Last night Secret Project Robot reopened to the public with a raucous party that went all night. Friends from the old space and young kids looking for a good time filled the venue’s new bar and danced on the tables till its last call at 3am.
This is the fourth incarnation of the venue, which started as Williamsburg’s Mighty Robot in 1998 and then took its current name after moving to nearby Kent Avenue. In 2011 they migrated to Bushwick’s Melrose Street and with a lease increase last year have now settled at 1186 Broadway near their two sister businesses Flower For All Occasions and Happy Fun Hideaway.
The new location has also brought new ownership. The space’s founders Erik Zajaceskowski and Rachel Nelson have joined with several new partners including David Kadden, who spun for the late-night revelers as he spoke to me about the new Secret Project Robot. David said the new space was formerly the nightclub Soul 2 Soul, which opened in the 1980s and closed for good this past October. The team found out about it from the landlord’s own listing in December and have been busy with renovations since then. While the main performance room and backyard are still being assembled, the venue’s full-service bar, named Cuckoo, is complete and the lounge seating laid out around it gives a mature feel against the playful patterns adorning the high-ceilinged walls.
The legal bar is a change of business model for Secret Project Robot, as Lauren explained to us after the venue’s previous incarnation closed at the end of last summer. “Think of it like a museum bar— but obviously not as fancy,” she said. “You can go get a drink and it can be your hangout spot, but it’s also going to be an art spot. The idea is that the bar will help sustain the art programming.”
David said that once the performance room is complete, Secret Project Robot will resume hosting the shows, installations, films and holiday markets for which they’re known. He’s excited for the future, and friend after friend came over to share in the optimism and wish him luck. I ran into some old friends myself: Adam Amram, who drummed for the seminal Bushwick bands The New York Howl, Ken South Rock and Howardian, made an appearance with former bandmate Troy Morrero. Secret Project Robot has grown alongside them, and the Bushwick residents were happy to have a place nearby where they could enjoy the fruits of a local culture whose birth they had witnessed.