One of the things I miss most about living in New York City is the DIY event where somebody’s apartment or an empty garage would get turned into a concert hall for just one night. All it took was a couple of PA speakers and whatever equipment the bands needed, and you had yourself a tight little shindig that was all about getting together, making new friends, and listening to and performing music.

It’s not that different than events at a bar or a nightclub, but without the pretense of running a business, these events take on a different type of atmosphere, reminiscent of Fraggle Rock or some type of borderline hippie experience where everyone comes together in harmony. But these events also had a way of bringing out the rowdiness in some people, leading to fights and urine puddles where they oughtn’t be.

Last weekend, some brave hosts decided to throw a secret birthday celebration, Zodiacal Doomsday Show, at their Chinatown apartment. The secret got out pretty quickly, and there were at least 40 people spread out among the living room, kitchen and balcony. The birthday spirit had definitely spread throughout the apartment, and everyone was friendly and smiley. A couple couples sat snuggling on the couches, and long lost co-workers were catching up about life post-American Apparel.

At first, the crowd was doing the typical non-dancing thing that the Internet generation seems to have perfected. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of energy and enthusiasm or an abundance of self-consciousness, but I was relieved when a couple people started jumping up and down and flailing their arms around during TV Microwave’s set.

A lot of people don’t seem to know this, but the only real secret to dancing is moving. In one Seinfeld episode, Elaine’s floor-clearing spasms provided an entertaining peek into many people’s worst nightmares about what they might look like dancing. But the reality is that there is no such thing as bad dancing, especially to a rock band playing in somebody’s living room.

In a perfect world, it seems like our right to gather in our own living space to play some music for our friends, but the dull reality is that neighbors usually call the cops. This apartment was perfectly situated in a neighbor-free zone, so we were able to rock without complaint.

This type of under-the-radar event that doesn’t have a cover, doesn’t have any staff or rent to pay and doesn’t have to impress any random person off the street is how musicians can feel free to experiment and come up with some stuff that’s out of their comfort zone. I hope that more of these go down again. After all, it’s always somebody’s birthday.