A Night with Pedrose at Kind Regards
Updated: Nov 29, 2021
The first installment of The Blue & White's ode to New York mag's weekly newsletter "Are You Coming?"
By Sam Sacks
It’s me. Podcast Director and Resident Party Girl, Sam Sacks. Perhaps the second title more aptly describes my summer self—the girl who turned 21 and then 22 in a pandemic and found herself in the throes of hardly masked jazz clubs, rooftops, bars, and dance clubs. The summer marked the peak of my party career. Back in school and exceedingly vulnerable with my flimsy Pfizer shot, I’ve mostly retired my dancing shoes. But on the evening of October 23, I wiggled them back on again, at Kind Regards on Ludlow St.
If you’ve seen cool girls post Insta stories of disco balls reflecting red and purple light over faceless masses, you were likely looking at the club. Kind Regards has risen to prominence in the Columbia bubble due to Pedro Damasceno, CC ’23, known on Instagram and on the DJ scene as “Pedrose.” He started playing there in July, bringing the uptown scene all the way (45 minutes and two transfers) downtown. He and I took Science of Psychology together our first year. His John Jay room had the intoxicating scent of Santal 33, a drawer entirely dedicated to neat rows of trident gum, and warm lighting not so different from the upper level of Kind Regards.
I joined Damasceno for a Saturday set—he normally alternates between hosting parties and DJing. Earlier that day, he texted me, Part of my pre–Kind Regards ritual is to get either a Greek salad or arepa nearby. Here is my diary of our night together.
5:39 p.m. | Damasceno tells me to meet him at the 116th St. subway at 6:00 p.m. I propose we convene a half-hour later as I scarf down half a tuna sandwich and leap into the shower. That’ll cut into our dinner time, he texts me, but okay.
6:39 p.m. | I tell Damasceno I’ll catch the 116th St. train when it gets down to 110th. Meet me in the last car, I text him. Unfortunately, I miss the train that Damasceno boards, so he disembarks and waits for me on the 110th St. platform. I find him looking impeccably put together, in a vintage black shirt that reads “CHOPPER RIDE OR DIE” and a black wool blazer. He lets me peek inside his ivory leather tote bag that contains possible costume changes: a bucket hat, a black turtleneck, a pair of chunky frames. While we wait nine minutes for the next downtown 1, he explains to me exactly how the evening is going to go. It’s clear he’s lived this night many times before.
6:54 p.m. | “I have this theory on DJing, this analysis,” Damasceno tells me, as we slip into newly open seats on the 1 train. “On one extreme, you have a bar mitzvah/Quinceañera DJ.” I don’t interrupt Damasceno to tell him just how well my years of Jewish day school had acquainted me with this kind of DJ. “No disrespect to those DJs, those are people who are hired to play exactly what the crowd wants to hear. You are not hiring them for their music taste. You’re hiring them just to be a person in a room, performing a function.” Then, there’s the “DJ who makes their own music. You’re there to listen to this person’s music taste.” When Pedro’s booked at Kind Regards, he has to strike a balance between the two ends: a style he describes as “Hollaback girl, Drake,” and the 80s synth/techno/Baile funk he loves.
7:03 p.m. | Damasceno takes my notebook and draws a graph with time on the X-axis and mood on the Y-axis, charting for me the trajectory of his ideal set, versus the sort Kind Regards demands. He’s a performer who speaks scientifically about his craft.
7:16 p.m. | On the A train, he tells me he’s constantly looking at his audience to gauge whether or not his music is landing. “I’ll focus on a couple people in the crowd that are feeling the music or not feeling the music, and try and play for them.”
7:34 p.m. | It starts to drizzle as we walk into Patacon Pisao on Essex Street. Damasceno orders an arepa with grilled chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, “very light salt—just a little bit of salt,” and is dismayed to find out they have NO CHEESE. I order a vegetarian arepa and am also shocked to find out they have NO CHEESE. We wait almost 20 minutes and step out of the restaurant with our massive, foil-wrapped sandwiches in tow.
7:58 p.m. | Damasceno asks the teenager behind the counter at Bel-Fries (next to Kind Regards) how long an order might take. He likes to bring food to the guy working the door, but we don’t have the five minutes to spare. I feel a bit responsible for whatever change in the KR ecosystem this mishap caused. (Without fries, will the shortlist Damasceno Facebook messaged to the doorman not get let in? Will the bouncer faint with fatigue and let the horde out front shove their way through the door? )
8:00 p.m. | We waltz in briskly and make a beeline for the white-scalloped DJ booth. The upper level of Kind Regards looks like a sexy art deco living room, with pink and blue leather couches, wood walls, and stained glass windows. Damasceno picks up a menu—folded hot dog style, as though it were a reservation placard—from the table closest to the bar to show me his graphic design work. The only other masked woman in the bar scolds him for “touching her menu during a pandemic.”
