to do this event, and that he seems so genuinely thankful to everyone who got all decked out in antlers and feathers and armor to go dance to house music. “You guys are amazing,” he said. “I’m just about done, so thanks for coming and supporting us. I’ve got to say it one time at least: Hodor!”
It elicited the most fervent cheer of the night, and soon after Nairn was gone. I lingered for a bit, but the energy had certainly died down and I decided to head home around the time someone walked by and accidentally stabbed me in the head with their antlers. On my way out, a Daenerys was having a heated argument with her boyfriend while a few others as Daenerys looked on. I saw a Night’s Guard making out with a girl dressed as, for whatever reason, a devil. Daenerys eventually won the argument, and swayed towards the bathroom, talking about how she had to vomit.
[Photos by wagz2it.]