Saying Goodbye to New York's Party Heaven for Weird Vibes, GHE20G0TH1K
It was the best of times, it was the best of times.
Venus X and Asma perform at Red Bull Music Academy Festival at Brooklyn Bazaar, NY, USA on May 2nd, 2015. Photo Credit: Maria Jose Govea / Red Bull Content Pool
The door is guarded by a platinum blonde with a clipboard who’s decked head to toe in Hood By Air; as I try for the third time to articulate who I am over the deafening pulse of the music inside and why I am trying to get into this ticketed event without a ticket, she smiles. “Whatever girl, come on in. Is that your friend? Bring him too.” And suddenly we are no longer in New York City; people here are nice.
As long as there has been a New York City party scene worth talking about, there has existed a more relevant, less predictable nightlife that is perhaps even more scene-y than the scene itself. Enter: GHE20G0TH1K. In 2009, the now-notorious party was founded by DJ Venus X in a friend’s dive bar in Brooklyn, simply as, “a place for people to express themselves.” It aimed to break down the pretentious attitudes that made Manhattan party culture mundane and tame.
Now, after six years of binary shattering existence, the era of GHE20G0TH1K has come to a close. Venus X and her co-host, Hood By Air’s Shayne Oliver, celebrated the closure of this chapter in NY nightlife the only way they know how: one final blowout. This past Saturday, GHE20G0TH1K teamed up with Red Bull Music Academy to hold their epic goodbye. Part of Red Bull’s series of sponsored music events, the event was hosted at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, a capacious venue that's seen more than its fair share of last hurrahs. The event's head curator, Ken Farmer, tells The Creators Project, the most impressive thing about GHE20G0TH1K is its adaptability to any venue or environment: “[GHE20G0TH1K] has proven its ability to set up shop anywhere and provide a consistent and great energy. The party paired effortlessly with Red Bull’s sponsorship; they have a common goal of creating authentic cultural experiences.”
After my dysfunctional check-in, I am whisked through the doors, down a graffiti-soaked neon tunnel and spat out into what looks like another universe. Part of Brooklyn Night Bazaar's decor involves retro video game machines that line its walls, but GHE20G0TH1K has transformed the entire space to feel like an intergalactic video game in and of itself.
The lights, smoke, and crowd converge on two main focal points. Next to the bar is Mr. Ken Farmer’s first stage installation, which features two dancers twerking in their respective cages. Positioned on either side are stacks of vintage televisions that are all live broadcasting and rebroadcasting the dancers’ performances in a pixelated, static haze. I briefly examine the cages in an attempt to figure out how they’re doing this, but I cannot find the camera that’s filming what I’m seeing. It must be a bit of magic, par the course for the psychedelic trip that is GHE20G0TH1K.
At the main stage, Venus X is rightfully on her throne: in the DJ booth she looks like a queen presiding over loyal and devoted subjects. I look around and only then notice that the vast space is relatively empty—it’s 10 PM and I am un-fashionably early.
But my overeagerness pays off; as I stand to the side sipping my beer, I am a spectator as the partygoers begin their descent, herded in and spit out through the same wormhole I entered. It is then that I see the actual artistic attraction, the central installation of the night: the guests themselves.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a party in NYC where the guests aren't dressed both casually and carefully on-trend, but this crowd is different: the fashion lies in its diversity. Club kids stroll in after drag queens, followed by supermodels, with teenagers bringing up the rear (GHE20G0TH1K’s events are 18+). It’s a mesmerizing procession that includes at least two of every type of New York partygoer. It's the Noah’s Arc of the underground club scene.
Scotty Sussman, a GHE20G0TH1K veteran who hosts weekly events under the alter ego, SUSSI, was one such pilgrim. His explanation for how the party is capable of attracting such a diverse crowd? “At many other parties in NYC, they usually cater to a specific genre of partygoer. But at GHE20G0TH1K, the music speaks to someone and the fashion speaks to someone else; everyone has a reason to come. The energy was amplified more than I have ever felt at GHE20G0TH1K before. Everyone was there. People that I thought were shy nightlife goers ended up butts to the sky dancing the entire night; not afraid what others would think. The smoke machines caused for everyone to be in a delirious state swirling and twirling in a pool of 2,000 beautiful faces who just came to dance.”
As her guests arrive, Venus X escalates her music accordingly with the growing excitement of the increasingly packed room. Perfectly timed neon beams light shoot from the ceiling and bounce off of the reflective garb of arguably the shiniest guest, a woman whose sequined dress makes her look like a disco ball when the light hits her just right. Venus X shouts into the microphone and suddenly, a vogue battle begins on the main stage, as the twerking cage dancers on the opposite stage continue to perform, accompanied by their infinitely projected backup dancers. The combination stimulates just about every sense you can imagine. The clash between cultures and styles creates an overarching aesthetic that unifies every person in the room; you get a secondhand high just off of the energy. It transcends individuals, this acceptance of the importance and beauty of transformation and collaboration that has allowed GHE20G0TH1K to remain cutting edge for six years. This is perhaps the party’s most important legacy.
As SUSSI puts it, “GHE20G0TH1K has being evolving since the second the first party opened their doors. This last party represented a 'holy grail' type of mood, indulging in how huge the party has become and using it as a vehicle for freedom in dance, music, fashion etc. The parties may be stopping but the GHE20G0TH1K machine still is ready to run and produce some major things.”
And just like that, Venus X's set is done and she seamlessly hands over the reigns to her successor. DJ to DJ, the night progresses and eventually it’s 2 AM and the show's over, time to leave. Someone yells to a friend, asking for the address to the afterparty. The legacy of GHE20G0TH1K soldiers on.
The final GHE20G0TH1K was part of Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York, which continues on with music and events through May 30, 2015. Click here for more info.