It has not been a good year for D.I.Y. party spaces in Brooklyn, about the only place left for such shindigs as they have been driven out of Manhattan, and even much of Kings County, due to creeping gentrification. This year, like many in the Bloomberg administration, saw increasing crackdowns, though, reports The Village Voice, and it is getting harder than ever for a ragtag band of artists and musicians to find room to work.
From Rubulad to Silent Barn, everyone has faced challenges and harassment this year, and the Market Hotel is the perfect microcosm.
Market Hotel, in Bushwick, had a too-good-to-be-true two-year run by the J train tracks. With lights flashing over a giant floor surrounded by murals and decay, the place seemed like an anarchistic ballroom gone Brooklyn. Cheap drinks were available in the corner; people smoked casually. Performances tumbled into the magical early-morning hours. It was very little like any kind of rock show one could experience in 21st-century Manhattan.
It’s surely a hackneyed complaint that the city’s last two mayors have done their best to force out New York’s bohemian culture in hopes of creating a future perfect Gotham. But it’s also demonstrably true. Not long after the new Quality of Life Task Force began to crack down on long-unenforced cabaret laws during the Giuliani administration, the Social Club Task Force—established after the 1990 Happy Land fire—evolved into the Multi-Agency Response to Community Hotspots (MARCH), overseen by the New York Police Department. “Unauthorized dancing” was now only one of many potential infractions.
To lose these spaces would be to lose an important part of the New York cultural scene, The Voice points out.
The arrangement has been common across Manhattan and Brooklyn for decades: Loft-dwellers give their place a name and start putting on semi-regular shows, mostly for their friends. Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and the Almanac Singers had live music at their communal Almanac House on West 10th Street as early as 1939, but history records a December 1960 gathering on Chambers Street organized by Yoko Ono as the first proper loft show.
The whole piece is worthy of a read, as it points to hope in the future, through non-profit models and foundation support. Not exactly counter cultural, though.