Claptone (Sabrina Feige)
It’s no secret that locating any truly late night New York fun these days requires a trip into Brooklyn. You needn’t search much further than the explosion of secret raves, underground parties and crowded venues from deep Bushwick to trendy nightspots in Williamsburg. Take, for example, earlier in October when Chris Lake performed alongside Nero at the Brooklyn Hangar as part of their North American tour. (On Dec.14 Gratitude*NYC will present “Cosmic Mirrors,” a trippy, experimental affair at the same location). Hours after Nero’s show ended, techno master Guy Gerber hosted an all-night rager with BLKMRKT that continued until sunrise.
“I said, ‘I needed to come to Brooklyn,’ and I was looking for the right partner,” Gerber told BlackBook of the BLKMRKT event. “I was surprised at how they come up with the party and literally no one knows the address until an hour before it starts. I thought the sound was great for a warehouse—it was probably one of my best shows!”
Manhattan remains commercial king for EDM with glossy clubs, lounges and arena concerts like Zedd’s recent stop at Madison Square Garden. That being said, finding a balance of mischievousness and euphoric, high-quality electro beats—especially during Halloween week—is never a true challenge. But as soon as the clock strikes 4 am, your options dwindle disappointingly fast. This year felt especially telling. It was perhaps the first Halloween since the clubbing ascent of the outer borough where the action in Brooklyn completely trumped the Manhattan scene.
Not to say Manhattan didn’t deliver the goods—for the less adventurous, but equally as boisterous and discerning, Pier of Fear, produced by top-shelf agency RPM, set the bar high. The special effects, lights and organization of the weeklong mayhem could only be outmatched by roster of world-class DJs.
“As we approach our fifth year at the Pier, we’re doing it bigger and better than ever,” commented RPM founder Eddie Dean (also behind the secret parties for Nero). “New York is in for a real treat.” Right he was; Kaskade had a refreshingly dynamic set the weekend before Halloween. (Queens native CID certainly got the crowd lubricated with his high-octane warm-up).
Armin van Buuren, who stormed the scene on Oct. 30 after releasing his album EMBRACE, delivered the best large concert of spooky season. It was a shame, however, that his Friday night positioning wasn’t swapped with Skrillex’s primetime Saturday set—a more progressive and forceful performance than usual, especially considering he had to jet to SoCal’s Fairplex that same morning for one last set at HARD Day of the Dead.
Armin van Buuren (Freedom Film LLC)
The real setback with the Pier of Fear is that it starts far too early and ends way before most attendees want. Organizers should consider pushing on past 5 am, although the NYPD and proponents of noise complaints would surely put up a fight.
Naturally, there was plenty of other competition throughout Halloween week. Paco Osuna held court at Space Ibiza NY; Lavo, obnoxious as that joint is, offered guests QuestLove; Marquee booked Bingo Players and Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano for back-to-back weekends. In fairness, one could indulge in the Pier of Fear and then Uber off to greener, darker and rowdier pastures in Brooklyn. And that’s exactly what Halloween night called for.
Borgore’s creepy and steamy, House of Gore, the “Ultimate Haunted Halloween Warehouse Party,” attracted a crowd that was commendably jovial, troublesome and hardcore at a location deep in the bowels of Brooklyn.
“I love masquerade balls,” DJ/producer Claptone mused to BlackBook as he tried to convince us to swing by his affair in the more gentrified milieu of Williamsburg’s Verboten. “One essential characteristic about a mask is that it dissolves social or cultural differences for a certain time. The East End boys can make out with the West End girls like the Pet Shop Boys would put it.”
Claptone, who always performs under the veil of a golden mask, has earned a sturdy reputation for his soulful house.
“The mask extends your personal freedom,” he confessed. “It exceeds your personality and sparks your imagination—so dress up and join me.”
Claptone (Sabrina Feige)
Unmoved, we reminded him that it would be a busy night in Brooklyn and making wise decisions during the wee-hours would be crucial. “I’ll have a lot of other surprises in store for my guests, musical as well as non-musical, ” Claptone replied, baiting us. “Don’t tell me I didn’t give you a heads up.”
Indeed, Claptone was the surprise hit of the night (morning, at that rate). His masquerade boasted an enticing assortment of costumed revelers getting down and dirty to every single amazing, underground house beat he played.
A Dutch entourage shared treats with dancing neighbors as a coven of witches caressed a brawny, shirtless stud dressed as a Trojan. It’s precisely such an international, pansexual gathering of the curious and the intoxicated that kept our Halloween spontaneous until well past 7.30 am. When the plug was pulled and daylight swooped in, Brooklyn had succeeded beyond expectations yet again.
“Do you have the address for Loco Dice?” a model dressed like a woodsman asked, as he limbered toward our car.
“Yes,” we said, sharing the Sunset Park warehouse location near Industry City that was slated to endure until noon. “An underground party with a covert vibe” was how Loco Dice’s publicist had described it.
“Let’s share a car!” he said presumptuously.
“Nah—we have to go cheer on our friends running the marathon,” we mumbled, firmly closing the door.
The race had already started.