Lest you ever get bored of the existing options in underground, alternative events and shenanigans in New York City, or are one of those people who complains about how “it’s not what it used to be,” keep in mind that there are often new things happening around town. New event planners that are looking to bring something better to the table, new venues being scoped out, people trying to revive something that’s been lost and make it better. Everyone’s looking for that extra pinch of New York City underground magic, and if you haven’t found it, maybe it’s because you haven’t looked in all the right places. It may no longer be contained to just the East Village and the Lower East Side, as it used to be. But it is somewhere out there, or it’s soon going to be.
I particularly enjoyed this article about the innovative duo of The Wanderlust Projects who have been scoping out abandoned, creative, perhaps illegal spaces in New York for alternative immersive parties. They were behind the parties in the water tower over the summer (the Night Heron) and are constantly working on ferreting out more unlikely venues for events that may have been overlooked, both by party organizers and (hopefully) by the cops.
I went to a warehouse party in Bushwick this weekend, which got raided within an hour or two of my being there, which was unfortunate (the event did move next door, to a legitimate venue, but after waiting online for half an hour to get my coat, I didn’t feel like waiting on another long line to get into the other place, so I went home), but it looks like the Wanderlust guys are looking into places that are better hidden away. They haven’t gotten in trouble with the law yet, and are teaching classes on how to scope out your own secret venues and give rise to these kinds of events in the future.
And as with most things when it comes to underground culture, they dissuade asking “how do I get invited??” Instead, they suggest you get to know some people that may be in the know (if you don’t already) and the invite will find YOU, as it often does. Or, bring something to the table (volunteering, for example, for burner parties is usually a good way to get into them for free). In the case of the Wanderlust Projects, they have a website, where you can sign up for (infrequent, they say) e-mail updates, though they also suggest you just “talk to them” or, in the contact box, propose secret venues if you know of any.
So this is happening. There are rock bars in Bushwick that have the feel, smell and grime of the old CBGBs. There are lovely speakeasies all over the place and some cropping up in Brooklyn, too. And still lots of gorgeous Club Kid-calabre parties in Manhattan with people that look like nightlife royalty. It’s all there, you just have to find it. Or, if you can’t find it, make it happen. One of my favorite things that Jefferson once said to me was, “If the scene you want doesn’t exist, it’s incumbent upon you to create it.” And there is no other place like New York to try and do so.