Chinatown is empty and haunted by the smells of dead fish. Neon lights are winking in the rain and it feels like I'm lost. I hear techno drifting from a Chinese shopping mall around the corner. Approaching the throbbing bass, all I see are closed shops bathed in fluorescent light. A tired-looking security guard waves his hand towards the escalators. At the top, I arrive in an overwhelmingly mirrored dim sum restaurant. Alexander Wang flits by grinning while Bok Bok jams on.
Bartenders at a recent S!ck Magic party
Sounds like a movie, right? But I'm just at S!ck Magic—one of the best nights in New York's DIY dance party scene… as well as one of its most irregular. When the party goes full throttle, it unites music heads, Bushwick weirdos and impossibly chic fashion strays with a shared love for future bass. Previous nights have seen the likes of Nguzunguzu, Salva, MikeQ and The Hacker fill the dancefloor. The lineup at the party I attended was similarly un-fuck-withable: Hessle Audio co-founder Pearson Sound, Brooklyn dream-pop duo Teengirl Fantasy, Night Slugs/Fade to Mind stars Vissacoor (AKA L-Vis 1990 and Massacooramaan), Sinjin Hawke, Rrose, Aquarian, and D'Marc Cantu.
Under the aliases S!ck and Weird Magic, founders Thomas Spieker and Erez "Rezzie" Avissar have been DJing and working in New York's music scene for the last ten years. But in 2012, they decided to connect the dots as S!ck Magic. What makes their parties so great—what truly separates them from the rest of this city's party-throwing pack—is that at the heart of S!ck Magic lurks a futurist ethos and deep DIY bent. Oh, and bitcoins.
Both founders boast unconventional backgrounds. Thomas escaped from reform school in 1998 at age 18 and hitchhiked down to San Francisco from Washington State. With no college degree or experience in the field, he landed a job as a runner on the PCX Futures floor. Two years later, he became a licensed broker trading for Goldman Sachs, then switched coasts to trade on the floors of AMEX. A staunch bitcoin enthusiast, he invested in the cryptocurrency before it went exponential, and has been using it to independently fund all of his interests—including S!ck Magic.
"I believe that we as a species can elevate and evolve out of our current state, and work toward a new goal of what it means to be human—using emerging technologies, AI, robotics and next level interpersonal communication," Thomas tells me. "I've always had an obsession with the future: whether it be in the next big trend in finance or music or philosophy. Disciplines such as transhumanism and preparing for light speed arriving at technological singularity—this is what gets my eyes bright."
On the other hand, Rezzie describes himself as "the type of person who sat at a different lunch table every day." Growing up in Long Island, he dabbled in hardcore, punk, and rap before turning into a downtown party kid in college. He interned at Pitchfork and The Fader, and still does photo work for many music publications. In fact, Rezzie's talents as a photographer drive the aesthetic for S!ck Magic's parties—he often conceptualizes parties according to what would look good on camera. As such, his parties are "celebrations of existence" and vehicles for promoting his favorite DJs. In his words: "Should I wake up every day and worry about how I'm going to impact history? I just want to create some quality, interesting things and have fun in this world. I want to make life a little more worth living."
Underneath S!ck Magic's crowd-friendly future music and eye-pleasing crowd lies other forces at work. Thomas is driven by his wonder at this age's technological advances. "We're getting closer… to being able to overcome humanity's ultimate either/or: extinction or immortality. I'm choosing immortality," he says in all seriousness. As for Rezzie? "A great party is like a great work of art and a great work of art is like God."