In June of 2013, fashion photographer Christelle de Castro documented the closing nights of a weekly party that since January had become a notorious downtown destination for New York’s young culture leaders and attendant circles of glitterati. Late on Tuesday nights, this scene would descend on a speakeasy lounge tucked beneath a trendy bistro on Kenmare Street in Manhattan’s Nolita neighborhood.
On most weeks, attendees would swell the venue well past double the 75 people that should have been allowed down its stairs. And what set this party apart was that it was an open invitation for the city’s splintered tribes to join equally and expressively for a night, all under one roof raving.
From the outset, the organizers Adriel Ortiz, Arthur Soleimanpour, Lee Harrison, and DJ Getlive intended to create a genuinely inclusive space that would hearken back to the heyday of New York’s 80’s and early 90’s downtown mixed bag parties. In realizing this idea, Getlive anchored a rotating cast of all-star DJs drawn from the city’s disparate scenes and subcultures. Any given Tuesday night could see the likes of new feminist icon and GHE20G0TH1K founder Venus X sharing a guest spot with the infamous OG hip-hop producer The Alchemist. This considered eclecticism made for an ever-changing chemistry from week to week and insured that a moving soundtrack of trap anthems, underground house, street rap, bashment reggae, Jersey club, and 90’s R&B never settled into the expected.
“They kept coming, week after week, in freezing temperatures when the city seemed dead and in the heat of summer when it was a hot box of fun. It was a place where we were able to remind people how great it is to be all in it together."
The intersections the party created saw young tastemakers and established renegades such as the A$AP Mob, Missy Elliott, Prodigy, Aaron Bondaroff, Wacka Flocka, Rox Brown, and Harry Fraud turn up and bump shoulders in the club’s small confines. It was this demand, and the resulting buzz, that would have New York magazine declare the night one of the city’s best hip-hop parties despite it paling in size to the proper clubs around town. But by early summer the organizers realized the moment had reached its zenith and the decision was made to close doors even while lines were now permanently down the block every Tuesday.
Arthur Soleimanpour describes the arc of the party: “They kept coming, week after week, in freezing temperatures when the city seemed dead and in the heat of summer when it was a hot box of fun. It was a place where we were able to remind people how great it is to be all in it together. This energy persisted for six months, which is an eternity in party life. But this was not just a party, it was an art project and it had a proper run before closing.”
In this portfolio we find Christelle de Castro completely immersed in the churning celebration that occurred, capturing the sublime ephemeral instances that nightlife provides and the inspired style moments that youth culture innately displays.
As the city enters a new era and the nightlife culture adjusts to the harder and darker times on the near horizon, de Castro’s images are a visceral document of self-expression, and a bit of hedonism, from a more care-free time for a generation. When asked for the name of the party, promoter Adriel Ortiz said it never actually had one formally — and then he stated, “It was just turnt.”