New York comes alive after dark. For years the thriving nightlife has drawn curious outsiders to the city while uniting its residents in a utopian bacchanal that transcends racial, sexual, and class boundaries. As a catalyst for otherwise impossibly intimate intermingling in what is America’s cultural capital, nightlife in NYC has always been fertile ground for creative expression and exploration, birthing countless movements in music, fashion, and art. Yet it is only in the past decade that major cultural institutions have begun to recognize that nightlife promoters are artists, and the parties—the environments, performance, fashion, and experiences created—works of art.
Surveying the evolving nature of nightlife in New York City, THE FUN: The Social Practice of Nightlife in NYC is a first-of-its-kind publication, documenting the new forms of nightlife practitioners to emerge since the turn of the millennium. Through profiles of over 30 artists, including the royalty of Manhattan nightlife like Susanne Bartsch and Ladyfag; hybrid forms like Xtapussy and FCKNLZ; the continuation of minimal wave and goth communities through Pendu Disco; and the vibrant queer scenes of JUDY, Frankie Sharp, and My Chiffon is Wet, THE FUN: The Social Practice of Nightlife in NYC documents the rich contemporary cultural activity keeping NYC as weird and innovative as decades past. Accompanying these profiles are essays by a range of voices in the nightlife, including artists Rob Roth and Genesis P-Orridge, curators and critics Claire Bishop and Jake Yuzna, as well as journalist Michael Musto providing both historical context and contemporary understanding of nightlife as a vital artistic practice that has been marginalized by the arts sector for hundreds of years.
THE FUN: The Social Practice of Nightlife in NYC traces the history of nightlife as it has evolved, from the explosion of large and small discos throughout the 1970s like Studio 54, which paved the way for 80s megaclubs; the candy-colored club kid movement of Michael Alig and the Limelight in the early 90s; the parallel expansion of the boundary shattering merger of drag, performance, and music in downtown venues such as the Pyramid Club and Mother; the rise of Brooklyn as a new focal point in the 2000s with the emergence of Luxx, Secret Project Robot, Silent Barn and other hybrid arts/music/nightlife venues; and on into the many vibrant forms found today.
THE FUN: The Social Practice of Nightlife in NYC celebrates the immense originality and impact of this unique artistic practice, one that is created once social norms are left at the door and debauchery ensues in the wickedly creative corners of NYC that only appear once the sun has set.