Hell is a Place in Queens
We have talked to Seva Granik before when he threw a party at Sugar Hill Disco in Bed-Stuyvesant. For me, that event was a eureka moment. It convinced me that my future was absolutely in Brooklyn, and that the much touted past or "back in the day" that everyone complained was gone was alive and well and maybe even better. Next Saturday, October 27, Seva is involved with 319 Scholes gallery’s Club Hell. In what figures to be one of the most ambitious nightlife events ever, these guys have taken over and will curate an aging 600,000-square- foot glass factory for a party so way out off Metropolitan Avenue that it’s in Queens. I caught up with Seva and asked him to tell us all about it.
A glass factory? 600,000-square-foot space? Is this Woodstock, 2012-style? Tell me about the party.
Yes, the venue. It’s called the Knock Down Center. It’s actually an early 20th Century glass factory that was owned by a Jewish family whose scion had recently bought the space out from his grandparents.
The factory and the lot it stands on are so large that there are even train tracks – for ease of transporting materials and final product, I’m guessing.
It’s a bit out of the way, all the way down Metropolitan Avenue, a 10-minute walk from the Jefferson L train stop, squarely in Queens, NY. But we’ll be providing free shuttle buses to the space from two places: the Lorimer L train stop and 319 Scholes, the gallery that’s behind this event.
The party itself is a bit conceptual. THUNDERHORSE, these guys that I work with a lot, are visual effects and event installation gurus, and we’re doing a nightmarish version of a club, basically with lots of red lasers, sets and stages, smoke – crazy creepy crap on an industrial scale. The venue itself is so creepy that not much has to be done, really. But we’ll do stuff anyway.
How many people are you expecting?
Capacity is staggering. I’m sure we could pack 3,000 people in ther,e but I don’t think that many people will show.
What is the state of underground Brookln nightlife? What kind of parties are you into?
Yikes. Well, it’s not doing so good. Things are certainly not nearly as crazy and carefree as they used to be in the early oughts. Kids, too, are pretty tame, simply because they’re just more mainstream than older Brooklyn audiences. Fifteen or 10 years ago, it was a bunch of artists and musicians and poor kids out here, but now it’s just normal young people who have jobs or go to NYU or something. And they don’t go nuts much. They’ve got too much to lose.
There have been waves after waves of shutdowns, something that never used to happen in the past; a score of DIY venues have been pressured by the cops to stop putting on events. It’s largely due to three reasons, in my opinion: the rising real estate costs and white people moving in and calling cops for noise complaints, the NYC film tax credit (which has attracted scores of film and TV productions here who have taken a lot of spaces away from the underground promoters since they have more money), and the rising popularity of Brooklyn as a capital of music. That last one really did us in because once there is money in putting on music shows, it all goes to regular venues because that’s where the money is, and that’s where agents are .That’s the easiest way to play and be seen and make money as an artist, with an agent. So, again, the DIY show/event loses.
With all these mounting pressures, it’s a wonder that there is actually still a scene. But there is. A lot of it has morphed and transported itself into the gay and queer culture that has little regard for money and loves to just get down. So, there is a small clique of queer promoters and performers who do well and have lots of fun.
For my readers who just moved here from Kansas, who are you and what do you do?
I’m an independent event producer. I put on stuff. Usually one-offs at off-the-grid, special places, and usually conceptual things, things that I know no one else can/will want to really do.
What was the last party event you went to in Manhattan, and what do you find relevant there?
Ladyfag’s parties are always fun, Westgay at Westway is pretty fun, and so are Earl Dax’s performance series, but, again—that’s all queer stuff! I guess I just find that sort of thing really fun, even though I’m straight.
There is a cute semi-straight party at Santos Party House called Chez Deep, and that’s nice, actually.
Weird Wednesdays at Home Sweet Home is a great weekly that’s been going for, like, 6 years. It’s almost always fun, and the crowd there is freaky and dark and cute sometimes, too.That’s as much as anyone can ask of a weekly.