East Village D.J. dies at Burning Man festival
By Lincoln Anderson
Adam Goldstone, a well-known East Village D.J., was getting ready to do what he loved best, spin records, when he fainted in his RV at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert last Tuesday and died shortly afterwards. He was 37.
According to his father, Jerry Goldstone, the cause of death was heart arrhythmia stemming from a delayed effect of a congenital condition that had been fixed when he was a child.
His father said the coroner found no immediate apparent cause of death, so it had to have been his heart.
Anu Kalyanam, 30, a friend from the New York Burning Man community who didn't attend this year's festival, said she got a call from a mutual friend Tuesday night telling her Goldstone had died.
Goldstone had arrived the day before on the first day of the festival and had set up camp.
"I believe he was camped with the New York people," Kalyanam said. "They said he had been working on the playa [the alkali dust-covered basin Burning Man takes place on] and hit his head on some rebar, then slipped again and started convulsing." Goldstone reportedly was in his camper's shower when he fainted. She said she was told medics arrived and treated Goldstone, but couldn't save him.
His father said he was told Goldstone "” who was very particular about his clothes "” refused to put on a pair of normal pants he was offered in his final moments, saying, "Oh that will never do," which may have been his last words. Goldstone always wore pants with narrow legs.
Goldstone came to New York City from San Francisco in 1987 to attend film school at New York University and never left. Instead of film, though, after a try at promoting club parties, he got into D.J.'ing.
Cultivating a progressive, edgy style, he played a wide range of music with equal flair, from house and electronic to Latin and jazz. He spun at any venue "” he didn't care which, as long as he was at the turntables "” from East Village hole in the walls to major music festivals with crowds of tens of thousands like the Detroit Electronic Music Festival in 2003. He frequently played in Europe and had a regular gig D.J.'ing every other month in London.
Locally, he D.J.'d early on at Save the Robots and Destination Lounge. Most recently, he was performing regularly at Speakeasy, a small, second-floor club with an unmarked door on Avenue C at Ninth St.; Love at W. Eighth and MacDougal Sts.; Sapphire Lounge on Eldridge St. and Cafeteria in Chelsea, among others.
Known for his cutting wit, Goldstone was also a writer. He was an assistant editor at Dance Music Review until it folded in 1993, then club editor for Time Out New York magazine from 1993 to 1998. He left Time Out to focus on making an album of eclectic dance music, "Lower East Side Stories," released in October 2001 on Nuphonic, a now-defunct English label. In an interview after the album's release, Goldstone described it as "all over the map musically, from salsa to hip-hop to house to ambient nonsense."
His earlier single "The Sky Is not Crying" is considered a house-music classic.
Dressing sharply and the dance scene go hand in hand. Goldstone was known for a tailored, mod look, and he liked to wear cravats. But "” in keeping with his strict vegetarianism "” he shunned leather shoes. His mother, Linda, noted that he even refused to eat her yams with melted marshmallows at Thanksgiving after he discovered marshmallows contain gelatin.
Politically left of center, he never shopped at chain stores or bought his coffee at Starbucks, his friends said, though adding he never forced his strongly held beliefs on others.
Fluent in Japanese, he made three trips there during his college years, once staying for six months.
On Labor Day, Goldstone's parents stopped by his E. Ninth St. apartment, where they were joined by several friends of his. Standing on the sidewalk across from the Ninth and C Garden with its willow trees rustling lightly in the afternoon breeze, they shared their memories of him.
"He came to New York University as a freshman and fell in love with New York," said his mother, a potter. "He said New York never closed "” unlike San Francisco."
"He'd come home and say San Francisco was very boring," added his father, a vascular surgeon. "He took to fast-moving, competitive New York."
A friend, Vanessa Watters, 23, said Goldstone's understanding of music was encyclopedic.
"He had the most amazing knowledge of music," she said. "He had like two rooms of records. And if you named a song, he'd go and find it."
Watters said during the last year, police raided Love several times on Saturday nights when Goldstone was D.J.'ing his regular 10 p.m.-to-10 a.m. party, including an after-hours segment. The club was a target of noise complaints. She said sometimes Goldstone would just keep playing music as police turned on the lights and searched for violations with their flashlights.
"Adam was my favorite D.J. "” ever," said Andy Reynolds, a music publicist. "He could do everything "” from a whole night of Brazilian to techie house. He was really all over the board. Technically, he was very good. He could do flawless mixes." Known for his charm, Goldstone was popular on the nightlife scene, Watters and Reynolds said, noting he was pals with Lady Bunny and other high-profile drag queens.
"If I wanted to go out, I'd go with him," Reynolds said of Goldstone.
Lamenting how churches are being replaced by university dormitories, Reynolds added, "He was horrified about what was happening in the East Village."
His father said Goldstone has been cremated, and they haven't decided what will be done with his ashes. He leaves a younger sister, Lara, of Los Angeles, and brother, Stefan, of San Francisco.
"He lived a full life," his father said, "and he died doing what he loved doing."
Watters said his friends already had one party in the East Village over the weekend in memory of him. There will be a bigger one.
"He believed in party to the end," she said. "He would want to go out with a bang."