Floating Alone With Ben McEvoy

A JAZZY CONVERSATION WITH A WERS DISC JOCKEY.

By Pauline Zenker

Grabbing my velvet, moss covered backpack, I stepped out onto a brick sidewalk in Beacon Hill. Feeling cheeky, I rushed down the narrow streets, glowing under antique lanterns in a zippered jumpsuit, more gold than the paint that covered Bond girl Jill Masterson’s body. Not far off from the Boston Common, I came upon the Liquid Art House, a sizzling lounge for art and design, and opened the oversized door, emerging myself into a transformed world of flared trousers, happy sitcoms, and disco supremo. Warm, purple lighting wrapped itself around the foxy crowd below, sex was in the air, and my head was up in the clouds distracted by the eclectic artwork that covered every inch of wall space. David Bowie’s track, Golden Years, then caught the attention of my ears, perhaps playing a notch too loud, reminding me that I was there for the purpose of meeting with Ben McEvoy, an understated marketing student from Emerson College. So I followed the circular bar around its plump curves, assuming he was sitting out of sight, but instead I linked eyes with a character echoing American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman. Then, I felt a gentle squeeze on my shoulder, pulling me away from the potential Wall Street, coke-induced serial killer, and turned around to be welcomed by Ben, who chuckled a bit and said, “It’s a jungle in here, but the place has a soul unlike most Boston bars.” Ben, snapping his fingers to the beat of the funk music, then showed me to his ruby-red, button-tufted round booth.

  Photo by Brunei Deneumostier

Photo by Brunei Deneumostier

After getting situated, I noticed our seat a bit removed—regardless, it had “a view to a kill” anywhere in this '70s time machine. Ben, already sipping on an Old Fashioned, tried to get the attention of the waitress wearing a newsboy hat and a fresh coat of juicy red lipstick, the kind that would leave its mark on a crystal glass. I eventually found myself with a French 76 in hand, hoping that the mix of champagne and vodka would take off the edge of what I thought would be a forced conversation with Ben. However, listening to his story didn’t require any teeth pulling.

  Photo by Brunei Deneumostier

Photo by Brunei Deneumostier

  Photo by Brunei Deneumostier

Photo by Brunei Deneumostier

Ben, a transfer student who commutes 45 minutes to campus, came to Emerson in the fall of 2016 with a fresh and full-bodied spirit. “I was feeling really positive to be in such a creative environment, but quickly came to realize it would be hard to stand out at a school filled to the rim with students who outwardly express themselves,” he said. Looking around, I began to question why he would pick a loud place like the Liquid Art House. “You see, I am simply floating along," he answered. "I’m not swimming forward, I’m not sinking, I’m simply floating wherever the current takes me, and me alone.” Ben explained how this is a new feeling for him, and that he is trying to embrace it, because loneliness is a part of being human sometimes. I would be lying if I said I haven’t experienced the same.

  Photo by Brunei Deneumostier

Photo by Brunei Deneumostier

"I’m not swimming forward, I’m not sinking, I’m simply floating wherever the current takes me, and me alone.”

All things considered, if it weren’t for this period in Ben’s life, he would not have formed such a close relationship with music. These days, a year since he quietly boogied his way into Emerson, Ben is a disc jockey at WERS and is currently working with the organization Wax on Felt, a student record label. “Music has taken me out the funk of being lonely and moved me into a space of solitude," he said. "I can live in solitude—for the time being. So now, all my energy goes towards working for a record company, because I have a whole lot of love to give back to music and what it has done for me.” Ah-hah, I thought, that's why we are at a jazzy place like the Liquid Art House. Silence fell upon our booth at that moment, at which point Ben said, “He who hears music feels his solitude peopled at once.” I raised my glass, clinking it with Ben’s, and later found out that it was a quote from the poet Robert Browning. If there is any common understanding in this world, I think it is fair to say that music has the ability to run deep in our souls and bring out the joys of life—and perhaps, on occasion, “drinking heartbreak motor oil and Bombay gin” might get us out of our seats and dancing.

  Photo by Brunei Deneumostier

Photo by Brunei Deneumostier

The night ended in utter bliss. I found myself bouncing out of the soulful bar on the first note of KC & The Sunshine Band’s track, "Get Down Tonight." Rather than rushing home to my one-bedroom apartment, I found myself doing a little dance all the way home, bringing with me a new understanding and appreciation for loneliness. That night, before catching some shut-eye, I went online and purchased a disco ball to remind myself to "play that funky music” if I ever feel like I’m floating alone.