8:09 p.m.| I watch the waitress in a slicked ponytail and cinched black long-sleeve shirt go around to light each grapefruit-scented candle with a tiny blowtorch. She hands Damasceno a couple of drink tickets. While he plays music for a very tame audience of couples lounging languidly on the couches, I ask if he ever gets bored. No, he tells me. “I’d do this for free.”
8:20 p.m.| The three thirty-somethings sitting directly across the DJ booth, “pandemic lady” (as he calls her), and her two friends, become our target audience. The women slurp oysters and cocktails. Damasceno puts on a song and watches for their reaction. I dutifully update him about their body language after each track begins.
8:36 p.m.| He slips me a small yellow drink ticket with the date written in sharpie on the back. “Tell the bartender Pedro wants a sparkling water,” he says.
9:00 p.m. | Damasceno finally cracks pandemic lady with Snoop Dogg’s soulful “Let’s Get Blown.” We glance at each other in triumph as she lifts and sways her shoulders from her seat.
9:28 p.m. | I ask the Brazilian boy who has been hanging by the DJ booth all night if he wants to take a smoke break (eat the rest of my Arepa outside). He met Damasceno at Kind Regards this summer and now comes to hear him frequently. When I ask how they met, he shrugs and tells me, “All Brazilians meet.” It was a silly question.
9:42 p.m. | Damasceno maneuvers the mixer with a fairy-like touch. He slides slidey things up and down and rotates dials, he spins the quintessential wicka-wicka spinny disc. He alternates hands. It’s like he’s painting, or playing piano, or hacking into a protected computer system.
10:00 p.m. | The Kind Regards basement opens and Damasceno grabs his USB stick and his ivory bag and hurries down the stairs to play his 10-12 set. The empty room is very cold with black and white tiled floors. There are imitation Greek busts in each corner, red lights shining up at each supple and armless statue. We enjoy a momentary calm before the upstairs crowd follows us down.
10:07 p.m. | A woman in a red bandeau asks Damasceno if he takes requests. He says no.
10:29 p.m. | A brunette in a plaid coat asks Damasceno to play ABBA. Over the blasting music, Damasceno asks her to listen harder—to listen more carefully to his music. I find his response a bit condescending until I realize that he’s already playing a prolonged intro of “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” He opens both of his arms, like the Christ the Redeemer statue, as the chorus ensues without his pressing a button.
10:34 p.m. | Natalia in the plaid jacket wants more ABBA.
10:40 p.m. | A blonde girl with a face-frame haircut tells Damasceno, “THIS ISN’T THE MUSIC THAT YOU USUALLY PLAY.” Damasceno replies, “I don’t play hits. You must be confusing me for someone else.”
11:00 p.m. | We enter the final hour of Damasceno’s set. He’s playing hits. Tiktok songs, “They wanna see me do my dance / In these thousand dollar pants,” Kanye’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” The basement is totally packed. Four separate groups have ordered bottle service and I can smell the residue of sparklers through my KN95. The crowd is mostly white millennials with very unadventurous fashion choices—men in open button-ups over boring shirts, women in business-casual crop tops and gold necklaces. Everyone has their phone out to take flash videos of the night. Damasceno seems oodles cooler and younger than the crowd he DJs for, and they notice. There’s a group of men who spend their entire night near the DJ booth moshing, and rotating, and dapping up Damasceno, calling him the “GOAT.” One guy in glasses and the world’s tightest button-up shirt imitates Damasceno’s swift hand motions on the mixer. I exit the booth and walk around to ask him if he also DJs. “No,” he tells me—just “really into this guy’s stuff.”
11:10 p.m. | A man in his late 30s with a quarter-zip fleece and layered puffer vest—no doubt from the bowels of the financial district—asks for “Mo Bamba.” Damasceno leans over to tell me that dude just asked for the song that goes “hoes…..calling.’’ We both laugh.
11:37 p.m. | Damasceno plays “Mo Bamba.” I look at him, aghast. He yells over the terrible, terrible, song: “Honestly, I just wanna see everyone have fun.” On his way out, puffer-vest finance trash gives Damasceno an earnest fist bump. “Thank you, man. I really appreciate it.” It’s a beautiful moment.
11:58 p.m. | Within his last 10 minutes, Damasceno puts on “Hey Ya,” “Crazy in Love,” “Promiscuous,” a Drake song I don’t know, and “One More Time.” The crowd goes wild for all five.
About to get off the 1 train at 110th | I ask Damasceno for parting words. “Connecting with humans over sound is so instinctual, and hopefully we can all do it a little more.”