Making it through your first year as a nightclub in New York is kind of like the first 12 months in a relationship—you're going to cry, laugh, dance, learn, make mistakes, and probably feel like you're going totally insane at some point. Luckily for Williamsburg Latin-inspired restaurant and nightclub Black Flamingo, they made it, and have found a niche clubbing experience that offers great local residents like Razor-N-Tape and Eli Escobar, as well as the occasional drop in from legends like Louie Vega.
Constructed with reclaimed wood from the defunct Marcy Hotel (a creative space in Bushwick championed by Soul Clap and Wolf + Lamb—whose members Eli Goldstein and Gadi Mizrahi are both co-owners of the Flamingo with M.A.N.D.Y's Philipp Jung), along with a stellar sound system and reasonable drink prices—the club offers a no-frills alternative to the larger venues that have taken Williamsburg by storm as of late.
Still, the party is always rocking inside their doors, and June 1-4 the club will be celebrating their first birthday with sets from New Jersey house legend Tony Humphries, Detroit's Scott Grooves, Eli of Soul Clap, as well as world-dance specialist Quantic. Recently the Flamingo announced they would now be charging $10 cover for entry, as well as a membership program that would give loyal patrons the ability to get in for free, plus a new food menu. In anticipation of their big weekend, THUMP caught up with Black Flamingo's co-owner and director, Bryce David, to hear more about the upcoming milestone.
THUMP: What's been your favorite moment from the last year at the club?
Bryce David: There have been a lot of late nights and early mornings that strike a chord with me for different reasons. The experiences I love the most have been the nights when we've been surrounded by friends or artists whose work I really love and appreciate—buds like Urulu, Jacques Renault, Young Marco, David Marston, Jacques Greene and Kai Alce. Anytime my partner Eli from Soul Clap plays the club it's been rad, and it's amazing having resident homies like Beto Cravioto, Eli Escobar, and Wes P. The first Benga Benga live music night with Yotoco, who are about to play again alongside Quantic on June 1, was also vibrant and refreshing, and Andrés coming through after his PS1 set and scratching doubles all night was rowdy. Didn't Kerri Chandler say it's all about a basement, a red light, and a feeling? I think he did. That's the truth.
What about the most troubling?
Everyday is an uphill battle and my attention is always being pulled from the club to the restaurant, or from the restaurant to the bookings, or from the bookings to the bar program. But it's also an incredible feeling to be able to have such a footprint with Flamingo. Harnessing an actual community is also a challenge. We're creating an atmosphere that we would want to hang out in ourselves while not alienating the people who have been coming here since we first opened.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned about running a nightclub?
That list is long and I'm still trying to learn how to delegate and focus on the big picture and longevity, rather than every little detail throughout the night. I'm lucky that I get to program the music that I love, so working around the clock doesn't tax me, but I've definitely learned how to work while running on fumes. Also understanding that there will always be something that needs to get done tomorrow, knowing when to call it a day, and that not everyone is going to like me. That's fine too.
Tell us a bit about the decision to charge cover, and how you made it for so long without doing so.
The $10 cover after midnight became increasingly necessary. Williamsburg can get unruly on the weekends and we wanted to cut out some of people who don't really understand what we're doing here after and may just be coming through for a stop in their Brooklyn bar crawl. I want it to be comfortable inside with space for people to move around freely, and have some structure around community. It's not hard to get a membership, people just have to email me—and while the door cover will give me more freedom on bookings, local and abroad, the intention is to heighten the enjoyment, not deter people from coming.
Can you confirm or deny rumors that there are plans to get an actual pet flamingo for the club?
Currently marinating on this.