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The Night I Didn't See Amy Winehouse

I'll admit it. I'm a new fan of Amy Winehouse. But I'm not alone in the United States, where she's just now making a splash after a couple years on the scene. After I caught the video for "You Know I'm No Good" on MTV one day, I quickly realized that Amy was an artist worth checking out, maybe even shelling out a few bucks for. The dichotomy of her sound and her look was just so compelling—her deep, strong soul voice paired with a sexy, punky, Elvira glam image impressed me, although I hardly believed that huge wail could come from such a tiny frame until I found a few live takes on YouTube. Milli Vanilli she ain't.

When I found out Amy would be playing a gig in New York City for something of a coming-out party, the news was accompanied by a fair share of the day's blog ballyhoo associated with Amy's drinking and drugging ways. Needless to say, I scoured the web, but only found way-overpriced tickets to the sold-out show. The new rule seems to be that Internet chatter plus MTV love equals "get in line and take a number, honey, 'cuz everyone who's anyone has already laid claim to tomorrow's star today."

Disappointed, I relented in my search for a place in Amy Winehouse's NYC glow, but couldn't land a ticket. What happened next was sort of amazing. I heard about an after-party following Amy's Highline Ballroom show in May. Amazingly, after being refused a chance at seeing her sing, I was able to get on the list to see her at the official Amy Winehouse Gold Record Celebration at the Bombay Sapphire Lounge.

Outside of the club that night, cut off by publicists left and right, I finally conquered the queue and made my way through the doors, where I sort of expected to see Amy front and center, on stage, singing her heart out for the realest fans. Amy wasn't there quite yet, but an open bar was standing in for her—the second best Amy to the real Amy, and the party animal spirit was infectious. Although I began to feel a bit tentative after a couple hours of sipping drinks and listening to hip-hop and club tracks spun by the club's DJ, I maintained my cool and kept an eye out for signs of commotion and snapping cameras. Signs reading her name were everywhere—taped to walls and projected on metallic curtains—but there was no sign that the lady would even make an appearance. Heck, the bar wasn't even playing her album!

I downed my last drink around midnight and bid adieu to the happy, friendly crowd on the dance floor. Although the party hadn't lived up to my expectations of the next best thing, I was happy I went. The bad news the next morning was a heartbreaker, though: Amy eventually showed up at the lounge, only an hour after I went home. I tried not to feel bad, reminding myself that an artist of Amy Winehouse's caliber has a busy agenda. Even though I didn't get to catch a glimpse of my new favorite pop star, I can still close my eyes and pretend she's there. Except next time, maybe the DJ will help me out a little and at least cue up a few of her songs!

-- Christine Thelen, 07/17/2007