While you party down this weekend, the club owners of North Brooklyn will be working hard to make that partying possible — and offering up a dizzyingly diverse array of cutting-edge music, to boot. (For starters, did anyone else catch John Carpenter’s soundtrack composer, Alan Howarth, doing the Halloween theme song at 285 Kent last night? Just beyond awesome.) Last week at the Newsroom, we spoke to some of our favorite nightlife impresarios: from left to right in the video above, you’ve got Peter Shapiro of Brooklyn Bowl, Jify Shah of Cameo, Jake Rosenthal of Glasslands, John Barclay of Bossa Nova Civic Club, and Todd Patrick of 285 Kent and Market Hotel.
They touched on many an occupational hazard, including a recent uptick in noise complaints that Shapiro attributed to the new hotels and condos in the area, and Rosenthal attributed to the construction barrier that was recently erected at the Domino Sugar factory site. “The noise that used to go over the river and just dissipate was hitting this wall and bouncing backwards into the community, I guess,” he said.
Barclay told us more about the city’s raid on Bossa Nova, back in June. “The rumor is that we got a New York Times writeup and then the next weekend they came in and my security guy said he saw the New York Times article on the clipboard,” he said. “And they came in at like 2:30 a.m. on a Friday night, which of course we’re going to be over capacity and wrote us some tickets.” A multi-agency task force paid another visit about a month ago, he said: “They go in on you pretty hard. It sucks. It kind of soaked up a lot of profit for a minute.”
Patrick, who put on underground shows as a promoter and is now opening two up-to-code venues in Bushwick, could only sympathize: “Having been somebody who worked as far out of that whole pile of bullshit as I ever could for years, to come back in and try deliberately to follow all the rules at this point, it’s pretty amazing how many roadblocks they throw in front of you when you’re trying, especially if you don’t have just a pile of money.”
Patrick also faced roadblocks when he tried to open an experimental music venue in the East Village, so we asked him whether it’s still feasible to open a forward-thinking club in Manhattan. He struck an optimistic tone: “There’s still a lot of people who come here from all over the world looking for that as well as a lot of legacy musicians who have lived in Manhattan all of their lives,” he said. “And there’s still a need in the city for there to be great spaces, but it’s challenging because a lot of the people who are the new residents there don’t necessarily appreciate the need. But there’s still not just need but demand. If you can get one off the ground it’s definitely worth it to have a space in the city.”
That said, Patrick, who lives in Ridgewood, is now opening his avant-garde music venue in Bushwick (in the original Silent Barn space), not Manhattan. And he’s also reopening the Market Hotel as a civic-minded venue that goes “beyond just being this spot that people see lines of white kids outside of every night.”
“We’re very conscientious of the fact that we’re deliberately opening a place that’s going to be known for being an all-ages venue. And we’re also very aware of the fact that we’re opening a fairly high-capacity spot in a spot that’s on the leading edge of gentrification and these are all things that are very complicated issues,” he admitted. To remedy that, they’ll use the space during the day to teach music industry skills to at-risk youth, and are partnering with a program that serves autistic and mentally retarded youth. “It’s not so much that this is going to reverse the fact that we’re bringing in a bunch of upper middle class people to the neighborhood,” he admitted. “I mean it is what it is, but we really feel a responsibility to try to address that and find ways to mix it up and try and do whatever we can — even if it’s ham-fisted and blunt at first — and try and find ways to bring different people through the door and be something to this neighborhood (or that neighborhood, I should really say) beyond being just a little island of privilege above Mr. Kiwi’s.”
Watch the video to view the whole discussion.