There are two ways that underground venues die in NYC, and famed ‘throw-it-yourself-and-whatever party’ space 285 Kent is rumoured to be going through one of them.
Here’s how it goes:
1. The cops go in during the day, find what they need to shut a space down, and the next time you go there to get your party on the doors are shut and the spot is abandoned.
2. There’s an announcement from the venue: ‘This is our last show for a while. Maybe we’ll be back, maybe we won’t be back.’ After a while, people forget about this news, until they want to get their party on. Then one of your friends, a smart friend, says ‘hey what happened to…’ Then you all say: ‘NOOOOOOO.’ Because you realise it’s never coming back.
285 Kent is a #2. Gothamist reports that it had its last concert last night. Promoters are saying it’s still possible that the party could revive itself in a bit, but no concerts are scheduled for the foreseeable future and NYC has seen this play before.
It doesn’t usually end well.
Here’s what 285 Kent was like. 285 Kent was dirty. The floors are concrete and the bathroom is one of the most disgusting holes you’ve ever been in in your life. There isn’t a real bar — just a set of tables smashed together with bottles of liquor on top. As such, it’s really cheap to drink there.
But you do (did) have to pay to get in. That is because 285 Kent hosted some seriously talented musicians from around the country and the world — anything from musicians on underground labels like Oakland’s Stones Throw Records to legendary house DJs like DJ Nature.
It was a regular hang for house heads, dub step fiends, indie rock bands, and kids that generally don’t like rules. 285 Kent stayed open late.
Naturally this kind of activity has attracted negative attention. I won’t name any names but I’ve known a few DJs that have had to jam out of the space really fast to avoid the cops — I know some lighting engineers that weren’t fast enough to make it.
But it was worth it. People like to do what they want when they can do what they want, in their free time. Sometimes that means dancing until 6 in the morning while drinking whiskey from a bottle that says Jack Daniels but probably isn’t Jack Daniels.
In New York City this kind of activity can be illegal. You need permits to serve liquor. You need to not bother your neighbours with noise (increasingly a problem in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Williamsburg).
You need to pay your rent (increasingly a problem in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Williamsburg — this is likely 285 Kent’s issue).
So this may very well be the end of a stellar space. If it’s not, I’m grateful. The party gods have smiled on NYC and given us a few more nights to roll in the mud.
If this is true then I’m sorry.
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