Photos by Keala Evans and Evie Cheung for Cityfox
The Brooklyn Mirage was described as an urban oasis, and it was definitely a refreshing and colorful sight in the middle of dusty, industrial Bushwick. I had to dodge forklifts, slip around double-parked semi trucks, and try not to fall over debris as I made my way over for its July 4th opening party. An ambitious project from New-York-via-Zurich promoters Cityfox and their parent company Reynard Productions, The Brooklyn Mirage is a gigantic indoor/outdoor venue that will only be around till late-September—before it disappears for good. Even before the doors opened, it was already getting buzz as one of summer's biggest arrivals. But would it live up to the hype?
Outside the space, the beats from the Mirage's impressive KV2 Audio soundsystem rattled the chainlink and razor wire fence that wrapped the warehouse as a drone flew steadily overhead. Cops were everywhere, including some posted in discreet areas nearby taking bored selfies as they waited for something to do.
For the daytime portion of the party, everything happened in their outdoors courtyard, where the walls were lined with faux cement designs replicating some kind of ancient, lost temple. Imported foliage drooped down the walls and palm trees were installed, adding much needed greenery. It felt like a beach party with no beach, or an extravagant version of the Mister Sunday parties on the Gowanus Canal with edgier beats. Philipp Jung, one half of the duo better known as M.A.N.D.Y., went in hot and heavy on some dark minimal house worthy of an afterhours in their native city, Berlin—surprising, considering the bright, summery attitude of the day. But it was easy to bask in the sweeping LFOs and melodic basslines.
The well-tanned crowd, mostly in their late 20s and early 30s, seemed content under the calm sun, pointing, waving, and taking pictures of the drone as it flew in arches overhead, catching sweeping aerial views of the party for the thorough documentation Cityfox makes of all its events. There was the occasional half nude bro and a smattering of EDC shirts, but thankfully, a dearth of glow sticks and kandi. At least a few people got into the Independence Day spirit too, with a couple going so far as to run around in nothing but starred underwear and striped capes. It took about ten minutes for someone to ask me for Molly.
As the sun set over the Manhattan skyline, partygoers climbed on top two balconies built on raised platforms, "oohing" and "ahhing" at the views. When darkness finally fell, the projection mappings—a signature effect at Cityfox parties—were flipped on. During the day, a guy had been posted high up on top of a ladder trying to rewire the projectors, dancing happily as he did his work. Once running, it was impressive how the visuals wrapped around the entirety of the large outdoor space, but unfortunately, they weren't very bright. (The show escalated in intensity as the night progressed.)
Then the fireworks went off over the East River, to the obliviousness of most of the crowd below, who were engrossed with the party now in full swing with hands in the air. A perennial favorite with the Cityfox crowd, Berlin duo Tale of Us took to the decks not once, but twice, that night—closing out the outside party at midnight with a steamy blend of emotional house, before returning to play inside the warehouse at 2AM.
Soon, amateur fireworks were going off all over the neighborhood, which even started a blaze on a nearby rooftop, its black smoke clogging the skyline view. Thankfully, the fire was quickly put out and no one was hurt. Firetrucks then pulled up to Cityfox in a—quite literal—false alarm. One fireman on his walkie talkie was even invited to go up to the balcony and have a look at the view. With all of this brouhaha, getting back into the venue proved tricky because there was no re-entry line. At 12:30AM, when one of the attendants told the packed crowd waiting outside that entry would cease at 1:00 AM, guests started surging forward. For a few minutes, it really felt like they were going to rush the gate. You could see some panic on the staff's face, but the bouncers handled the chaos with composure and politeness.
Back in the warehouse, Mike Khoury, Tale of Us, and Behrouz delivered a triple-assault of melancholy tech-house in a room called "The Den." Climbing through unused hallways stacked with construction material—which gave everything a fun, illicit vibe—I also found a second room called "Kings Hall," where Bedouin, Dory, Justin Marchacos and Canson (both playing live sets) presided over the dancefloor and a chillzone decked out with patterned lounge couches and geometric wicker lamps straight out of a colonial-era hotel in South Asia. It was easy to get lost in the crystalline waves of sound, and I zoned out to the straight four-to-the-floor for hours. When sunrise eventually came, it shone through orange-filtered skylights, contrasting brilliantly with the LEDs strobing across the ceiling.
Overall, The Brooklyn Mirage proved better in scale and sound than most warehouse parties in New York, with production levels beating more permanent clubs. (The balconies and tropical plants were an especially nice touch.) Although its unprecedented, in many ways, the Mirage's very existence reflects what's going on in Brooklyn nightlife—where semi-legal DIY spaces like 285 Kent have shut down, and powerhouse clubs like Output and Verboten have turned Williamsburg into its own little club scene. The Brooklyn Mirage is adopting the music and aesthetics of warehouse parties, while setting a new standard in technical quality and audacious design. But, with tickets running between $55 and $95, this type of luxe-raving is only for those who can afford it.
Mike Steyels is an electronic music journalist based in Brooklyn. You should not ask him for Molly at a party. But you can follow him on Twitter.