Jackie Lasdon—Lighting Up the Night

“She is the prophet of fashion to come […] We will all be working for her one day.” So reads the press kit advertising up-and-coming nightlife performer Jackie Lasdon. Nothing about this lady is conventional—her fashion sense, her attire, or even her background. A self-described “opera singer gone rogue,” Lasdon pursued formal training at Drew University for one year before dropping out after learning from a professor that her career would not flourish until she was in her mid-30’s.


Eschewing her original plan of becoming a classically-trained vocalist, Lasdon found an outlet for herself by singing in public on Saturday nights. Encouraged by her friends, music proved a much-needed escape: “It didn’t matter what job I had during the week, those five minutes on a Saturday night was enough for me.” It wasn’t too long before she overcame her shyness about dancing, adding that “the music was so good that I just had to move.” Although Lasdon does not come from a musical family, she has received a great deal of encouragement from her parents; in fact, it was her father who encouraged her to sing rock and roll rather than classical music.

After leaving Drew, Lasdon embarked on a career in nightlife, which she calls “a place to take my training and use it,” starting with a regular gig at the Hudson Hotel on 58th Street. Lasdon was welcomed as a beloved entertainer, due in no small part to her bringing “the freaky downtown scene uptown.” Her collaborations with DJ’s Arkady and Nita led to her being able to produce her own parties. These two are revitalizing the lost art of DJ’ing, which has had the misfortune of having the likes of Jersey Shore‘s Pauly D (the one with the awful spiked hair) slapped onto it.

According to Lasdon, she “about did a spit-take” when Pauly D said he wanted to be a DJ because it wasn’t much work. In the case of DJ’s Arkady and Nita, they play music with a sense of continuity in their playlist, taking the audience on a trip, with Lasdon as their welcoming guide and host. Her goal with this setting is to create an environment where people can “live out a fantasy [and] ]give people a chance to dress up the way I usually do […] a breeding ground for fashion and music, fashion in the extreme sense.”

For her, it’s all about getting people together, leaving their inhibitions at the door, with no regard for income, musical tastes, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Everyone is welcome, and it is this central notion of unity through music that makes Lasdon’s scene both wonderful and unique. It seems in the present-day music scene—and this was a topic Lasdon discussed at great length with the author—has lapsed from having a sense of community like it did a decade ago to a genre-based world where everyone is “stuck in a bubble.” Lasdon’s aim is to burst this bubble and bring everyone together, using her position as a nightlife entertainer to introduce audiences to new and underground artists.

Lasdon works hard, but for her it’s all in the name of fun, saying “If I took this seriously, I’d go insane. I’m getting paid to have a good time.” She is always seeking to expand her act, hoping to include more elements of performance art and fashion exposition into it. Another goal is her own makeup line: “we’ve mixed our own colors, it’s for the girl scared of bright colors; we can also make it marketable to drag queens.” Despite these (very tangible) goals, music still reigns supreme in her world.

As for any curious potential audience members, her words of encouragement are simple: “You’re never too old to go out and dance! My mother loves to come out. There is no age limit […] go out and dance, dammit! Have a good night!”

Lasdon has three upcoming shows:
December 4th: Stay (244 East Houston Street)
December 5th and 7th: The Polar Lounge (201 East 24th Street)

Woman Around Town’s Six Questions
Favorite Place to Eat: My best friend and I are addicted to the yakitori spot on S. Marks, Oh! Taisho. It’s definitely a unique eating experience and its not hard on the wallet. If I can get away with it, I really am a sucker for Max Brenner’s—Chocolate by The Bald Man. Who wouldn’t love a white chocolate martini with their meal? Yum. I love enjoying a meal at Bbar on Tuesday night, it’s nice to have a DJ while I eat and see all my friends in a more social environment before we continue out for the evening.
Favorite Place to Shop: How could I possibly choose just one? Tokyo Rebel is an absolute favorite because I’ve always been very interested in Japanese street style. But of course, tried and true, is Patricia Field’s. It’ll always hold a special place in my heart. Apart from that? I’m a very good customer of Make Up Forever.
Favorite New York Sight: I used to live right by the Empire State Building. Seeing it every day I grew a fondness for it. Cliche, I know, but I was going to say St. Marks Place and that’s even more predictable. Albeit, still true.
Favorite New York Memory: It has to be the first night I ever went out. I went to one of the Glammy Nightlife Award ceremonies on a whim. It was at Webster Hall that year. My best friend offered to take me because he knew I had a soft spot for drag queens. Before that I never even thought that I would like nightclubs—huh, go figure, right? Apart from that, I was lucky enough to get to spend more weekends (than one should) at the old Limelight (renamed Avalon by that time) which I’m more thankful for now seeing as how they’ve turned into an awful tourist trap mall full of over priced rhinestone cell phone covers. If you take a trip here? Do me a solid and boycott the Limelight Marketplace. If you thought having a nightclub in a church was blasphemous, you certainly shouldn’t agree with it being used to sell candy and dirty novelty knick-knacks. At least there’s love in dancing.
What You Love About New York: Nearly everything. Everyone is a character from a Bester novel. Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe the stories I’m able to tell about this city. With only 15 minutes of travel, I can get to anything my heart desires. But of course, what I love the most is the nightlife here. I send my sincerest condolences to all those in cities who have to shut down at 2 a.m. That’s when the night really starts!
What You Love About New York: All those banners. If you live here, you know the ones. They read; “New York Loves Nightlife” with a disco ball heart, no less. Eugh.What a terrible lie. New York City seems to be doing everything within its power to make it harder for people like us to find a place to go. STOP SHUTTING DOWN OUR CLUBS! Enough said.

About Alex DiBlasi (72 Articles)
Alex DiBlasi is a writer and musician based out of Philadelphia. As a journalist, he has contributed articles for the Queens Courier, Long Island City magazine, the Journal of Rock Music Studies, and the American Music Review. As an academic, he has written about Frank Zappa, The Monkees, The Kinks, and the cinema of the Czech New Wave. He also previously taught literature at St. John’s University in Queens. His first book, an anthology of scholarly essays from all over the world on Geek Rock, co-edited with Dr. Victoria Willis, will be released in October 2014 by Scarecrow Press. Alex spent most of 2013 and part of 2014 on the road with his partner Alexa Altman, visiting each of the Lower 48 states as the basis for a book. Aside from his work in the arts, Alex also works with the Manhattan-based Sikh Coalition as an advocate for religious freedom.